GCU receives award for its heart on Latino issues
By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University was honored Thursday with the Corazón Award at Valle del Sol’s “Totally Awesome Leadership 2016” event at Phoenix College.
The award recognizes “an organization that serves the community through philanthropic giving, leadership and advocacy on Latino issues.”
That GCU, one of 10 honorees, was given the “heart” award is fitting in that it is viewed by many as the “heart” of the community surrounding its growing campus at 33rd Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix.
The University’s efforts to revitalize west Phoenix are felt throughout the community.
GCU and its throng of volunteers have led the nation’s largest revitalization project with Habitat for Humanity, hoping to renovate as many as 700 homes in the neighborhood. The University teamed up with the Phoenix Police Department on a $1 million Neighborhood Safety Initiative to reduce crime and improve safety in the area, where home values rose 30 percent in 2015.
But perhaps most significantly, GCU is helping students of neighboring public schools with its groundbreaking Learning Lounge, which provides free, on-campus tutoring and mentoring and is one reason that Joe Veres, GCU’s executive director of Strategic Educational Alliances, accepted the award on behalf of the University.
This program and others like are helping more students graduate from high school and enroll in college. Alhambra High School, with its nearly 80 percent Hispanic population, has catapulted from being a D-rated school to just nine points shy of a B-rating in just three years. In addition, the number of Alhambra graduates grew from 417 in 2013-14 to 536 in 2014-15, while the number of students taking advanced placement exams grew from 174 to 302.
In announcing the Corazón Award, Belen Gonzalez, program director at Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, noted in her speech that GCU “is building a strong STEM workforce, has added 2,000 well-paying positions since 2008 and anticipates hiring another 1,500 workers in the next five years.”
The University hopes to create a thriving, education-minded community, with well-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, A-rated schools and K-12 students encouraged about the prospect of going to college.
“Its leaders believe the best is yet to come,” Gonzalez said.
Other award recipients were:
- Luz Sarmina, Hall of Fame Award
- Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Special Recognition Award
- Evelyn Casuga, Sepcial Recognition Award
- Maria Elena Coronado, Exemplary Leadership Award
- Patricia Duarte Garcia, Rosa Carrillo Torres Humanitarian Award.
- Latina Giving Circle, Latina Leadership Award
- Dr. Ester Ruiz, Latino Excellence in Health and Sciences
- Carlos Contreras, Latino Excellence in Technology and Innovation Award
- Marco Lopez, Exemplary Leadership Award
On Sept. 9, recipients will be celebrated by an estimated 1,400 people at the Profiles of Success Hispanic Leadership Awards Celebration at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.