Actor Wilmer Valderrama Honored with CHCI Service Award in Los Angeles

Jun 22, 2010, 15:29 ET from Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Valderrama Extends Partnership to Serve as Spokesperson for College Readiness Program

WASHINGTON, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the nation's premier Latino youth leadership development and educational organization, presented actor Wilmer Valderrama with the CHCI Service Award on Monday, June 21, 2010, in Los Angeles, CA.  Valderrama received the award for his service as the official spokesperson for CHCI's Ready to Lead (R2L) college readiness program that helps Latino high school students enter post-secondary education.

(Photos of event available at  High resolution available upon request.)

Valderrama also announced the extension of his partnership with CHCI as the R2L spokesperson through December 2012. Since April 2009, Valderrama has appeared at workshops around the country sharing his life story of achieving the American dream and inspiring youth to pursue their own dreams through higher education.  Valderrama has also filmed several public service announcements for CHCI.

"This has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done," said Valderrama.  "It is crucial that we embrace the youth of today for the future of America. When I tell them they can, that's all they need."

More than 150 CHCI alumni, supporters and board members were in attendance to help raise money to benefit Los Angeles area youth.  Local Congressional Representatives Joe Baca and Lucille Roybal-Allard joined Esther Aguilera, CHCI President & CEO, in honoring Valderrama.  Representative Judy Chu and comedian Paul Rodriguez also attended.

Wilmer's unwavering commitment to CHCI's Ready to Lead Program exemplifies true leadership as a role model for Latino youth," said Aguilera.  "We need more young, civically engaged Latinos like Wilmer who are dedicated to giving back to the community and using their voice to create positive change."

The event also featured the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between CHCI and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA).  The two organizations agreed to work collaboratively to increase the number of Latino students in the Los Angeles area that are exposed to important information about college affordability, readiness and leadership.  More than 70 HACLA students have participated in CHCI's Ready to Lead (R2L) program the past two years.

"We are proud to partner with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and look forward to the expansion of our partnership," said Rudolf C. Montiel, President and CEO of Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.  "We look forward to providing opportunities to give communities of color possibilities for a bright future. Education is a great equalizer and if young men and women pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, they are assured of never needing public assistance."

CHCI's mission is to develop the next generation of Latino leaders by promoting higher education, providing unmatched career development experience, and award-winning leadership development curriculum.  CHCI accomplishes its mission by offering educational and leadership development programs, services, and activities that promote the growth of participants as effective professionals and strong leaders.

About Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c) (3) organization, provides leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging leaders.  The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic Members of Congress, nonprofit, union and corporate leaders.  For more information call CHCI at (202) 543-1771 or visit

SOURCE Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute