Texas A&M International University has been selected as the recipient of a Special Project Grant of $201,184 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the VA-HUD Independent Agencies Appropriations Act.
The Grant will support the establishment of two outreach centers that will serve the residents of El Cenizo and Rio Bravo while also extending services to the El Azteca neighborhood of downtown Laredo, said Project director Dr. Michael Patrick, interim dean of the College of Business Administration and director of the Texas Center for Border Economics and Enterprise Development.
"The outreach centers will soon offer a broad range of after school educational programs and activities to students and family members at strategically located outreach centers. We will partner with United Independent School District to purchase two portable buildings that will be sited on campuses that serve our target area. We will also be collaborating with private sector groups to provide participants with entrepreneurship training and promote enterprise development activities in the surrounding colonias, " Dr. Patrick explained.
The schools that will be home to the outreach centers are Salvador García Middle School and González Middle School.
Patrick said he believes that the Project Grant will offer critical services that participants will be able to access to improve their quality of life.
"There is a clear need for centers of this sort that can provide residents with self-improvement opportunities. According to the Webb County Comprehensive Colonia Plan, there are 49 colonias in Webb County with a total of 16,696 people living in colonias. Colonia residents in the Laredo area are twice as likely to be living in poverty than other country residents, twice as likely to be unemployed and have 60 percent less per capita income," he explained.
Project coordinator Patricia Canseco said the centers' locations will help to encourage greater participation in continued education.
"These centers will make possible real learning opportunities that can help program participants to better themselves, their children and their futures. By siting them on familiar school campuses, we help to encourage the importance of life-long learning and begin to nurture a mindset for the importance of higher education," Canseco noted.
For additional information on the USDHUD Special Grant to Texas A&M International University, contact Canseco at the Texas Center, 326.2846 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Center office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.