2019 All-America City Finalist – Edinburg, TX

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

From 2016 to 2017, Edinburg was one of Texas’ top 10 fastest-growing cities, with a 59% population increase from 2000-2010 and an 86% increase from 2000 to 2018.

To address the inherent challenges of rapid population growth both collaboratively and equitably, the city has developed a shared vision and downtown development plan using resident input from community workshops and surveys. The vision and development plan are carried out by 19 resident-led advisory boards and resident-led festival committees. Additionally, to accommodate its diverse citizenry, the city offers all print communications in multiple languages and responds to all inquiries in the language in which they were submitted.

Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:


1.) A Healthy Community within Everyone’s Reach: Energizing Edinburg Together

To combat high obesity rates, the City of Edinburg’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) collaborated with resident and competitive runner, David Chavana, to create the All-America City David Chavana 10K and Fun Run. The event has become a tradition for locals, and a destination for worldwide runners. The city keeps entry fees low, and hundreds of volunteers from the community assist with the race.

The city also invited the Capable Kids Foundation (CKF) to join the 10K. CKF is an organization that provides social and recreational events for children of all ages with disabilities and their families. Now, participants with special needs take the track for the “Miracle Mile” before the race.

The city also invited CKF soccer athletes to play adaptive sports at the Edinburg Health and Wellness Center at no charge, after learning that CFK was struggling to find an adaptive sports venue. Additionally, the Capable Kids Park Committee is now working to build Edinburg’s first ultra-accessible/inclusive park.

Additional health initiatives include:

  • PARD Nutrition and Athletic Programs- Youth participate in league sports and are served healthy foods.
  • Recreation Programs- Residents participate in karate, water aerobics, Zumba and more.
  • Parks and Trails- The city has 18 parks and is connecting its trails to neighboring cities.
  • UT Health Rio Grande Valley– has established eight low-cost specialty clinics, so families will not have to travel for treatment.
  • DHR Edinburg CISD School-Based Health Center– provides students, teachers, and their families with access to primary health services.


2.) Finding Flood Relief: Rising to the Challenge

Edinburg has seen an almost 60% population increase in the last 10 years. This growth has placed a burden on the city’s drainage system which was built in the 1940s for a once agricultural landscape and can no longer sustain the growing pains of a now urbanized area.

Flooding commonly occurs in lower-income areas, affecting families who at times don’t have a choice but to wait out the storm and hope the water doesn’t cause damage. Residents in these flood-prone neighborhoods began to voice their concerns, leading to an independent research study which found that the system was not made for a city that had experienced such a growth spurt.

City leaders gave residents a chance to voice their concerns, opinions, and complaints by proposing a bond election. The city held four public town hall meetings in different parts of Edinburg to engage the public about the drainage solutions being proposed.

One of the propositions voted on would create four detention ponds that would divert water during major rain events into holding ponds to alleviate the strain on the regional drainage system. In 2018, residents voted “yes” on a $20 million drainage improvement bond package.

The 10 funded drainage projects launched almost immediately and in December 2018, the city broke ground on the first project. The drainage projects will benefit 55,235 residents, most of them in low to moderate income areas.


3.) DEADinburg Comes to Life

Despite a growth spurt in 2004, residents were leaving Edinburg to fulfill recreational needs elsewhere.

The city approached the community through various workshops, surveys and public forums to develop the 2010 Downtown Master Plan. In response to the plan, the City Council appointed seven Edinburg residents to the Cultural Activities Board. This diverse board includes professors, teachers, artists and business owners and oversees all city-initiated cultural activities.

The library, under the direction of the Cultural Activities Board, began to host a monthly art walk that soon developed into a highly anticipated event. Monthly festivities continued growing and soon morphed into the following festivals:

  • Dia de los Muertos showcases Day of the Dead traditions.
  • Hispanic Engineering Science & Technology Community Day is celebrated with live music and science-based activities.
  • Festival of International Books & Art Community Day hosts local authors, artists and school organizations.
  • “Out of this World” UFO Festival and Conference attendees celebrate and enjoy the costume contest, laser light show, alien autopsy classified area, and tin foil hat tent.
  • Fridafest celebrates the art of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
  • South Texas International Film Festival includes film screenings, workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.
  • Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in 1865.
  • Filipino Festival commemorates Philippine’s Independence Day.
  • Revealing India and Diwali: Festival of Lights bring Indian traditions and culture to the predominantly Hispanic population.

All festivals are overseen by the Cultural Activities Board and supported by the Edinburg Arts Foundation (EAF), a nonprofit that supports all city-initiated cultural arts events.

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