Friday, December 8, 2023

UTSA professor, IDRA Fellow will study CARES Act, inform future investments in HSIs

UTSA professor, IDRA Fellow will study CARES Act, inform future investments in HSIs

MARCH 31, 2022 — The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) has named UTSA professor Vanessa A. Sansone a 2022 IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow. Sansone will use the award to research federal relief aid spending among selected Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to gain a new understanding of how that money was spent, and how state and federal funds can best benefit Texas’ HSIs in the future.

The fellows program honors the memory of IDRA founder José Angel Cárdenas. The goal of the fellowship is to engage and support the work of some of the nation’s most promising researchers who are investigating school finance solutions that secure equity and excellence for all public-school students.


“We are so pleased that Drs. Sansone and Martínez will advance research that informs IDRA’s work and honors the legacy of our founder.”



Sansone is one of two IDRA Fellows for 2022. She joins David Martínez, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies at the University of South Carolina.

Sansone is an assistant professor of higher education in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Her research interests focus on understanding college affordability, HSIs and power structures and governance on the trajectories, experiences and opportunities of historically underserved students.

As a fellow, Sansone will track the spending patterns of selected HSIs that received funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security (CARES) Act of 2020. She will examine how these schools operated pre-pandemic to better understand the decisions these schools made in uncertain times, and ultimately, how they spent their federal aid. The goal is to inform future state and federal financial investments for HSIs and to gain insight into revenue and expenditure trends of these institutions and federal relief aid spending among HSIs.

UTSA is a Carnegie Tier One, Hispanic-Serving Institution committed to increasing access to education and cultivating an environment where students from all backgrounds can excel. As part of its strategic vision to become a model HSI for student success, UTSA is developing and implementing policies, practices and support systems to intentionally promote Latino student success and remove barriers to graduation. These efforts are raising standards across the university, benefitting every student who attends UTSA.

UTSA’s mission is closely aligned with that of the IDRA, a national, locally-based nonprofit dedicated to achieving equal educational opportunities for every child through strong public schools.   

“Dr. Cárdenas’ life was dedicated to his vision that every child deserves an excellent education, which requires strong instructional programs and school finance equity,” said Celina Moreno, IDRA president and CEO. “We are so pleased that Drs. Sansone and Martínez will advance research that informs IDRA’s work and honors the legacy of our founder.”

Martínez will analyze South Carolina school finance priorities in high-proportion Latino districts during COVID-19. Using a multi-method design incorporating longitudinal district-level funding analysis to guide in-depth interviews with a broad, statewide and stratified sample of educational leaders in South Carolina, his research will seek to understand if high-proportion Latino districts have the necessary resources to provide a salient program of instruction to their Latino students during the unprecedented and ongoing health crisis.

Sansone and Martínez will present a paper on their findings at a symposium later this year. The paper and findings will be published and shared with education researchers and policymakers throughout the country.



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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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