H-E-B and its chairman and CEO, Charles Butt, are donating $2 million to fund the startup of a charter medical high school that’s set to debut in 2019.
The new Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Med High School charter campus, to be located on a mixed-use development on San Antonio’s south side, aims to seed a pipeline of needed medical professionals and researchers in the retailer’s hometown.
Founded by Charles Butt and H-E-B in partnership with area industries, CAST is a network of tuition-free, industry-led, career-themed high schools that are part of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), which serves more than 50,000 students.
The latest gift from the Charles Butt Foundation and H-E-B brings the total investment in support of the network of CAST’s three schools to more than $8 million.
Photograph courtesy of H-E-B
“Charles and the amazing folks at H-E-B have pursued a vision for this network and brought it to life through in-kind resources and generous contributions,” said Kate Rogers, president of The Holdsworth Center and a network founder, in a statement. “We saw a critical need in San Antonio to help graduates build skills and connections that will allow them to move seamlessly into high-demand jobs. The model benefits both the individual student and the economy as a whole.”
The $2 million donation will enable the CAST Med campus to be renovated and converted from its existing open-air courtyard into high school instructional spaces with seating, including a 215-seat auditorium and lab spaces for biology, biotech and engineering, virtual anatomy and computer stations. CAST Med will be open to students across Bexar County through a lottery and will open its doors to the first class of 150 ninth-graders in fall 2019. An incoming ninth-grade class will be added each year as each class advances until the campus serves students through 12th grade. Enrolled students will follow one of three pathways: biomedical research, medical professionals or public health professionals
Photograph courtesy of H-E-B
SAISD administrators said the forthcoming CAST Med High School will prepare students with the foundational knowledge to continue beyond a bachelor’s degree and will build on the region’s strengths while addressing current educational gaps to place an emphasis on medicine, public health and biomedical research. “The innovative model of CAST schools is changing the landscape of high school education, and we already are seeing this with the success of CAST Tech,” said Superintendent Pedro Martinez. “The medical-industry immersion students at CAST Med will experience will put them on a higher-level playing field when it comes time for them to enter medical school. And that’s what we want for our students.”
University of Texas Health San Antonio, the largest health sciences university in south Texas, is an anchor partner for the school and will assist with helping to best prepare aspiring students. “We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in the future of our medical community and to strengthen the ability of our own children to prepare for a career in the biomedical sciences,” said Dr. Ron Rodriguez, professor and chairman, UT Health Department of Urology. “We believe with this opportunity, we can redefine how to foster diversity in our providers and strengthen our position as a national leader in healthcare education.”