GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Bi-Lo here is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with an essay contest designed to motivate Hispanic high school seniors about their future.
Th contest -- themed "What is Your Dream?" -- consists of a 300-word essay that's due by Oct. 15. One winner from each of Bi-Lo's four regions will be announced Dec. 1. Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
"We want our customers to know that we recognize and appreciate all that Hispanics have brought to this country," Magaly Penn, Bi-Lo's senior director of diversity, told SN.
The promotion comes at a time when up to 20% of customers in some Bi-Lo locations are Hispanic, according to Penn. It is expected to reach more than 500 schools through advertisements in Hispanic publications and in-store materials. The contest is open to all high school seniors, not just those who are Hispanic.
Celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the achievements of Spanish-speaking Americans. The celebration is timed to mark the independence day of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Likewise, Mexico celebrates its anniversary of independence on Sept. 16; Chile, Sept. 18.
This is the second year that Bi-Lo has honored Hispanic Heritage Month. Last year, it ran a poster contest for high school students, Penn said.
The goal is to reward the achievements and help brighten the future of Hispanic students, said Joyce Smart, Bi-Lo's director of corporate communications.
"We want to celebrate the rich and proud culture of this community and help the next generation achieve their dreams and goals," Smart said in a statement.
In addition to the contest, Bi-Lo is displaying in-store posters that recognize several notable Hispanic Americans, including Jaime Escalante, an educator.
An integral part of the effort is promoting Hispanic American awareness among Bi-Lo associates. To accomplish this, the retailer is running an ongoing trivia contest designed to educate employees on Hispanic culture and life. Associates will also be treated to a Hispanic-themed luncheon.
"We feel it's important for our associates to be aware of the cultural richness of Hispanics," Penn said.
Bi-Lo/Bruno's operates over 400 stores in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.