Impacting South Texas

The University of the Incarnate Word's Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability leads an annual summer camp for the children of the ARISE community. Faculty, staff, and students from the University of the Incarnate Word conduct various outdoor and indoor activities to further enhance the personal and educational growth of the children. Since 2015, 1,592 children have benefited from this one-week summer programming camp between the University of the Incarnate Word and ARISE. ARISE participants in 2019 were able to conduct a STEM/Mathematics and financial literacy program as part of the one-week summer camp. UIW students, faculty, and staff have been able to provide over 1,695 hours of community service since the 2014. As a result of the number of service hours and activities provided, the University has provided the ARISE community an economic impact totaling $43,104.

ARISE is located in Hidalgo County, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where a large number of families live in colonias, which are unincorporated rural subdivisions whose residents experience high levels of poverty, health challenges, lack of transportation, and inadequate educational opportunities. In fact, approximately 40 percent of families in this border region have a household income of less than $20,000 per year. As a result, members of ARISE continue to  advocate for the families living in the colonias through civic engagement initiatives, personal development, family strengthening workshops and other programs such as the Un Verano con ARISE program.

According to 2019 data gathered from the County Health Ranking System, a program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hidalgo County ranks near the bottom at #226 out of #244 Texas counties regarding Health Factors for its residents. The same ranking system has Hidalgo County ranked #235 for Socio & Economic Factors, #214 for Quality of Life and #238 for Physical Factors. Moreover, residents in these colonias serviced by ARISE also live in homes that are not adequately equipped with running water, roads, electricity, sewage and land lines. Thus, adding additional health concerns and issues for the residents of the four colonias supported by ARISE.

With respect to the educational attainment of the over 850,000 residents making up Hidalgo County, (Source: 2016 U.S. Census Bureau American Fact Finder), 24% of citizens age 18-24 have less than a ninth grade education. This translates to a $30,000 median income difference from those age 25 and higher in the area who have less than a high school education earning approximately $13,606 compared to those with a bachelor’s degree making roughly $44,461.

As per the institution’s focus on Catholic Social Teaching, and the inspiration of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the faculty, staff and students of the University of the Incarnate Word will continue to support ARISE as it is in clear alignment with the university’s mission to enhance educational and health services to those who are sick, less fortunate and poor.

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