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Communications and Public Affairs: 207-7234
Published on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

City and County Join San Antonio Education Partnership to Launch Upgrade

Initiative seeks to help adult learners achieve degrees

City of San Antonio Contact: Roxanne Olivarri, (210) 207-2013

San Antonio Education Partnership: Emilio Arriola, (254) 371-7841

SAN ANTONIO (April 5, 2017) – San Antonio Education Partnership, the City of San Antonio, SA Works, Alamo Colleges, Texas A&M – San Antonio, Western Governors University, University of the Incarnate Word, and Bexar County have collaborated to launch Upgrade, a program designed to assist adults who have some college credit with pursuing and completing their education.  

Momentum for the initiative began in 2016 when Mayor Ivy Taylor and County Judge Nelson Wolff hosted a business forum to engage local employers to partner with Upgrade. In San Antonio, there are almost 300,000 adults who have some college credit, but do not have a degree or certificate. The Upgrade program seeks to connect these individuals with a pathway to completing their degree or certification. “In San Antonio, we have a structural challenge – we consistently have low unemployment rates but still have a skills gap,” said Mayor Taylor. “Through Upgrade, employers will be encouraged to identify those employees who have some technical skills and college credit and help them complete their education, which helps us build San Antonio’s future workforce pipeline and overall economic well-being.” 

On average, individuals with a post-secondary degree or certificate earn up to $30,000 more than an individual with only a high school diploma. Additionally, more and more employers require post-secondary degrees or certificates for initial employment or for advancement in an individual’s career. "The economic vitality of a community is only as strong as its partnerships, and efforts to serve adult learners in San Antonio would not be possible by any one organization working solo,” said Dr. Adriana Contreras, Executive Director of San Antonio Education Partnership. “By joining forces, we are setting forth to impact those 300,000 adults, and help them achieve their postsecondary goals. Through this comprehensive approach, Upgrade is leading the way in Texas to focus on serving a high-need population who, with guidance and coaching, have the ability to turn the tide in our region."

Upgrade is the next step in programing for the San Antonio Education Partnership (a 501 C3 nonprofit), which provides advising in college access to students in local area high schools and through cafécollege. Upgrade, conveniently located at cafécollege, will help address the adult student population in San Antonio. Upgrade is a collaborative program that reconnects adult learners who have completed some college credit or training with opportunities to obtain degrees and certificates that are needed for high-demand jobs in the San Antonio-area labor market. Adult learners seeking to complete their post-secondary education meet one-on-one with an Upgrade advisor where they will assess their current enrollment status. After enrollment, Upgrade advisors continue to support the students through case management until the student reaches their educational goals. The program is free and open to the public. 

Additionally, Upgrade will work with local employers in order to outreach to their employees that can benefit from Upgrade’s services. The City has committed $82,000 from the Economic Development Incentive Fund towards general community funding for the Upgrade program and a position that will be housed at cafécollege. This position will be focused on providing City employees who have some college credit with services such as educational counseling and college enrollment assistance. “The City of San Antonio believes in the Upgrade program and its effort to help adults finish their degree,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley. “The City is proud to invest in and encourage City employees who have some college credit to finish their education, as well as lead by example by creating the framework so other employers can see how the program can work and benefit their staff.”

County Judge Nelson Wolff agrees that this initiative offers great potential, “Upgrade can play a critical role in engaging individuals who have already gained some college credit and upskill them into high-demand job openings offered by employers in our targeted industries.” Bexar County has expressed interest in becoming a partner in the Upgrade program. 

The Upgrade program is a member of the Graduate! Network (a national initiative that works with adult learners and is the first and only affiliate in Texas). For more information on the Upgrade program, visit or call (210) 207-4563.

Categories: Human Resources