Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures, has been awarded the Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Award, which is presented every year to a group or individual that demonstrates exceptional service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.
Elias co-founded Red Ventures, an Internet marketing firm just south of the state line, in Fort Mill, S.C., in 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst. The company now employs more than 2,300 people.
A Puerto Rico native, Elias also works to create equal educational opportunities for undocumented youth. In 2012, he founded Golden Door Scholars, a nonprofit that creates educational and career opportunities for high-performing undocumented students who aren’t eligible for most college financial aid programs and are required to pay out-of-state tuition.
Since its inception, the program has covered all four years of college – including room and board – for 45 students at the university of their choice. It also helps with internships and job placement.
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“Educating undocumented students should not be a political issue; it’s a human rights issue and it’s also the right thing to do. By failing to support these students in their pursuit of higher education and professional success, we are squandering some of the richest talent our community has to offer,” Elias said in a statement.
Facilitated by the Foundation for the Carolinas, the award was named for the retired UNC Charlotte professor who established the program. The award includes a $6,000 cash gift, which was presented to Golden Door Scholars in Elias’ honor.