Celebrating Fiesta 2016

The Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars fund-raising Fiesta is held Memorial Day weekend because Drew’s birthday was May 30, the date on which the holiday used to be celebrated.

This year, May 28, was a perfect day for a celebration to honor Drew’s memory and benefit deserving students. The weather was ideal. There were enough umbrellas over the tables. Christian arrived in plenty of time to set up a lavish seafood feast. Matty prepared pitchers of refreshing beverages, and Ali Olmo serenaded us in English and Spanish.

There were raffles offering special services and summer attractions, and a Treasure Table to attract bargain hunters.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was to hear Blake Davis remember his elementary school days with Drew playing tennis and basketball and to hear the students tell what college means to them, their hopes for the future and their appreciation of the scholarships they receive. There are 16 continuing students and 5 new high school graduates who will receive checks June 18 at the LA Unified School District Board.

All of the money raised goes directly towards helping these students. There are minimal administrative costs.

This scholarship is a team effort. It takes a generous Board donating invitations, raffle and treasure table items, cookies, paper goods, their time and effort for photographs and mailings.

Board members, mentors and supporters come from all areas of the city and contribute their individual skills and talents to make it possible for 21 students to receive financial help and also encouragement to earn a college degree. Several of the graduates were at the Fiesta. They are all eager to do work to help others.

Many friends called to say it was the best fiesta ever. I hear this each year, and am happy to be writing thank you letters for weeks after the May Fiesta weekend.

Please enjoy the photos from our event, below.



Lila Lee Silvern


Heartfelt Thanks

Laura Leyva_a

Dear Scholarship Donor,

I am honored to have been given this opportunity to form part of the Drew Silvern Scholarship. Thank you for your generosity which has allowed me to further my education at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Thanks to you, I was able to buy my textbooks, live near by school, and pay off some loans. This has helped me stay focused in school rather than stressing about financial issues. Thank you once again.

I am very thankful for receiving your thoughtful gift.

Laura Leyva

Giordany, Young Man of Many Talents

Giordany OrrellanaI am a former Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars scholarship recipient who graduated from USC in 2009. I went to UCLA for the screenwriting extension program for 9 months from Oct 2013 to June 2014.

In 2013, after I took a 9 month screenwriting class at UCLA, and in January 2014, I became disillusioned with film. I decided I needed to make a life change and began studying Objective-C programming to make apps for the iPhone. I developed a 3 year plan to teach myself programming, but in the meanwhile, I needed something to support myself and pay my bills while I pursue my new studies. I decided to create an online business. The idea came to me while I was driving on the freeway in June: I came upon the idea of selling personal leather bands for Apple Watches.

IMG_4345I knew three things: people pay a good price for high quality leather, people love to personalize their technology, people that can afford a luxury item like the apple watch can afford a high quality band. With those three things, I sought to produce high quality leather bands. However, the only problem is that I’ve never produced leather bands before, let alone even cut leather. So I went on a three month journey of teaching myself everything.

IMG_4350After 3 months, slowly but surely I started to see these bands on Etsy. Once a week, then once every few days. Now, I charge $65 and I get at least an order a day. Each band takes me several hours to produce, and if I mess up once, I usually have to start over. I try to produce each band as close to perfection as possible.

People are really loving the bands. You can see from the reviews that they really enjoy them. My dad is building die-cutting stamp that will reduce my production time in half. I am also looking into selling the bands on Amazon and other locations.

An employee from Apple has already purchased a band and is showing it off to all of his colleagues. People keep reporting that they constantly get compliments on their bands.

Here’s the link to my new products. I can be contacted at:

A Visit to the Norton Simon Museum

Suzeth Alonso small sizedIt was a fun adventure going to the Norton Simon Museum with my mentor, Mrs. Goldstein, Andrea Romero and her mentor, Mrs. Gechtman.

At the same time I was excited and scared because I had to meet Mrs. Goldstein at the Union Station and I didn’t know how to get there. Along the way I did ask people for help and I didn’t end up getting lost. I was happy when I saw my mentor because I had a lot to talk about. Especially since summer was coming to an end, I was excited to talk about my summer and my plans the upcoming school year.

I had never been to the Norton Simon Museum but I have to say I really enjoyed being there. There were so many paintings that I found interesting and caught my attention. One of the painting artists that I personally liked was Van Gogh. He had a unique way of painting with a brush and mixing the colors.

Not only was I in great company with Mrs. Goldstein but with the other mentor and the student that I met. I had a really good time spending time with Mrs. Goldstein and want to thank her for taking me on this trip. I also want to thank Mrs. Silvern for giving me the opportunity of being part of the Dollars for Scholars program and for giving me a mentor that has guided me.

Suzeth Alonso

Katie Couric celebrates Scholarship America

Katie Couric and Dollars for Scholars founder Dr. Irving Fradkin

Katie Couric recently featured our Scholarship America founder, Dr. Irving Fradkin, on her nationwide daytime talk show, Katie! In addition to a video profile and in-studio interview, the show provided Dr. Fradkin a surprise: scholarship recipients from 1961 to the present came out to thank him for his life’s work.

Katie and Dr. Fradkin also spoke with Hannah Truong, the 2013 Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year. Hannah was an active volunteer with Bellingham Dollars for Scholars in Washington state and is now attending college at Yale.

Here at Drew Silvern Education Fund / Dollars for Scholars, we also have some amazing volunteers and students. Dr. Phyllis Lautman shines particularly bright. Please see her experience, along with that of her mentee, Magdalena Lopez, here.

We are so grateful to Katie for her support of Dollars for Scholars and our national organization, Scholarship America. To help us support our local students and continue the legacy started by Dr. Fradkin, click here for volunteer opportunities.

Summer Social 2013

Helpers arrived at my door August 4 at exactly three o’clock bearing platters of watermelon, homemade cookies, cheese, chips, dips and cupcakes and stepped right in to set up for the first ever Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars Migrant Education Fund SUNDAY SOCIAL specially arranged for scholarship recipients to meet each other, the Board members and accomplished adults who had volunteered to be their mentors through their college years.

Many of the scholarship recipients arrived soon after. We were all a little shy at first. Name tags and introductions were needed before we started the ice breaker games. People Bingo got everyone out of their chairs and looking for someone with gray hair, or someone who knew how to salsa dance. MLou Guzman was the first to fill the page and be declared the winner.

Before anyone could return to their seat, they were asked to form a line starting with Jeri Vargas who lives across the street and came the shortest distance to Catherine Bramhall who traveled from Oxnard and may have tied with Nellie Barrientos from Cucamonga.

We finished mixing with a game of finding the match-up to a song lyric cut in half. Some of our retired school administrators surprised us with their renditions of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Justin Bieber’s One Time. Thanks to Carole Rosner for mixing old Sinatra favorites with Britney Spears and more mod tunes.

Finally we all gathered on the patio with plates of goodies to hear Rebecca Leach who had been awarded a Dollars scholarship as a Foster youth in San Diego several years ago, speak about the encouragement she received from a mentor with her since high school. Now she told us, she is enjoying being a mentor to Gardenia Benecio, a young college student.

The best part of the afternoon, was seeing the student/mentor pairs getting to know more about each other, exchanging information about their backgrounds and hobbies and writing down phone numbers and E-mail addresses.

We wanted to assure the group of hopeful young students that besides the financial grant we provided them, we also want to offer moral support and assistance through an important period in their lives.

There were warm embraces and expressions of gratitude from the students as they left with a gift of a book light and wishes for a very successful year in college.


Update on Laura’s First Year at UCLA

Laura LeyvaLaura Levya says her first quarter at UCLA has definitely been a challenge because she had to adjust living on her own. She must also manage her time wisely between classes and UCLA club softball team. She has been attending tutoring sessions to help stay on track. Living on campus helps her become involved in student life and make new friends. She has learned about different cultures and the experience has opened a whole new world. She now realizes how much responsibility it takes to be on her own and be responsible for going to class. Her goal is to have a GPA of 3.2 or higher so that she will be eligible for UCLA honor credits. She is thankful for the help to start her on the way to achieving her goal. This scholarship has helped her stay motivated and on track with keeping her grades high.

Giordany’s Success!

Lila and Giordanny

Giordany Orellana was the first student to apply for a Drew Silvern scholarship in 2005 and the first of the recipients to graduate. He has come back to all of our fiestas and inspired new high school graduates with his encouraging words.

We are all very proud of him and want to share his accomplishments since his graduation from USC in 2009 with a major in Film Production and a minor in Entrepreneurship. That same year he started his own production company called Anchorbolt Studios, where he and his partners produce commercials, music videos, and promotional content for distribution on the web.

They have serviced clients from Vietnam to Switzerland, and the projects they produce range from $1,000 to $100,000. Last year, they shot and completed a full feature length film called Monte Reve, and next year the company is preparing to shoot two new feature length films.

Giordany has currently finished writing three feature scripts, one action and two horror. He’s also preparing to direct his first feature next year in Italy, a horror film he wrote about a demon.

I look forward to seeing him nominated for an Oscar sometime in the future.

Lila Silvern