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Llano Grande Center honored by La Raza

Date of Release: 04/14/2005

SAN MARCOS—The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., has honored the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development--a community-based organization located in Elsa--for providing education and youth leadership programs along the Texas-Mexico border.

NCLR presented the Public Service Award to the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development for its success in building strong leaders in south Texas.

“NCLR is proud to highlight the amazing work of the Llano Grande Center, which has placed more than 50 students in Ivy League universities since 1993,” said Janet Murguia, NCLR President and CEO. “Its outstanding programs are models for other immigrant communities throughout the country.”

Edcouch-Elsa High School Seniors protestEdcouch-Elsa High School Seniors protest in this historic photo from the Valley Morning Star

Established in the early 1990s in the Edcouch-Elsa school district in rural Hidalgo County, the Llano Grande Center focused on working with children, families and schools to promote school reform and community change, said Miguel Guajardo, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Psychological Services at Texas State University-San Marcos as well as Llano Grande co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors.

“We founded it as a non-profit out of a classroom in the high school. This is the area where I and some of my colleagues grew up--15 miles from the Texas-Mexico border,” Guajardo said. “We started working with kids and families, and started pushing for a higher awareness of college.

“One of the conditions that has fostered a lack of development there is the isolation of the community,” he said. “The kids and families don’t have the opportunity to go world outside of that community--and this is the case in some urban environments as well. We started opening up the world for them, getting them to go out and visit colleges and universities. We’re breaking that isolation, getting them to think strategically, of where they want to be in a couple of years.”

For more information on the Llano Grande Center, visit http://www.llanogrande.org.