United Way gets $1.3 million from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is making a big impact on the future of education in Cameron County.

The Microsoft founder and his wife awarded $1.3 million dollars to the United Way of Southern Cameron County.

Local officials told Action 4 News that the money is a big investment for the Rio Grande Valley.

The donation will help pave the way for a better education to students, which in turn will create help build the community.

The big announcement was made this morning at the United Way of Southern Cameron County.

The organization will receive $1.3 million in cash and $200,000 in-kind donations for technical assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The money will come over the course of the next 21 months.

Valley educators hope the money will help bring awareness about the importance of technical schools, college, create effective curriculums in the schools and help graduates with job placement.

United Way of Southern Cameron County Traci Wickett spoke with Action 4 News about the donation.

"We are also going to make changes in the way we do business, the way businesses interact with school districts, making sure the employer has a voice in education because unless the curriculum aligns with what an employer needs at the end it's not going to be possible for students to get those jobs, Wickett said.

Wickett said pushing for a post-secondary education does not only mean encouraging students to attend a four year college.

She said they will also encourage them to pursue vocational and technical careers.

To qualify for the grant, the United Way had to commit $240,000 dollars towards education.

Wickett says community members and businesses made it possible.