Capital IDEA’s mission is to lift working adults out of poverty and into living wage careers through education and career advancement.
We envision a thriving Central Texas where non-traditional students have the opportunity to get an education and reach their full potential. We also aim to help leading employers access a diverse pool of skilled workers that are trained for the best careers of today and the future. Achieving this means increasing our number of graduates, improving early placement options in high-demand careers, and reducing the time it takes for our students to complete their education and get into the workplace.
Capital IDEA is a nonprofit, community-based organization that launched in 1998. Capital IDEA emerged from the shared goals of the local business community and Austin Interfaith (AI). AI is a multi-issue, multi-ethnic, nonpartisan social justice organization made up of congregations, schools, unions, associations, and nonprofits that work together to develop the leadership to address issues that affect the well-being of families in the community.
One such issue was the rising cost of living in Central Texas — pushing low-income families further away from the urban core, and further into debt and other desperate situations. At the same time, regional employers were having a hard time filling their workforce needs. Capital IDEA was formed to bridge this gap by using postsecondary education for non-traditional students as a pathway to career advancement and success.
In our almost two decades of service, Capital IDEA has grown with funding from the City of Austin and Travis County, as well as a growing number of corporate and philanthropic partners. The US Department of Labor, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Texas Legislature have funded programming. A 2015 Workforce Excellence Award from the Texas Economic Development Council acknowledged the success of the workforce initiatives partnership between Capital IDEA and the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
Capital IDEA’s Executive Director has been with the organization since it’s founding in 1998. His 35 years of commitment to building and directing nonprofit initiatives in public policy include nearly 20 years in workforce development programs. Steve has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies from Harvard University and a Master of Arts in Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex. Steve’s commitment to the community has earned many accolades, including the Ernst & Young 2007 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the 2016 Robert W. Hughes Philanthropic Leader of the Year Award in recognition ofhis continuing leadership in the education/workforce nonprofit sector.
Our Deputy Executive Director has been with Capital IDEA since its launch in 1998. Eva is responsible for developing procedures and maintaining operations concerned with the intake, assessment, enrollment, career guidance and employment functions at Capital IDEA. She has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M International University and has over 20 years of experience in non-profit management. Recognized as the 2004 recipient of the Austin Business Journal’s “Rising Star Award,” Eva was a 2014 McBee Fellow of the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) and most recently been invited to present at Achieving the Dream’s 2015 and 2016 conferences where she addressed the comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success.
Joan Calman joined Capital IDEA in 2012. As the Director of Finance, she is responsible for the financial health of the organization. Joan manages Capital IDEA’s $4.7 million dollar budget. Her first priority is to ensure that the financial needs of the students are met which includes arranging and authorizing tuition, book, and student fee payments for approximately 800 students each semester. Joan has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Pace University and extensive experience in various areas of accounting. Her experience with non-profits began in 1997 when she went to work for the Austin Independent School District as a bookkeeper at what was previously known as Johnston High School. Besides working in accounting, Joan volunteers her accounting skills for various non-profit organizations.
Amy is a fundraising professional with twenty years’ experience. After majoring in English and Education at the University of Texas at Austin, she brought her writing and research skills to the nonprofit sector. She has raised more than $76 million in funding for nonprofits, half from federal sources, with the balance coming from foundation awards and corporations. Her work securing corporate funding for conservation projects was recognized by the US Forest Service with the 2012 Wings Across the Americas Conservation Award, the first time this “on the ground” award was ever given to a fundraiser. She writes articles on fundraising and presents at state and national conferences.
Our founding board members were reflective of the community and corporate engagement that developed our mission. They represented social justice stakeholders, as well as leading healthcare and technology names in the region and this continues to be true today.
| Austin Energy, Retired
| IBM, Retired
| Cooper Consulting
| Austin Interfaith
| Austin Interfaith
| Austin Interfaith
| Seton Healthcare Family
| B2 Management & Consulting. LLC
| Samsung Austin
| Bank of America
| Austin Energy
| Austin Interfaith
| Silverado Hospice
*Austin has seen the nation’s second highest increase in suburban poverty since 2000.
*24% of all Travis County children live in poverty, and 27% of children under the age of 5.
* It takes an income at least twice the federal poverty level for families and individuals in Austin to make ends meet.