Sears launches first-ever national Hispanic initiative For Hispanic Heritage; introduces social networking site for students and parents

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill – Inspired by the many Hispanic families who help their children become the first to attend college, Sears Holdings has launched the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) and bilingual, social networking education website in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15).

In Spanish, “primero” means “first”.  The PRIMERO scholarship awards up to $10,000 toward college costs for those who are “first” in their family to attend college, as well as those continuing the family’s tradition of attaining a higher education.   In addition to applying for the scholarship, students and their parents can also learn about the college planning process via the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) site — www.shcprimerobeca.com.  SHC also offers a scholarship to associates of Sears, Kmart, Lands’ End and Orchard Supply Hardware.

With more than 46 million Hispanics now living in the U.S. and more than 132 million expected by 2050*, the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) education initiative is one of the ways Sears Holdings is reaching out to the Hispanic community.  Sears recently launched a fully Spanish-translated website, espanol.sears.com, giving Spanish-speaking customers full access to its wide range of home appliances, electronics and computers, outdoor living, lawn and garden, and tools.  Product names and navigation are also translated in other categories, allowing our customers to browse our websites in whichever language best meets their needs.

“We are excited to launch the SHC PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) and education website in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Nydia J. Sahagun, director, multicultural marketing, Sears Holdings Corporation.  “This new initiative is a great way to support education, while providing information and resources for college-bound students and their parents in an engaging and interactive way.”

The PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) website is Sears Holdings’ first corporate social networking site focused on education.  The website is a one-stop online destination for college planning, featuring special sections to demystify the process:

–  Why College – Outlines the benefits of going to college while busting myths versus facts about college
–  The Plan – Tells you what to do first to start planning for college, no matter where you are in the process
–  The Search – Details the types of colleges you can choose from while helping you find a match with the type of college that best fits you
–  The Process – Gives you a monthly “to-do” list, checklist and information on college application requirements and on how to apply
–  The Money – Provides information on typical tuition costs and how to navigate through financial aid
–  At College – Offers tips for success once in college
–  Blogs – Give first-hand tips from real college students on what to expect when applying for or attending college

According to Diverseeducation.com, although 98% of Hispanic high school students want to attend college, only 25% of college-aged Hispanics (18-24) are enrolled. This low attendance rate is attributed to many factors including lack of experience, resources and available/understandable information in many Hispanic communities.  The PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) and website aims to close the informational gap for Hispanics.

“We commend Sears Holdings for providing scholarship opportunities, especially during a time when a large emerging population is primarily Hispanic,” said Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).  “The reality is that without programs like PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM), attaining a higher education would not be possible for many Hispanics.

No purchase is necessary.  Void in Maine and where prohibited.  High school and college students from all ethnic backgrounds who are residents of the 50 United States (except ME), plus the District of Columbia, and are between the ages of 16 and 22, inclusive with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale (or the equivalent) are encouraged to apply for the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM).    Awards include a scholarship for college worth up to $10,000 (1 winner), up to $5,000 (1 winner) or up to $2,500 (2 winners), or one of 10 Sears-Kmart ‘Back to Campus” kits, valued at $250 each.  Entries must be received or postmarked by October 15, 2009, at 11:59 p.m. EST.  For Official Rules, go to www.shcprimerobeca.com/es/apply-now/rules (Spanish) or www.shcprimerobeca.com/en/apply-now/rules (English).  For more information on the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship(SM) or college preparation, visit  www.shcprimerobeca.com.