Edward Boss Prado Foundation’s gift will help fund school for six nurses

By Kaylee Arca

Cecelia Ponzini, executive director of the Edward Boss Prado Foundation, welcomed local dignitaries to her Morgan Hill home on a sunny June afternoon to celebrate the gift of education with a $30,000 donation to Gavilan College’s nursing program.

Ponzini started her foundation 10 years ago with a mission to empower people in need with resources that foster dignity and respect. It was named in honor of her son after he died unexpectedly.

The donation will be divided into six scholarships for the extra nursing lab expenses of six nursing students. It will be in addition to Gav 4 Free, an initiative to provide tuition-free education at Gavilan through spring 2024.

“This donation is going to change lives, especially in the area of nursing,” Assemblymember Gail Pellerin said. “There’s such a shortage of nurses. Anything we can do to make their pathway to getting out there and providing services easier is so incredibly important.”

Pellerin named the Prado Foundation the 2023 Nonprofit of the Year for the 28th Assembly District because she felt impressed with its community support and outreach. Pellerin was so touched by Ponzini, the foundation, and the gathered community that she decided to donate an additional $1,000 after the event.

Ponzini originally pledged to donate $25,000 to Gavilan but decided to increase the amount to $30,000 when guests arrived at her home because she had the funds to help more students. The extra $5,000 allowed for an additional nurse to be sponsored along with the five planned scholarships.

“We are in partnership with Gavilan College,” Ponzini said. “I said to Dr. Avila, ‘Convince me why we should donate $25,000.’ We asked Gavilan to give us a substantial plan for the college and their students.”

She reached out to Dr. Pedro Avila, the college’s superintendent/president, to better understand Gavilan’s vision and philosophy for supporting students before committing the donation.

“Gavilan is our community,” she said. “They’re our neighbors. Community college is very important because a lot of kids cannot afford four to six years of university.”

Avila and Ponzini discussed focusing the donation into a program where it would have the most impact.

“Nursing seemed like the right program because the students are going to school full time and most of them have families that need support,” Avila said.

Most of Gavilan’s students work full or part-time. The college provides extra support to students with a fraction of four-year universities’ budgets. The work that Gavilan does is impressive because every day students are nurtured and empowered until they are ready to transfer or enter the workplace, Avila said.

“I think this donation is wonderful,” Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner, a guest at the event, said. “Education is the great equalizer. It potentially lifts people out of poverty and into financial opportunities that they can take advantage of. Cecelia and the Edward Boss Prado Foundation are always thinking of ways to improve lives.”

The gathered crowd listened to Ponzini proudly share that she wants to help transform lives around her by giving back to her community.

“I’m one of the very few, maybe only nonprofit in South County, that gives money to other nonprofits,” Ponzini said. “Instead of nonprofits just trying to take care of themselves, if we all work together we can help each other.”

The six scholarship recipients will be chosen by Gavilan through an application process and based on financial need.

Kaylee Arca is a Morgan Hill-based freelance writer.