June 29, 2017

The Smithsonian Latino Center, in its 20th anniversary year, welcomed 22 graduating high school seniors from across the country to participate in its annual Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) this summer. Through the support of Ford Motor Company Fund, YAP offers a unique opportunity for young Latinos to become community leaders and life-long learners.

“The goal of this program is to provide valuable tools that help Latino students become college-educated, young professionals ready to succeed,” said Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center. “Through our Young Ambassadors Program they learn to refine important academic and career skills, such as communication, project management and teamwork, while engaging in the process of cultural representation.”

The program includes a week in Washington, D.C., for a behind-the-scenes look at the Smithsonian. Students participate in a series of hands-on workshops and discussions and engage in informal conversations about Latino art, culture and science with renowned scholars and leaders, such as political caricaturist and artist Lalo Alcaraz, oceanographer Carlos Del Castillo, engineer Edgar Duéñez-Guzman, journalist Gisele Regatao, artist Vincent Valdez and many others.

After their week in Washington, participants complete a five-week internship at a Smithsonian partner or affiliate cultural or science museum in one of 17 cities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This experience prepares students for their future college careers and beyond as they gain valuable work experience and learn the importance of giving back to their communities.

“My internship experience at the History Colorado Center connects directly to the discussions we had during the Washington Week about bringing Latino culture into the community,” said Ilse Meiler, 2016 YAP graduate. Another 2016 program graduate stated that “the YAP experience was life changing. I have never in my life felt so fulfilled or empowered to make a change within myself. This was exactly what I needed before starting college as it allowed me to gain perspective.”

The Smithsonian Latino Center and Ford Motor Company Fund have collaborated on the YAP for the past decade, investing in education and careers in the arts, business and science and technology sectors, among others. During this time, over 225 students have participated in YAP and each has received a $2,000 stipend to apply toward college-related expenses. Ford Motor Company Fund is the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Co.

“I believe that all Young Ambassador Program participants will make a difference in the careers they choose, and we are proud to invest in our future generation,” said Joe Avila, community outreach manager, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Ford continues to partner with the Smithsonian Latino Center to ensure a bright future for our youth and their communities.”

About the Smithsonian Latino Center

The Smithsonian Latino Center, in its 20th anniversary year,  ensures that Latino contributions to art, science and the humanities are highlighted, understood and advanced through the development and support of public programs, scholarly research, museum collections and educational opportunities at the Smithsonian and its affiliated organization across the U.S. and internationally. For information on the Young Ambassadors Program, visit www.latino.si.edu.

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community and global partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 65 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford Driving Skills for Life is free, interactive, hands-on safety training focused on skill development and driving techniques, while addressing inexperience, distractions and impaired driving. Innovation in education is encouraged through Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Driving Dreams, Ford Next Generation Learning and other innovative programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. The Ford Volunteer Corps enlists more than 30,000 Ford employees and retirees each year to work on local projects that strengthen their communities and improve people’s lives in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit www.community.ford.com.

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