Colonias Program provides 1,400 students with free school supplies

This fall, more than 1,400 students in economically distressed areas of South Texas will carry backpacks stocked with school supplies provided by the Texas A&M University Colonias Program.

“Many hard working families have to visit and revisit their family budgets trying to provide uniforms and supplies for their children and take care of monthly living expenses,” said Laura Trevino, associate regional director Colonias Program, which is overseen by the College of Architecture. “Many families we work with face those budgeting challenges.”

Supplies were delivered at a “Ready, Set, Learn! Back-2-School 2017” event in San Antonio for Bexar County area students, and at other July and August events staged at community centers and school districts in Hidalgo, Willacy and Cameron County.

The $8,000 program is funded by Superior HealthPlan, in collaboration with HEB, Woodforest Bank, Target, Ricer City Federal Credit Union and individual donors.

25 years of service to the Colonias

The school supply giveaway coincides with the 25th year of the Colonias Program. Established by the Texas Legislature in 1991 and housed within the Texas A&M College of Architecture, the program strives to enhance the quality of life and place for residents in the unincorporated, unregulated, substandard settlements on the border. Extending its service to underdeveloped communities across Texas, the Colonias Program serves nearly a million residents every year through 42 resource centers, creating sustainable solutions to local challenges.

With the goal of increasing residents’ abilities to become self-sufficient, enhancing the overall quality of life for the individual and for the community, these centers provide access to a wide array of social programs such as educational services such as dropout prevention and literacy, graduate equivalency and job training and referrals, vital health and human services, and economic and community development assistance.

The heart and soul of the program are the “promotoras,” specially trained colonia residents who work door-to-door throughout their communities, disseminating useful knowledge to help bridge language and cultural communication barriers that exist between their often-isolated neighbors in need and social service providers.

Sarah Wilson

posted August 14, 2017