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A Tortillería in East L.A. Is Giving Away Scholarships to Their Workers—and Their Kids—Who Want to Go to College

2:34 PM PDT on October 6, 2021

    [dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n Los Angeles, tortillas build communities, but on the corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Alma Avenue, tortillas are also creating pathways to higher education. 

    La Princesita Tortillería is a household name in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles for their fresh corn tortillas that surrounding communities have sustained since 1972. But as of August, they are taking a homegrown approach to help their community differently: giving away microgrants and scholarships to their staff and their families. 

    “Looking back at the sacrifices our workers made during the entire pandemic to continue showing up every day to work as the essential workers that they are,” Rick Rodriguez, La Princesita’s CEO, tells L.A. TACO. “We wanted to look for ways to show that we appreciate and support their families too, and investing in their education was a natural fit.”

    For their inaugural year, La Princesita gave away nine scholarships—about $8,000 in total. The funds for these scholarships were raised within their own company. Rodriguez tells L.A. TACO that the original project idea was just to give away one scholarship, but they couldn’t help but add more awards once they started seeing the overwhelming amount of letters and entries they received. They added smaller scholarships for their workers’ kids who are in high scho

    outside princesita tortilleria
    Outside La Princesita Tortillería. Photo via La Princesita.
    Outside La Princesita Tortillería. Photo via La Princesita.

    ol. One particular award, “The Pancho Scholar,” is in honor of La Princesita’s founder Francisco Ramirez, who passed away in 2019. His daughter Monica Ramirez is now the President of the company and is continuing his tortilla legacy.  

    “Kids from immigrant families automatically think they’re not going to get it, so they don’t even try. Other employees just don’t have time because they work so much or don’t even speak English. We are trying to do something about this.” 

    La Princesita currently has 80 employees between La Princesita and La Blanquita Carnicería carnicerías in East L.A. and El Monte in the San Gabriel Valley. Beyond the scholarships, Rodriguez tells L.A. TACO that they are also using La Princesita’s network to connect their employees who have higher aspirations to the individuals that already work in these fields. In short, a DIY mentorship program.

    “There’s a lot of scholarships out there but our people just don’t know about them, and we know any little thing helps, “ Ramirez tells L.A. TACO. “Kids from immigrant families automatically think they’re not going to get it, so they don’t even try. Other employees just don’t have time because they work so much or don’t even speak English. We are trying to do something about this.” 

    Next year, La Princesita is planning on offering the scholarships again. 

    You can find La Princesita Tortillería’s tortillas at L.A. TACO-approved restaurants like Angry Egret Diner and Anajak Thai Restaurant.  

    La Princesita is at 3432 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90063.

    La Blanquita Carnicería has two locations.

    4136 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90063

    1863 Valley Blvd, El Monte, CA 91732

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