We Refuse to Lose

We Refuse to Lose: Rio Grande Spotlight

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The We Refuse to Lose series explores what cradle-to-career initiatives across the country are doing to improve outcomes for students of color and those experiencing poverty. The series profiles five communities—Buffalo, Chattanooga, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley and Tacoma—that are working to close racial gaps for students journeying from early education
to careers. A majority of these students come from populations that have been historically oppressed and marginalized through poorly resourced schools, employment, housing and loan discrimination, police violence, a disproportionate criminal justice system and harsh immigration policies.

The profile features the region’s cradle-to-career collective impact initiative, RGV FOCUS, and its many partners as it explores the region’s history of inequity in higher education that culminated in a 1987 lawsuit against the state of Texas. FAFSA completion rates in the region have soared from 59 percent in 2012 to 73 percent in 2019—exceeding the statewide completion rate of 64 percent in 2019. Even more impressive, the RGV also outperformed the state average on eight of the 12 primary and postsecondary metrics on its annual scorecard. And even with all that success, RGV FOCUS and its partners are digging in to do more. “It’s still [really] hard for the kids we’re working for at RGV FOCUS, and that’s why the work we’re doing to prepare them for college and receive financial aid is so important,” says Rodney Rodriguez, Senior Director at RGV FOCUS. “It shouldn’t have to be so hard.”

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