CAST Schools » CAST Insights » Closing the Opportunity Gap
Closing the Opportunity Gap



CAST opened its first school, CAST Tech High School, in 2017, and we incorporated as a nonprofit with 2 employees in 2018. Since that time, we have grown to a network of 5 career-themed high schools in 4 school districts, a Pre-K through 12 Academy, and we will open our first middle school this August.


We are a very unique school model as we team with public school districts to implement small, specialized, innovative schools. Our schools belong to the public school districts and the principals and teachers are employees of those districts. The nonprofit acts as a supportive backbone; we test new ideas in our schools so that our partner districts can scale what works and we provide oversight to ensure fidelity to the CAST model.


From the outset, our schools were designed to be self-sustaining with public funds. The money we raise for the nonprofit goes to two main functions: #1, the cost of starting up new schools and piloting new programs that become sustainable over time, and #2 the cost of closing the opportunity gap.


What is the opportunity gap? It is different than the achievement gap we have heard so much about. At CAST, we have set out to create a new model of teaching and learning designed to enable San Antonio’s young people access to economic mobility. Our students participate in hands-on learning, which includes travel and internships. We have quantified the cost of the additional experiences our students enjoy, including college visits, job shadowing, and learning that goes beyond the four walls of school, at approximately $800 per student. In fact, this recent scholarly article on the power of internships concluded: “paid high school internship programs allow participating students to showcase more of their latent talents and forms of unique giftedness.”(Please consider helping us close the gap for 1 of our nearly 2,500 CAST students for the 24-25 school year here.)


CAST, the nonprofit, receives financial support from the state of Texas for its work with the public school system, as well as from individuals, local businesses, and private foundations. Our startup funds came from Charles Butt and H-E-B, and we have been fortunate to attract national funders such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Catalyze Challenge, and more recently for our summer programming, Bloomberg Philanthropies. We’ve worked with statewide funders such as the Greater Texas Foundation and Meadows Foundation to create toolkits that other schools can use. And of course, we have many San Antonio-based supporters, including, most recently, the 80\20 Foundation.


Much of our work at CAST is tied to engaging employers into relationships with our schools so that they can inform curriculum, act as mentors, and provide internships and apprenticeships, exposing young people to the jobs of the future. It is our belief at CAST that employers will have such a positive experience that they will continue to engage not only with our students but more broadly with San Antonio’s youth.


Following 5 graduations in recent weeks, we now celebrate 990 alumni, and we are proud of how the young people from CAST Schools are finding their way into jobs with local firms in robotics, engineering, IT, health care and more. We’re also excited at how our small nonprofit has continued to grow, strategically adding people to make our work possible.


Today I’d also like to announce our first Development Director, Nicole Amri, who is a well-known artist and the former co-director of the youth-serving cultural arts organization, SAY Sí. We’ve partnered with both SAY Sí and Nicole herself for years, and we couldn’t be more excited that she is bringing her optimism and belief in young people to CAST!


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools


200 E. Basse Rd., San Antonio, TX 78209

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