Tenth Anniversary of the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards Begins Twelve City Tour at Southwest Airlines Headquarters in Dallas

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24 Local Hispanic High School Seniors Honored with Thousands of Dollars in Educational Grants

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) today announced the recipients of the Dallas Regional Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards. Twenty-four local high school seniors will be honored for their leadership in the classroom and community and promoted as role models for their peers during a ceremony at Southwest Airlines' (NYSE: LUV) headquarters on April 16. The Dallas event is the launch of the program's tenth anniversary, the first of twelve events nationwide.

The 2007 Dallas Youth Awardees will each receive educational grants in the amounts of $3,000 for Gold Medallion, $2,000 for Silver Medallion and $1,000 for Bronze Medallion Awardees. For the first year, a new Bronze level Medallion will be awarded and a new Business category will be included, sponsored by Irving-based National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). The young recipients of the Business category award will also receive free NSHMBA membership and eligibility for additional NSHMBA scholarships, including paid tuition for the pursuit of an MBA degree.

In 12 regions across the country, 288 Youth Awardees will receive more than $600,000 in total grants after being selected from an original pool of more than 13,000 applications. The Dallas Regional Youth Award recipients are:

Academic Excellence, for extraordinary academic achievement, sponsored by Chase and MasterCard Worldwide:
Lyndz Claire Steeves of Weatherford, Texas - Weatherford High School - Gold Medallion
David Gonzalez of Plano, Texas - Plano Senior High School - Silver Medallion
Cynthia Salas of Fort Worth, Texas - Northside High School - Bronze Medallion

Business, for demonstrating strong business aptitude, sponsored by the National Society of Hispanic MBAs:
Tony Rivera of Irving, TX - Nimitz High School - Gold Medallion
Edith Resendiz of Grand Prairie, TX - Sam Houston High School - Silver Medallion
Kiani Laura Estevez of Mansfield, TX - Mansfield High School - Bronze Medallion

Community Service, for dedication to community betterment, sponsored by Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages:
Jodie Rae Beltran of El Paso, Texas - Socorro High School - Gold Medallion
Luis Fernando Maldonado of Waco, Texas - A.J. Moore Academy - Silver Medallion
Baltazar Cordero of Fort Worth, Texas - Northside High School - Bronze Medallion

Education, for demonstrated desire to be among the next generation of teachers, sponsored by Southwest Airlines (also the Official Airline of the HHYA):
Luz Carmen Avendano of Dallas, Texas - Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts - Gold Medallion
Victoria Derania Solis of Dallas, Texas - The School for the Talented and Gifted - Silver Medallion
Dyann Lynn Lopez of Red Oak, Texas - Red Oak High School - Bronze Medallion

Engineering and Mathematics, for innovation in mathematics, engineering, or technology, sponsored by ExxonMobil:
Gabriel Joel Mendoza of El Paso, Texas - Americas High School - Gold Medallion
Natalie Levy of Dallas, Texas - Science and Engineering Magnet High School - Silver Medallion
Jaime Ordonez of Fort Worth, Texas - Fossil Ridge High School - Bronze Medallion

Healthcare, for the pursuit of advancements in medicine, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline:
Alvaro Navarro of El Paso, Texas - Socorro High School - Gold Medallion
Audie Christopher Espinoza of Dallas, Texas - Duncanville High School - Silver Medallion
Reynaldo Homero Sanchez of Temple, Texas - Temple High School - Bronze Medallion

Journalism, for interest in print, broadcast, or web-based media, sponsored by NBC Universal/Telemundo:
Christopher Stephan Oroza of Coppell, Texas - Coppell High School - Gold Medallion
Jannet Ramos of Dallas, Texas - Warren Travis White High School - Silver Medallion
Alyssa Nichole Torres of Mesquite, Texas - Ralph H. Poteet High School - Bronze Medallion

Sports, for athletic excellence, sponsored by SUBWAY(R) Restaurants:
Julia Marie Little of Garland, Texas - Bishop Lynch High School - Gold Medallion
Jeremy Moreno of Alvarado, Texas - Alvarado High School - Silver Medallion
Mayra Roman of Austin, Texas - William B. Travis High School - Bronze Medallion

Regional committees select Awardees from the thousands of applications submitted by graduating high school seniors of Hispanic descent. Selection criteria includes academic achievement, community service, category focus, and an essay about the role that their heritage has played in their success.

"We are so proud of the Youth Awards program, which is progressing by leaps and bounds with more sponsor involvement, celebrity participation, and most importantly, student recognition," said Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. "The Dallas Awardees are role models and leaders who excel inside and outside of the classroom. They and their fellow regional honorees represent the next generation of emerging Hispanic professionals, and we are committed to providing them with opportunity and support."

"It's a great honor to be involved with the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards," said MTV VJ and Former Miss USA Susie Castillo, the new program spokesperson. "I am inspired in a different way by each one of our outstanding Awardees. These young people possess so much drive and talent, and it's a real joy to help give them the recognition they deserve."

The success of the Youth Awards program is predicated by the support of thousands of high schools, community organizations, and business partners such as Southwest Airlines, the Dallas event host, Education category sponsor, and the Official Airline of the Youth Awards. Allianz Life is once again the Official Insurance Company of the Youth Awards. The Foundation is pleased to welcome Sallie Mae as an Official Student Loan Partner of the Youth Awards, along with Youth Award Partners Staples Foundation for Learning, Excelencia in Education and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA).

After the local ceremonies, the 288 Regional Youth Awards recipients will be narrowed to one National Youth Award recipient for each of the eight categories. Those individuals will be honored at the National Youth Awards presentation, where each student receives an additional $5,000 educational grant and a laptop computer. The National Youth Awardees will be then be presented with their award onstage during a special ceremony of the 21st Annual Hispanic Heritage in Washington, DC on October 11, 2007.

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. Now celebrating its 10th Anniversary, this national leadership program provides 288 students with more than $600,000 in educational grants in 12 regions. 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, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, identifies, inspires, promotes, and prepares Latino role models through national leadership, educational, and workforce programs. For more information about the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, please visit http://www.HispanicHeritage.org .

To sponsor the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards and other Hispanic Heritage Foundation programs, please call 202.861.9797.

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