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Toyota awards $1.7 million grant to San Antonio’s Southwest ISD

Southwest Legacy High School is shown under construction in this May 2016 photo. The school, set to open this fall, is being given a $1.7 million grant by Toyota’s charitable foundation to support STEM programs. Photo: Edward A. Ornelas /San Antonio Express-News

Toyota’s charitable foundation granted $1.7 million Monday to Southwest Independent School District to support the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs at its new high school.

The grant by the Toyota USA Foundation, the culmination of a year-and-a-half of work, will go to Southwest Legacy High School, which is set to open in August, Toyota spokesman Mario Lozoya said.

It is Toyota’s largest contribution so far to a school system in Texas, Toyota spokeswoman Melissa Sparks said in an email.

Southwest Legacy is preparing to become the second San Antonio school designated a Center for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST school, an H-E-B-supported program to prepare students for careers in high local demand. The other one will be at Fox Technical High School in a partnership between H-E-B, San Antonio Independent School District, and local colleges and businesses. It also is set to open in the fall.

Toyota has been working to provide funds to Southwest Legacy since before the school was chosen to be a CAST campus, and the latest grant “is not because of CAST, it is just on top of it,” Lozoya said, adding, “I’m glad that it’s in alignment with the same type of workforce needs that Toyota coincidentally needs, but we were already working on a partnership prior to the CAST announcement.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor said the educational grant represented Toyota’s “steadfast commitment” to San Antonio. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff called the it “an impressive, bold and long overdue step forward to preparing our young people for careers of the future.”

“This is exactly why Bexar County worked so hard to recruit a global leader like Toyota. They provide real opportunity to the South Side and to all of San Antonio,” Wolff said in the news release.

In addition to the grant, Lozoya said Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas — the local plant that builds Tundra and Tacoma pickups — donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of robotic machines and small autonomous vehicles to Southwest Legacy.

“While school systems are striving to become better for our students and communities, the reality is we have limited resources,” said Southwest ISD superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft. “When business steps forward we can create brighter and more engaging learning environments with student outcomes that benefit our youth, communities, state and the nation.”

Source: MySA By: Rye Druzin

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.