SAN ANTONIO (October 25, 2016)– Today, Tech Bloc and the 80/20 Foundation announced the formation and launch of the TechBloc-4-TechEd Foundation with a $600,000 grant from Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation. Leaders of Tech Bloc and 80/20 kicked off the foundation’s inaugural capital fundraising campaign to support the construction and development of a new downtown high school, CAST Tech, at the school’s future site. CAST Tech will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, and will open its doors to the first class of 150 ninth graders in Fall 2017.
CAST Tech is being designed by a group of employers led by H-E-B, which is providing $3.6 million in startup funding for the new school. Tech Bloc, a technology economy advocacy movement, serves as the school’s portal to the regional high tech industry and is raising additional private funding.
The initial gift from 80/20 will serve as a challenge grant to San Antonio’s technology industry employers to support the development of the new high school and opportunities for its future students. At a minimum, Tech Bloc will be seeking a dollar-for-dollar match of the $600,000 gift from regional industry donors and foundations. The TechBloc-4-TechEd Foundation is supported and powered by the San Antonio Area Foundation.
“The 80/20 Foundation invests in the 20 percent of initiatives that will have 80 percent of the impact in San Antonio,” said Lorenzo Gomez, 80/20 Foundation Executive Director. “We cannot think of an initiative more catalytic than the new CAST Tech High School. Thanks to SAISD, TechBloc, and H-E-B, our downtown will serve as a model for cities across the country on how to build a world class talent engine.”
Apart from its appeal to large industry donors, Tech Bloc has created “$10-4-Tech,” a public crowd-funding campaign to encourage IT industry workers at all levels to participate in the creation of this new, industry-driven high school. Tech Bloc is asking its members, along with individuals across the local IT sector, to contribute at least $10. Individuals who give $100 or more will be honored on a digital “Friends of CAST Tech” installation planned for the high school.
“Our broad fundraising efforts will involve everyone in our industry in building this unique, industry-driven school, and we are so thankful to Graham Weston and Lorenzo Gomez for such a powerful launch of this campaign,” said David Heard, Tech Bloc Co-Founder and CEO.“Access to talent is still our greatest challenge across the tech industry. One of our best opportunities is to grow our own, especially inside our historically underserved populations, and keep it here. This high school can be part of that solution, and its location inside our downtown tech district is key to connecting kids from our urban core to entreprenuerial opportunities beyond the classroom.”
CAST Tech will be operated as an SAISD in-district charter school and will be located in downtown San Antonio on N. Main Avenue. Importantly, CAST Tech will operate inside San Antonio’s emerging downtown tech district, a growing collection of technology startups, IT employers, coding academies, tech co-working spaces, incubators, and entrepreneurial support organizations along and near Houston Street.
“We thank Tech Bloc, the 80/20 Foundation and our city’s business community for their support and determination to create a strong local workforce to grow the San Antonio tech industry,” said Pedro Martinez, SAISD Superintendent. “I see CAST Tech as being a tech immersion experience for high school students, with its focused curriculum, continued workplace exposure, and built-in student support from industry professionals, all of which will ensure our students are well prepared for the tech-sector jobs that await them.”
H-E-B, San Antonio ISD (SAISD), and Tech Bloc announced the creation of CAST Tech at the Tech Bloc Summer Rally last July. It will be the first in a network of industry-led, career-themed high schools known collectively as the Centers for Applied Science and Technology, or CAST. H-E-B and Charles Butt led a group of key employers and local school districts in developing CAST, and will provide startup funding to each school as it comes online. The first of its kind in Texas, the CAST network will use innovative curriculum and technology to prepare students for career fields where talent is in high demand.
“The active participation of industry throughout the CAST experience is what sets it apart,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B Vice President for Corporate Communication and Health Promotion. “To be successful, we need companies willing to dedicate time and resources to designing curriculum and providing opportunities for real-world experience outside the classroom.”
Along with Heard, the Tech Bloc-4-Tech Ed fundraising campaign will be co-chaired by Scott Meltzer, Tech Bloc Captain for the movement’s public education initiatives. “As a first-generation college graduate, I am truly inspired by the educational opportunities this school will provide in San Antonio in our Digital Age and equally honored to help lead this important campaign,” said Meltzer. “With technology talent as a significant component of every company and sector, I’m thrilled to share the story of CAST Tech High School with our community and the lasting impact of a philanthropic investment at any amount.”
CAST schools will redefine the high school experience by offering college coursework embedded in curriculum, internships, job shadowing, mentoring, summer job opportunities, guaranteed interviews for graduates, and project-based learning. Students will graduate with a high school diploma and 30 hours of college coursework, with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree and industry-recognized certificates.
For supporting footage, please see descriptions and download from the links below.
TechBloc-4-TechEd and $10-4-Tech” fundraising campaign sites
CAST Tech Video
Images: Female student in school setting, putting books in locker, walking down hallway, studying, most in the first minute.
The San Antonio Tech District where school will be located
Images: Tech Bloc video overview of the SA Tech District and its resources.
Tech Bloc, industry partner for CAST Tech
Images: Rally with large group of creative class/tech workers.