Feria Financiera attracted thousands to USC who were eager to gain information on college aid, home financing, stock investments, consumer protection and resources for small businesses.
Hosted by USC and the Spanish-language TV network Univision on March 9, the second annual event enlisted the help of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined Hortensia Amaro, USC associate vice provost of community research initiatives, and Alberto Mier y Terán, Univision senior vice president and general manager, in a special ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This is an excellent opportunity for families to get valuable resources and services that will not only help their families, but their communities and the city of Los Angeles,” Garcetti said.
“Economic empowerment is the key to strengthen our communities. We really commend Univision for their leadership in bringing these resources together,” Amaro said.
“We found that there is a strong need for events such as this when conducting the State of the Neighborhood report due out this April,” she said, “so the timing is perfect.”
“Today is about supporting the entrepreneurial spirit that we, as Latinos, have,” Mier y Terán added.
Feria Financiera offers educational workshops on topics such as investments, financial aid for students, mortgages, loans, taxes and small businesses. Financial expert Julie Stav spoke at two town hall meetings held in Bovard Auditorium, both of which were filled to capacity.
USC held workshops on small business startups and college aid, led respectively by Sergio Gascon, executive director of the USC Minority Businesses Development Agency, and Sara Delgadillo, assistant director of financial aid (medicine).
“It was interesting to have many Cal Grant-related questions and Dream Act-specific,” Delgadillo said.
The Dream Act, the legislation which deals with tuition costs and financial aid for state universities, hit close to home for Neighborhood Academic Initiative parent Manolo Calderon, who organized the college aid workshop with Delgadillo.
“My daughter was accepted to many prestigious universities, but her pending status made it hard to get the financial resources to make it happen,” Calderon said.
“I’m happy to have participated and provide some information for parents in similar situations,” he added.
Maribel Hernandez, a resident of Venice, Calif., explained how the day’s events have helped her plan for the business she plans to launch with her mother.
“It was helpful to get some insight on the value of strategic marketing and to take time to gain some tools that will help launch a new business,” Hernandez said. “Even asking simple questions like, “Who are your customers and how are you going to reach them?” has helped me think about my business direction a little differently.”
Hernandez, who has a daughter in high school, attended the college aid workshops and said she would like to pass the information gathered to other parents.
“I had no idea about all the scholarships that are available. I would like to have an information fair at my daughter’s high school,” she said. Parents need to have this information.”
Nelson Castillo, president of the Westlake South Neighborhood Council, had a similar comment.
“I came here to get some inspiration because I would like to have a similar resource for my community,” he said. “There is a need for financial literacy.”
Additional resources were available in Alumni Park, including information from such university partners as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Exposition Park and Metro.
USC’s El Centro Chicano held a booth staffed by the Latino Parent Association, whose members answered questions about admissions and college aid resources.
“It’s been great to partner on this event,” said Billy Vela, the group’s director. “I look forward to next year.”