Sonora Grill raises funds for student scholarship

Wildcats headed downtown for a fiesta on Thursday. In conjunction with the Multicultural Student Center at Weber State University, Sonora Grill in Ogden hosted Dining for Dollars, a program designed to support WSU students in need. Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sonora Grill donated 100 percent of sales to WSU to create a new scholarship. The Sonora Grill Scholarship is a two-year, full-ride scholarship intended for low-income, first-generation college students coming from immigrant families.

Steve Ballard, owner and operator of Sonora Grill at The Junction, said Dining for Dollars had been a huge success on Thursday. The restaurant started the day with about 350 dining reservations. The fundraising goal for the scholarship money was $10,000. An anonymous donor will match all the money raised, which Ballard said would bring the grand total up to $20,000 for the full-ride scholarships. As of 4 p.m., the restaurant was about halfway there with around $5,000. The 2013-14 school year will be the Sonora Grill Scholarship’s first year, but Ballard said it will be offered annually.

Ballard said the scholarship is targeted at first-generation, low-income, immigrant students — individuals whose parents have immigrated to the U.S. — in order to try to help fill the gap the government is missing.

“These kids have gotten here and they’ve come up through the school systems, but because their parents aren’t residents, they do not quality for any financial aid — they can’t get Pell Grants or any financial aid or assistance. We’re targeting people who have no other option for getting funding.”

Ballard also said it was important to offer the scholarship to these targeted students because of the importance and lasting impact of higher education, especially when it comes to first-generation college attendants.

Michiko Nakashima-Lizarazo, director of the Multicultural Student Center at WSU, said the scholarship was a great idea and opportunity to help students. Nakashima-Lizarazo said the Multicultural Student Center will work with the students who receive the scholarships.

“It’s an investment in our students, allowing them to attend the university without the stress of having to pay the high prices of tuition, as well as fees and books,” she said. “It’s also an honor for students to receive a scholarship.”

For the event, the restaurant offered a select menu, which included an appetizer of chips and salsa, an entree and a beverage, all for $12. Ballard said he was glad to see the event be so successful.

“I think one reason why this has been so successful and we’ve seen so much is because really we’re asking a real easy thing,” Ballard said. “We’re asking people to eat — something they already have to do, and they already want to do, and I’m not asking you to donate. I’m making the donation, but I’m asking you to support the cause by coming to eat.”