LatinX in EdTech Summit: Bridging the Educational Divide in El Paso

EduLab Capital
6 min readJul 25, 2023


by Aditya Vikram

Right out of El Paso International Airport, you’ll realize that you are standing on historic grounds as the shadow of the giant statue of Juan de Oñate, the Spanish colonizer of New Mexico, looms over you. It was Juan de Oñate who claimed the region surrounded by the foothills of the Franklin Mountains on the banks of the Rio Grande River and called it El Paso Del Norte (The Pass of the North) — the present-day location of the bordering cities of El Paso and Juarez [1].

Today, El Paso is a far cry from its gun-slinging days that served as the backdrop to many cross-border disputes between the United States and Mexico and inspired the Western film genre. El Paso (population 878,659) consistently ranks as one of the safest big cities in America, with low violent and non-violent crime rates [2]. It is home to one of the largest US-Mexico land ports, transporting goods valued at over 81B dollars [3]. Furthermore, it is one of the largest US military bases supporting a total population of over 156,000 military personnel, which adds to the local economy[4]. On the other side of the border, Juarez is gradually shifting from one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico to a thriving hub for reinvigorated Maquiladoras[5], with investors placing their bets on the rising demand for border warehouses as companies opt to relocate production closer to the US[6].

Now, the city of El Paso represents a new type of frontier — the frontier of globalization. It is one of the few regions in the world where you can experience the effects of globalization firsthand. The El Paso port of entry handles northbound border-crossing traffic of about 811,000 trucks, more than 12 million cars (with 22 million passengers), and more than 7 million pedestrians, including 20% of students enrolled at the University of Texas El Paso[3].

However globalization has not broadened opportunity in some cases. Despite being the sixth most populous city in Texas, El Paso lags in educational attainment compared to national averages. An El Paso resident completes an average of 12 years of education, which falls short of the national average of 13.4 years. Additionally, the percentage of El Paso residents with higher education degrees is relatively low, with only 16% holding a bachelor’s degree and 7% possessing a master’s or professional degree[9].

To better prepare El Pasoans to face the incoming disruption, the El Paso Community Foundation and the University of Texas at El Paso partnered to study broadband access in El Paso County with the help of the Hunt Institute and the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation. The surveyed data found that only 56.7% households have broadband services. The lack of broadband penetration is a recipe for disaster for any community, nonetheless a socioeconomically challenged rural area[10].

As a result, EduLab Capital Partners and the STTE Foundation designed the LatinX in EdTech Summit to identify digital disparities in rural and underserved communities and emphasize action by implementing flexible edtech solutions that can easily be deployed. The second consecutive LatinX in EdTech Summit took place on June 16th, 2023, through support from Microsoft, CREEED, and the ECMC Foundation. The event was a day-long share of ideas and case studies with more than 150 educators, administrators, investors and entrepreneurs.

Dr. Maria Amstrong, the Executive Director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), takes a selfie during her keynote address.

In theory and in practice, the Summit was designed to highlight the growing demand for quality education products and offers a unique opportunity to connect with key decision-makers face-to-face. Select EdTech startups engaged in a pitch competition judged by superintendents and higher education leaders. Attendees heard from superintendents and higher education decision-makers alike seeking more resources to enable students to pursue the career of their choice and be economically prosperous at the same time. This event shed light on the primary concerns of regional educational institutions and increased awareness of their internal dynamics and procurement processes.

Rosy Vega Barrio, superintendent of Tornillo ISD and a speaker at the LatinX in EdTech Summit lends a unique perspective. Located in a rural farming community with a population of 1,500, of which 50% are children, Tornillo ISD (3.4 mi2)is the only schooling option for the 914 students enrolled. Rosy’s enthusiasm for better educational outcomes is genuinely inspiring. “We are small, but we are going to run our district like the biggest districts,” Barrio said in an interview with Stephanie Valle, News Anchor at KVIA ABC-7.

Barrio and Tornillo ISD represent many forward-thinking school districts in the region responding to the rapidly changing skill requirements. With tailwinds from COVID-related stimulus, the school district continues to innovate and add to its arsenal of quality education products. Right after the Summit, Tornillo ISD partnered with Riveting Results, a provider of interactive reading content for high school students who are learning English as a second language.

Furthermore, the Summit facilitated face-to-face meetings with end-users, buyers, decision-makers, and community leaders, including Dr. Maria Armstrong, the Executive Director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education, Jacob Fraire, President of ECMC Foundation, Beto Pallares, President of Joseph Advisory, and Jessica Haselton, Director of Education Innovation Ventures at ECMC Foundation.

Pallares, one of the Summit’s original backers, has this to say about what the event attempts to achieve: “El Paso is a city on the cusp of significant change and is representative of a lot of regions in the US that aren’t Silicon Valley, but have enormous potential from an innovation standpoint. Our event is a snapshot of this dynamic and a convening point for both the supply and demand side — which is unique on the conference circuit.”

Dr. Beto Pallares (front) moderates the EdTech founders panel including Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami (Cell-Ed), Trini Bensusan Mille (TeeRead), and Javier Arguello (COGx).

For us at EduLab Capital Partners, the Summit serves a great cause and enables the firm to look deeply into the LatinX startup community, which has a vibrant population of founders. Two percent of Latino owned businesses receive less than 2% of the available Venture Capital funding in the U.S. Yet, Latinos contribute $800 billion dollars annually to the U.S. economy [11]. This discrepancy between the value generated and venture capital dollar invested is identifiable and real, and the Summit is a step towards leveling the playing field. We look forward to hosting the LatinX in EdTech Summit again next year and hope you will join us.

[1] Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “El Paso”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 Jul. 2023, Accessed 18 July 2023.

[2] Williamson, Kevin. “But Why Is El Paso So Safe?” National Review, 12 Feb. 2019,

[3] Hager, Glenn. “PORT OF ENTRY: EL PASO Impact to the Texas Economy, 2018.” Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts,,more%20than%207%20million%20pedestrians.

[4] “Fort Bliss: In-depth Overview.” Military Onesource,,Highway%2054%20(Patriot%20Freeway).

[5] “Paso Del Norte Economic Indicator Review.” The Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness at The University of Texas at El Paso, 31 Jul. 2021,

[6]Grant, Peter. “Border-Town Warehouses Are Booming As More Manufacturing Moves to Mexico.” Wall Street Journal, 7 Feb. 2023,

[7] Woessmann, Ludger. “Education Policies to Make Globalization More Inclusive.” WTO Publications,

[8] ​Hall, John. “Why Upskilling And Reskilling Are Essential In 2023.” Forbes, 24 Feb. 2023,

[9]”U.S Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2019.” United States Census Bureau,

[10] “Broadband Gaps In El Paso County And Economic Impacts Of Closing Them.” University of Texas El Paso,

[11] Latino Business Action Network,



EduLab Capital

EduLab Capital Partners is a VC fund that invests in early stage education and workforce technology companies to scale measurable impact in our communities.