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Southwest Airlines, the "Yeast" behind the Take Off!/Lanzate Travel Award

Education is like yeast.  If that ingredient is omitted, you can expect the bread to come out flat! When I learned that more than one half of all U.S. Hispanics quit high school and do not go on to college, I could see that their future was not going to rise.  This is what sparked a creative conversation with the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU).  Their focus is to get students from high school and into college; to graduate from college, and then into the real world of work. This was not an easy conversation, because so many scholarships and grants were already out there.  Everyone insisted that the only way Southwest Airlines could help was with cash scholarships.  But in my mind, this was the same old technique by a Corporation that would not make a unique contribution.  It’s like getting a cash gift on your birthday.  That’s nice—especially in this economy—but it has no lively personality. These were some of the thoughts that went into the mix: How can we use Southwest’s strength to create a unique recipe for student success in higher education? How can we capture HACU’s strength to add to this one-of-kind recipe? With HACU’s willingness and vision, I proposed the “Take Off!/Lánzate” Travel Award, where we could help students stay connected to family and contribute in our unique Southwest-way  to complete their college education. Six years later, the program is going strong, and we have supported hundreds of students and their families in their journey toward a higher education, and we see nothing but success on the rise for them. They were like a delicious cake that was not going to come up short!