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South Texas College and Hidalgo County Partner for Youth Leadership Academy Initiative

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At a historic inaugural event, South Texas College and Hidalgo County officiated their alliance in the presence of community and academic leaders. Their collective vision is to establish a Youth Leadership Academy through the AmeriCorps Vista program. The occasion was honored by the presence of significant personalities, such as Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, South Texas College President Dr. Ricardo Solis, and other influential community members. AmeriCorps Vista, a national service program conceived by President John F. Kennedy, aims to combat poverty on home turf, echoing the ethos of the Peace Corps but adapted for domestic issues. This program has left a profound impact on poverty reduction efforts nationwide. The partnership is set to utilize this experience for the benefit of the South Texas region. Furthermore, a generous $360,000 service grant has been awarded to Judge Richard F. Cortez's office by AmeriCorps/VISTA, paving the way for the development of the Youth Leadership Academy in the county. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
At a historic inaugural event, South Texas College and Hidalgo County officiated their alliance in the presence of community and academic leaders. Their collective vision is to establish a Youth Leadership Academy through the AmeriCorps Vista program. The occasion was honored by the presence of significant personalities, such as Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, South Texas College President Dr. Ricardo Solis, and other influential community members. AmeriCorps Vista, a national service program conceived by President John F. Kennedy, aims to combat poverty on home turf, echoing the ethos of the Peace Corps but adapted for domestic issues. This program has left a profound impact on poverty reduction efforts nationwide. The partnership is set to utilize this experience for the benefit of the South Texas region. Furthermore, a generous $360,000 service grant has been awarded to Judge Richard F. Cortez’s office by AmeriCorps/VISTA, paving the way for the development of the Youth Leadership Academy in the county. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

Texas Border Business

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By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

South Texas College and Hidalgo County signed their partnership at an inaugural event attended by county and academic dignitaries. The collaboration aims to create a Youth Leadership Academy via the AmeriCorps Vista program. The event was graced by several personalities, including Richard Cortez, Hidalgo County judge; Dr. Ricardo Solis, president of South Texas College; and other prominent members of the local community.

AmeriCorps Vista is a national service program focused on fighting poverty. Initiated by President John F. Kennedy, the program is based on the vision of the Peace Corps but tailored to address domestic issues. It has had a significant impact on poverty alleviation efforts in the country, and now this partnership intends to leverage that experience in the South Texas region.

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 The national service program AmeriCorps/VISTA awarded Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez’s office a $360,000 service grant to begin a Youth Leadership Academy in the county.

At the event, Judge Cortez highlighted the severity of poverty in Hidalgo County. “Nearly 30% of Hidalgo County residents live in poverty compared to 14% in Texas and 12% of the United States. However, local school district statistics suggest the poverty level could be as high as 40%, meaning we could have as many as 400,000 residents living in poverty,” said Cortez. His administration established the Prosperity Task Force in 2020 to address these disparities and enhance the community’s economic welfare.

The partnership between South Texas College and Hidalgo County forms part of this broader effort. It aims to harness the potential of young, bright residents by providing leadership training to prepare them for future. Through the Youth Leadership Academy, they will be exposed to the complexities of poverty and learn how to use the tools of government, education, and nonprofits to make a positive impact on their community.

Dr. Ricardo Solis, president of South Texas College, commended the partnership’s focus on poverty reduction and workforce development. He stressed the need to prepare students for a rapidly changing workplace and highlighted the role of South Texas College in offering short-term certificate programs to get students into the workforce quickly.

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Solis also highlighted the importance of AmeriCorps Vista in this initiative. “AmeriCorps is going to be doing effectively, reaching out and making them part of the college, making them a student,” he said.

This partnership represents an innovative approach to combating poverty and preparing the next generation of leaders in Hidalgo County. The Youth Leadership Academy will not only provide educational and employment opportunities for students but also contribute significantly to the broader goal of economic development and poverty reduction in the region.

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