TAMIU Receives $142,000 Grant for Amigos After School Fine Arts Program

Sometime soon, 105 at-risk children of Rio Bravo and El Cenizo will find that their lives after school will be full of music and dance. Texas A&M International University has been awarded a $142,005 grant that will fund the launch of the Colonias Amigos After-School Fine Arts Pilot Program.

The funds were provided by the Criminal Justice Division, Office of the Governor through its Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Fund. It represents the culmination of a partnership between TAMIU's College of Arts and Humanities, department of Fine and Performing Arts; Texas A&M University, Center for Housing and Urban Development; Texas A&M University Foundation, United Independent School District and Webb County.

The program goals include increased cultural awareness and appreciation of the fine arts and the encouragement of a crime-free, drug-free and

violence-free lifestyle. Students will also be able to develop their motor and social skills and improve their self-esteem and will participate in a special year-end program.

In announcing the gift, Oscar J. Munoz, regional director of the Colonias Program Center for Housing and Urban Development, Texas A&M University, said the project offers an innovative collaboration that is a win-win opportunity.

"We're all working together to find a unique way to address problems identified in middle schools including juvenile, gang and drug-related crime. Utilizing the arts to reach and encourage at-risk students is a win-win opportunity," Munoz said.

University president Dr. Ray Keck said TAMIU is honored to help lead the innovative effort.

"Art changes us. Art heals us. Art frees us. We believe this program will change young lives, make them whole and free them to explore new worlds of fulfillment. The added dimension of our students helping young students along this path is especially inspirational," Dr. Keck said.

At the core of the unique program is provision of guitar, voice training and regional dance courses to the young students by TAMIU students under supervision of TAMIU professors. Project director is Dr. Gilberto Soto, chair of the TAMIU department of fine and performing arts. Dr. Soto noted that while the program is the first of its kind, it has already generated other statewide inquiries.

"We've already received calls from other cities that would like to try this project as well and we believe it might be considered a model for others," Dr. Soto explained.

Announcement of the program's funding was made at a special Hard Hat Reception at the University Thursday night that provided a tour of the new Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, which is currently under construction.

The University is currently seeking partnerships with others to raise an additional $6 million for the facility's enhancement. The Campaign for the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts was initiated earlier this Fall with a $250,000 gift from HEB Food Stores.

For additional information on the Colonias Amigos After-School Fine Arts Pilot Program, contact Dr. Gilberto Soto at 326.2649 or by e-mail at gsoto@tamiu.edu.

For information on the Campaign for the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, please contact Candy Hein, vice president for institutional advancement, at 326.2175 or by e-mail at chein@tamiu.edu University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu