It has been a historic month for the University of North Texas at Dallas – one that will open new avenues for our university to fulfill its mission to empower students, transform lives and strengthen communities.

First, UNT Dallas was awarded $2.58 million through two grants from the U.S. Department of Education in support of TRIO Upward Bound programming. The five-year Upward Bound program will allow the university to better serve high schools in North Texas.

Upward Bound programming will begin this fall at UNT Dallas, targeting 60 high school students each year from Sunset, Lincoln, Kathlyn Gilliam, Seagoville, Lancaster, and South Oak Cliff High Schools. Our program is designed to help potential first-generation college students complete their studies and ultimately earn a college degree. Education is a great equalizer and this program will help us serve as a pathway to social mobility.

Dr. John Gasko, Dean of our Emerging Teacher Institute, will lead the Upward Bound Programming. Dr. Gasko has been a star for UNT Dallas since arriving from the University of Chicago two years ago and he helped us achieve a second historic milestone this month when we were one of just 10 universities in Texas to be honored with an award from the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation as part of a $50 million “Raising Texas Teachers” program that is designed to elevate the teaching profession. The investment is part of H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt's continued philanthropic commitment to public education in Texas and includes 20 full scholarships of $8,000, annually, for students of UNT Dallas’ Emerging Teacher Institute.

Being awarded these scholarships by Raise Your Hand Texas is yet another indication that UNT Dallas is no longer in start-up mode. The other institutions chosen by Mr. Butt and the foundation includes Rice University, University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Houston and SMU. To see UNT Dallas next to these long-established leaders of higher education in Texas is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and staff. The dedication of our team to serve students and give back to our community is inspiring and each milestone we reach makes our impact greater.