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Valley organizations learn about opportunities at Federal Grants Workshop
Posted: 07/06/2007
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More than 120 community members were able to learn more about the acquisition of federal grants June 14 at a Federal Grants Workshop hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American's Office of Research and Sponsored Projects and the American Association of Grant Professionals (AAGP) RGV Chapter in conjunction with the Offices of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28).

Participants representing more than 35 organizations including small private non-profits, municipal and county government, local education agencies, higher education institutions and individual grant professionals were welcomed by UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, by Hinojosa and Cuellar via videotaped messages and by AAGP-RGV Chapter President Lucila Lagace, principal with Lagace Consulting.

Cárdenas, an experienced grants writer herself, recalled how the disbursement of federal monies had evolved over the years and told attendees that as grants professionals they will play an important role in the growth of the region in the next 20 years.

Some of the participants in a Federal Grants Workshop held June 14 at UTPA included from left to right Roel Gomez, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development (Edinburg); Dr. Al Borrego, UTPA Master's in Public Administration Program; Blanca Rodriguez, U.S. Department of Education (Washington, D.C.), UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas; Trisha Korbas, U.S. Department of Commerce - Economic Development Administration (Austin); and Mario Garcia Durham, National Endowment of the Arts (Washington, D.C.).
"To fulfill the needs or to develop the access of our region, we have to become very adept at acquiring grants and for the right purpose," she said. "You will also have to operate with a very high standard of accountability."

The full day workshop included federal informational panels, workshop sessions and a networking lunch. The panels included representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development, U.S. Department of Commerce - Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Education, and the National Endowment of the Arts.

The workshop learning sessions included presentations on UTPA research capabilities; finding federal funding; preparing for the grant professional certification exam; preparing to approach federal agencies; and grant program evaluation. Presenters included Jacquelyn Michel, UTPA director of Innovation and Intellectual Property; Desirée Mendez, Office of Congressman Ruben Hinojosa; Jeremiah Rigsby, Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar; Dr. Al Borrego, director of the UTPA Public Administration Program; and Lagace.

Michel and Theresa Baily, director, UTPA Office of Research and Sponsored Research, who helped organize the workshop, said the event supported the University's goal to inform others of its knowledge, research capabilities and expertise in order to identify collaborative partners for proposals.

"Developing research partnerships and collaborations create a win-win for the Rio Grande Valley," Michel said.

Workshop attendee and AAGP member Estella De Anda, executive director of the Rio Grande Valley Mujeres Unidas (Women Together), said federal grants and collaborations with other community organizations were very important in the operation of her nonprofit organization.

"We do a lot of fundraising and we're always writing grants so I came to learn about anything new and to meet some of the people at the federal and state level," she said.

Lagace said she was pleased with the turnout and the interest shown by area grants professionals in developing their skills and capacity to successfully compete to bring more federal funding to the area.

"The diverse group of presenters and participants gained valuable knowledge in how to obtain funding for local projects that help alleviate the many social and economic needs of our region," said Lagace, who indicated a Part II Federal Grants Workshop is already being planned for September 2007.

For more information on grantsmanship opportunities, call 956/384-5004 or visit the UTPA Office of Research and Sponsored Projects Web site at http://www.panam.edu/dept/sponpro/.