Diane Evia-Lanevi, The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students Founder
Many college students might wish that they could set up a fund to help people like them qualify for financial aid. Diane Evia-Lanevi and her husband actually did that quite successfully just five years ago.
In fact, the launch of The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students, which gives scholarships, has been such a success that it raised $500,000 in just five years.
Evia-Lanevi was born in 1965 in Camaguey, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was just 13 months old. Evia-Lanevi studied at Flagler College in Florida where she met her husband. According to Evia-Lanevi, had Flagler College not offered her additional financial support after her federal aid was cut as she began her senior year, she would not have been able to graduate.
To express their gratitude, she and her husband returned to their alma mater to establish a scholarship fund for students in need of extra financial assistance.
After college, Evia-Lanevi began her career as a newspaper reporter and correspondent in Miami, and eventually worked on issues of marginalized women and children in Geneva, Switzerland. She launched The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students in 2009.
In the past 12 years, she has served on boards for numerous nonprofit organizations, including the American Immigration Council, Triangle Community Foundation, Conservation Trust of North Carolina, Flagler College Alumni Board of Directors, and El Centro Hispano.
Evia-Lanevi cites her family life as foundational to much of her work. She said that her parents instilled in her not only their work ethic, but also a sense of duty to help others.
Even when they had little of their own, she recalled, they continued to send items back to their family in Cuba. Her parents, in her words, “would never say no to anyone asking them for help.”
Now, as a mother, Evia-Lanevi feels her own commitment to generosity. Recognizing that many U.S. Latinos will not have the same financial support to attend college as her daughter does, she sought to fill the gap in scholarships for low-income, first-generation Latino college students in North Carolina.
“Launching this fund was one of the most daring things I had ever done,” she said, “and, although I was terrified in the days following the decision to launch the fund, I have found it to be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”
Evia-Lanevi credits the success of the foundation to both the help of those around her, and to those she works so hard to serve, “The success of the fund is due to the donors, the board, and really to these kids who work so hard for an education,” she added.
The 31 HIPGivers recognized in 2015 are collectively altering the landscape for our country. They are pushing the envelope by asking for more – more consideration, more awareness, more compassion, more action, more giving.