Raymondville ISD launches college scholarship program

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Judy Moreno, Texas Southmost College’s executive director of strategic enrollment, announces the Raymondville school district’s launch of its two-year scholarship program before parents and students at Raymondville Early College High School on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (Courtesy photo)

RAYMONDVILLE — After years of planning, the Raymondville school district is launching a program offering graduating seniors two-year scholarships aimed at helping more low-income students earn college degrees.

In this community in which about 90% of students come from low-income families, the district becomes the first in the Rio Grande Valley offering its graduates a college scholarship program, Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton said.

As part of the program stemming from its Early College High School curriculum, the district’s working with Texas Southmost College to offer scholarships focusing on completing associate degrees and industry certifications with opportunities to transfer into four-year bachelor degree programs.

“The introduction of the Raymondville ISD Continuation Scholarship Program is a major milestone for our district,” school board President John Solis said. “By prioritizing college success, we’re not just supporting our students — we’re strengthening our whole community. This initiative shows our commitment to building a better, brighter future for Raymondville, where everyone has the chance to flourish.”

In the Valley, about half of graduating seniors go on to college, with about 40% dropping out by their sixth year, Clinton said.

“With this program, we’re not only providing invaluable financial relief to families but also fostering a culture of college completion and success,” Superintendent Stetson Roane said. “This initiative will empower our community’s youth to pursue their higher education dreams, ensuring a brighter future for all while significantly increasing college completion rates.”

For years, officials here have been working to develop the district’s Early College High School’s curriculum with Texas Southmost College to launch the scholarship program opening this fall.

“This is the first scholarship program that we’ve had the privilege to be involved with,” Judy Moreno, Texas Southmost College’s executive director of strategic enrollment, said. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for the community of Raymondville. Raymondville is pulling out all the stops.

“It’s an incredible amount of support the school district is providing to show they believe in their students. We’re very excited to collaborate with it. I hope other school districts want to provide the same type of support for their students.”

The program is open to the district’s 136 graduating seniors, Clinton said.

Summer classes resume July 17, 2022, at Texas Southmost College (TSC) in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“There’s been a great deal of interest,” he said. “The parents are excited. They’re realizing what an opportunity this is.”

On Wednesday night, officials unveiled the program before parents and students at Raymondville Early College High School’s library, with 23 students becoming the first to apply, he said.

“After graduation, students will remain enrolled and active at Raymondville Early College High School,” officials said in a statement. “The program offers work-study opportunities, enabling students to gain valuable experience while pursuing their education. Additionally, students may still be eligible for financial aid, reducing the burden of working hours required to support their studies. By taking advantage of this program, scholarships and grants can be used for student needs rather than solely for college expenses.”

As part of the program, the district is offering students paid tuition, books, fees, meals and bus transportation along with access to technology, including laptops, computer labs and internet connectivity.

In a region in which about 17% of adults hold bachelors degrees, officials are counting on the program to help boost the area’s educational levels, Clinton said.

“As more students get college degrees, we change the face of the Valley,” he said. “The Valley’s growing. The Valley’s hot with the growth of Space X and LNG. We’re in need of a highly skilled, highly educated workforce to handle the growth. I’d love to see more school districts implement programs like this.”