PHARR- The PSJA Education Foundation had its best year yet, distributing $262,000 in scholarships to PSJA ISD students planning to pursue higher education this fall.

First founded in 2013, the PSJA Education Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that promotes excellence in education by developing and sustaining financial and non-financial support from the private sector to PSJA ISD students and staff. Since its creation, the foundation has awarded more than $775,000 in student scholarships and teacher grants.

Awarding hundreds of thousands each year is possible thanks to the contribution of businesses, members of the community and PSJA employees. The foundation's primary fundraiser is an annual concert where local businesses and PSJA Alumni donate to the cause. In addition, almost 800 PSJA ISD employees contribute monthly to the Foundation through generous payroll deductions.

Thanks to the help and support from donors, the PSJA Education Foundation has been able to increase the amount of scholarships and awards given. Top rated applicants are able to compete for 4-year scholarships of up to $10,000. Many area families and alumni groups, have also joined the efforts providing their own namesake scholarships.

“I am truly honored to have received this scholarship as it will allow me to continue my education,” shared Nayelie Aguirre, a recipient of a 4-year scholarship totaling $6,000. “This has shown me that PSJA ISD is not only committed to promoting college opportunities, but also offers support to students!”

Aguirre graduated as Salutatorian from PSJA Early College High School this May with an Associate Degree in Mathematics from South Texas College. She will be pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Neuroscience from Dartmouth.

In addition to awarding scholarships, the PSJA Education Foundation also awarded more than $30,000 in competitive Teacher Mini Grants to PSJA educators. Projects selected touched on a variety of different topics including literacy, career pathways, environmental science, fine arts and post-secondary readiness.

"We are grateful for the PSJA staff members, community and business support that have helped us make this possible," said Joel Gonzalez, PSJA Education Foundation President. "Our main goal is to give back to our students whether it is through a scholarship to assist them with college, funding an innovative classroom project that will give them hands-on knowledge or supporting their reading goals throughout the summer. The Foundation is here to help our students become successful members of our community."

The PSJA Education Foundation will host its 5th annual fundraiser September 14, 2017 at the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. To become a sponsor or learn more about the foundation, please visit www.psjaisd.us/foundation.