UTPA/STC partnership targets college graduates and $1 million prize
Contact: Office of Public Affairs (956) 665-2741
Posted: 02/23/2012
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Two persistent rock climbers personify the strong partnership between The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and South Texas College (STC) in a new commercial that hit the airwaves Feb. 22.

The two institutions have joined forces in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area's effort to win a coveted $1 million national prize being made available by CEOs for Cities, a nonprofit group of urban leaders seeking to develop the talent and innovation it believes is key to urban success. The prize will go to the area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period.

"Both UT Pan American and STC have a responsibility to our residents to provide the very best education possible and we take that responsibility very seriously," said Dr. Martha Cantu, UTPA vice president for Student Affairs, regarding the competition's goal of increasing the number of college graduates.

Cantu said UTPA's partnership with STC will give them an edge over other urban areas. Both institutions have increased communication and established as their paramount goal the creation of a textbook transition for students moving to and from each campus.

"We are very fortunate to have a positive working relationship with STC. We are partnering in our efforts to reach out to students and make the transition from high school to post-secondary as seamless as possible," Cantu said. "We also want to ensure that we continue improving our transfer processes from STC to UTPA."

The rock climbing ad - featuring two students clad in STC's and UTPA's school colors reaching out to one another - was made possible by a $10,000 matching funds "challenge grant" from CEOs for Cities, which the organization made available to competitors to advance their strategies to increase the number of college graduates in their area. STC, which serves as the grant's fiscal manager, obtained the matching funds from the McAllen Economic Development Corp.

Marketing leaders from both campuses met last month to discuss ways to effectively spend the $20,000 in resources and decided to create the 30-second television spot to increase awareness in the community regarding the impact of higher education. The target audiences are students, parents and college counselors.

The institutions worked together to develop and produce the commercial that recently began airing on local television stations and the colleges' online TV channels - Bronc TV at UTPA and Jag TV at STC. The ad is also featured on the schools' You Tube channels and social networks. In addition, a joint website - - was created to provide additional information about obtaining a college degree.

"The objective is to increase the number of residents in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area who obtain a college degree," Cantu said. "The competition includes associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, so it makes sense to partner with STC."

The $1 million Talent Dividend Prize, launched in May 2011, is being offered to one of 57 qualifying U.S. metropolitan areas in an effort to increase college attainment in our nation's cities by one percentage point, which CEOs for Cities calculates would be worth $124 billion a year in increased national earnings. In addition, the initiative aims to boost economic gains at both the local and national level. The $1 million reward is to be used to launch a national promotional campaign centered on talent development in the winning region.

"The funds would assist our institutions to develop strategies that are needed to improve the educational attainment of our residents, thus leading to an increase in the income of our families," said Cantu. "We have not discussed splitting the funds yet, as we are really focused on the processes and the partnership. I would imagine we will continue working together for a very long time and we have some time to think about that."

The Talent Dividend Prize is a joint effort by CEOS for Cities, The Kresge Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education.

The winner will be announced in September 2014.

For more information on the campaign and to view the ad, go to