Partnerships are aligning for the second Center for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) high school.

Toyota USA Foundation invested $1.7 million in the partnership on Monday to create state-of-the-art STEM labs at Southwest Legacy High School in Southwest Independent School District, equipped with robotics, conveyors, and other technologies.

The new industry-led, STEM focused high school campus will focus on advanced manufacturing, engineering, global enterprise, logistics and energy, capitalizing on nearby industrial partners like Toyota and its suppliers.

A large crowd gathers to watch Southwest ISD receive a $1.7 Million Grant from Toyota USA Foundation.
A large crowd gathers to watch Southwest ISD receive a $1.7 Million Grant from Toyota USA Foundation. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

“This grant helps build the workforce of the future, supporting teacher development needed to offer a rigorous curriculum in an environment that is relevant and engaging for students,” said Toyota Foundation President Mike Goss.

These facilities will help students meet the prerequisites for participation in the CAST program.

“While school systems are striving to become better for our students and communities, the reality is we have limited resources,” said SWISD Superintendent Dr. Lloyd Verstuyft. “When business steps forward we can create brighter and more engaging learning environments with student outcomes that benefit our youth, communities, state and the nation.”

Like CAST Tech in San Antonio ISD, the new campus will bring together industry partners to ensure that curriculum puts students in the best position to join growing job sectors. Internships, summer programs, and mentorship opportunities are part of both programs. Both CAST campuses open in August.

In SWISD the first year of the CAST program will focus on district students. In August 2018, SWISD will open the program to surrounding districts and higher education partners, welcoming 150 students. Total enrollment at CAST is expected to reach 600 students by 2022.

The CAST schools are an initiative of H-E-B, which has sought strategic partnerships between innovative school district leadership and local industries. SWISD will be a member of the first cohort to take part in leadership training training at the Holdsworth Center in Austin, the legacy project of H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt.

The CAST model relies on industry partnerships, making Toyota’s involvement crucial. Mario Lozoya of Toyota sits on the CAST Industry Advisory Board, along with Peter John Holt of Holt/CAT and other industry leaders. Toyota has also contributed to advanced manufacturing programs at Alamo Colleges and scholarship programs at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks to the crowd before Southwest ISD receives a $1.7 Million Grant from Toyota USA Foundation.
Mayor Ivy Taylor speaks to the crowd before Southwest ISD receives a $1.7 Million Grant from Toyota USA Foundation. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

“Toyota’s steadfast commitment to education in San Antonio is exceptional,” said Mayor Ivy Taylor. “Its financial pledge will not only help improve our school system by offering more opportunities for students, but it will also support an emerging industry, develop future workers, and educate our next generation of leaders.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a long time champion of development on the Southside, also praised the partnership. “This is exactly why Bexar County worked so hard to recruit a global leader like Toyota. They provide real opportunity to the Southside and to all of San Antonio,” he said.

Toyota USA Foundation, Southwest ISD representatives, and elected officials celebrate a $1.7 Million gift from Toyota to establish the second CAST Tech campus.
Toyota USA Foundation, Southwest ISD representatives, and elected officials celebrate a $1.7 Million gift from Toyota to establish the second CAST Tech campus. Credit: Hannah Whisenant / Rivard Report
Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.