U.S.-Mexico Border Summit participants learned about and encouraged philanthropic opportunities in the border region Friday, Aug. 24, during a panel discussion at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Panelists discussed the many resources being provided in the border through the help of nonprofit organizations and corporate foundations, including The Meadows Foundation, W.K. Kellog Foundation, International Community Foundation, The Ford Foundation and others.
"The Rio Grande, which at one time divided our communities, now unites us," said keynote speaker Bruce Esterline of The Meadows Foundation. "It has been rewarding to see how far a little money can go, and we hope that this type of collaboration continues."
Talk also focused on local people who have contributed to the improvement of communities. Caroline M. Carpenter, of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, spoke of people like Edcouch-Elsa high school teacher Francisco Guajardo and his students, who have helped create community-based educational opportunities in the Delta area through the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development, which is funded by Kellogg.
"Mr. Kellogg always said 'I'll invest my money in the people'," Carpenter said. "And it is because of people like the students at Edcouch-Elsa that we travel in an airplane for eight hours to speak for 15 minutes, and then return home." Another organization contributing to the improvement of communities in the area is the Cross Border Institute for Regional Development, which was created with the help of the Meadows Foundation in 1995 to strengthen infrastructures, create new technologies and build public-private partnerships benefiting the U.S.-Mexico border region.
"One of our other early parnters was Pan American University," Esterline said. "(President) Dr. (Miguel A.) Nevárez and his team were ready to take on projects that would benefit the border region, thus the creation of CBIRD, which has provided many jobs in the Valley."
Theresa Fay-Bustillos of Worldwide and U.S. Community Affairs, encouraged all foundation members, participants and local residents to work together to eliminate the obstacles that surround our borders.
"We must learn to collaborate with each other to provide philathropic resources and focus on improving poverty and education."