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Robles' funeral
Robles' funeral. Photo Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Hispanic Scholarship Founder Ernest Robles dies at 92

Because of his work, tens of thousands of Latino students have been able to attend college.

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Ernest Robles died of heart failure last month, Sept. 5, at age 92. He started an initiative in 1975 that later became the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), a grant that supports Latino students to receive a college education. Robles started the fund with a $30,000 mortgage on his home and by the time he died, the fund had granted $700 million in scholarships, according to NPR

Born in the tiny border town of Pirtleville, Arizona, Robles moved to Riverside, California at a young age. 

Robles fought in the Korean War, worked as both counselor and English-as-a-second-language advisor, and served as sports coach. He then engaged in teaching and eventually became the principal at Casa Blanca Elementary in Riverside. 

According to a column written by Gustavo Arellano, for the Los Angeles Times, even back then, Robles would give out $50 scholarships to his students.

Casa Blanca Elementary was one of the last segregated schools to be closed, and due to his doctoral dissertation about it, Robles was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to travel around the South fighting segregated schools. 

When Robles became assistant regional administrator for equal educational opportunities for the federal government, he realized how Latinos were underrepresented in higher education. 

That’s when he decided to create HSF. 

It started in a bedroom at his house, but soon he had to rent an office because the business had grown too fast. In the beginning, Robles used to ask for a little money, but within a decade corporations were coming to HSF asking how to help.  

HSF's official Twitter account shared a video about Robles’ legacy to the Latino community, click here to learn more about his life-long contributions to Latino education.  
 

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