NAU, Chicanos Por La Causa create partnership to expand access

President Cruz Rivera and several other people on stage in Yuma

Arizona is home to the country’s sixth-largest Hispanic population—a historically underrepresented population in higher education.

With parallel missions to broaden access and eliminate barriers to a high-quality degree, Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) are launching a partnership to support the state’s Hispanic communities and help remove barriers to higher education. This fall, the first cohort of high-achieving NAU-Yuma students throughout Yuma County has been awarded the Chicanos Por La Causa Scholarship, which covers tuition, fees, and other expenses and supports Lumberjacks in their pursuit of opportunity and excellence.

For more than three decades, NAU-Yuma has provided a rich, supportive community for all students and currently serves a student population that is nearly 80 percent Hispanic. The commitment to access, attainment and success at NAU-Yuma is emblematic of NAU’s bold vision to elevate excellence as the nation’s preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility and driver of social impact for students and communities in Arizona.

“I am proud that our efforts to broaden participation and advance access to educational attainment align with important partners like CPLC,” NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera said. “The generous scholarship support provided by CPLC removes barriers for students and ensures that all members of our community have access to the exceptional educational experience that defines NAU.”

For more than 35 years CPLC, a statewide nonprofit organization devoted to addressing structural inequities and barriers to education has been a trusted partner providing early child development, housing and immigration services in Yuma. CPLC established the Chicanos Por La Causa Scholarship to empower the lives of students at NAU-Yuma and bridge attainment gaps that impact the entire Yuma area and surrounding communities.

“At NAU, we have a dedicated partner committed to providing high-value educational experiences and doing so in close collaboration with their home communities like Yuma where greater attainment is crucial,” David Adame, president and CEO of CPLC, said. “We are thrilled to be investing in the future of these talented students and in the Hispanic community in Yuma to help secure a brighter and more prosperous future.”

The inaugural cohort of CPLC Scholarship recipients all come from the greater Yuma community and have a wide range of academic and career interests, demonstrating the sincere commitment to powering access at home that is important to NAU and CPLC. The recipients of this year’s scholarship are:

  • Alanna Moran, Nursing, Fall 2022
  • Alfredo Gomez, Justice Studies, Fall 2022
  • Briseth Arredondo Felix, Social Work, Spring 2025
  • Crisanto III Herrera Gonzalez, Social Work, Spring 2024
  • Jennifer Villegas Contreras, Social Work, Spring 2025
  • Joanna Reyna, Social Work, Spring 2026
  • Julisa Morales, Applied Science Administration, Spring 2026
  • Lupi Rojas, University Studies, Spring 2024
  • Maria Guzman, Business Administration, Fall 2022
  • Maricela Lopez, Social Work, 2026
  • Nelly M. Rosiles, Justice Studies, Fall 2023
  • Stephanie Sanchez, Elementary Education, Spring 2026
  • Teresa Sandoval, Elementary Education, Spring 2023
  • Vanessa Contreras, Elementary Education, Spring 2026
  • Yordi Cardenas, Business Administration, Spring 2025

While the students’ career aspirations, lived experiences, and paths to higher education are all different, their passion to reach higher, give back, and spark change in their home community is universal:

  • “As a first-generation and migrant student, I’ve experienced the hardships of moving to a new country and starting from zero,” Jennifer Villegas Contreras said. “My personal experiences and the struggles I witness in others drive me to become a social worker to serve and improve my community.”
  • “The Chicanos Por La Causa Scholarship will help our community, and I’m thankful for an education that will bridge the gap for generations of students,” Alfredo Gomez said.
  • “My family and community enrich my personal experiences, fueling me to complete my degree,” Nelly M. Rosiles said. “The community of students and staff deepens my adaptability, confidence and commitment to fight for others who don’t have the same opportunities as I’m afforded with an NAU degree.”

To recognize the inaugural cohort of CPLC Scholarship recipients and honor the thriving Lumberjack community in Yuma, NAU and CPLC are hosting a community celebration and dinner from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Arizona Western College Courtyard. To register for the event, visit

Beginning spring 2023, the CPLC Scholarship is open to applicants. To learn more, visit

NAU Communications