Building Pathways for Texas Student Success

Last summer, Austin Partners in Education received $450,000 from the Greater Texas Foundation to support Austin ISD P-TECH expansion. We are focusing our project research at Akins Early College High School as we continue our work with them this semester. We wanted to re-share our initial announcement in case you missed it last fall. We look forward to sharing more with you about this exciting project that will prepare Austin ISD students for long-term success!

A $450,000 grant from the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) will support Austin Partners in Education’s (APIE) efforts to create a model to establish and expand Career Launch/P-TECH initiatives at Austin ISD over the next three years. Career Launch/P-TECH programs equip high school students with the knowledge, skills, and credentials needed to obtain living-wage careers upon graduation. Investing in Career Launch/P-TECH programs ensures that more students are able to compete for rewarding jobs in their community.

Through the Building Pathways for Texas Student Success Project, APIE plans to conduct research and develop a model framework to meet needs, identify resource gaps and create customized strategizes to strengthen academic support beginning at the middle school level. This will help build a pipeline of students who can then successfully take college-level coursework in high school and emerge from a Career Launch/P-TECH program with an associate’s degree and/or an industry-specific credential.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year due to COVID-19, the program will move forward as planned this fall. APIE is working closing with the school district and project business partners to adapt teaching methods for in-person, hybrid, and online instruction scenarios.

APIE will be focusing their project research at Akins Early College High School (ECHS), which will launch two new Career Launch/P-TECH programs this fall: a real estate program in partnership with the Austin Board of Realtors and a teaching program in partnership with Austin ISD and three local universities. APIE has an established partnership with Akins ECHS and has offered their College Readiness program on that campus for the past ten years.

“We have seen proven results year after year for our students in APIE’s College Readiness program and consider it to be a big factor in our campus’ success,” said Tina Salazar, principal of Akins Early College High School. “As the next phase of our Career Launch/P-TECH programs begin at Akins this fall, help from APIE is more important than ever and will allow us to take our partnership to a new level.”

The project reflects APIE’s commitment to supporting students who face significant systemic barriers. At Akins ECHS, the second largest high school in Austin ISD with over 2,700 students, 77.7 percent of the student body is Hispanic and 5.7 percent are Black. Additionally, 61.2 percent are economically disadvantaged, 19 percent are English language learners, and 12.8 percent participate in special education.

“Two-thirds of jobs in Central Texas require postsecondary credentials, yet only 42 percent of young adults have completed these requirements, often because of the significant barriers they face,” Cathy Jones, Ph.D. and Executive Director of Austin Partners in Education, said. “Through participation in Career Launch/P-TECH programs, students will have the opportunity to earn high school and college credit while engaging in work-based learning experiences that will prepare them for postsecondary pursuits. The development of a detailed program model means that our work has the potential to impact students not only throughout Austin ISD, but also across the State of Texas. We are grateful to the Greater Texas Foundation for supporting our work and their long-term commitment to the students we serve.”

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