SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio's tech community is doubling down on a proposed school they said will make our city a model for the nation.
On Tuesday, that community unveiled a $600,000 donation for CAST Tech, a technology, and entrepreneurship academy designed by H-E-B, Tech Bloc, and SAISD.
The curriculum is one its creators describe as industry-led and career-themed. What that really means is students will learn skills specifically for the tech jobs of the future, and they'll do it by working on actual projects with actual tech companies in San Antonio.
Lorenzo Gomez, the Executive Director of the 80/20 Foundation that presented the grant, said they see it as a way to not only improve educational outcomes but transform San Antonio’s downtown and tech economy.
"I think you're going to see the next great company come out of here, or the next IP,” Gomez said.
The project became a reality last July when it was announced by Tech Bloc as the first of a series of schools.
The project left the ground thanks to a $3.6 million donation from H-E-B.
"We all are going to have a need to have more people in our businesses in the future who have the technical abilities we’re looking for,” said Katie Rogers, VP of Corporate Communications for H-E-B. “Whether that's programming or cloud computing or whatever that might be, or cyber security, or something we haven't even imagined yet."
The school will be renovated from the remains of one of the old, unused buildings at the Fox Technical High School campus.
The building, which now looks like an abandoned bunker, will be renovated so that the wide-open garages once used for vocational classes will become brand-new labs for students to not just learn, but code and create.
"They're going to learn about venture capital, what does it actually take to start up a company?" said SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez.
In many ways, this is already a lesson in venture capital.
According to Martinez, it’s the first school in SAISD in decades that is being paid for through a combination of fundraising and private investment.
Right now the project is just more than $4 million into its $10 million goal. That’s why Gomez said his organization’s donation comes as part of a Tech Bloc campaign called $10 4 Tech, encouraging everyone to donate $10 to support the future of San Antonio’s students and tech economy.
Gomez also said he sees other tech companies hopping on board, and is daring them to go dollar-for-dollar with his organization’s donation.
"Everyone wants to work for the winning team,” said Gomez. “We're very confident that they're going to deliver on their goals and they're going to create some magical stories that come out of this building next year."
The CAST Tech school begins enrolling students in the fall of 2017. All students in the ninth grade within the district are welcome to apply.
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said enrollment will gradually expand to include more grades and they plan to release the first renderings of the school’s future interior in the next few days.
If you would like to donate or learn more information, you can visit the fundraising page for the Tech Bloc 4 Tech Ed Foundation at https://give.saafdn.org/TechBloc.