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2015 National Youth Awards hosted in Los Angeles

Hispanic Heritage Foundation


Celebrities celebrated young leaders including La Santa Cecilia, Aimee Garcia, Raul Castillo, Carmen Marron, Nick Gonzalez, Sebastian Krys, Ernie G, Jackie Cacho and Mario de la Torre

National Youth Awards to broadcast as a special on Vme TV

LOS ANGELES, CA (February 4, 2016) – The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), sponsors, community and business leaders, and celebrities honored singer Becky G. and activist Julissa Arce for serving as role models in the public eye, an LA teacher, and eight high school seniors from across the United States for their leadership in the classroom and community at the 17th Annual National Youth Awards.  The ceremony took place on Thursday, February 4th (10 a.m. media availability/reception | 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ceremony) at William Morris Endeavour, 9601 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA.  The National Youth Awards will broadcast by Vme TV as a special.  In addition to Becky G, other celebrities included Grammy Award-Winning Group La Santa Cecilia, Latin Grammy Producer of the Year Sebastian Krys, Actress Aimee Garcia, Actor Raul Castillo, Actor Nicholas Gonzalez, Film Director Carmen Marron, Comedian Ernie G, Designer Mario de la Torre, and Journalist/TV Personality Jackie Cacho plus other surprise guests. Vme TV will broadcast the program as a special and HHF will promote the young role models, teacher and parents through national multi-media campaign (visit and follow the Youth Awards at @HHFoundation #YouthAwards #YA15)

The eight winning students were selected from 10,000 applicants and hundreds of regional recipients in various categories – each of the awardees represent each category (see below) and boast nearly a 4.0 GPA with hundreds of hours of community service and serve as role models to inspire others.  In addition to educational grants, the young leaders will get Chromebooks, flown to LA with a parent, and receive personalized styling from Macy’s.

“We are proud to honor yet another class of outstanding young Latino leaders who will certainly make an impact on our communities and workforce as they move forward in their careers,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of HHF.  “We thank our sponsors for their support as we focus in what we consider priority fields for America. We truly believe our Youth Awardees are leaders of today, not tomorrow. Frankly, we can’t afford to wait.”

“We are also thrilled to recognize the amazing Becky G who has demonstrated that vision, hard work and ganas in addition to talent can make any dream a reality,” added Tijerino.  “It’s also a privilege to recognize Julissa Arce for serving as an example of the value proposition immigrants present to America.  They, along with our Youth Awardees are truly role models for all young people.

The self-made 18-year-old Becky G describes her sound as “urban pop with a bit of Latin spice” and has amassed over 12 million followers on social media since posting YouTube videos as a tween with a big voice and personality.  Growing up in Inglewood, CA, Becky G and her family moved into her grandparents’ garage because of financial difficulty which prompted Becky to have a “midlife crisis” at nine and decided to be an entertainer. After being discovered by famed producer Dr. Luke, Becky G signed a deal with record label Kemosabe/RCA, which has led to collaborations from to Pitbull. She has toured with Demi Lovato, Katy Perry and Jason Derulo. If that wasn’t enough, she is set to play Yellow Ranger in the new Power Rangers movie and is the latest face of Covergirl cosmetics.  But Becky knows who she is and that’s why HHF is presenting her with the Inspira Award as a role model to youth.  When asked why she hasn’t fixed the gap in her teeth, she responded “why should I change myself to be what everybody else wants me to be when I’m OK with who I am and I’m happy with who I am?”

Julissa Arce is a writer, speaker, immigrant rights advocate and author of the forthcoming book, “My (Underground) American Dream, which has been optioned for a TV program.  She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status while undocumented.  She is the co-founder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a scholarship fund for immigrant students regardless of their immigration status. She is also on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center and the national board of directors of CollegeSpring. Prior to becoming an advocate she built a successful career on Wall Street as a vice president at Goldman Sachs and a director at Merrill Lynch.  Julissa now uses her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration which is why she is being honored by HHF’s Inspira Award.

For more information about the national youth award recipients, click here.

The National Youth Awardees and National Teacher include:

  • Business, presented by BBVA Compass: Aimee Pacheco, Adairsvile, GA
  • Community Service, presented by Colgate-Palmolive Company: Karla Infante, Coconut Grove, FL
  • Education, presented by Southwest Airlines: Carolina Lobo de Castro, Chicago, IL
  • Engineering, presented by ExxonMobil: Oscar Leonardo Cruz, Houston, TX
  • Healthcare & Science, presented by CVS Health: Javier Granados, Corpus Christi, TX
  • Innovation & Technology, presented by Entertainment Software Association Foundation: Aleida Olvera, Brownsville, TX
  • Sports & Fitness, presented by NASCAR: Kyle Dylan Mirabal, Blauvelt, NY
  • Leadership, presented by US Marines Corps: Esai Daniel Lopez, Santa Teresa, NM
  • Teacher, presented by White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Mario Echeverria, Kipp High School, Los Angeles, CA

HHF also announced the creation of a new Parent Award in partnership with Learning Heroes (, an organization committed to being a trusted source of information to parents and equipping them to support their child’s academic success.  The Youth Awards program is the beginning to HHF’s award-winning leadership cycle that tracked, prepared and positioned the Awardees through the Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) program as they transition from high school, to college and graduate school, and into their careers. Join and follow LOFT on Facebook and Twitter.  In addition to the category sponsors include: UPS, PhRMA, PwC, Geico, Google, NRCCUA, Es Tiempo, Voto Latino, Macy’s (Official wardrobe provider), William Morris Endeavor, Saber Es Poder, Learning Heroes, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and Crowell Morning.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation – a nonprofit established by the White House in 1987 – inspires, prepares, and connects minority leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities in 10 areas of focus.  HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment, and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions.  HHF is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and the LOFT Institute is housed at Michigan State University (Visit



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