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Education

Free Tuition Near A Reality

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In the event you missed the news back in the spring, free tuition is becoming closer to a reality in the Alamo City.

A blue ribbon roster of local business, education, and non-profit leaders gathered in April for their first meeting as the steering committee for the Alamo Colleges District’s AlamoPROMISE initiative.

The district is working collaboratively with the city and county to make the concept of AlamoPROMISE a reality. AlamoPROMISE will provide the first two years of college at one of the Alamo Colleges District’s five colleges to eligible students who plan to earn an associate degree or certifications, take courses for transfer or complete workforce training. 

AlamoPROMISE will provide a last-dollar scholarship, funded with support from public and private sector partners and foundations, to fill the gap between a student’s financial aid award and the cost of tuition and fees for the first two years of college at one of the district’s five colleges. AlamoPROMISE also incorporates comprehensive student support services, from career exploration and advising to connections to social services and student advocacy centers. This support, which is provided to all Alamo Colleges District students, will address transportation and childcare costs, food insufficiency and other barriers students face in completing college.

Chairing the committee are Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores. They are joined on the committee by:

  • Kevin Voelkel, President, Toyota Motor Manufacturing  Texas
  • Peter John Holt, CEO, Holt Cat
  • Jeff Goldhorn, Executive Director, Education Service Center Region 20
  • Richard Perez, President/CEO, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
  • Diane Sanchez, President/CEO, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Cynthia Matson, President, Texas A&M University – San Antonio
  • Taylor Eighmy, President, The University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Ryan Ludgalia-Hollon, Executive Director, Up Partnership
  • Lloyd Verstuyft, Superintendent, Southwest ISD
  • Pedro Martinez, Superintendent, San Antonio ISD
  • Brian Woods, Superintendent, Northside ISD
  • Jeanette Ball, Superintendent, Judson ISD
  • Kate Rogers, Outreach and Civic Engagement, Charles Butt Foundation
  • Rebecca Brune, President, San Antonio Area Foundation
  • Romanita Matta-Barrera, Executive Director, SA Works

All of the chairs were encouraged and enthused about the program and the partnerships. 

“With AlamoPROMISE, we will impact not only our students and their families, but the larger community as well,” said Flores. “We will make a college education possible for a larger percentage of high school graduates and address regional workforce needs by providing more graduates who have the skills to qualify for the high-demand, high-wage jobs that often go unfilled in one of the fastest growing regions in the country.”

“AlamoPROMISE is a transforming initiative for San Antonio students, said Wolff. “It will lift the barriers allowing Bexar County students an opportunity to obtain the best in skill training and education,” he added.

“The AlamoPROMISE will be truly transformative for our city,” said Nirenberg. “Tuition-free community college through a last-dollar scholarship is a game-changer for workforce and economic development. Today’s steering committee meeting was productive and TeamSA is all working together to make this promise a reality,” he added.

Steering Committee members were invited to learn first-hand about the Tennessee Promise program and how its success can be replicated for AlamoPROMISE.

At the Alamo Colleges District, high quality education and affordable costs provide exceptional value to students and alumni who are major contributors to the economy and culture of our community. For more information, go to www.alamo.edu/promise. 

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Education

“REEL” Representation

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This Remix on an Old-School Toy Provides “Reel” Representation For Black Children

Nationwide — What do you get when you remix the old-school View-Master with affirming content and Black representation for children? The answer is BlackBabyBooks.com’s new Reel Representation Viewer.

lackBabyBooks.com makes it easier to discover and purchase children’s books with Black characters, but its founder, Veronica N. Chapman, believes they can offer even more. Research shows that when Black children see themselves represented positively in their media, it fortifies their self-esteem and helps protect them from the impact of racism. That’s why Ms. Chapman is launching a product that provides reel representation, pairing a love for the nostalgic View-Master with the empowering art of Black illustrators.

An entrepreneur and children’s book author, Ms. Chapman employs her talents to uplift Black children. “For years,” she says, “I have been developing products and writing to empower and inspire Black children. Thousands of children have benefited from my endeavors by reading my books, purchasing my products, and using services I designed specifically for them. As a result, Black children have learned to love themselves exactly as they are. They have started businesses, been inspired to challenge themselves, and their self-esteem has increased. Our Reel Representation Viewer is a continuation of my commitment to our children so they can stand tall in the face of any efforts to devalue them, and resist any messages that may make them question their brilliance and promise.”

The Kickstarter Campaign to take pre-orders for the Reel Representation RetroViewer is now live. Back the campaign and show reel love to the children in your life by purchasing a Reel Representation Viewer at ReelRepresentation.com

Follow the brand on Instagram @blackbabybooks

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Community

Diversity and Inclusion at Alamo Colleges

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By: Jose Macias Jr., D2, ACCD,

When people say things like the “system is broken” or “everything is fixed” – what they are really saying is that they have little faith or trust in the system. Instances of corruption, oppression, and a lack of accountability over the decades, have done little to restore confidence in government. Government seems to benefit those “who have” verse those “who have not.”

I have been addressing this issue for over ten years as an elected official. I won my first election in 2010 due to the climate of distrust in Judson ISD over a bond package that was mismanaged. A stadium renovation project that voters approved for 4 million dollars ballooned to over 10 million dollars. The construction company said that operational cost had increased since the bid as justification for the increase. It is something I never believed.

Anger in the community was off the charts, and as I began my work in trying to understand the process, I began to understand how the “system” was built. I also understood how linked bond and construction projects were directly tied to the classroom and to student success. Poor facilities meant that our students were not getting the very best environment to learn, and taxpayers were not getting what they paid for. As a school board member, I had to be diligent about understanding our construction strategies just as much as I had to be about our curriculum, teacher retention, and support programs.

In my role serving District 2, I can apply that experience to helping Alamo Colleges grow even stronger. Since it is all about student success, it is imperative we build an efficient system. During my first 100 days in office, I met with many minority business owners in D2 and asked them about their experiences in doing work for Alamo Colleges. Many of the responses were not kind. There was an overwhelming sentiment that we were not being inclusive of small minority businesses.

I recognized immediately the significance of this disconnect, and I committed then to help my district. I reached out to the Alamo Black Chamber of Commerce, The Hispanic Contracting Coalition, and the Fair Contracting Coalition (FCC) and began significant dialogue about creating inroads to greater inclusion of small minority businesses at Alamo Colleges.

Many hours and countless conversations have taken place across District 2 in preparing to take next steps to increase diversity and inclusion practices at Alamo Colleges. It is critical that our business partners reflect our community, and just as important that our tax dollars benefit businesses operating in our community as well.

Our data does reflect a strong record of utilizing minority businesses at Alamo Colleges, but our current course has not bridged the disconnect felt by a large group of minority business owners. With some modifications in our strategies and policies, we can bridge that disconnect.

The issue of diversity and inclusion is something that I know is important to my constituency, and if it is important to those I represent, then it is important to me. After all, the core of representative governance strongly implies that you must “Represent” and “Fight” for the community you serve. That is what I call “Truth.”

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Community

Sam Houston H.S. Has A New Principal

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Sam Houston High School in the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has a new principal. Ms. Sharene Dixon has been named the new campus leader starting this 2020-2021 school year. Students, parents, teachers, community and stakeholders will have an opportunity to meet their new leader and participate in a virtual celebration this evening via Zoom. The Meeting ID: 964 2198 1219 Password: SHHS.

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