"She described what DSF was and she's like, 'If you qualified, this can really help you out,'" said Hernandez, a freshman at the University of Colorado Denver.
In 2007, Tim and Bernie Marquez started the foundation with the mission of sending kids all around Denver to college with major scholarships. The Marquez family made millions in the oil and gas industry. In just four years, DSF has given out more than $10 million in scholarship money.
"The financial investment that Denver Scholarship Foundation is making on an individual basis is the difference between many young people being able to realize a dream or just dream," Antwan Wilson, assistant superintendent of Denver Public Schools, said.
Hernandez is one of those students. He wasn't sure if he could afford college until he was awarded a scholarship by DSF. Now, he is majoring in business administration at CU Denver.
"It's not just like a $500 scholarship," Hernandez said. "They give you a good amount for college."
The scholarships are needs-based and have helped low income students at high schools from Jefferson to Lincoln, East to North.
"$10 million is a lot of money, and it's helped a lot of students who didn't have the access before," Tabitha Rocha, a college and financial aid advisor for the DSF, said.
The foundation does more than give money. It has established Future Centers at most high schools in Denver. Rocha works in the Future Center at Jefferson High School. She helps people seek financial aid, scholarships and applications to colleges around the nation.
"Because a lot of times, students just don't really know where to start," said Rocha.
After students win the scholarship, their support continues in college as DSF provides advisors to help students after high school.
"Not only do we want them to go to college, but we also want them to graduate," said Rocha.
Wilson says it has made a huge difference around the entire school district.
"It's about putting action to the words of believing in college readiness," Wilson said.
The DSF has established a new rule this year for student seeking a scholarship. Now, they have to attend a Denver High School all four years to qualify. There have been issues with students transferring in their final semester just to apply for the scholarship in the past.
If you want to find out how to apply for a scholarship, visit: http://www.denverscholarship.org/
Hernandez says he's grateful for the help and for generous people like the Marquez family.
"If it wasn't for people like them," Hernandez said, "I probably wouldn't know how to pay for college right now."
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)