SAISD awarded $8.4 million grant from the Valero Energy Foundation

Superintendent Community Meeting
SAISD students attended the announcement. They are seen here with San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez and Joe Gorder, Valero Energy chairman, president and CEO.

College exposure, acceptance and completion focus of multiyear grant

Nov. 8, 2017 – The San Antonio Independent School District – through the SAISD Foundation - has been awarded a five-year, $8.4 million grant, from Valero Energy Foundation (VEF), the philanthropic arm of Valero Energy Corporation. This will fund the District’s “Pipeline for College Success” program, a one-of-a kind initiative in San Antonio and first for the state of Texas focused on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete college.

While college acceptance is an important milestone for SAISD students, the District is expanding its role to ensure that even more students, especially first-generation college-goers, have exposure to college campuses prior to applying and those who are accepted enroll and have the District’s support through that critical first year of college and beyond.

“This new program, thanks to the Valero Energy Foundation, is going to be transformational for our District, where so many students are the first in their families to attend college,” SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. “College acceptance alone can no longer be the goal, and this new source of funding will allow us to be a support for our students even while they are in college, to help ensure their successful completion.”

“The Valero Energy Foundation was created to make investments that improve the quality of people’s lives,” said Joe Gorder, Valero Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer and VEF Chairman. “This is a historic announcement for San Antonio and Texas because it features a unique collaboration between SAISD public schools, KIPP charter schools, and Valero; all sharing one common goal: educate and equip students for success.”

Grant funding, which began this school year, allows the District to provide for two new College Bound Advisors at all seven comprehensive high schools to: increase the focus on college readiness; increase the number of students going on to attend two-year and four-year colleges and universities; double the number of students who are able to participate in college tours; and establish an office that tracks SAISD graduates through college completion.

The new Pipeline for College Success program will be instrumental in helping the District achieve its five-year college goals, which call for having 80 percent of graduates attend college, with 50 percent attending a four-year institution and 10 percent enrolled in a Tier-One university – all by the year 2020.

The funding follows a $3 million Valero grant in 2015 to KIPP San Antonio Public Schools for their KIPP Through College system (KTC), with a portion going to support a collaboration with SAISD to share best practices and improve student college-completion rates. The partnership began with a pilot program at Jefferson High School to adapt elements from the KTC system and includes ongoing professional development for counselors and advisors at all SAISD high schools.

This new grant will be used to add 14 full-time College Bound Advisors to support seniors at each of SAISD’s seven traditional high schools, with SAISD funding an additional college bound advisor for each of its four non-traditional high schools.

The new advisors will be dedicated to juniors and seniors and ensuring they are bound for success after high school. This will free up existing college-readiness counselors at each high school to focus on students in earlier years and ensuring they are engaging in college-readiness activities.

Funding also will be used to create the College and Career Readiness Department, which will be staffed by a director and two alumni support coordinators to track students through college. The department will be dedicated to supporting currently enrolled students and continue that support after high school graduation to encourage college completion.

To help ensure more students see college as part of their future, the district will use grant money to cover the cost of annual college visits across the country for 250 students – significantly increasing the number of high-achieving students who are able to participate in a proven successful program.