14:52 PM

EDGE Grant Supports Staff Engagement and Development


By Hayden Bergman

The EDGE Grant is an opportunity for UHD employees to pursue further professional education or attend conferences or workshops, thereby improving their skill set and amplifying their networks. This grant, awarded each month to one UHD employee, was recently given to Maria Estrada (January) and Elvira Rodriguez (March). We spoke with them and asked them three questions:  

  • What prompted you to apply for the grant?  
  • What course or activity did you pursue with the funds?  
  • What tips do you have for other UHD employees who are considering applying for an EDGE grant?  

Here’s what they had to say:  

Maria Estrada, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Operations  

Distance Education

Maria E Estrada

What prompted you to apply for the grant? 

I was excited about the opportunity to present at my first conference, the National Organization of Student Success (NOSS) Conference in Nashville. The EDGE Grant funds would assist with the conference registration fee.   

What course or activity did you pursue? 

I serve as the Assistant Director of Off-Campus Operations at UHD. My presentation [at the NOSS Conference] was titled “Transfer Pathways: Providing Student Success at an Off-Campus Location. The presentation elaborated on UHD Northwest and our partnership with Lone Star College. I also wanted to attend the NOSS Conference as a professional development opportunity to further learn about student success practices.   

Any tips for other employees who’re thinking of applying for the grant?  

Complete your application several months before you need the funds and be patient. I applied for the EDGE Grant in October 2022 and was awarded in January 2023. Your application remains active until the seminar you wish to attend has passed. 


Elvira Rodriguez, Assistant Director, Customer Service and Outreach 

Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid

elvira headshot

What prompted you to apply for the grant?  

I had heard about the grant during our Staff Council meetings and always thought I should apply. When I was approved to go to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Conference (NASFAA) this summer, I decided this would be the time to apply for the grant. 

What course or activity did you pursue?  

My NASFAA conference attendance. It provided me with valuable, updated information on the student aid programs and, most importantly, how to implement changes to better serve our students. The NASFAA speakers and presenters provided information on current issues before Congress, and how legislative action could impact our office and students.  

Any tips for other employees who are thinking of applying for the grant?  

Apply, apply, apply. 


Both Estrada and Rodriguez agree: the EDGE Grant program is an excellent opportunity for UHD staff, and something that allows for further engagement and professional development. This is especially true, they say, as the financial costs for such efforts can be burdensome. To learn more about the EDGE grant, including deadlines and eligibility requirements, visit the UHD Staff Council website

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.