Our History


Since its founding in 2002, access to post-secondary education has been the central focus of the Stars Scholarship Fund. The formation of the organization grew out of desire to address the great need for educated citizenry.

At inception, the grassroots non-profit was named South Texas Academic Rising Scholars (STARS) Scholarship Fund and was founded by Mr. Joe LaMantia, Jr and his family. The LaMantia Family owns and operates one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in Texas, L&F Distributors.

The story of STARS began decades before inception with Mr. Joe LaMantia, Jr. In 1974, Mr. LaMantia was appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe to the Board of the Texas Department of Corrections. He was reappointed in 1983 by Governor Mark White and served as the Vice-Chairman for over 10 years. During his tenure, Mr. LaMantia saw firsthand the problems facing the Texas Border Region. He recognized that education was the key to improving the poverty, crime and high unemployment faced by the community.

Under Mr. LaMantia's leadership, L&F Distributors formed a partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) in 1994 and in eight years raised over $5 million and awarded over 2,600 scholarships to the students in south Texas. The success of HSF prompted efforts to create an organization that centered on south Texas, in the communities which L&F Distributors serviced.

In 2002, upon joining forces with his family and respected business leaders from the community, Mr. LaMantia established South Texas Academic Rising Scholars (STARS) Scholarship Fund, which awarded scholarships to students from south Texas. This initiative was prompted by the conviction that an educated citizen is essential to the growth and future success of south Texas. Mr. Joe LaMantia, Jr. serves the organization as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 2012, the South Texas Academic Rising Scholars (STARS) Scholarship Fund Board of Directors unanimously approved a name change to Stars Scholarship Fund. This change was prompted by the desire of the organization to expand into west Texas and to serve a greater population of students.

Today, Stars Scholarship Fund partners with hundreds of local and national businesses, organizations, colleges, and universities annually. Together, the community has helped Stars raise over $27.8 million dollars since its start a decade ago. Stars Scholarship Fund has helped over 13,600 students from south and west Texas receive a higher education through scholarships to date.

The Stars Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to qualified students from the community annually. Recipients are selected on the basis of scholarship, academic achievement and financial need through a general application process. Academic achievement is determined using applicant's official academic records. Financial need is determined in evaluating the applicant's submitted FAFSA documentation. The goal of our organization is to assist students who do not receive enough or any federal aid to cover the Cost of Attendance at their institution. Stars Scholarship Fund strives to ensure that deserving individuals are not denied the opportunities for learning and discovery that are available in a university setting.

The cornerstone of the Stars Scholarship Fund lays in its family of dedicated volunteers and devoted sponsors. Unlike most non-profit organizations, Stars Scholarship Fund commits 100% of every dollar donated by sponsors directly to scholarships for the students of south and west Texas to attend the college of their choice. All Stars Scholarship Fund expenses, including overhead and salaries, are generously underwritten by Anheuser-Busch and L&F Distributors.

View a full timeline of our history here.