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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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McAllen
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STC, Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force included in Futuro RGV Forum

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At the podium, STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D.,  and from left to right, STC Economist Dr. Kevin Peek; Dr. Rodney Rodriguez, V.P. Institutional Advancement and Economic Development STC; Manuel “Manny” M. Vela. VP and Chief Operating Officer TX A&M McAllen; Ron Garza, Assc. V.P. Workforce & Economic Development UTRGV; Mario Reyna, Prosperity Task Force and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. Courtesy image
At the podium, STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D.,  and from left to right, STC Economist Dr. Kevin Peek; Dr. Rodney Rodriguez, V.P. Institutional Advancement and Economic Development STC; Manuel “Manny” M. Vela. VP and Chief Operating Officer TX A&M McAllen; Ron Garza, Assc. V.P. Workforce & Economic Development UTRGV; Mario Reyna, Prosperity Task Force and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. Courtesy image

Texas Border Business

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By Amanda Sotelo

South Texas College and the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force recently signed a memorandum of understanding that sets forth a collaboration in fighting poverty in the region, and to continue the conversation, Futuro RGV recently sponsored a forum at the college where discussions on topics ranging from education and health to technology accessibility and food insecurity were on the table.

Various community organizations and institutions of higher education such as the RGV Partnership, Pharr Housing Authority, Food Bank of the RGV, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Texas A&M McAllen, were on hand to discuss their roles as partners of the task force, initially created in 2020 by Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.

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STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., said there are three things that STC and every Prosperity Task Force partner should do and be, and that is, “Do the right thing, be resolute and take risks.

If we are going to be competitive, in a very competitive global market, then we need to always do the right thing for those we serve, we need to be purposeful in all we do and we need to take risks…this will allow us to transform our region,” he said. “We have a large consortium, and this is significant because were uniting, understanding and acknowledging that poverty is a huge issue and we have a task at hand to be able to address, combat poverty in Hidalgo County and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Serving as panelists, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Economic Development Rodney Rodriguez, Ph.D., Economy Instructor Kevin Peek, Ph.D., Dean of Math, Science, Information Technology and Bachelor Programs Ali Esmaeili, Ph.D., and Dean of Continuing Education, Workforce Training and Economics Development Olivia De La Rosa outlined STC’s vision to improve residents’ quality of life.

Each discussed the innovative approach to education that STC is already contributing as a partner of the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force.

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In its 30 years, STC has become a national leader in regional and international workforce and industrial training, dual credit and concurrent enrollment, competency-based education and short-term certificate programming and bachelor’s degree programs, all of which give Valley residents the opportunity to obtain a higher education that can lead to a high-wage job.

“We are leading the way and always looking ahead for strategic and innovative programs and training that will help meet the demands of our region and industry partners,” said Rodriguez. “The Rio Grande Valley is looked at by the rest of state because a lot of what we do, transpires to the rest of Texas and the nation. We continuously pivot to meet demands and we’re proud of that. From Rio Grande City to Weslaco, we’re at the forefront of being proactive and strengthening partnerships so that all we do benefits our students.”

In the near future, together with the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and financial support from a federal AmeriCorps grant, STC will also create a Youth Leadership Academy to help train future generations of policymakers about the complexities of poverty and how to mitigate its effects locally.  

At the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, 33.5% of Hidalgo County’s population lives in poverty, and   Hidalgo County Judge Cortez used his vision and drive to create the prosperity task force and is encouraging the forum’s panel and those in attendance to take action.

“We need to better our people, our families, and we have no choice but to do this,” he said. “This is a huge undertaking, but we’ve divided up the tasks and we all know what we have to do. It’s a journey, but here, today, we are building a championship team…a team of champions, who together, will find a way to beat poverty.”

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