Cowboy Fred Ortiz
Up and Coming Scholars
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006
Giving young people a chance for a college education.
Cowboy Fred Ortiz, 63, saw something in the youth of Lubbock, Texas that he recognized all too well, and it pained him. Ortiz grew up in an economically depressed area of South El Paso, Texas, and witnessed many of his peers failing to thrive and resistant to opportunities that might provide them an avenue toward education and a more productive life. With strong family support, Ortiz grew up valuing education and public service and developed the confidence and skills he would later apply to his education and a military career. After retiring, he decided to focus on youth in Lubbock, to provide them a way to thrive – to work toward attending college, to feel supported and valued, to get involved in their communities, and to learn leadership and accountability. In 2003 he created the Up and Coming Scholars program to work with young people in Lubbock. Community service is a cornerstone of the program, and Up and Coming Scholars are giving back to their communities in dramatic ways: fighting child abuse through the Youth Victim Project with the National Center for Victims of Crime, painting murals of ethnic heroes to promote cross cultural understanding, participating in campaigns against drunk driving, and demonstrating respect for the disenfranchised by attending funerals of the homeless.