MERCEDES, Texas – Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation has awarded Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) a $200,000 grant to help residents in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy Counties achieve degrees and credentials in healthcare careers. 

Felida Villarreal is VIDA’s executive director. She pointed out there is a shortage of healthcare professionals.

“We are immensely thankful to Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation for selecting VIDA as one of their grant recipients and recognizing the importance of enhancing equitable education opportunities for student success,” Villarreal said.

According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, there is a shortage of approximately 6,000 nurses across the Rio Grande Valley, and this shortage is not projected to decrease thru 2032. 

Villarreal said that, historically, VIDA has served an average of 500 students annually, of which on average 300 or more pursue healthcare careers. These careers include licensed vocational nursing, registered nursing, diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical sciences, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, radiography, medical billing and coding, surgical technology, and more. 

“Through this collaboration, VIDA will directly respond to the shortage of healthcare professionals in our community and effectively promote workforce development by providing financial assistance and intensive case management services to our nontraditional student demographic, simultaneously addressing our region’s economic and social barriers for education success,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal added: “For over 26 years, VIDA has helped more than 6,000 economically-disadvantaged Valley residents successfully complete career training programs in target demand occupations and achieve self-sufficiency. In 2021, VIDA served 464 participants with an average persistence rate of 93% and an average annual salary upon graduation of $45,614. This is a true representation of human capital investment and aligning workforce skills with local industry demand.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more about VIDA, visit or call 956.903-1900.

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