WT Receives More Than $2 Million in Grants to Support Living Wage Employment

Chip Chandler Sep 23, 2020
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WT Receives More Than $2 Million in Grants to Support Living Wage Employment

CONTACT: Misty Rueda, Director, R2O HP, Access to Success West Texas, AmeriCorps; 806-651-2247,

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University has received more than $2 million in grants for programs meant to increase educational attainment and the rate of living wage employment among the region’s underserved and rural populations.

The University will serve as the anchor institution for a new AmeriCorps program, partnering with area high schools, community colleges, community organizations and business, workforce and economic development entities to augment existing systems and generate additional opportunities.

The University was awarded a total of $1.4 million over the course of three years from the OneStar Foundation, the governor-appointed state service commission for national service, as well as nearly $800,000 from the Greater Texas Foundation.

The two grants will fund the Rural Resilience and Opportunity on the High Plains (R2O HP) initiative and the Access to Success West Texas AmeriCorps program. R2O HP is a rural collaboration among regional partners that will focus on civic engagement, leadership, and resource development, while Access to Success West Texas will help people in under-resourced and rural communities with skills building and educational attainment, according to program director Misty Rueda.

“This money will help us build a more supportive and inclusive environment that makes it possible for everyone to thrive in sustainable careers and communities,” Rueda said. “We really want this to be a community-based approach that helps fill gaps and supports existing efforts.”

The AmeriCorps program will focus on an expanded mentoring program, with members serving as academic and resource coaches. Those members will serve historically under-resourced and rural populations in the Texas Panhandle consisting of economically disadvantaged, first generation and other underrepresented groups of high school and college students as well as adult learners, Rueda said.

“We believe that through these collaborations, Access to Success West Texas and Rural Resilience and Opportunity on the High Plains will help increase opportunity, improve educational attainment, job placement and financial security, and promote resilience and quality of life throughout the High Plains,” Rueda said.

AmeriCorps members are being recruited from across the region among students currently enrolled in higher education as well as recent post-secondary graduates, retired teachers/counselors, social workers, and other community members. Members will receive a living allowance during their time of service and, when it is completed, also will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to help pay for educational expenses and qualified student loans.

Addressing regional challenges is a major component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs housed under the Corporation for National and Community Service and state service commissions (including OneStar Foundation in Texas) made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more. Members are matched with thousands of organizations nationwide to tackle some of the country’s toughest challenges. Approximately 75,000 Americans serve as AmeriCorps members each year.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.