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Foundation Award Ceremony 2023

Foundation awards over $700,000 in scholarships

For student Jesus Marin, receiving a scholarship puts him one step closer to his dream of becoming a veterinarian and helps motivate him to keep moving forward. Marin is joined by more than 180 other students selected by the Yakima Valley College Foundation for its 2023-2024 academic year scholarships. In total more than $700,000 was awarded with an average scholarship of $4,000.

Marin, who received a scholarship of $4,000 from the Mel Lewis Memorial, is working toward his Associate in Arts – DTA and plans to continue his studies at Washington State University in the fall of 2024.

“This scholarship will help me continue my study here at YVC and will later be a great support for me when I move on to Washington State University,” he said.

“The Foundation’s rich history of supporting students in the Yakima Valley has not only helped individual students, but also helped promote the growth of our entire community,” said Executive Director Stacey Kautz. “From athletics to healthcare our endowment covers over 150 separate scholarships with a wide range of criteria, ensuring that a variety of students meet their educational goals. Since our beginning we’ve been honored to help Yakima Valley College students accomplish their higher education aspirations.”

For YVC alum and attorney Norma Barajas, who now serves on the YVC Foundation Board, serving the organization is a way for her to give back and inspire the next generation of leaders.

“The [Foundation] scholarship gave me the financial assistance I needed to obtain my associate degree,” said Barajas. “This degree became my cornerstone into my future education and desire to pursue a law degree. Feeling extremely blessed and thankful from all the support that I had received throughout my educational journey, I knew that one day I would return to my hometown and return the favor.” —

By investing in students in the Yakima Valley, Barajas believes the benefits will be returned exponentially.

“Scholarships provide financial doors to students who are not able to achieve an educational path on their own,” she continued. “Through this gateway, students feel supported in their own town and may be more intrigued to one day return the favor, just like me. In a sense, scholarships help grow the next generation and ensure that students are skilled and return to be successful [community] members in the Yakima Valley.”

Board Member Ernesto Sanchez, who was encouraged to become involved with the YVC Foundation by a fellow member, believes education is the best way to strengthen the  community.

“The [Foundation] scholarship gave me the financial assistance I needed to obtain my associate degree. This degree became my cornerstone into my future education and desire to pursue a law degree.” — Norma Barajas, attorney and Foundation board member

“Unfortunately, the inability to pay for college often discourages students from completing their college degree,” said Sanchez. “YVC Foundation scholarships help ease that economic burden, and they help level the playing field for some of our most vulnerable students. They help increase graduation rates and in doing so have a positive social and economic impact on our community.”

Sanchez, who has spent most of his professional life working in the public school system,  often encourages students to pursue post-secondary education and enjoys the opportunity to help serve students throughout the Yakima Valley in a new way.

“Being involved with the YVC Foundation has afforded me an amazing opportunity to use my expertise, passion and experience to help choose the next cohort of scholarship recipients. Learning about the personal challenges our students face and how they are able to find strength, resilience and determination to pursue their dreams inspires me. It reinforces my personal beliefs that we can achieve anything we set our mind to and that we all have a social responsibility to help make our community and this world a better place for everyone.” 

Students were presented with their scholarships during a reception on June 1 in the YVC Conference Center. Since its establishment in 1977, the YVC Foundation has provided over $7 million in scholarships to Yakima Valley College students.

View all 2023-2024 recipients.

Yakima Valley College and the YVC Foundation thrive through donations. For more information about the YVC Foundation or to become a donor please call 509.574.4645 or make a gift online.