Our lives have changed dramatically because of COVID-19. It’s been an especially big adjustment for our students, may of whom already faced barriers before the pandemic. They’ve had to quickly adjust to new virtual and hybrid learning models and may also require additional support in these challenging times.
Since the pandemic began, Austin Partners in Education has continued to support students. We quickly adjusted our College Readiness and GEAR UP programming to a virtual format last March; and since the fall semester began, we’ve provided over 1,700 hours of academic support to 1,200 Austin ISD students at seven high schools. Our volunteer-based Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring programs also went virtual this fall, with over 300 virtual volunteers working with middle and high school students.
Help us keep showing up for students! This Giving Tuesday, kick off the season of giving by donating to support Austin ISD students. Your donation, large or small, will help us continue to show up regularly for students, giving them the care and encouragement they need to succeed.
Thank you for your continued support of APIE. Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!
Last updated September 16, 2020
APIE Virtual Mentoring and Math Classroom Coaching registration is officially open on our website! Students need individualized support more than ever due to learning disruptions caused by the pandemic, so we need your help. This is a great opportunity to volunteer safely from home. These opportunities will begin in late September or early October depending on the campus. Thank you for considering volunteering with APIE!
Note: Registration for School-Based Volunteer opportunities (not affiliated with APIE) is also open. Schools not listed are not offering virtual volunteer opportunities at this time.
Last updated August 17, 2020
In these uncertain times, APIE continues to work closely with Austin ISD on how we can best support students during the 2020-21 school year. The current start date for the new school year is Tuesday, September 8. The calendar begins with four weeks of remote learning and an opportunity for on-campus instruction during the first four weeks for students who do not have access to reliable technology or internet connectivity. To learn more about these changes, visit Austin ISD’s website.
Like the district, we recognize that plans for the upcoming school year must prioritize the health and safety of students, educators, and staff. We will follow Austin ISD’s precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to create the safest learning environment possible for our students. We still don’t know how our programming will be impacted by the hybrid learning model, but we continue to plan for a variety of scenarios. We will keep our community informed as we learn more from Austin ISD.
Recent findings from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) show that a “COVID slide,” or a loss in knowledge retained from the previous academic year, will adversely impact students in all subjects, particularly math. Students are likely to return with less than 50% of learning gains in math, equating to nearly a full year behind what would be observed during normal conditions from the summer break. Along with academic gaps, students will also face emotional and social challenges, as many of them have experienced trauma caused by the pandemic. When school resumes, students will need individualized attention, and with more than 15 years of tutoring and mentoring experience, APIE is well-positioned to provide that much-needed support.
Throughout our history, APIE has quickly adjusted to support Austin ISD, adapting our programming to target identified needs. When schools closed and virtual learning was adopted, APIE staff shifted focus to provide online support to students in our College Readiness program and those participating in GEAR UP. Like many nonprofits, APIE has been impacted financially by COVID-19. We anticipate that this financial hardship will continue throughout the remainder of the year and beyond, as many of our business partners and individual supporters are facing their own financial challenges. We need your help to ensure our programs remain in place for students this fall, when they will need our support more than ever.
“Building Pathways for Texas Student Success” Project will prepare more high school students for living-wage careers upon graduation
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.”
The disturbing events that have taken place in our country and in our community remind us of the deep inequities that continue to persist in our society. We remain steadfast in our support of Black students, who face systemic barriers each day, and we know we must do more. We recognize the importance of actively educating ourselves and our communities and elevating Black voices in these conversations. As a partner of Austin ISD, we join with them in pledging to ensure students are respected, supported, and guaranteed equity and justice.