A key area of focus for the SAISD Foundation is to increase the postsecondary success of the talented students who graduate from the 15 high schools in San Antonio ISD. Together with our donors and volunteers, we are helping them reach their full potential and thrive both while in our schools and beyond! For many of our students, this is changing their trajectory and breaking generational cycles of poverty. In San Antonio ISD, just 19% of our students’ parents have had any postsecondary education.
In our efforts to level the playing field for our students, we support both ongoing programs and current initiatives. Our programs are those things that we know are making a significant difference for our students and we have committed to supporting for the long term. Our initiatives either serve as pilot programs that are being tested for impact, or are programs that we are helping the school district to grow as we assist in creating a sustainable model for the future.
For the SAISD Foundation, our programs are those things we have found are making a significant impact on our students and their success. Accordingly, we are committed to dedicating our resources to making them happen each year. When you donate to the SAISD Foundation you are supporting programs like these!
Annually, we award 100+ student scholarships to support students enrolled in colleges and universities in San Antonio, in Texas, and across the country. The SAISD Foundation accepts donations, planned gifts, and bequests from alumni, businesses, and community donors to support the dreams and aspirations of SAISD students pursuing all forms of postsecondary education. As an independent 501 c 3 that is a part of the SAISD family, we are able to work closely with campus-based College Bound Advisors and Lead Counselors to make the best matches and fill the highest needs. Students who receive scholarships through the SAISD Foundation also receive support from our programs, from the dorm room essentials drive in the summer to our multi-year remote mentor program. Students in our scholarship program persist in college at higher rates. We are looking forward to highlighting our most current persistence data this spring. Learn more about our students, their journeys, and where they land after graduation on our Scholarship Impact Page Here. Short stories. Lasting impact.
The College Tour program has deep roots in San Antonio ISD and the SAISD Foundation. Walter Brown, a retired SAISD teacher, launched the program years ago with a small group of students from Brackenridge High School, loading up in his van to visit top-rated colleges and universities in the Northeast. Building off the success of that program, in 2016 the SAISD Foundation began raising funds to both expand visits to other key areas of the country and expand the program across SAISD to all high schools. In 2018, the program was part of a landmark gift by the Valero Energy Foundation that significantly increased student participation, which, at its peak, involved 172 students in out-of-state tours and hundreds more in tours across the state of Texas. Our out-of-state tours focus on visiting selective schools that meet nearly 100% of financial need. Overall enrollment of college tour participants was 29% higher than the city average in 2019, and as you can see from the graph below, the majority of the students who participate in our out-of-state tours enroll in 4-year institutions locally and across the country. For many of those students, nearly 100% of their financial need was met by their college.
Our College Emergency Gap Awards help students get from college acceptance to college graduation. The program supports students with some of the greatest potential and the most significant financial challenges. For students not yet in college, we help pay for housing deposits, enrollment and orientation fees that are required before their aid/scholarship package kicks in, and additional barriers that can prevent a student from walking into their first day of college. For students already away at college, emergency gap awards might include replacing a computer, buying equipment that other students in the program already have, or booking a flight home from out of state college/university for the holidays to see family. On average, Emergency Gap awardees persist through to their sophomore year of college at a rate that is 18% higher than the district average. The average Emergency Gap Fund award is $300, making it easy to make a BIG difference. Learn more here on our impact page.
Our remote mentor program was launched in 2020 in partnership with the SAISD Office of Postsecondary Initiatives. In this program, our students are matched with a caring adult who has successfully navigated the college experience to offer support, guidance, and a listening ear. We are expanding this program significantly in 2022 after hearing from students about the valuable role their mentors have played in helping them to adjust to college life and access critical resources that support their success. Our goal this year is to recruit 100 remote mentors! You can play a role in meeting the needs of more of our first-generation college students. If you want to be a part of helping our newest alumni thrive in their first year of college and through to graduation, contact us here.
For the SAISD Foundation, our initiatives are those things we are piloting and we believe have the potential to make a significant impact on our students and their success or we are assisting the district to expand. Accordingly, we work to author grants or funding requests to make one time or short term investments in these areas.
When the world stopped in March 2020, remote learning impacted SAISD’s ability to help students perform well in college readiness tests like SAT, ACT and TSI. IRS tax offices were closed and graduates could not easily access tax transcripts to finish their FAFSA. Businesses closing meant that many of our 2020 graduates postponed their college plans to find a job that supported a furloughed or laid-off parent/guardian. These conditions resulted in a decrease in the percent of graduates attending college immediately after high school. In response, the City of San Antonio Human Services Department, the SAISD Foundation, and Communities in Schools partnered to leverage city funding that allowed the SAISD Foundation to hire four full-time Postsecondary Navigators from summer 2021 to December 2021 to assist Class of 2020 graduates who postponed their college plans to enroll in college. As a team, the Postsecondary Navigators successfully enrolled 101 more graduates from the class of 2020 and referred over 500 additional students to other community-based organizations. Those 101 additional graduates translate to a 4% gain in college enrollment within the year vs. national rates of 1.1% gains for equivalent high schools. The Postsecondary Navigators also became part of a college access referral network composed of members such as NXT Level Opportunity Youth, Communities in Schools, Alamo Workforce Solutions, San Antonio College, St. Philips College, Palo Alto College, Cafe College, and SAISD Adult Education who are all aligned to ensure more graduates enroll in educational programs beyond high school. We are working to sustain funding for this program to fill an important need for support after their K-12 experience has ended. Contact us if you would like to partner in supporting this initiative.
For the past three years, the SAISD Foundation has been supporting San Antonio ISD in increasing the number of students earning 12+ hours of dual credit prior to graduation. In fact, 20.6% of Class of 2021 graduates earned 12+ college hours! This goal was set with the knowledge that for our students, those with dual credit experience enroll and persist in college at higher rates. Click here to learn more about the powerful work happening in SAISD supported in partnership with The Greehey Family Foundation and the SAISD Foundation. The majority of our support pays for additional tuition rates to our local 2-year and 4-year college partners who are awarding the dual credit.