Southwest Airlines to Sponsor First Hispanic Heritage Youth Award for Education

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Hispanic high school seniors in 12 regions can apply for 9th Annual Youth Awards and $650,000 in grants distributed at high-profile ceremonies.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the Official Airline of the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards, announced today that it will sponsor the first Hispanic Heritage Youth Award for Education, a national search for young Hispanic leaders and role models. Applications are now available for the 2006 Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards, which will provide a record $650,000 in educational grants distributed at high-profile ceremonies featuring community and business leaders, elected officials and celebrities. High school seniors of Hispanic descent can find the application online at http://www.hispanicheritage.org , or at participating SUBWAY restaurants. Online applications must be electronically submitted by February 3, 2006. All other required documents and paper application forms must be postmarked no later than February 3, 2006.

"Southwest Airlines is making a commitment to Hispanic youth through this education award," said Laura Lopez, Southwest's Senior Marketing Specialist. "We want to help students as they accomplish their dreams of attending college and becoming teachers. We believe it's important to prepare this generation of students whose goal is to prepare many future generations."

The new Education award and other Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards are given to graduating high school seniors of Hispanic descent. Award recipients are chosen by regional selection committees based on their academic achievement, community service, category focus, and an essay about the important role their heritage played upon their success. With three new Award category sponsors, the total number of 2006 Hispanic Heritage Award categories is nine. The full list of awards is below:

New Award Categories

  •         Education, for students who demonstrate a strong interest in the next generation of teachers; sponsored by Southwest Airlines
  •      Leadership, for students who demonstrate initiative and leadership skills in their school and community; sponsored by Kellogg Company
  •      Arts & Culture, for students interested in film, visual, performing, or literary arts with a focus on Hispanic culture; sponsored by Center for Latino Initiatives

Other Award Categories

  •      Academic Excellence, for students who demonstrate a strong commitment to academics; sponsored by Chase and MasterCard International
  •      Community Service, for students committed to bettering their community; sponsored by Dr Pepper
  •      Engineering & Mathematics, for students interested in mathematics engineering, or technology; sponsored by ExxonMobil
  •      Healthcare, for students interested in healthcare professions sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline
  •      Sports, for students who have excelled in athletics; sponsored by SUBWAY
  •      Journalism, for students who demonstrate a strong interest in print broadcast, or web-based media; sponsored by NBC Universal/Telemundo

Nine gold medallion recipients in each region receive a $3,000 educational grant and nine silver medallion awardees in each region receive a $2,000 educational grant. Regions include: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, Northern California, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, New York, Philadelphia/New Jersey, and Washington, DC.

The 12 regional Youth Awards ceremonies are coordinated primarily at colleges and universities across the country, including Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rice University, among others. Approximately 200-250 guests gather in each region for moving ceremonies that celebrate the achievements of the Youth Awardees.

After the local ceremonies, the 216 Regional Youth Awards recipients are narrowed down to one national Youth Awards recipient for each of the nine categories. Those individuals are flown to Miami (via Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport) on Southwest Airlines and honored at the National Youth Awards presentation there, where each student receives an additional $5,000 educational grant and a laptop computer. They are then flown on Southwest Airlines to Washington, D.C. (via Baltimore/Washington International Airport) where they are again honored during the 20th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC on September 7, 2006, and featured on NBC and Telemundo stations during a television special set to air September 23. In both Miami and Washington, a representative from Southwest Airlines will present the national Education recipient with their award.

About the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards

In 1998, the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards were created to identify and promote the next generation of role models by celebrating their accomplishments in the classroom and community. In its ninth year, this national leadership program annually provides more than 200 students with $650,000 in educational grants in 12 regions. These young leaders are promoted as role models for their peers and selected to serve in the new Speakers Bureau where they visit their neighborhoods, schools and community centers and inspire other youth to achieve. With the Youth Awards as a feeder program, the LOFT (Latinos on Fast Track) initiative was launched in 2004 to systematically develop sustainable relationships between top Hispanic young professionals who have been awarded and America's workforce.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) celebrates and promotes Hispanic pride, culture, accomplishment and leadership through national and regional educational and inspirational programs focusing on putting Hispanics in a position from which to lead.    

About Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines was recognized by HISPANIC Magazine for the 2004 Hispanic Corporate 100. The award focuses on Southwest Airlines' leadership in providing opportunities for Hispanics and for supporting recruitment, scholarships, minority vendor programs, and Hispanic organizations. Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest airline in terms of domestic Customers boarded, currently serves 62 cities in 32 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest Airlines operates more than 3,000 flights a day. The carrier began service to Denver, its newest destination, on Jan. 3, 2006.

For more information please visit http://www.HispanicHeritage.org

Contact:

Edna Ruano of Southwest Airlines

+1-214-792-4309

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