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Catholic Charities Honors Inland Physician for Philanthropy

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Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela, M.D. focuses his programs on low-income, academically challenged students to provide them with stipends, tutoring and other support

Longtime Inland physician and regional philanthropist Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela, M.D. has been selected as a recipient of the 2011 Catholic Charities’ Providing Help, Creating Hope Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and innovation in developing and providing programs that encourage Inland Empire students to attend college.

Dr. Valenzuela is among four honorees who will be presented awards at Catholic Charities’ 21st annual benefit gala, Evening of Hope, being held at the historic Victoria Club in Riverside on Nov 5th.

The other 2011 honorees include Lois Carson, retired director of the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County, Robert Goffney, an extraordinary Catholic Charities volunteer and Christy Porter, founder and executive director of Hidden Harvest.

“Dr. Valenzuela is a rare example of an individual who has chosen to make a lasting impact in his community.

His willingness to provide students from Riverside and San Bernardino counties with the support and materials they need to succeed truly exemplifies the spirit of the Providing Help, Creating Hope Award,” said Ken Sawa, CEO and Executive Vice President of Catholic Charities.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” said Valenzuela, chairman of Women’s Health at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, “It is my hope that this honor will help bring attention to the need for greater investment in the futures of Inland students.”

Dr. Valenzuela has been praised for his work in encouraging at-risk students from elementary to high school to attend college – an accomplishment many Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela, M.D. focuses his programs on low-income, academically challenged students to provide them with stipends, tutoring and other support Catholic Charities Honors Inland Physician for Philanthropic Work students in the Inland Empire find hard to attain.

The Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy found in 2005 that fewer than 30% of 9th graders in the Inland Empire will attend college within four years of graduation from high school.

In 2007, Dr. Valenzuela launched the Dream Project, a motivational program for at-risk youth at Colton High School. Working with school officials, Dr. Valenzuela’s program provides low-income, academically-challenged students with financial assistance, tutoring and other support to put them on the path to graduation. Fifty-six students have successfully participated in the Dream Project, which boasts a 100% graduation rate. By comparison, a control group of at-risk students had a 76 percent graduation rate Dr. Valenzuela also founded the TECH Laptop Scholarship Program which has awarded more than 90 personal laptops computers to elementary school students in the Riverside Unified School District.

More than 1,900 students have participated in the TECH Scholarship Program since 2008. The program encourages students to begin thinking about college at a young age by writing essays and creating artwork about their college dreams and goals.

“We have so many wonderfully bright and talented students in our region who don’t see college as an attainable goal. Through these programs, we have been able to provide students with the support and encouragement they needed to help them achieve their goals,” said Valenzuela The proceeds from Evening of Hope help Catholic Charities change the lives of over 20,000 households annually.

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