Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Cerritos college alumnus creates scholarship to support students, promote social justice

Courtesy of Sylvester Ani
The Love We Don’t See nonprofit organization was founded by Cerritos College alumnus, Sylvester Ani. The scholarship was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the work he was doing against poverty.

The Cerritos College Foundation announced a new scholarship this semester, created by nonprofit organization The Love We Don’t See. Students working to further social justice initiatives or that have been impacted by social or institutional injustice were encouraged to apply.

Cerritos College alumnus and founder of The Love We Don’t See, Sylvester Ani, said the scholarship was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Poor People’s Campaign, and the work he was doing to gain economic justice for the poor in the United States.

“We want to continue that work — invest in individuals who are fighting for social justice in the communities. Or have been negatively impacted or disenfranchised by the way the system is set up,” said Ani.

Cerritos College student Graciela Arzac was announced as the first recipient of the new scholarship, during the event. Arzac is a Communications major, who talked about the impact environmental racism has had on her and the community she grew up in.

“We’re surrounded by — I believe — is a power plant, there’s a lot of factories in the area, a lot of pollution in the air. This is not what you would see in other areas where people of color don’t typically live in,” said Arzac.

“It’s something that I would like people to be more aware of because environmental racism is very much real, and it’s something that I’m grateful that I was made aware of because now I’m able to talk and bring it up to others.”

The Love We Don’t See nonprofit organization received the grant for the scholarship from the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Fund, founded by New Orleans Pelicans player Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren Holiday.

As a step toward dismantling systemic racism, the NBA player pledged a portion of his 2020 NBA salary to support local and Black-owned nonprofit organizations — such as TLWDS — in cities including New Orleans, Indianapolis, Compton and in Holiday’s hometown of Los Angeles.

The Love We Don’t See nonprofit was founded by Cerritos College alumnus Sylvester Ani, to create opportunities and positive change in inner city communities through programs which introduce students to tech education, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and social emotional learning skills.

“We’re investing in the youth to break down a lot of the division that’s within our communities,” said Ani. “We’re investing in them so we can close that racial wealth gap.”

We are also working on the social justice end and talking with policy makers on creating legislation that’s going to get those resources where we need them the most — in the schools.”

Ani plans the scholarship to be a yearly scholarship at Cerritos College adding, “It’s a full circle kind of moment, to be able to come back and do this for the college.”

The TLWDS nonprofit is also piloting a Guaranteed Income Stimulus Program that will last for six months with awardees receiving $400 per month, including a $100 enrollment bonus gift (a total of $2,500 per family over six months).

“We’re pushing that conversation toward investing more in the safety net of people — we need to put people first. We have the resources to do that; we just need that commitment to make it happen,” said Ani.

Ani also hopes for the mayor of LA to take this up in the future and initiate a similar program.

“So if the mayor starts a pilot out here, and from that it grows into a guaranteed income for everyone, that’s the ultimate goal that we want with this project.”

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About the Contributor
Mirella Vargas, Life Editor
Mirella Vargas is the Life editor of Talon Marks for Spring 2021. This is her second semester with Talon Marks, last semester she was the editor of Opinion. As a staff writer, she has covered politics, entertainment, community, and both local and international news. Mirella is from Los Angeles, California and is currently living in Seoul, South Korea. She is graduating with an Associate’s Degree of Journalism at the end of this semester, and will transfer to CSU to continue her Journalism studies and receive her B.A.
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Cerritos college alumnus creates scholarship to support students, promote social justice