One organization is raising money to send local students to college through the third annual Los Angeles Tequila Fest. The Andrés y María Cárdenas Foundation offers aid to students from certain high schools in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
Cal Lutheran University sophomore Jackie Mendez has received the scholarship and said she is grateful because it wasn't an easy road.
"It was set in stone to go to college," she said, adding college is expensive. "I wanted to do something better for myself and my family."
She is the first in her family to go to college and didn't have many examples of navigating the process.
"It was really hard for me to find resources to try to get me the extra money I needed. My adviser helped me out to get extra scholarships," Mendez said.
This is where she learned about the Andrés y María Cárdenas Foundation. The children of Andrés and María created the foundation to honor their parents who came to San Fernando from Mexico 50 years ago and worked hard to send them to college. They wanted to help other students follow their dreams.
Aside from tuition, there are books, travel and housing. It all adds up. Mendez works two jobs on top of her classes to cover costs, so she was grateful to be chosen to receive the scholarship.
"Aside from taking out loans, you still have to come out of pocket. Books are really expensive," Mendez said.
The foundation has been serving students in the area where the Cárdenas family raised their family since 1997. It is a predominantly Latino community, so 98% of recipients are Latino. Brian De La Rosa, president of the board of directors, said the foundation wants to not only offer funds but mentor them as well.
"We as the board, as well as the founding members of the foundation, are from the community and understand the struggles and the hardships they have to go through every day to go to school, do well, and pursue college. Because we know that, we understand a lot of them are first generation in their family to go to college. Parents and family members may not even know about college," De La Rosa said.
This year the goal is to raise $400,000 to help more scholars through the third annual LA Tequila Fest. It may look like just a day of tasting tequilas, but De La Rosa said that with this re-branding, he hopes a fun event will allow them in a few years to raise $1 million annually to continue their mission on a larger scale and even expand to more neighborhoods.
"I would like to say we are not just a scholarship, we also mentor the students through college to ensure their success," De La Rosa said.
Mendez said if it wasn't for the community lending their support, she wouldn't be able to follow her dreams of becoming a pharmacist.
"People work hard for their money. I know what it is to make a dollar. It makes me really happy that people want me to succeed and are there for me," Mendez said.
The LA Tequila Fest will take place from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at LA State Historic Park. The event will feature tequila tastings, music, games, food and more. For tickets, click here.