WESLACO–Days after a historic presidential election, VIDA gathers with community leaders on Saturday November 10 at the Best Western-Palm Aire in Weslaco at 11:00 a.m. to celebrate 304 individuals that are breaking the cycle of poverty and contributing to sustainable economic growth in the region.
“Education! Jobs! Economic Recovery! We heard it on every station, spoken by every candidate, at every level, regardless of political affiliation. Everyone agrees. That is what our country needs. That is what VIDA’s does!” is the message from VIDA’s Chairman of the Board, Tony Aguirre.
Last fiscal year, VIDA served 789 individuals in the four-county area. All had multiple barriers; financial hardships often being merely one. Most received a form of public assistance, fell below national poverty or were unemployed. “But VIDA participants have much more than economic disadvantages in common. They all have the drive and the commitment to work hard for a change; to make the sacrifices for their families and to stay the course to the finish.” shared Myra Caridad García, VIDA’s Executive Director. The average wage for these graduates is $35,568 plus benefits.
Texas has led the country in job creation and the Rio Grande Valley is one of the primary stimulants to that fact. We have an abundant, young, and vibrant workforce. García comments, “Our region has been deliberate in its focus on education and training with multi-tiered initiatives across the Valley to address and improve our educational outcomes and post secondary credentialing”. Estela Sosa-Garza, VIDA Treasurer and founding Board member adds “Our partners in education are doing amazing things. Our employers are engaged, and the residents of the Valley have demonstrated the ability and desire to compete nationally and internationally for quality, high skilled jobs”.
A recent study published by Georgetown University states that 63 percent of all job openings over the next eight years will require postsecondary education or training. “Today VIDA celebrates individuals that are now prepared for those jobs thus making our region more competitive in business recruitment and job creation,” comments Eddie Anaya, VIDA long time Board member and current Vice Chairman. 54% graduated with Associates degrees and 34% with College Certificates. Of equal importance and long term impact is that 17% of these graduates will transition and continue their educational journey in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree.” stated García.
VIDA is a community based non-profit 501 (c) (3) agency. Created in 1995, VIDA was the result of a local effort led by community leaders of Valley Interfaith and a strong cross section of business leaders. The impetus was the need to empower the underserved residents of the Region with the tools – education and training – to become self sufficient and in tandem, fuel the growth of the existing employers and increase the recruitment of new investment to the area by developing a highly skilled workforce.
To formulate new institutional relationships in the Rio Grande Valley that simultaneously address employers’ needs for skilled workers and link the area’s unemployed and underemployed with high skilled, high wage demand jobs identified in the region.