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Rigo Chacon

Rigo Chacon
Founder & President Abrazos and Books
Former South Bay Bureau Chief – KGO TV

Rigo Chacon founded Abrazos and Books on September 19, 1990. Known principally for raising money for scholarships, Abrazos and Books is also involved in helping children around the world who are challenged by disability, poverty or who are victims of natural catastrophes. Since 1990, Abrazos and Books has awarded more than half a million dollars to more than four hundred students throughout Santa Clara County. Because ethnicity is not part of selection criteria, recipients represent almost all cultural backgrounds that form the tapestry of Silicon Valley.

Rigo Chacon joined ABC7 on July 26, 1974 as a general assignment reporter and immediately opened ABC7’s South Bay Bureau — the first Santa Clara County bureau of a San Francisco-based TV station. Rigo resigned his position twenty-nine years later on October 10, 2003.

Rigo is now president of Rigo Chacon and Associates (RCA). Through RCA, Rigo’s endeavors include video production, voice work and motivational speaking.

Rigo’s principal areas of coverage were Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. He was also assigned to report from different parts of the U.S. and Latin America.
On May 17, 2003, Rigo received his third Emmy, the Governor’s Award, for lifetime achievement. The Governors’ Award is the highest honor offered by the Northern California Chapter of the National Television Academy of the Television Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

While at San Jose’s KNTV from 1971 to 1974, Rigo won an Emmy Award as a producer. Since then, he has received numerous broadcast and community service awards. He received his second Emmy award in 1985 for excellence in general news reporting which included coverage of the Mexico City earthquake, the Lexington Hills fire and Rigo’s tribute to four of his personal friends whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. Rigo has been inducted into the Silver Circle for the Bay Area Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Silver Circle membership is by peer nomination only and includes professionals in broadcasting who have dedicated more than 25 years of their career to the Bay Area.

Rigo has also been honored by Esquire magazine as an example of men and women who are changing America. In 1994, Rigo received the Portraits of Success Award, which pays tribute to local Hispanic Americans who through their vocations, spirit of volunteerism and sense of civic responsibility, elevate the quality of life in their community. In 2002, Rigo was one of eight Americans singled out by Hispanic Magazine for its community service awards.

The San Jose High School Foundation lists Rigo as one of the top five alumni in the school’s history which dates back to 1863. Rigo has also been honored by the State Department of Justice as an example of Americans who have struggled against adversity. The Santa Clara Human Relations Commission has given Rigo its prestigious Special Recognition awarded for public service. A number or organizations, agencies and educational institutions have also singled Rigo out for special merit. The Mexican government has selected him for its Ohtli Award. The Ohtli is given to native sons and daughters of Mexico or their descendants who have excelled on foreign soil. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the NAACP has given Rigo the Freedom Fighter Award. During the month of February, 2004, Rigo received several awards. The Martin Luther King Association honored Rigo with its prestigious Excellence in Leadership Award. The San Francisco and San Jose chapters of the National Latino Peace Officers Association conferred on Rigo the rare Honorary Peace Officer status. The San Jose Peace Officers Association calls on Rigo every year to lead ceremonies honoring fallen officers. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Rigo for his contribution to broadcasting and to his community. A similar honor came from the Santa Clara County Human Relations Community. In giving Rigo the coveted Tomas Rivera Leadership Award, the National Hispanic University commended Rigo for “Exemplary Leadership in education and the field of broadcast journalism as well as for embracing diversity as a way of life rather than a goal.” In 2005 the Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley honored Rigo with its annual Leading Citizens Award.

Rigo is past president of the Community Service Organization and is a former member of the board of the National Hispanic University. He has served on the board of directors of Estrella Family Services, formerly Gardner Children’s Center. Rigo is a senior fellow of American Leadership Forum/Silicon Valley and a senior fellow at the National Institute for Educational Inquiry.

The fifth of ten children, Rigo moved with his family from the small community of Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico to El Paso, Texas when he was eight. Farm work in Santa Clara Valley beckoned the Chacon family to California where Rigo, his parents and his siblings worked in many of the area’s orchards and fields.

Rigo attended San Jose High School and served as student body president in addition to his involvement in oratorical competition. During Rigo’s term as junior class president at San Jose High School, Santa Clara County’s Optimist Clubs named Rigo the Youth of the Year. He later attended San Jose State University before pursuing his broadcast career. Throughout his career, Rigo has been one of the most frequently requested speaker or master of ceremonies in the Bay Area. Fluent in two languages, Rigo’s Spanish language presentation “El Brindis del Bohemio” is an example of his oratorical skills in either language.

Rigo lives in San Jose with his wife and young son. Three adult sons also live in San Jose.

Abrazos and Books funds scholarships for university bound high school seniors from Santa Clara County. It was founded in 1990 by three time Emmy Award winner Rigo Chacon, retired ABC Channel 7 South Bay Bureau Chief. The scholarships are based on merit and need, independent of ethnic background.

Abrazos and Books were created from the aftermath of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Chacon was assigned to cover the disaster. Prompted by his reports, Bay Area television viewers donated $1.3 million. The funds were used to rebuild hundreds of homes in Mexico City. Two elementary schools in a village in Mexico were also rebuilt. Moved by the eloquent tear-filled expressions of gratitude of a young student Brenda, Chacon decided to start a small scholarship program for the children in Mexico. He later extended that endeavor by starting a similar scholarship program in Santa Clara County.

In the first year Abrazos and Books distributed a collective award amounting to $1200 to four students in Mexico. As of last year this amount had increased to $60,000, distributed to students of Santa Clara County. Each year twenty high school graduates are chosen to receive the award contributed by the Bay Area community. Up to $2000 are awarded as scholarships to individual students. Although it is a small amount, it goes a long way in expressing the community’s belief in its young scholars.

The scholarships bear the names of local heroes, such as Cesar Chavez, Norman Y Mineta, and many others who exemplify courage, compassion and vision, people who have sacrificed and have made a difference.

To apply for the Abrazos and Books scholarships, download and print the application form. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements and guidelines for applications by visiting the scholarship guidelines page.