This report tells the inspiring story of the Westside Education and Training Center, an 18-classroom facility in San Antonio’s struggling West Side neighborhood. Readers will learn how the center came about, why it’s so unique, and how its menu of college courses and career-ready training is helping local families build a better, brighter tomorrow.
In San Antonio’s West Side neighborhood, academic and economic success stories are hard to find
Findings & Stats
Two Routes to Excel
At the Westside Education and Training Center (WETC), local youth and adults can choose between two basic courses of action: quick-hitting training that channels them into higher-paying jobs in San Antonio or college classes that are transferrable to other higher academic institutions.
Full Scale Support
Unlike other educational institutions, WETC’s circle of support extends well beyond the academic arena. Individuals can receive help on a wide variety of topics — everything from asset building and credit repair to transportation options and child care needs. The goal? Remove as many barriers as possible so that students are poised to succeed.
When the center opened in 2006, one of the West Side community’s greatest challenges was its under-skilled and under-educated workforce. To overcome this hurdle, WETC trains individuals for high-demand jobs in the San Antonio area. It also encourages employers to design their own training courses that will prepare students for jobs with their specific companies.
Total Team Effort
A special team, called the Blue Ribbon Committee, moved the project from idea to reality in about 18 months. The team of more than 50 members included representatives from the City of San Antonio, Alamo Community College District, Edgewood Independent School District and other key community and industry players.
The Making Connections Connection
Casey and the Blue Ribbon Committee bent the standard Making Connections framework to better serve the West Side community. Without a dominant business to drive employment, the center’s organizers shifted their focus to improving the skills and education of residents. The game plan was simple: better training = more access to jobs = more access to new assets, such as a vehicle, housing and child care.
This report spotlights the story of Dalia Silva, a mother of three boys who was struggling to make ends meet. After connecting with WETC, Dalia received a voucher to buy a new outfit and gas money to travel to interviews. Even more important, she received the work skills and emotional support necessary to launch a successful career.
Statements & Quotations
In its first year, WETC enrolled 1,347 students, three times more than its target.
People who need a paycheck don’t always have time to wait for a degree.
– Dr. Jo B. Tucker, the first director of the WETC