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Featured: Dr. Stephanie Álvarez, left, Associate Professor for Mexican American Studies and Director, Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Dr. J. Joy Esquierdo, Professor for Bilingual and Literacy Studies and Director, Center for Bilingual Studies, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, have received a two-year grant for their “Social Studies through Authentic and Relevant Content” (SSTARC) program, which will help equip educators to teach regional history. They are shown here on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus.

Photograph Courtesy MARCI CALTABIANO


Dr. Stephanie Álvarez and Dr. Joy Esquierdo receive two-year grant for University of Texas Rio Grande Valley project to help Valley elementary school teachers expand on region’s local history


Two University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professors have received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a project focused on how to implement Rio Grande Valley history into elementary classrooms.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

The announcement of the grant was made by UTRGV officials on Monday, February 11, 2019.

The NEH grant, awarded to Dr. J. Joy Esquierdo, Director of the UTRGV Center for Bilingual Studies and Professor for Bilingual and Literacy Studies, and Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, Director of the UTRGV Center for Mexican American Studies and Associate Professor for Mexican American Studies, for their project, “Social Studies through Authentic and Relevant Content: Promoting Humanities Learning in Elementary Schools.”

The project aims to provide opportunity and resources for kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers to form appropriate grade-level curricula that implement local and regional history, creating culturally relevant social studies content for students in both English and Spanish.

Project “SSTARC” was granted $99,991 for the two-year collaboration between the Center for Bilingual Studies, Center for Mexican American Studies and two local school districts – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.

Esquierdo said this as an opportunity for students to gain insight into where they come from, and opens doors for teachers to be creative with social studies lessons.

“The project is about helping students, educating them with the information they would not typically find in a textbook,” she said. “It will help them better understand their background and their community. Parents, hopefully, will learn from this when kids go home with this new information.”

Esquierdo and Álvarez currently are working with the two school districts to determine which teachers will be participating in SSTARC. The teachers selected will take part in two different four-day workshops. The first set of workshops are scheduled to take place this summer.

They explained that the workshops will have four scholars from UTRGV Mexican American Studies, giving presentations and presenting material to help develop content for the curricula.

“We will work with the scholars and teachers to create a curriculum that’ll connect the Mexican American Studies curriculum into their dual language pedagogy and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS),” Álvarez said. “You’ll have all of it combined, offering the best of those worlds to Valley students.”

Once the teachers create the units, they will select one they would like to try in their classrooms and begin using it the following school year.

Participating teachers will return in summer 2020 to refine the units, make any necessary changes and add supplemental material.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.


Hispanic women make enormous contributions in this country daily.

To acknowledge more accomplished women, the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce established the annual Women of Distinction Awards.

Each year TAMACC selects 12 women from the applications submitted to be recognized at the Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon.

The deadline this year to submit the application for the award is Friday, February 28, 2019.


This year’s awards luncheon will be held March 29, 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin.

Recipients of this award come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and disciplines.

Teachers, scientists, community leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and lawyers are some of the professions of previous Women of Distinction recipients.

The number of influential Hispanic women in business and in leadership roles across the country continues to grow. Latinas are firmly established players in this country’s economic, political, leadership, and social landscape.

Each year at the Annual Business Convention, TAMACC honors a Business Woman of the Year, however, this is not enough. Hispanic women are making enormous contributions in this country daily. In an effort acknowledge more accomplished women TAMACC established their own annual Women of Distinction Awards.

The qualifications to apply for this prestigious recognition are simple:

• The applicant must be a woman, no younger than 18 years of age, who resides in the state of Texas;
• The primary business and or activities of the applicant must be in the state of Texas; and
• The selected applicant must agree to be present at the awards luncheon to receive their recognition award.

Please keep in mind the selection committee can only consider the information in the application package when making their selections.

A person can be nominated or self-nominate.

Below is a link to the application form:

Please read the forms instructions and included each item asked for. Incomplete nominations packages may be disqualified, or they may not get the maximum number of points from the selection committee.

If you have any questions, please contact Pauline Anton or (512) 444-5727.

TAMACC is a nonprofit 501 (c) 6 organization founded in 1975 to promote business leadership, create economic opportunities and provide legislative advocacy for the Hispanic business community in Texas.

Originally TAMACC was composed of fewer than 20 business owners and professionals from three Texas cities, TAMACC’s members are now throughout Texas.

Since its incorporation, TAMACC has grown into the most active state Hispanic association in the country which focuses on Legislative Advocacy, Procurement Programs, Training and Development of its members and Hispanic businesses in Texas.

TAMACC is strategically headquartered in Buda, Texas and serves as the organizational umbrella for member Hispanic chambers and business organizations statewide.

With a membership of more than 15,000 businesses, TAMACC is the leading advocate for more than 700,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Texas.


For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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