Foundation awards UHV two grants for student outreach programs

The University of Houston-Victoria recently received two grants from the International Youth Foundation to create programs that will bring international experiences and information about how to prepare for the future to rural South Texas communities.

The foundation awarded UHV $33,504 to host International Festival events in Karnes City and Cotulla for high school students. The second award of $38,501 will be used to create a breakfast outreach program in 10 schools in DeWitt, Karnes and LaSalle counties.

Jesse Pisors

“UHV is extremely grateful for these grants and the support International Youth Foundation gives to higher education in our region,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “The programs created by these funds will provide excellent outreach tools to educate high school students in these communities about higher education and their future career options, as well as to expand their awareness of international cultures.”

The awards are part of the two-year LEAPS initiative of BHP and the International Youth Foundation. LEAPS partners with community organizations to provide young people ages 11 through 24 with greater access to information about future careers and encouragement to become more involved in their communities.

“The success of the majority of our programs at the International Youth Foundation lie in our ability to work with local partners to achieve our objectives, and we are particularly happy to be working with UHV for the LEAPS initiative in South Texas,” said Stacey Osborne, International Youth Foundation program manager. “This partnership will provide young people in mostly rural areas of South Texas exposure to a world-class university and professionals who share our vision of young people succeeding and becoming engaged global citizens. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

The first grant resulted from UHV’s annual International Festival held in the spring. A representative from the foundation attended the festival and was impressed by its size and the community attendance and involvement.

The UHV International Programs Office has planned two international festivals in November. The first will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at Karnes City High School, and the second will be at the same time on Nov. 10 at Cotulla High School. Just like the main UHV festival, international students and community members will showcase elements of their cultures, including food, fashion and traditional dances.

Ludmi Herath

The festivals will promote global education and allow students, some of whom likely have not left the state, a chance to experience international cultures, said Ludmi Herath, UHV director of International Programs.

“The UHV International Programs Office is honored to have been selected for this grant,” Herath said. “This is a win-win situation for our international students, our university, and Karnes City and Cotulla students and community members. We live in an era when everything is connected globally. These programs will influence younger generations to think outside of their everyday experiences.”

The second International Youth Foundation grant will allow UHV to create a new Breakfast with the Stars program that will bring industry leaders to 10 different rural high schools to talk with students during breakfast. The events will be held in different schools throughout the school year.

Kira Mudd

The university will bring successful alumni and community members to schools in DeWitt, Karnes and LaSalle counties, where they will tell students about their careers, how they reached their goals and what students can do to pursue similar careers. Parents also will be invited to the events so they can learn about their children’s interests. 

“These breakfast events will offer students opportunities to engage and connect with alumni and encourage the students to think about their goals for the future,” said Kira Mudd, UHV director of alumni relations and annual giving. “We want students to start thinking bigger so they will look beyond high school graduation and make a plan to pursue a career or trade.”

To learn more about the international festivals, contact UHV International Programs at 361-570-4106 or To find out more about the Breakfast with the Stars program, contact Mudd at 361-570-4869 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.