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avatar for Martha Cantu, Ed.D.

Martha Cantu, Ed.D.

Texas Valley Communities Foundation
Executive Director for College and Career Readiness
Mercedes, TX
Dr. Martha A. Cantu is the Executive Director for College and Career Readiness at the Texas Valley Communities Foundation. Dr. Cantu is a strong advocate for helping all students reach their full potential through education and preparation. Throughout her 35-year career in education, she has held various positions of ascending responsibility including Director of Special Education at McAllen ISD, Director of two GEAR UP projects at The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and Vice President of Student Affairs at UTPA. Dr. Cantu has extensive involvement in college readiness programs. As the program director of two GEAR UP projects at UTPA, she led a team which implemented outreach programs that served school district educators and administrators, and over 16,000 secondary students from the four counties in the Rio Grande Valley. Throughout their six-year participation in GEAR UP, these students had abundant interaction and contact with the business community thereby exposing them to internships, career exploration opportunities, and college prep programs. Under Dr. Cantu’s leadership, UTPA’s GEAR UP program was recognized nationally as a best practice model by the U.S. Secretary of Education. She provided congressional testimony in Washington, D.C. to the Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness Subcommittee concerning the effect of GEAR UP on college preparation. As the Vice President for Student Affairs, she implemented several programs which provided college students on-campus employment and expanded the Student Employment Office’s role in increasing the number of employers from various business sectors that recruited UTPA graduates.
In her current role as the executive director at TVCOF, she has formed new partnerships with school districts in the area of parental involvement and awareness. The training curriculum she has created provides parents with information about the college and career opportunities available to their children and the benefits of maximizing their educational experience.