Venice YouthBuild graduate Rodrigo Vazquez was named a recipient of the 2020 Helene D. Stoneman Scholarship and Civic Leadership Program.

Venice YouthBuild alum Rodrigo Vazquez earns national scholarship

By Kamala Kirk

YouthBuild USA alumni Rodrigo Vazquez is a recipient of the 2020 Helene D. Stoneman Scholarship and Civic Leadership Program.

The scholarship provides $1,000 awards to outstanding YouthBuild graduates who have been recognized for excellence in civic engagement, community leadership and academic achievement, with special emphasis on the students’ academic promise.

“I am so grateful to be a Stoneman Scholar and receive this scholarship,” Vazquez said.

“When I was young, I overcame many obstacles with the support of my YouthBuild family. Now, I’m committed to helping others succeed and achieve their goals. It is an honor to continue representing YouthBuild while pursuing higher education.”

YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for a global network of 290 local YouthBuild programs in 18 countries, with 233 programs in 46 U.S. states and territories, and 57 programs in 17 other countries.

In YouthBuild programs, opportunity youth – young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed – pursue their education, prepare for future careers and grow into community leaders, building brighter futures for themselves and their neighborhoods.

YouthBuild primarily serves young people who lack a high school diploma and financial resources, and partners with them to build the skillsets and mindsets that lead to lifelong learning, livelihood and leadership.

The Stoneman Scholarship was established by YouthBuild founder Dorothy Stoneman and her sister Elinor Stoneman Shaffer, in honor of their mother, Helene D. Stoneman.

The scholarship recognizes YouthBuild graduates who share Helene’s passion for leadership and education. Since 2005, the Helene D. Stoneman Scholarship and Civic Leadership Program has awarded 314 gifts to 155 YouthBuild graduates attending post-secondary education or training, providing $620,000 to assist YouthBuild graduates with their post-secondary education.

“Our Stoneman Scholars have dedicated themselves to lifelong learning, livelihood and leadership,” said John Valverde, president and CEO of YouthBuild USA.

“We’re proud to celebrate this group of deserving honorees and support their pursuit of higher education. We need their passion – and grit – in the years to come.”
Vazquez, who is working toward a master’s degree in social work at UCLA, is a 2004 graduate of Venice YouthBuild.

Along with the other winners, Vazquez submitted a personal essay, personal recommendation and college transcripts, and was chosen from a pool of applicants.

The recipients of the 2020 Stoneman Scholarships are pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a variety of fields.

Some have recently graduated from their YouthBuild program, while others are alumni who are still involved with the movement.