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CLYLP Scholarships are available to alumni throughout the various stages of their academic careers.

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The Roberto Gracia Memorial Scholarship is named after one of CLYLP’s most dedicated volunteers. From a young age, it was clear that Gracia was passionate about helping others. After graduating high school, he served in the United States Air Force and later began a career with the State of California Employment Development Department in Riverside. A promotion with the EDD led to a move to Sacramento.


In Sacramento, he networked with other Chicano professionals who shared a vision of improving the lives of Latino families across California. He devoted much of his free time to meeting with teachers, legislative aides, and leaders to strategize on ways to improve the future for Chicano/Latino youth. It was during this time that he met Maria Chairez and together, with the help of other Latino professionals and political organizations, they formed the first Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Conference.


Since then, the organization has expanded and became known as the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project with over 6,000 alumni and counting.  The mission of the conference was, and has remained to prepare Chicano/Latino youth to participate in California politics and open doors for the underrepresented community. Gracia was a driving force that never let the success of the program change the mission. 


The Roberto Gracia Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 is awarded to CLYLP alumni based on academic strength and financial need.



Sal Castro was an educator, civil rights leader, and long-time CLYLP volunteer. A Los Angeles native, Castro graduated from Cal State LA and became a teacher in East LA. During his time as an educator, he began seeking ways to proactively improve the conditions and educational opportunities available to his students. 


Castro was a social studies teacher at Lincoln High School when the student walkouts of 1968 occurred. His role in the Chicano student walkouts of 1968 highlighted the inequalities and discrimination in the Los Angeles educational system. Castro’s story and the East LA walkouts continue to inspire students to succeed academically and take on leadership roles within their communities. 


Castro was a fervent education activist whose mission was to awaken the leadership spirit of every youth he encountered. He was one of the CLYLP’s longest running speakers at the Statewide Leadership Conference. The Sal Castro Memorial Scholarship was established in 2013 to honor him and his many years of dedication to CLYLP.


The Sal Castro Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 is awarded to CLYLP alumni interested in a career related to education (including teaching, education administration, education programming, or education policy).



From the moment Hector Najera got off the bus in Sacramento, we knew there was something special about him. With his gentle smile and quiet ways, he went around thanking all of the volunteers for their “Labor of Love” and introducing himself to his CLYLP peers. By week’s end, he was elected to serve as the CLYLP Student President--it was obvious they too saw something special in Hector. As CLYLP Student President, he was an amazing young leader rallying support for CLYLP so others could benefit.


As an undocumented student, Hector had to take on several side jobs in order to make ends meet--but he never complained about the extra effort it took to balance job responsibilities and being an exemplary student.  Hector worked long hours, while also earning a 4.0 GPA. Hector also excelled in school and community engagement and displayed leadership in his roles as both a student and community activist.


After graduating from Bennington College, he returned to CLYLP and supported the creation of the CLYLP Comcast Fellowship program so alumni could have additional leadership development opportunities. Hector went on to Brown University to go get his Master’s degree and later became a teacher. He was an excellent educator and a powerful, talented writer. 


This world is a better place because Hector was in it. He left an undeniable imprint on CLYLP.


The Hector Najera Memorial Scholarship of $3,000 is awarded to undocumented CLYLP alumni pursuing higher education.


Josefina Canchola and Max Espinoza, former CLYLP Board Presidents and friends of Hector Najera contributed to the narrative about Hector’s impact. 



In January 1982, the first meeting for a Latino youth conference was held in the Sacramento living room of Maria Chairez. Maria was a great leader, recruited volunteers for the first committee, initiated funding efforts, and used her Chicano Capitol Staff connections to create the first Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Conference. Modeled after Boys/Girls State, the first Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Conference took six months to plan. “It started with a dream, hard work, and committed friends,” says Maria Chairez.


A graduate from CSU Northridge, she earned two masters from Sacramento State and San Jose State before attending the University of the Pacific, writing her dissertation on the conference, and earning her Doctorate in Education. Dr. Chairez has worked as a teacher, a government consultant, a school administrator and in various other capacities in education. Dr. Chairez is a remarkable woman who dove into male dominated spaces and faced a lot of pushback but persevered and succeeded.


Since 1982, the organization has expanded and became known as the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project with over 6,000 alumni and counting. The mission of the conference was, and has remained, to prepare Chicano/Latino youth to participate in California politics and open doors for the underrepresented community. Today, we honor Dr. Chairez’ contributions as a founder and volunteer of CLYLP with this scholarship.  


The Dr. Maria Chairez Scholarship of $3,000 will be awarded to CLYLP alumni pursuing a graduate or professional degree.


  • Applicants must fulfill ALL of the following requirements to be eligible for the CLYLP Alumni Scholarships:

  • Be an alumnus of CLYLP (by having completed at least one of the following programs: CLYLP Statewide Leadership Conference, CLYLP Central Valley Institute, CLYLP Los Angeles Institute, CLYLP Bay Area Institute, or CLYLP Digital 2020/2021

  • Will be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited community college or university for Fall of 2024 (recent high school graduates planning to enroll in college in the Fall 2024 are eligible to apply to all scholarships)

  • Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher

  • Open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Previous scholarship recipients are eligible to apply for scholarships that they have not previously received (must still meet other eligibility criteria).

  • Specific scholarship eligibility:

    • Robert Gracia Memorial Scholarship: Demonstrate financial need​

    • Sal Castro Memorial Scholarship: Intend to pursue a career in education

    • Hector Najera Memorial Scholarship: Must be an undocumented student to apply

    • Dr. Maria Chairez: Must be pursuing a graduate or professional degree


- Submit by May 31, 2024 by 11:59PM 

- All components must be submitted as a single combined PDF file

- submit to:

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