PSJA Education Foundation awards more than $390K in scholarships, teacher grants
Since 2013 the nonprofit has given back nearly $1.7 million to PSJA ISD students, teachers
PHARR – Excited to brighten high school seniors’ days with good news despite the recent pandemic, members of the PSJA Education Foundation recently went out of their way to surprise the 2020 Top Scholarship recipients at their homes.
For the 2019-2020 school year, the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization comprised of mostly proud Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) alumni, awarded a total of 184 scholarships to PSJA ISD graduating seniors totaling $328,000 and $46,000 were distributed to teachers through 54 mini-grants, with a $18,000 grant awarded to the PSJA Library Services Department for district-wide literacy programs.
“The greatest gift that we have is the ability to give back to our students and we have incrementally increased the amount of money we give to help them continue their education,” said the PSJA Education Foundation President and PSJA ISD School Board Secretary-Treasurer Jesus “Jesse” Vela, Jr. “The very best compensation we can ever receive is a very simple ‘thank you.’”
First founded in 2013, the PSJA Education Foundation has helped enhance educational opportunities for the youth and families of PSJA ISD thanks to sponsorships and donations from PSJA Alumni, local businesses, and district staff members through payroll deduction.
“Thank you to the PSJA Education Foundation and everyone who makes this possible to help support our students,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. “It’s an honor and privilege to be able to come out and personally surprise our top recipients and let them know that their hard work is paying off.”
The most coveted award given to the top-rated applicant per high school is the Joel "Joey" Gonzalez Presidential Scholarship worth a total of $16,000 for a four-year period. This was the third year this commemorative scholarship, named to honor the memory of the Foundation's first President, was given to five PSJA ISD graduates: Victoria de la Cerda Salazar from PSJA ECHS; Daija Esparza from PSJA North ECHS; Vanessa Diaz from PSJA Memorial ECHS; Kassandra Moreno from PSJA Southwest ECHS and Maria Gonzalez from PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS.
“Thank you so much for selecting me for this scholarship out of all the other applicants,” said PSJA Memorial's Diaz.
In addition, for the first time ever the foundation awarded the Dr. Daniel P. King Leadership Scholarship worth $10,000 for a four-year period in honor of former PSJA ISD Superintendent Dr. Daniel P. King. The recipients were: Gilberto Saenz from PSJA ECHS; Melanny Garcia from PSJA North ECHS; Christian Flores from PSJA Memorial ECHS; and Samantha Ceccopieri from PSJA Southwest ECHS.
“I am really grateful to PSJA,” said PSJA North's Melanny Garcia. “I didn’t think this was going to happen. I am so grateful. You have given me so many opportunities and blessings.”
Thanks to the help and support from generous donors, the PSJA Education Foundation has been able to increase the number of scholarships and awards since its inception. As of the 2019-2020 school year, the nonprofit has raised and awarded over $1.7 million to students and educators in PSJA ISD.
To learn more about the PSJA Education Foundation or donate, visit www.psjaisd.us/foundation