Students seek votes for Big Idea, outreach project in Texas colonia

Bara Safarova

A group of students from Texas A&M’s College of Architecture is seeking votes for a video that details their proposal to partner with a nonprofit organization in the Rio Grande Valley with the aim of improving the fortunes of colonias residents — the group’s entry in the Big Ideas at Berkeley contest.

Votes for the video, which bolster their entry, are being accepted through May 5.

The group, led by doctoral students Bara Safarova and Edna Ledesma, propose partnering with Colonias Unidas, a colonia advocacy organization located in Las Lomas, Texas.

Safarova said the partners would help resolve shortcomings common among colonias residents: insufficient income, lack of know-how for starting a business, lack of trust from potential creditors, and a lack of access to computers and the Internet.

Though resources exist that address these needs, she said, colonias residents are either unaware of them or lack the means, such an Internet account, to access them.

The group’s Big Ideas proposal would address these problems through training via a proposed public/private partnership, using the Las Lomas’ community center as an educational hub to provide residents an opportunity to interact with fellow community members, learn how to access resources available to colonias residents, and eventually obtain self-sufficiency.

Big Ideas officials will announce projects that advance to the next round of the competition May 5.

posted April 30, 2014