A South Florida teen promised a college scholarship won’t be getting it after all. Now, she and her mother are going after the foundation that seemingly snatched its promise from the young teen.
In 2007, Ynette Lopez was one of 97 kindergartners at Hibiscus Elementary School promised a scholarship. The local I Have a Dream Foundation said the kiddos would receive $3,000 a year toward any Florida college or university, so long as they worked hard and maintained good grades.
Lopez did just that.
“My mom would say, ‘Education is everything. Education comes first, before any fun, anything,’ ” she told 7 News Miami. “It was like really serious. I took it seriously.”
Fast-forward to 2020, and Lopez is gearing up to go to college. Lopez and her family have since relocated to Broward County (about 30 minutes outside Miami), but her mom Zondra Aimes, said she kept in touch with the foundation to ensure her daughter would still qualify to receive the college aid.
“They told me, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. Why don’t you just keep in contact whenever you can?’ And I said, ‘OK!’” Aimes said.
The mother said she checked in with the foundation every year or so and recently called to inquire about the scholarship Ynette, 17, was promised. That’s when she got the disappointing news — the teen wasn’t qualified.
When she demanded answers from the I Have a Dream Foundation for the reversal, Aimes said she was given two different reasons: “Mrs. [Stephanie] Trump stated [that] we were disqualified because we moved.” Meanwhile, another staff member claimed it was because Aimes “did not keep up with the program.” Trump is not related to the family of President Donald Trump.
Lopez was baffled by the news.
“It’s like, I worked hard for this, and I can’t even get my reward?” she said. “It’s like, kind of wow.”
According to 7 News Miami, Aimes doesn’t have a copy of the contract she signed with the foundation back in 2007 and has no way of knowing if she violated the terms by moving her family out of Miami. So, Ynette will go without the scholarship money for now. Stephanie Trump told the Miami TV station that moving away from Miami did not disqualify Ynette.
“She’s a wonderful student,” Aimes said of her daughter, who’s been busy applying to schools. “She’s been accepted into colleges already. She’s an all-around great girl.”
The 7 News Miami legal expert, Howard Finklestein, apparently was able to obtain a copy of Aimes’ contract and called Lopez’s situation a “tricky” one.
“The contract isn’t clear, and there’s wiggle room for both sides,” Finkelstein told the outlet. “The foundation has a strong argument, because after Ynette moved, she didn’t go to any of their programs, and Zondra said that she only contacted them every year or two.”
However, Finkelstein said Lopez’ good grades are a plus and argued the teen is a great example of the type of student the scholarship was created for.
“That’s why both sides have a good argument, and legally, it’s a tough call,” he added.
Aimes said she’s considering suing the foundation in small claims court but is also willing to negotiate for $1,500 every year instead of the full $3,000.