Paulino is proud of the programs’ growth which started as just scholarships for undergraduate students. Now, the program has expanded to graduating high school seniors and graduate students which has widened its reach. The goal, Paulino said, was always to help.
“We welcomed DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students before DACA was even a term,” Paulino explained. “The beginning was a struggle. But raising money wasn’t our singular goal…the point was trying to make this movement a reality.”
Casadao estimates that the organization has given out 20-30 scholarships a year since it started, but it is going beyond just financial assistance. “Y Tu Tambien” is a high school program that was started in 2014 and has increased access to higher education for Latinos, first-generation students, minorities, and students in need by providing free college application workshops, mentorship and access to networking events.
Miguel Vivar, a student at The Bronx High School of Science, touted “Y Tu Tambien” for giving him, “an opportunity to be a part of a Latino group where students from different schools come together and we talk about the whole college application,” he said. “It’s given me more confidence in moving forward.” The program launched in 2015 with 20 students. It currently mentors 120 students. It has even come to include visits to schools in the New York City area where the foundation is based.