Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros, who won $266 million last year in a multi-state lottery, will partner with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to create a scholarship and community engagement campaign called “Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera” with a starting amount of $1.25 million.
“We’re incredibly blessed by winning the lottery and from day one we knew we wanted to give back. The people of Pico Rivera mean so much to us and we believe helping more young people go to and graduate from college can make a real difference in their lives and the life of a community we love,” said Jacki Cisneros, a former NBC LA employee whose grandfather was one of the founders of the city.
Gilbert and Jacki have lived in Pico Rivera and maintain close ties to the city.
The Cisneros’ gift will provide 50 scholarships of $2,500 each beginning in 2012 to students from El Rancho High School, the only high school in Pico Rivera. The gift will also pay for community outreach programs in Pico Rivera to educate and encourage post-secondary learning.
Pico Rivera will serve as a model community for the nationwide Generation 1st Degree program. The goal is to get at least one member of every household to earn a college degree. The idea is that once there is a college grad in the house, others in the family will realize they too can pursue a college education.
Generation 1st Degree is an HSF initiative focused on closing the “degree gap” that exists between Hispanic students and their peers. HSF’s vision is for the U.S. Latino degree attainment rate to increase from 19 percent to 60 percent by 2025.
Although Pico Rivera is prominently a Hispanic community and HSF is the nation’s largest provider of scholarships to Hispanic Americans, the Cisneros’ gift will be open to all students. They must have a 3.0 grade point average. Other qualification details will be developed by the school district and a newly formed advisory council comprised of community leaders.