It's not unusual for stars to fund music scholarships. But it's more uncommon to have a star fund a full scholarship as Enrique Iglesias is doing in tandem with the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, to the tune of $200,000 -- or $50,000 over four years -- for a Latin student with financial need to attend Berklee College of Music.
The idea, says Iglesias, came after Manolo Diaz, who heads the Latin Grammy Foundation, asked him to be involved the organization and suggested a scholarship. "I thought it was a great idea," says Iglesias, who decided to go for a single, generous scholarship rather than many smaller ones.
"We wanted to get them through the four years of college. We all know one thing is getting to college, and another is getting through college," the singer tells Billboard.
Iglesias never received a formal music education. In fact, when he went to college (he would eventually drop out) at the University of Miami, he initially studied business.
"When I first started singing and songwriting, I didn't even think of going to a university that just had to do with music," he says. "It wasn't even on my radar."
But as time has gone by, Iglesias has worked with an increasing number of people who studied music, with several of them attending Berklee. They include longtime producer Carlos Paucar.
"My first question to him was, 'Was it worth it and was it good and would you do it all over again?'" Says Iglesias. "And he said yes, 100 percent."
It was important to him, says Iglesias, that the recipient of the scholarship be a Latin student. It's the same mentality he's long applied to the artists he's mentored -- Prince Royce a couple of years ago and J Balvin now, among them -- by having them open up his shows.
"I don't see it so much as, 'I'm helping another artist," he explains. "What's important is that whoever we tour with is a Latin act. I think we need to promote Latin music. And even if we're going to markets where there are not that many Latin stations, or any Latin stations, you know the Latin community in this country is growing at a very rapid pace, and it's important to promote Latin music and more importantly, Latin acts."
As one of the few Latin artists who have opening acts, Iglesias also says it's a thrill to watch artists evolve before his eyes.
"It helps them and it helps me," he says. "It gives me energy. It inspires me to watch artists like that, who are hungry."
Applications to the Enrique Iglesias Scholarship presented by the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation will be open for Latin students in any Spanish or Portuguese speaking country, the U.S. and Canada, through April 10 at latingrammyculturalfoundation.com.