EDINBURG — The Region One Education Service Center held a formal announcement Friday about three multi-million dollar grants totaling over $30.2 million going toward education in South Texas.

The money was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education at the Region One ESC in Edinburg.

Secured by U.S. Rep. Vicente González, D-McAllen, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs grants, also known as the GEAR UP Partnership, will help provide expanded services to more students and adult learners throughout the eight-county area of South Texas by funding several educational programs.

“It’s always good to celebrate bringing funding to our district that improves education, conditions and the way we live in our everyday lives,” González said.

Also in attendance were students, administrators, school district leaders and higher education partners in support of educational betterment for the region.

The largest grant, known as “Pathways to the Future,” is a seven-year grant totaling $28 million and will see Region One partnering with community organizations, private and local institutions of higher education to serve 22 middle schools, 14 high schools and 13 school districts, seven of which are rural districts.

Objectives for the Pathways to the Future include but are not limited to increasing students’ academic performance, high school graduation rates, participation in and knowledge of postsecondary education and help increase students’ and families’ knowledge on options, preparation and financing.

The project hopes to serve at-risk, low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez speaks during a $4 million grant announcement ceremony at Region One on Friday in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Funds were also awarded to the Educational Opportunity Center with a grant of $1.3 million, financing the Operation College Bound & Beyond program until 2026.

EOC targets the adult learner population assisting them in receiving their secondary school diploma or GED as well as help with postsecondary enrollment, admissions or financial aid applications and hopes to enroll 1,000 adults each year the grant is active.

Finally, the Pathways Aligned to Health Science or PATHS project was awarded $924,000 to provide academic and career-focused postsecondary advising through the alignment of healthcare jobs and expanded industry exposure to students, counselors and teachers.

PATHS hopes to address the region’s high demand in healthcare and to deliver health science industry exposure to students, families and educators.

“Everybody has a talent at Region One but the two words that we stand behind as board, as staff, as administrators are ‘students first,’” Region One Board Chairperson Sonia Falcon said. “Those are the two words that matter most in this building.”

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