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MISSION, RGV – AT&T awarded $20,000 to Mission Economic Development Corporation to support Code the Town–a program designed to teach computer programming skills to local students.

Code the Town was first launched in 2014 to raise awareness about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the community.

The funding from AT&T shows its commitment to education and ensuring students have the necessary skills for today’s economy and workforce, said AT&T’s J.D. Salinas. Salinas presented the check to Mission EDC with the help of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents Mission in Congress.

“We know STEM skills and technological know-how will be critical to the future of our students in Mission and across the Rio Grande Valley,” Congressman Henry Cuellar said in a press release. “I appreciate AT&T for supporting our local efforts to reach and teach our students. AT&T knows the value of an educated workforce, and we must all work together to ensure our students are ready for the challenges and opportunities that await them.”

Alex Meade, chief executive officer of Mission Economic Development Corporation (EDC), said more than 3,000 kids have taken about eight hours of computer science through the city’s partnership with Sylvan Learning.

“AT&T has a long history of supporting Rio Grande Valley community initiatives and we are proud to have AT&T as our partner in Code the Town,” Meade said. “As a result of AT&T’s generosity, hundreds of Mission-area elementary and middle school students who might not otherwise be exposed to computer code will become familiar with it and the possibilities of computer science through our Code the Town program.”

Code the Town is housed at the Mission Center for Education and Economic Development (CEED) along with other partners that push for computer science such as Code RGV, Sylvan Learning and Teach for America.

“[CEED] is a dynamic co-working space, but it also has offices and so we’re really focused on creating this culture of collaboration and creativity amongst the tenants,” Meade said.

Schreiner University

Meanwhile, on the same day AT&T made its check presentation to Mission EDC, Schreiner University opened a small campus inside the CEED building.

“It is their first satellite campus outside of Kerrville. One of their main degrees is a design technology program,” Meade told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“We are really excited to be filling the CEED building. We have some really neat tenants in the building. Hopefully, a year today we will have some neat stories coming out of here.”

Texas Workforce Commission

And recently, Mission EDC, Workforce Solutions and Code RGV successfully completed their three-month 2016 Coding Boot Camp. Nine students completed the course and were certified in Full Stack Web Development – a high-demand career in Texas.

The course was offered and sponsored by Mission EDC, taught by Code RGV personnel and was funded in part by the Texas Workforce Commission. The Workforce Commission’s High Demand Job Training grant was for $75,000.

The nine students were selected out of 425 applicants, equipped with laptops and supplied meals during the course. Training took place at Mission EDC offices up to 12 hours a day five days a week.

The students were awarded a monthly financial stipend and received a bonus stipend for finishing the program.

Ruby Red Ventures

Mission EDC also recently announced funds for startups through its Ruby Red Ventures program.

MEDC awarded $10,000 each to Bryan House, Virtual Media Planners, The Dream Big Facility and Banner Transit Services.

After several classes at Mission EDC and one-on-one counseling sessions with the UTRGV Small Business Development Center, program applicants pitch their startup idea to a committee – Shark Tank style — in competition for funding. For more info go to www.rubyredventures.com.

Editor’s Note: Videojournalist Apolonio ‘Apol’ Sandoval, Jr., contributed to this story from Mission, Texas.