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Two Women Take the Lead, by Establishing a Census Scholarship and Partners with VAMOS

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By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition July 2020.

Sarah Hammond President of Atlas Electrical, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Plumbing Services, Inc. and Thelma Tamez, a Diversity Specialist partnered with The Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS)to establish the RGV U.S. Census Ambassador Scholarship opportunity.

The main idea is to provide Rio Grande Valley high school, vocational school, and college students with a chance to receive one of many $1,000 scholarships for their efforts to increase 2020 U.S. Census participation.

The RGV U.S. Census Ambassador Scholarship has raised $40,000 to-date and aims to raise $100,000 for scholarships in the Rio Grande Valley.

The partnership is a unique group of individuals that includes VAMOS, a nonprofit organization with a proven record of helping students to achieve higher education.

The RGV U.S. Census Census Ambassador Scholarship is born out of an effort spearheaded by Mrs. Sarah Hammond and Ms. Thelma Tamez at McAllen Nikki Rowe High School.

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In addition to launching the RGV U.S. Census Ambassador Scholarship program on June 15, 2020, Kick-Off event, Nikki Rowe High School students were chosen as recipients of $1,500 in scholarships for their efforts to increase 2020 U.S. Census participation in their school.

Hammond and Tamez realized that the Census was not having enough, they decided to step in and help.

“We know how important the CENSUS is, especially in the Rio Grande Valley for every single one of us to count, because that brings funding for the next ten years,” Sarah said.

She emphasized that filling out the census report is extremely crucial to the Rio Grande Valley’s future success because it brings funding for the next ten years. “I applaud the students for understanding the importance of becoming ambassadors of such a great project.”

Patricio Rodriguez got a $1,000 scholarship. The second winner was Paola Enriquez, $500. The third winner was Row Visicol $250 and the fourth recipient is Darren Everage Jr. $250 scholarship.

In total, $2,000 were delivered to four recipients, during the event by attorney Omar Ochoa and Daisy Gonzalez from the Wedding Pages. Both also participated in making preparation for this event to take place.

Alonzo Cantu, Chairman of Lone Star National Bank and the creator of VAMOS, was instrumental in many phases of this event.

Jesse Ozuna, a representative of DHR Health, was invited to the podium to say a few words. “Congratulations to the Census. We, as a community hospital, believe in the importance of highlighting the Rio Grande Valley.” He said, “We feel that we get one shot every ten years, and we need to do it right to get the funding we deserve.”

Ensuring an accurate count in 2020 is vital to ensure the Rio Grande Valley is equally represented in Congress and the Texas Legislature, and also, to be eligible to receive a fair share of federal and state funding over the next ten years.

They pointed out that the Census has historically undercounted the Rio Grande Valley from 40,000 to 300,000 persons. “If the RGV were accurately counted, the region could gain $63M to $473M annually or $630M to $4.7B over ten years,” Sarah said.

The scholarship and community engagement programs have been created with the following goals:

Educate students about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census for our region;

Engage students to become Ambassadors for the U.S. Census with their Families, Friends, and Neighbors;

Increase U.S. Census Completion for the Rio Grande Valley; or Achieve 70%+ Completion Rate; 

and Provide Scholarship Opportunities for Students.

If you have not participated in the Census, please be counted. Your participation is essential for the Rio Grande Valley, a place where you live.

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