Linda Cantu, Ph.D.


Linda Cantu, Ph.D., served as an IDRA senior education associate through 2022 and is now an IDRA consultant. Dr. Cantu leads IDRA’s Youth Leadership Now project and the Valued Youth Partnership program, a groundbreaking dropout prevention and student leadership program. Her 14 years of leading the program brought international recognition and awards as it keeps 98% of its tutors in school impacting thousands of children, families and educators. She coordinates the training, technical assistance activities, materials development and evaluation for each school that implements this innovative cross-age tutoring program that successfully stems dropout rates and builds social-emotional skills at the secondary school level.

She earned her doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M College Station. Her master’s degree is in public administration from Trinity University, and her bachelor’s degree is in education from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dr. Cantu also managed and administered IDRA’s three Transitions to Teaching projects (Transitions, T-TExAS, MASS), funded by the U.S. Department of Education to recruit and prepare elementary school teachers. Similarly, she served as project administrator for Alianza, an IDRA model teacher preparation and leadership development initiative, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, that developed a comprehensive, binational and interdisciplinary program for teacher preparation and leadership development.

Dr. Cantu directed IDRA’s TECNO (Technology-Enhanced Community Neighborhood Organizations) project, funded through the U.S. Department of Education and later by TG Public Benefit Program and JP Morgan Chase. TECNO established computer centers in a high-poverty, high minority area of San Antonio to provide community-based college access and computer support to high school students and their families.

Dr. Cantu taught fourth grade for six years at Johnson Elementary and Ben Franklin Elementary in the San Antonio Independent School District. In 1988, she served as the assistant director of training for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) at their national headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. She provided training and technical assistance to the HACU staff and four local school districts.

Dr. Cantu directed the PreCollege Programs, which included Upward Bound and Talent Search, for Communities in Schools (CIS). This program works with more than 500 middle and high school students in the south San Antonio and Southwest school districts. These students represent the many who are college material, but due to their at-risk status are rarely given opportunities to fulfill their potential. Through the PreCollege Program, Dr. Cantu helped students get a taste of university life and learn about potential support through tours, presentations and general information dissemination.

Dr. Cantu was a participant in Leadership San Antonio in 1989. She was a member of the Texas Association of Student Support Services (TASSSP) and the Southwest Association of Students Support Services (SWASAP) for three years. She has also served on the executive committee of TASSSP.