Before his death in 1991, Dr. Reynaldo Carreón recognized the importance of children receiving financial assistance for education.
Thirty years and more than $1.8 million in scholarships later, the philanthropist’s eponymous nonprofit, the Dr. Carreón Foundation (DCF), has blossomed into a vibrant empire helping high school students with Mexican ancestry from Coachella Valley and Blythe achieve their dreams of higher education.
“We’ve definitely hit a major milestone this year,” says DCF Executive Director Ricardo Loretta. “We are one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the Coachella Valley and in the last few years, we’ve ratcheted it up. We’re bigger, we’re helping more kids and we continue to grow.”
After scholarship applications are submitted, funds are awarded to students of Mexican ancestry who are in financial need, boast at least a 3.0 GPA, are involved in bettering their community and who demonstrate leadership skills.
More than 300 students apply annually. This year, a total of $136,000 will be provided to 74 students, a record number. Individual scholarships ranged from $1,000 to $3,000.
“We are fortunate that the Coachella Valley community supports youth and especially education,” Loretta says, pointing out that over the span of three decades, DCF has helped more than 800 scholarship recipients attend schools locally and across the country — from College of the Desert and Cal State San Bernardino to MIT and Harvard University, among others.
Allies have become a vital component to the organization’s success.
In recent years, DCF’s partners have supported the organization with financial contributions that have allowed it to expand scholarship awards and increase the foundation’s corpus. One prominent alliance is with OneFuture Coachella Valley (OFCV), which supports a variety of development initiatives, including career-themed academies and linked learning pathways at the K-12 level and work-based learning for middle school through college undergrads. Working in collaboration with the foundation to raise money for the scholarship program, every dollar donated to DCF is matched by OFCV to become three dollars.
Looking ahead, Loretta expects the nonprofit to continue expanding its reach.
“I’d like to see us double in size over the next three years so we can be in a position to hand out 150-200 scholarships annually because the demand is there and it always will be,” he says.
Loretta’s commitment to the nonprofit is deeply rooted to his own past.
After his father accepted a job working for Dupont, he grew up in a small Mexican village where there were no Americans except for his family.
“Education of youth has always played a big important part of my life,” he says. “My brother and I went to a one-room school. All my friends were Mexican sons and daughters of people who worked for the Dupont factory. Spanish became my first language. Through that experience, I saw people who were at very low means. I could appreciate at a very early age that I was lucky to be in a family who could educate me. Now I love helping kids.”
For more information on the Dr. Carreón Foundation or to make a donation, visit carreonfoundation.org or call 858-344-4812.
Greg Archer writes about change agents, happenstance, and the entertainment industry. His work has appeared in the USA Today Network, Palm Springs Life, Huffington Post, The Advocate and other media outlets. His memoir Grace Revealed chronicles his Polish family’s odyssey during WWII. gregarcher.com.