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Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Youth Awards to honor high school seniors from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Visit to meet and welcome the new class of Youth Awards recipients representing Latinx innovation, leadership, and impact from across the US

Versión en español

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards recipients for the Pink Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Local high school seniors will be honored for their leadership in the classroom and community during a virtual ceremony on February 21st, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. CST.

30 students will be honored in various categories including:

Business & Entrepreneurship (presented by Dutch Bros Coffee) 

Gold – Gianfranco Cardenas – Indianapolis, IN

Silver – Ashley Portillo – Chicago, IL

Bronze – Benny Hernandez – Palatine, IL

Community Service (presented by Colgate-Palmolive)

Gold – Ximena Valenciano – West Chicago, IL

Silver – Lorena Salgado – Chicago, IL

Bronze – Hanniel Martinez Diaz – Newark, OH

Education (presented by Southwest Airlines)

Gold – Melissa Flores – Milwaukee, WI

Silver – Jazmin Hernandez – Chicago, IL

Bronze – Carmen Jacobo – Chicago, IL

Engineering (presented by HHF)  

Gold – Matthew Gomez, Copley, OH

Silver – Luis Antonio Hernandez Aguirre – Gary, IN

Bronze – Mauricio Rodriguez – West Dundee, IL

Healthcare & Science (presented by CVS Health)

Gold – Edgar Ocelotl Tecuanhuey– Indianapolis, IN

Silver – Victoria Zambrano – Fort Wayne, IN

Bronze – Addisyn Weiland – Le Mars, IA

Media & Entertainment (presented by Comcast NBCUniversal/Telemundo)

Gold – Citlalic Garcia – Shakopee, MN

Silver – Isabella Wilson – Clinton Township, MI

Bronze – Jesus Flores Morales – Painesville, OH

Public Service & Social Justice (presented by Nike)  

Gold – Edgar Vilchez – Chicago, IL

Silver – Melanie Garcia – Chicago, IL

Bronze – Zachary Sardas-Trevorrow – Mequon, WI

Sports & Fitness (presented by NFL)

Gold – Lily Witte – Dexter, MI

Silver – Ellie Sanchez – Barrington, IL

Bronze – Matthew Gomez – Chicago, IL

Sustainability (presented by Coca-Cola)

Gold – Guadalupe Vazquez – Waukegan, IL

Silver – Xenia Diaz Castillo – Milwaukee, WI

Bronze – Reyna Duffy – Indian Head Park, IL

Technology (presented by T-Mobile)

Gold- Alexandria Balde – Bloomfield Township, MI

Silver- Nathalia Olivarez – Saginaw, MI

Bronze- Zachary Kirkeby – Eden Prairie, MN

Other supporters of the Youth Awards include the American Federation of Teachers, Capital Wire, Crowell & Moring, Es Tiempo, Freddie Mac, Mastercard, Teach for America, and Wells Fargo.

Actor and singer, Michael Cimino, star of Hulu’s “Love, Victor,” will be hosting the  virtual ceremony in which three students per category will be honored with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medallions. After the Youth Awards ceremonies conclude, one national recipient per category will be recognized and celebrated at the National Youth Awards ceremony. To follow the Youth Awards virtual ceremonies online, use the hashtag #YA24. Please visit to register.

“We are thrilled to honor yet another outstanding class of Youth Awardees who will carry on the tradition of leadership, academic excellence and social impact of past recipients,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of HHF. “There is no shortage of Latino talent across the United States and we are grateful to our dedicated sponsors who understand the importance of investing in the youngest and most dynamic segment of our population. We’re in good hands as a community and as a country with these outstanding young leaders going forward.”

Thousands of high school students, from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, apply annually  to the Youth Awards, which is the main feeder to LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) Leadership Institute (LLI), an active institution focused on leadership, workforce, community, culture, and social justice led in partnership by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Trinity University. The Youth Awardees and the applicants will also be funneled into the LOFT Network with access to mentors, resources, networking, workshops, symposia, summits, Charlas, and internships and full-time positions with Fortune 500 Companies.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the Youth Awards

HHF’s mission focuses on education, workforce, social impact, and identity and culture through the lens of leadership. Through HHF’s 24-year-old Youth Awards program, tens of thousands of high-achieving Latinx high school students have been recognized and received more than five million dollars to support their education, ideas or projects.  Once they are vetted through the Youth Awards, alumni are connected to a larger network providing mentors, programs, and career path opportunities through the award-winning LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) program throughout college, grad school and into their careers.

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