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UTPA receives a record number of grants for community engagement
By Office of University Relations
381-2741
Posted: 10/01/2008
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The University of Texas-Pan American has recently received eight grants totaling more than $2 million for its work in community engagement. These grant funds will be used during 2009 in three of the University’s community engagement areas, including the areas of business development, community development, and rural development.

"We are excited to be able to contribute to the economic momentum in our communities, particularly when the rest of the nation is facing severe economic hardship. We have the talent and our community has the ‘ganas’ (desire) to keep our economy strong and growing,” said UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas.

More than $1 million in grant funding will focus on business development in the South Texas region. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which serves as UTPA’s core business-development center, has secured continuation funding for 2009 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Three additional grant-funded projects will enhance and extend SBDC services in three focus areas, including business-development assistance for veterans (funded by SBA); assistance for businesses negatively impacted by NAFTA (funded by NADBank); and procurement assistance for South Texas businesses (funded by U.S. Department of Defense).

“I want to commend UTPA and the Small Business Development Center for their innovative projects. UTPA was awarded these three grants in a highly competitive national competition,” said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) in a congratulatory statement regarding the grant awards to UTPA.

UTPA’s community-development activities will be enhanced by its Mobile Community Development Initiative, a $600,000 three-year project funded by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development that will provide an array of community services and information throughout Hidalgo County’s Delta Region Area, which includes the communities of Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, and Monte Alto.

Grant funding of over $400,000 will be used by UTPA for rural-development activities in South Texas. The Texas Rural Cooperative Center (TRCC), UTPA’s core rural-development center, has secured continuation funding for 2009 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). TRCC services will be enhanced through two additional grant-funded initiatives. The Initiative to Grow Farmers for Direct Marketing, funded by the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service, will focus on developing farmers’ markets and the South Texas Initiative for Child Nutrition through Agriculture, funded by the Monsanto Fund, will assist public schools in South Texas with the development of nutrition gardens.

“UTPA has long been a leader and ally to our South Texas communities. I am pleased to see UTPA making a personal investment into regional projects that support the overall health of our business community and to improve the quality of life on the border,” added Hinojosa.

Effectively leveraging the $2 million in grant funding and integrating community outreach with the University’s education and research efforts are now important components of UTPA’s community-engagement program Cárdenas said.

“The University has matched this grant funding with $140,000 of additional resources to ensure the success of the programs,” she said. “Furthermore, these community engagement programs are being effectively integrated with other areas of the University, including the College of Business Administration and the Departments of Social Work and Materials Management.”

For more information from UTPA on business development, contact Maria Juarez at 956/292-7538 or e-mail mariaj2@utpa.edu; community development, contact Michael Uhrbrock at 956/316-7185 or e-mail uhrbrock@utpa.edu; and rural development, Carlos Lago at 956/292-7544 or e-mail clago@utpa.edu.