Increasing bachelor’s degree graduates by 1 percent would boost the economy by $1.4 billion, the CEO of SA2020 said.
By Sandy Cordell
District leadership and area nonprofit organizations came together to celebrate their partnership at the Chancellors Partnership Breakfast April 24.
More than 100 district employees and nonprofit organization officials attended the event at the Sutton Learning Center at St. Philip’s College.
The event was to celebrate the community partnerships between the district and local nonprofits that host AmeriCorps members through the Public Allies program or community-based work study students, said Steve Acton. program director for Public Allies San Antonio,
“We also need to let them know that they are still needed and to reinvigorate them to continue the great work they are doing with our students,” Acton said.
AmeriCorps is a voluntary civil society program supported by the federal government, foundations, corporations and other donors engaging adults in public service work to meet critical need in the community, according to the AmeriCorps website.
The partnerships with “different organizations from the county are important and critical to the growth of our community and institution,” Gilbert Becerra, vice president of student success at Palo Alto College, said.
“The Alamo Colleges program has transformed our organization,” Neale Parker, Chromosome 18 Registry and Research Society executive director, said.
The society’s goal is to facilitate clinical and basic research, provide educational resources for individuals and develop treatments and interventions that promote a healthy and productive life for people with Chromosome 18 abnormalities.
The society has worked with the district for four years.
“We try and tailor the work to the student’s needs and build their experience to where they are going in life.” Parker said.
While working for the society, the experience had such a profound effect on one of their work-study students, the student changed majors to obstetrics and gynecology, Parker said.
“It is so rewarding to see these young people build their self-confidence. They come in and tackle projects,” Leah Gransbery, I Care Vision Center development manager, said. “We give them something and they will develop it, grow it. They are able to take it on and ask for direction.”
I Care Vision works with Haven for Hope residents and is located on Haven for Hope’s property, at 1 Haven for Hope Way.
Haven for Hope is a nonprofit organization offering temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Bexar County.
Taneyshka Gomez, 2017 community work-study student from this college, worked with Girls Inc. of San Antonio.
Gomez, a 2018 biology graduate of this campus, was a speaker during the breakfast.
Homeless at 17, Gomez found a home with a local family and was able to attend this college.
“I was trying to figure out how I was going to continue my education and find a job to pay for it,” Gomez said.
While in the library she saw a notice for the work-study program.
“What student out there can work and study at the same time?” Gomez said.
After being accepted into the program, she met other students who wanted to do more.
“They had drive like I do, to do more in the community,” Gomez said.
According to the website, Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization helping young women ages 6 to 18, develop confidence, create safe spaces and overcome challenges.
Through Girls Inc., Gomez learned what she could do and the impact she could make in her community.
“I was able to become a better version of me. I am able to acknowledge who I am, who I was and who I will be,” Gomez said. “I know now I can achieve anything I put my mind to with hard work and dedication.”
Gomez thanked the Alamo Colleges for the opportunity to work with Girls Inc. and for the opportunity to become a role model, a mentor and a friend to young girls.
“Thank you, Alamo Colleges, for allowing people like me to create their voice, to use that voice to give back to others,” Gomez said.
Molly Cox, president and CEO of SA2020, was the keynote speaker.
SA2020’s mission is to report on community indicators, inform and activate the public, and align efforts toward the community’s goals, according to the SA2020 website
Cox stressed a shared vision of a thriving San Antonio that is achieved through partnerships.
“San Antonio is the only large city in the U.S. that has a community vision written by the people that actually live there,” Cox said.
“It’s not just the work that Girls Inc. does in the community. It’s that they are basically setting us up with the next generation of leaders,” Cox said, pointing out how important nonprofits and work-study programs are to communities.
“Because we are working together, we can actually make change happen,” Cox said.
Cox said the district is helping create a vision of a better San Antonio, “by asking the question, ‘how do we get free college for students?’”
Recently, the district announced there are 9,000 former students who owe $500 or less.
“This is potentially 9,000 adults that could have their associate degree,” Cox said.
“So 9,000 students could get their associate degree, move in to get their bachelor’s degree and become one of the 14,000 additional bachelor’s degrees in San Antonio, which would return $1.4 billion to our economy,” Cox said.
She said raising the rate of students graduating with a bachelor’s degree by 1 percent would boost the economy by $1.4 billion. A college graduate makes a strong contributing member of a community, she said.
“Every time you partner with Alamo Colleges and put one of their students in your organization, you are making this more possible. They are not just learning about your organization, they are learning about a career that is real,” Cox said.
Work-study students can work at area nonprofit, educational and governmental agencies. Students work up to 19 hours per week at $9 an hour.
Beginning, Sept. 1, the work-study rate will increase to $12.50 per hour with a maximum of a 15-hour work week.
For more information, contact Katherine Driscoll, email@example.com.