Support CAST Schools
CAST Schools actively seeks funding from multiple partners to offer our students and educators enriching growth, experiential, and learning opportunities.
As a nonprofit, CAST (Center for Applied Science and Technology) has co-created a network of schools in the greater San Antonio region with industry, government, civic leaders, and superintendents, across multiple school districts as a regional economic mobility strategy. Through the support and generosity of foundations, corporations, and individuals, we are able to partner together to maximize opportunities for students while preparing them for college, career, and life.
CAST has received seed and principal funding from the Charles Butt Foundation and is currently housed within the Foundation’s office. In addition to philanthropic support, the Foundation has provided in-kind support in the form of administrative and back-office support and shared services.
Through this funding, CAST Schools Network now has 6 high schools and 1 pre-k through 12th Academy in 4 different independent school districts, East Central ISD, Northside ISD, San Antonio ISD, Southwest ISD. These schools have been built on CAST’s four pillars of authentic learning, relationships, equity, youth voice, and agency. CAST provides support across the schools through student-focused programs, such as a summer bridge program, a yearly youth rally, and a civics fair.
“Blended learning combines the best of in-person classroom teaching with online technology to personalize instruction giving students some control over time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. Addressing our state’s persistent opportunity gaps requires effective teachers skilled at personalizing learning to meet each and every student’s needs. Scaling and sustaining these practices requires active support from campus and district leaders who value student-centered learning. Raising Blended Learners is a four-year demonstration initiative showcasing strategies for using blended learning to improve student achievement across diverse student demographics and geographic regions of the state, particularly among schools and districts with persistent opportunity gaps,” (Charles Butt Foundation).
The Raising Blended Learning Grant, awarded through a highly competitive grants process (see RYHT grant summary, RYHT press release, & CAST Insights), offers 9th-grade CAST teachers the opportunity to plan a continuous improvement cycle that focuses on student agency and the resistance to social structures that prohibit agency. NIC (Networked Improvement Communities) frames the work of the Raising Blended Learners (RBL) teacher cohort. Implemented in partnership with UTSA’s Urban Education Institute the NIC provides these CAST teachers with the opportunity to plan a continuous improvement cycle. Using root cause analysis and empathy interviews the group aims to deeply understand the problem they would like to improve. The group has developed a theory of action and protocols to test in their daily practice. Coaching is provided throughout the improvement process. More information on improvement science can be found here.
Greater Texas Foundation grants support “efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete postsecondary education [with a] particular focus on helping underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.” (Greater Texas Foundation).
CAST Schools will evaluate, expand, and document its holistic advising model. Advising at CAST Schools engages the entire school community, industry mentors, and external partners in a holistic approach that begins with intentional purpose planning in the 9th grade and offers guided college and career activities with reflection for each year of high school. This grant will support evaluation and expansion of this model and will bring these practices together into a toolkit that can be leveraged by other secondary schools across the state.
“The Annie E. Casey Foundation is committed to building a brighter future for children who face significant obstacles on the road to adulthood.” (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
CAST has used this operational grant to support our work around youth/student voice, one of our core pillars, with programs such as a summer bridge program, DiscoverU, a yearly youth rally, and civics fair.
“An Artist Fellowship supports art-based strategies for centering youth voice, building civic engagement, and empowering youth within their communities. These projects are intended to support collaboration between an individual artist or artist collective and youth participants, hosted by the non-profit grantee.” (San Antonio Area Foundation).
With this grant, artist-in-residence Mark Menjivar is leading a two-year, citywide project to engage students in conversations and workshops around monuments. A Monument for the People is a participatory art project that invites students to reimagine what monuments are and who they are for in our community. Mark Menjivar is engaging students from across the 5 CAST campuses in workshops, leading participatory sessions at the Youth Rally at the DoSeum. The project will culminate in a series of exhibits across San Antonio.
“Retaining teachers is essential for Texas students and the future of our state,” said Peter M. Miller, president and CEO of The Meadows Foundation. “Teaching has always been challenging, and we know how powerful great teachers are for their students. The pandemic has added extra stress that is discouraging our best teachers and deterring new ones, which is why we are excited to make this grant to CAST Schools. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their innovative program.”
The Meadows Foundation grant will support the development of an induction program in partnership with the Urban Education Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio, while also building a supportive peer network. It includes a collaboration with San Antonio Leaders and Teachers (SALT) to host an annual new teacher conference (TeacherFest) and create other opportunities for teachers to connect and build community. The program also includes stipends for mentors and novice teachers. A portion of the Meadows Grant will also be used by CAST Schools to improve working conditions for teachers through an innovative staffing model which would provide ongoing support for teachers and students.