Valentine's Gala to Raise Scholarship Funds Planned for Feb. 13 by Sembradores de Austin

Sembradores de Austin's "Valentine's Day Gala" will be held in the Omni Hotel South Park in Austin on Feb. 13 to raise funds for a scholarship program for underprivileged first-generation students at The University of Texas at Austin and other universities in the Austin area.

The formal gala, beginning at 5:45 p.m., will feature Ron Oliveira, news anchor at KEYE Channel 42 television station, as the master of ceremonies.

Hilbert R. Maldonado, secretary for Sembradores de Austin, said the organization has raised more than $510,000 for the endowment since the program was begun in Austin in 1995.

Maldonado said that from the beginning of the program through 2009, 51 scholarships valued at $68,500 have been awarded to students at The University of Texas at Austin, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University and St. Edward's University, as well as through The University of Texas Ex-Students Association, from interest earned on the endowment funds.

Preference for Sembradores de Austin scholarships is given to central Texas students who are among the first generation of their families to attend college and who qualify as being "financially and educationally disadvantaged," Maldonado said.

Maldonado said the Valentine's Ball is open to the public but seating is limited. Tickets for the dinner and dance must be purchased in advance by Jan. 31 and cannot be bought at the door. Tickets cost $95 each or $190 per couple. Sponsor tables cost $2,750 for a gold corporate table and $1,650 for a silver corporate table. For details, contact Maldonado at 512-689-4245.

Maldonado said gala proceeds go toward endowment funds at The University of Texas at Austin, Concordia, Huston-Tillotson and St. Edward's. He said the proceeds build on the principal so that future awards would be secure and adequate regardless of economic conditions. Money from the endowment funds interest allocated to The University of Texas at Austin will become a part of the university's endowed presidential scholarship program.