Greater Texas Foundation Grant Enables Post-secondary Support
Over 71% of seniors in the inaugural graduating class of CAST Tech High School have been accepted to 4-year colleges, bucking a citywide trend of fewer than 50%. A new alumni program offering post-secondary support, funded with $270,000 from the Greater Texas Foundation, will help these students successfully navigate decisions along the path through college, career and in life.
In preparation for the first graduating class of CAST Tech High School, CAST Schools has created the CAST Alumni Network, and expanded mentorship programs to continue past high school. The grant from the Greater Texas Foundation enables the development of an embedded, holistic advising model that begins in 9th grade and extends beyond high school graduation. The new CAST Alumni Network and enhanced mentoring program will bridge students into college and careers – a tight-knit system built to support long-term student success.
Sustaining mentoring relationships beyond graduation will help students navigate decisions along the path through college, career and in life. This is critical in a city where fewer than 50% of high school graduates pursue a college degree, and of that group, fewer than 50% complete those degrees. According to the Urban Education Institute, of Bexar County students who started in 8th grade, 43.7% enrolled in a Texas college, 2- or 4-year degrees after high school; of those who enrolled in college, 47.8% earned a 2- or 4-year degree within 8 years.
“CAST students have explored career options in high school and can continue that growth with guidance from a mentor and resources from this new alumni program,” said Greater Texas Foundation President & CEO Sue McMillin. “We’re proud to support an innovative model that is gaining national attention and demonstrating results.”
To date, CAST Tech High School seniors have earned more than $5.61 million in cumulative scholarships. Additionally, students at CAST Tech High School have been awarded more than 171 certifications, with 121 on the industry-based certification list, offering the potential for well-paying jobs immediately after graduation.
“At CAST Schools, we support our students in their chosen path, be it going to college, to the workforce, the military, or a combination of those approaches,” said CAST Schools Executive Director Jeanne Russell. “Bringing our CAST students together as an alumni network and maintaining their connections to key industry partners, allows them to support one another even as they continue to grow their professional networks.”
CAST Schools announced these initiatives as part of an all-day Senior Day event held on May 21 for 133 CAST Tech seniors, which included some final prep for college-going, participating in mock interviews, workshops, finalization of LinkedIn profiles, team building and more.
CAST Tech seniors also participated in their own “Decision Day” by sharing their intentions for after high school. Seniors were joined by Texas A&M University-San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, The Univeristy of Texas at San Antonio, St. Mary’s University, and Alamo Colleges District. Another 18 seniors from the Advanced Learning Academy, a CAST School, joined the launch and will be part of the CAST Alumni Network. Both CAST Tech High School and the Advanced Learning Academy are part of the San Antonio Independent School District.
Funding from the Greater Texas Foundation will help CAST Schools create a toolkit to support its student-centric advising model, as well as several new initiatives including College Days, a Parent Academy, an annual student survey, in addition to the Alumni Network. This work is designed to give students greater ownership so they make informed choices about their futures.
About CAST Schools Network:
The Centers for Applied Science & Technology (CAST Schools) is a San Antonio-based nonprofit made up of four career-themed, tuition-free public high schools and one Pre-K through 12 Academy. CAST Schools’ mission is to reinvent schooling in order to maximize options for students while preparing them for college, career, and life. Students select a school based on interest, set personal goals, and design their school experience, informed by industry and other partners. Through experiential learning, CAST Schools students tackle real-world projects designed by local employers and civic leaders and work in teams alongside mentors from the field. CAST Schools target makers and doers who will thrive in a hands-on setting informed by student voice and agency. Open to all Bexar County students, CAST Schools include high schools CAST Tech, CAST STEM CAST Med, CAST Lead and the Advanced Learning Academy. Schools are co-created with local employers, and in partnership with area public school districts, including San Antonio, Southwest, and East Central ISDs. For more information, visit castschools.com.
About San Antonio ISD
As San Antonio’s founding school district, SAISD schools have served the heart of the Alamo City for more than 100 years. Today, SAISD serves about 46,000 students in our culturally proud, urban community and is rated a B district by the state. With forward-thinking academic programs at neighborhood schools and a growing list of specialized schools, SAISD students can customize their own educational experience and find what truly drives them. The spirit of SAISD also can be found in its extracurricular programs and activities from extensive athletics and fine arts – including a mariachi curriculum that was pioneered in SAISD before being modeled across the nation. For more information, visit www.saisd.net.
About the Greater Texas Foundation:
GTF supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete a postsecondary education. Since its 2001 inception, GTF has approved more than $100 million in grants to support Texas students. For more about the Greater Texas Foundation, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.