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.