Greater Texas Foundation renews scholarship, retention program

(UTRGV Archive Photo by David Pike)

(UTRGV Archive Photo by David Pike)

GTF partners with UTRGV and seven other Texas universities to provide scholarship program for graduates of Texas Early College High Schools

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MAY 24, 2017 – UTRGV is one of eight Texas universities that will receive funding over eight years to support graduates of Texas Early College High School programs.

Greater Texas Foundation, a statewide grantmaker committed to ensuring Texas students can successfully complete a postsecondary education, announced eight new grants totaling $6,993,322 over eight years, to expand its successful GTF Scholars program.

GTF Scholars is a scholarship and retention program for graduates of Texas Early College High Schools (ECHSs).

The new funding will benefit 1,000 students at eight institutions:

  • UT Tyler
  • UT El Paso
  • UT Permian Basin
  • University of Houston-Downtown
  • University of North Texas
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University-San Antonio

“We are grateful to Greater Texas Foundation for once again entrusting UTRGV with the responsibility of supporting a cohort of Early College High School Scholars – a responsibility we wholeheartedly embrace, given the top priority we place on student success,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “When our students succeed, we all succeed.” 

The highest concentration of Early College High Schools in Texas are located in the Rio Grande Valley, according to the Texas Education Agency website.

Dr. Sylvia Leal, UTRGV associate vice president for Student Educational Outreach, said the GTF grants will allow UTRGV to build on its past successes with the GTF Scholars Program.

“We will be able to serve more Early College High School students than before with enhanced support services, and help them realize the benefits of both the university experience and timely graduation,” Leal said.

Greater Texas Foundation founded the GTF Scholars program in 2011, in response to data indicating that large numbers of Texas students were beginning, but not completing, postsecondary education.

The program is designed to increase the number of Texas ECHS graduates who successfully transition to and complete a baccalaureate degree by providing these students with both scholarships and non-financial support.

“Greater Texas Foundation is proud to expand its signature scholarship program and continue to provide support for graduates of Texas Early College High Schools,” said Ralph Rushing, GTF board chair and interim chief executive. “The first phase of GTF Scholars, which supported five cohorts of students, demonstrated strong success in helping ECHS graduates transition to four-year institutions and complete baccalaureate degrees. We are committed and excited to work with our new partners across the state.”

The Scholars program is unique in that GTF works directly with leaders at each participating institution to ensure that scholars receive the advising and support needed to succeed in their course of study.

It also was the first scholarship program in the state to dedicate funds specifically to graduates of ECHSs. ECHSs are designed to provide traditionally underserved students the opportunity to earn 60 credit hours toward a postsecondary degree, at no cost to the student.

To date, more than 500 students have participated in the program, 70 percent of whom identify as Latino or Hispanic and 67 percent of whom identify as first-generation college students.

An independent evaluation of outcomes for the first cohort of students indicates that, compared to similar peers not participating in the program, GTF Scholars are more likely to persist from year to year, graduate on time, and complete their degree program with significantly less loan debt.


GTF supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in and complete a postsecondary education. As a result of its work, GTF will help create greater connections among regional systems that support the ability of all students to succeed. By focusing on issues of statewide importance, GTF also highlights innovative solutions to postsecondary preparation, access, persistence and success across Texas. Since its 2001 inception, GTF has approved $55 million in grants to support Texas students. For more about the Greater Texas Foundation, visit


Kami Gantt
SoloShoe Communications / (972) 717-5181
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742