San Diego Central Library. Photo courtesy of the library.

Words Alive, a leading nonprofit literacy organization that inspires a commitment to reading among at-risk youth, on Wednesday will officially award $29,500 in college scholarships to 17 students from nine San Diego County Juvenile Court and Community Schools.

The scholarship winners are graduates of schools that serve youth who are either wards of the court or have been referred by social services, probation, or one of the 42 regular school districts in San Diego County.

Each of the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship recipients will receive a scholarship award ranging from $500 to $5,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.

The 2014 Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program recipients and their schools are:

  • Trisha McElroy, University of Southern California
  • Catherine Campos, San Diego State University
  • Judith Garcia and Maria Lozano, Southwestern College
  • Zaphire Alonso Duarte, San Diego City College
  • Karina Amaya, San Diego City College
  • Andrea Fernandez, San Diego City College
  • Gabriela Flores (Spring 2015), San Diego City College
  • J’Mescia Price, San Diego City College
  • Ashley Rodriguez, San Diego City College
  • Karen Scott, San Diego City College
  • Cynthia Valenzuela, San Diego City College
  • Jessika Valenzuela, San Diego City College
  • Domminiece Willis, San Diego City College
  • Brittany Jackson, Palomar College
  • Shantel Arlantico, FIDM
  • Nancy Regin, Bellus Academy

The scholarships cover a wide range of students’ needs, from books and tuition to food and living expenses. The program matches each recipient with a mentor, who meets with his or her student throughout the school year, providing guidance, direction, and often times, a “shoulder” to lean on.

San Diego philanthropist Ruth Westreich created the program in 2007, with the first scholarships awarded in 2008.

To recognize the 2014-15 scholarship recipients, Words Alive will host its annual Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Awards Ceremony on Wednesday at the downtown Central Library.

Words Alive is a nonprofit organization that helps underserved, low-income, at-risk children, teens and families discover how books and reading can add meaning to their lives.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.