L.A. teens receive $20K for college scholarships, extra COVID impact funds

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dozens of L.A.U.S.D. students were celebrated at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. It was the award ceremony for the Warren Christopher Scholarship Program.

Each student was given $20,000 for a college scholarship from the program and the international law firm O'Melveny and Myers.

Among the recipients were Kimberly Espinosa and her mom. Espinosa lost her father last year to COVID.

"It brought a lot of changes. I think one of the most direct ones was financially," said Espinosa, a student at RFK New Open World Academy. "My dad was the only financial provider of our family. He would sometimes even work two jobs."

After Espinosa's father passed away, she said her family received a rent-pay notice.

While her family grieved, the law firm stepped in for her and other students to help them with things like rent.

"Working with the California Community Foundation and our donors, we speed up a special emergency fund to address some of the very significant challenges our scholars faced," said Matt Kline, a partner with the law firm.

Espinosa's mom, Luz Hernandez, said with the loss of her husband she has to step in to provide for her family.

"And thanks to this support it makes us feel more a little bit more human. Because in reality it is a difficult situation with everything we are going through," said Hernandez.

According to the law firm, since the birth of the program almost 30 years ago, they have awarded more than $7 million in college scholarships to L.A. Unified students who are academic stars but need financial help to achieve their goals.

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