APRIL 26, 2023 — A longtime supporter of public higher education initiatives, H-E-B has made a $2 million gift to support experiential learning and workforce development programs at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) School of Data Science (SDS) and the university’s Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP).
The gift will advance H-E-B and UTSA's shared vision to provide students with equitable access to opportunities in STEM fields, transforming the local workforce infrastructure and developing an innovation network that strengthens and diversifies the local economy.
While the emerging field of data science is expected to see 28% job growth by 2026, the industry ranks lowest in diversity among tech fields, with fewer than 3% of data scientists being women of color, 5% Latino, 4% Black, and 0.5% Native American, according to Forbes. H-E-B’s gift will expand educational opportunities in the School of Data Science and accelerate graduation rates among underrepresented groups at UTSA, a distinguished Hispanic Serving Institution that awards nearly two-thirds of its undergraduate degrees to students who identify as Hispanic/Latino or other minorities.
UTSA ranks no. 33 in the nation for social mobility, according to the 2022 Best College Rankings report by U.S. News & World Report.
The UTSA School of Data Science is located less than a mile from H-E-B’s headquarters. It is the first of its kind in Texas and the only School of Data Science in the nation at a Hispanic Serving Institution.
“H-E-B and UTSA are committed to creating a stronger San Antonio,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “Our longtime and strategic partnership with H-E-B is exemplary of our shared vision to provide unparalleled educational opportunities while increasing the representation of underserved populations in STEM fields. H-E-B’s gift will be instrumental in preparing our Roadrunners for the high demand, high-paying jobs in data sciences.”
H-E-B’s donation will help fund experiential learning opportunities that make data science careers more accessible to UTSA students. By working closely with industry partners through internships, externships, service-learning projects, mentorships and scholarships, UTSA students will have the opportunity to translate their classroom knowledge into a highly competitive skillset. This work directly supports the university’s Classroom to Career initiative, a multi-phased effort that expands and enhances career-focused learning by engaging local employers such as H-E-B.
As part of this initiative, H-E-B’s funding will directly support a new H-E-B Community Innovation Scholars program in the School of Data Science, which will provide data science students with opportunities to support nonprofit organizations, gain direct professional experience and help increase the community impact of San Antonio’s nonprofits.
Additionally, funding will provide UTSA students with robust research opportunities through H-E-B Undergraduate Team Research Projects. Through these varied projects, UTSA undergraduate students will conduct real-world research for practical application.
“H-E-B was founded more than 100 years ago, and as we look forward to the next 100 years, we’re proud to support UTSA’s efforts to create the next generation of tech learners and leaders that will shape the workforce landscape in San Antonio,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group vice president of public affairs, diversity, and environmental affairs. “At H-E-B, we’re committed to helping our partners in education provide opportunities that create a more equitable, diverse workforce.”
Additionally, H-E-B’s gift will support the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP), a free summer program that offers STEM enrichment opportunities to middle and high school students in a college setting. Each summer, PREP students explore topics including mathematics, logic, physics, data science, cybersecurity and nanotechnology.
Founded in 1979 with 50 students by UTSA mathematics professor Manuel P. Berriozábal, PREP was a trailblazing initiative that encouraged students, particularly minority and female students, to pursue careers in STEM fields. Today, the program exists at more than 125 school districts across Texas as well as school districts in California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Idaho. In Texas alone, it has served over 50,000 students.
Serving as a national model for providing high-quality, low-cost STEM education and college preparation, the PREP program received national recognition as a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education in 2015 by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
“We are grateful to H-E-B for their invaluable partnership and shared vision to help students gain experience and marketable skills as they explore career interests across all STEM fields,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, UTSA provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “This is a monumental step toward preparing UTSA students to meet the needs of our community’s workforce and achieve their bold futures.”
UTSA and H-E-B’s longstanding partnership spans nearly four decades with H-E-B’s first gift commitment to the university in 1986. Since then, the two institutions have partnered on various initiatives to advance equitable opportunities in higher education.
H-E-B has established the H-E-B Student Excellence Endowment and the H-E-B Endowed Scholarship in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, in addition to the H-E-B Endowed Honors Scholarship. To increase support for academic positions, Charles Butt and H-E-B created the H-E-B Faculty Research Excellence Fund, a matching gift program in support of faculty chairs and professorships.
H-E-B has also sponsored multiple university events including a 10-year sponsorship for the Alamodome, the home stadium for Roadrunners Football. This is in addition to sponsored events for the UTSA Alumni Association, the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design, and UTSA Libraries Special Collections.
Several community programs also receive support from UTSA and H-E-B. The partners jointly support San Antonio Independent School District's academic endeavor, CAST Tech High School, and H-E-B is a critical partner of the Dreamrunners program, which creates a college-going culture by providing San Antonio K-12 students with opportunities to visit the UTSA Main Campus, speak with a panel of students and attend an athletic event.
More recently, H-E-B began partnering with UTSA to sponsor the Hispanic Serving Institution Career Collaborative Summit. The annual event provides a virtual platform for students and alumni from Hispanic Serving Institutions across the nation to engage with companies through professional development workshops and a career expo.
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