The mission of MAEGA is to promote education beyond high school for San Dieguito Union High School District students of Latino heritage by providing one year scholarships, which may be renewable if funds allow. Scholarships are awarded to deserving Latino high school seniors demonstrating financial need and who will be attending certified vocational schools, community colleges, and universities.
The Mexican American Educational Guidance Association (MAEGA) was established in 1970 in response to a growing concern over the inability of qualified high school students of Mexican descent to attend college due to financial obstacles. Don Lapham, publisher of the San Dieguito Citizen, was particularly struck by this problem when he realized how often high school students in good academic standing opted to work after graduation instead of pursuing a college education. For most of these students, the dire need to help their families took priority over a college education. Mr. Lapham understood the importance of investing in these students in order to break the cycle of poverty. He called on business community leaders and school administrators to join him in establishing a local scholarship program for deserving Mexican American high school seniors in the San Dieguito Union High School District.
Four other local leaders joined Mr. Lapham in April 1970 to become incorporators of MAEGA: Theodore Gildred, developer of the Lomas Santa Fe housing community; Catalina Gonzalez, owner of Tony's Jacal Restaurant; Michael Breen, superintendent of the Solana Beach Elementary School District; and George Kibby, superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District.
Mr. Gildred offered to match the first $10,000 raised, and poinsettia farm owner Paul Ecke, Jr., set up one of the first scholarships. The Rotary Clubs of Encinitas and Del Mar also donated, as they continue to do. Community fundraising dinners still are held at Tony's Jacal.
Since its inception, MAEGA has awarded more than $1.8 million in scholarships. MAEGA's scholarship program is open to graduating Latino seniors from five high schools in the San Dieguito Union High School District: Canyon Crest Academy, La Costa Canyon High School, San Dieguito Academy, Sunset High School, and Torrey Pines High School. All interested students are required to submit completed applications (with official transcripts) by specified deadline. Read the scholarship guidelines for details and instructions on how to apply. The students are required to complete applications and submit transcripts and recommendations in a timely manner. Each applicant is interviewed personally by several board members.