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Another Big Check For CAST Tech

Paul Flahive
Texas Public Radio

A $600,000 matching grant was awarded by the 80/20 Foundation to the new Tech Bloc-4-Tech EdFoundation to support the creation of CAST Tech High School. The school is a partnership between the tech industry and the San Antonio Independent School District.

The Centers for Applied Science and Technology schools, which CAST Tech High School is the first, is a county-wide endeavor spearheaded by H-E-B and Charles Butt, which gave $3.6 million to SAISD for the first school. Half of all the students will be from within SAISD and the other half from anywhere in Bexar County. 

80/20 Foundation Executive Director Lorenzo Gomez says this is how you address the employee shortfall that the San Antonio technology industry is experiencing. 

Credit Paul Flahive / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
80/20 Foundation executive Director Lorenzo Gomez

"You have to invest in the K-12 stack because that is actually how you build a pipeline. There are boot camps that help someone who has already graduated and has a skill. And that is great, we need those as well, but I think we want to go as far down the K-12 ladder as we can," Gomez says.
The money that was announced Tuesday morning on the steps of the old Fox Tech Shop buildings, the future home of CAST Tech, represents one of the largest gifts that the 80/20 Foundation has given out. They hope it will generate an additional $600,000 from corporate and foundational donors. 

David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc, says the new foundation that will raise these funds is about more than this new  school.

"The IT industry has never come together before to raise capital dollars for a project like this. The foundation gives us an identity to run the campaign, collect the funds, make it easy for people to donate, monitor our progress, and also the foundation gives us a platform at Tech bloc to do future education fund raising around things other than CAST Tech. For now CAST Tech is our focus."

Tech Bloc doesn't just want foundations and corporate money though, they also announced $10 -4 Tech a small -dollar campaign encouraging people working in the tech field to give, or "have some skin in the game." People can give online through the San Antonio Area Foundation.

The $1.2 million would represent roughly 12 percent of the estimated capital budget for the new school. Along with the $2.6 million that was given in June from Charles Butt and H-E-B specifically to the capital budget will bring the school to nearly half the $10 million they need to renovate the buildings and provide the technology.

SAISD expects to open the school in the Fall of 2017 and hopes to enroll more than a 150 students. The timeline has been described as "aggressive."

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org