SBC Foundation supports radio outreach for science education

14 February 2001

The SBC Foundation has made a $150,000 gift to the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory to support the innovative Universo radio program.

Started in 1995 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, Universo is a daily two-minute Spanish-language radio program on astronomy heard on 156 radio stations in the U.S. and Central and South America, with 3.5 million listeners each week. It is the most widely syndicated daily Spanish-language program in any subject in the United States, airing in markets that are home to 90 percent of the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. Universo is the sister program of StarDate radio, which has 5.7 million weekly listeners across the country.

According to Nancy Gerval, president of the SBC Foundation, "This is an important educational program that reaches one of the fastest-growing segments of our diverse community. We are pleased to support a project that is in keeping with our corporate commitment to strengthening our communities while getting young people energized about career opportunities in the fields of science and technology."

The SBC Foundation addresses community needs in the areas of education, community economic development, health and human services, and culture and the arts. Since its formation in 1984, the SBC Foundation has distributed nearly $600 million in grants, United Way support, and employee outreach programs focused primarily within SBC’s core service areas. It is an independent foundation funded by SBC Communications Inc. and its family of companies.

The generous grant from the SBC Foundation will help support production and distribution of Universo nationwide in 2001 and 2002.

Says McDonald Observatory Director Dr. Frank Bash, "This generous gift from the SBC Foundation helps advance one of the most important goals for the observatory and the University of Texas at Austin. It allows us to reach out to young people throughout Texas and the country and excite them about the world around us, so that they will become interested in careers in science and technology."

Universo also includes a web site ( and it encompasses teacher’s materials used by hundreds of teachers with tens of thousands of students each year. Recent sponsors of Universo include the Long Foundations; the American Honda Foundation; Harcourt General Corporation; National Instruments, Inc., of Austin; and the American Astronomical Society.

Adds Frank Bash, "This gift from the SBC Foundation continues a wonderful tradition of support for The University of Texas, for education, and for our community. Millions of people each week will learn more about our universe because of this support."

For more information, contact
Joel Barna, Development Officer
Univ. of TX McDonald Observatory