In 2012 after the superintendents of 11 of 39 Valley school districts and other community leaders recognized they had to do more to prepare Valley students for the demands of college and the labor market, they helped form RGV Focus.
This regional collective impact initiative now works on behalf of all 340,000 students in the region to ensure that all RGV learners achieve a degree or credential which leads to a meaningful career.
The organization has helped raise awareness of the connection between poverty, economic opportunity, and educational attainment. It publishes annual reports on a variety of measures, such as high school graduation rates, college enrollment and completion, and employment statistics. These reports compare the performance of Valley schools, colleges and students to their peers elsewhere in the state and across the nation. As evidence of the collective focus on college success, students in the Valley are more likely than their peers elsewhere in Texas to take Advanced Placement courses or earn an International Baccalaureate diploma. Nearly 60 percent of the region’s students earn some college credit through 37 early college high schools and other programs by the time they graduate from high school.
RGV Focus got off the ground with the help of Educate Texas, a public-private partnership that is helping start such efforts in communities around the state. Collective impact strategies bring together many different groups and institutions to analyze a community’s educational issues, establish an overall goal, create strategies to reach that goal, identify key indicators, and agree on appropriate progress metrics. One of the weakest academic indicators in the region is college readiness which is a current focus of this initiative.
RGV Focus is led by its executive director, Luzelma Canales, who is also on the Teach For America regional advisory board. Teach For America alumnus, Eugenio Longoria Saenz (DC Region ’97), is the Deputy Director.