Education is a powerful thing. It can open doors that were once thought to be non-existent, and it can change the trajectory of a person’s life. The people at Hindu Charities for America (HC4A) know this and believe it wholeheartedly because they lived it. “Most of us came to this country with two, half-full bags, as a student, or as an immigrant, and didn’t have much to live the American dream,” said HC4A board member, Dinesh Vakharia.  “All of our successes are because we had the opportunity for education.” It is out of this gratitude for the opportunities they were given in this country that HC4A wishes to do the same for others.

Capital IDEA’s partnership with HC4A began in 2014. Since then, HC4A has contributed $85,000 to Capital IDEA, providing financial support to students looking for a better life–students like Aaryan, Alicia, and Aurora.

Aaryan immigrated to this county in hopes of finding a better life. With help from Capital IDEA and donors like HC4A, Aaryan will graduate from the nursing program at ACC later this year. “Thanks again to Hindu Charities for America and Capital IDEA for supporting me to achieve my nursing degree and my dream of becoming a nurse.”

Alicia, a single mother of three, will soon graduate from ACC debt free and land a fantastic job as an RN. “I can never explain how grateful and appreciative I am for people like you giving me a fighting chance.”

Aurora had to drop out of college to help support her mother who had fallen ill. Without the help of donors like HC4A, there would have been no way back for her. “It has opened the doors for me and my son to have a better future, and I cannot thank you enough.”

Stories like these are only possible with donors like HC4A. Capital IDEA would not be able to provide people with these life-changing opportunities without the help of others. Capital IDEA student, Azhar Yousif, perhaps summed it up best when he said, “I feel safe now to know there are still good people in this world to help each other to stand on their feet.” Capital IDEA and its students are extremely grateful to HC4A and look forward to creating many more life-changing stories.

Since its founding in 2010, HC4A has focused on providing students with school supplies and vocational scholarships throughout Central Texas. When asked what he wanted the community to know about them, Mr. Vakharia noted that Hindu Charities does not have a religious affiliation, and the scholarships they provide can support anyone in the community. They strive to live out the motto of “Serve Where You Live™.” This year alone they awarded $104,000 in scholarships to students in the Austin area.

HC4A is expanding their work into other communities starting with Houston, Los Angeles, and Dallas. They are an entirely volunteer-run organization and host several fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for scholarships. The next event is the HC4A Gala on October 12th. This event is open to anyone in the community, and you can learn more about it at www.hc4a.org ».

“You can’t give up.” Jessica Jaimes holds this motto close to her heart and strives to live it out on a daily basis. It would have been easy for her to give up, and after enduring what she described as a “horrible and abusive” relationship, and the added responsibility of raising 6 kids, nobody would have blamed her.

“I want to set a good example for them,” was Jessica’s response to the impact she wanted to have on her kids. Giving up wasn’t an option for her as she overcame some of life’s most grueling obstacles to go back to school, get her degree, and realize her dream of becoming a nurse. Deep down inside, she knew that her kids needed an example of how you can take control of your life, and she needed to be that example. It just so happened she would find a way.

During an emergency room visit one day, Jessica got to chatting with a nurse about the realities of the profession. She had dreamed of being a nurse from a young age, but her life circumstances made it more of a dream than a possibility. As the nurse described the commitment it would take for her to get licensed, which included the cost of tuition, books, supplies, and exam fees, Jessica wondered how it could ever be possible. Then this nurse introduced her to Capital IDEA, an organization that would help pay for her education, help her with childcare costs, and walk with her every step of the way. The thought of going back to school was still a scary idea. With a new baby in hand, Jessica knew it would be extremely difficult. Her new husband would eventually provide the push she needed. “He asked me what I was waiting for,” then offered to take her to a CareerUp info session. “I wouldn’t have done it without him.” She was accepted into the program shortly thereafter.

The journey through college was not easy. She dropped out a few times for personal reasons and took a 2-3 year hiatus. But, “even when life would knock us down,” she was surrounded by support. In addition to her husband who never let her lose sight of her dream, her Capital IDEA Career Navigator also kept encouraging her. She pushed Jessica to rejoin the program even after she’d been gone for a few years.

This past May, Jessica reached an important milestone —she graduated from the Registered Nurse program at Austin Community College. A few months later, she passed the NCLEX exam and received her RN license. With her license in hand and applications in, there is no doubt Jessica’s dream job will soon become a reality.

Already, the impact this journey has left on her family is immeasurable. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, her kids have seen firsthand what a person can accomplish when they don’t give up. As a result of her hard work and determination, her kids have now opened their minds to the idea of attending college, and her older ones are already making plans to do so.

For Jessica, Capital IDEA was more than just an organization. It was a lifeline. “They never gave up on me…they could have easily said, ‘just let her go,’ but they just didn’t.” Giving up was not an option for Jessica, and it has made all the difference.

TEAMWORK & STUDENT SUCCESS | Capital IDEA is growing and is looking for an experienced case manager (3+ years of day to day case management experience working with adults receiving direct services and/or high school students transitioning into college). The Career Navigator provides case management for about 100 adult students and guides them through successful completion of their academic plan in preparation for job placement. To be considered for this position, applicants’ resumes should clearly include a track record of teamwork and student success. Please highlight in your cover letter and resume the skills you’ve developed to help students succeed, and how you’ve contributed to effective teams in the past.

Employer Profile – What’s it Like to Work Here?

At Capital IDEA, we aim to empower our income-eligible neighbors with training and education so that they can fill a critical need in our community for caring, skilled, and highly motivated workers. Since our founding in 1998, more than 1,600 Central Texans have launched new careers and secured a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Capital IDEA has built a diverse and dedicated team that shares a passion for our mission. We reward performance through competitive salaries and merit-based raises. While we expect our team to go above and beyond in service to our community, we also believe that you must take care of yourself to take care of others. We offer a generous benefits package which includes a week of sick leave, two to four weeks of vacation (based on experience), plus extra paid time off for everyone during the holidays (we close from December 24th through January 1st every year.) We provide medical, dental, and vision insurance, plus a three percent match on retirement contributions. When you join our team, you’ll have high expectations to meet and big goals to work towards. You’ll also have a team who supports you, and you’ll know you’re making a difference.

To Apply
Read full job description and qualifications: Career Navigator Job Description (PDF)
Email resume and cover letter with salary requirements to Program Manager, William Askew, Jr. employment_ci@capitalidea.org.
Deadline: Sunday, June 9, 2019
Salary range: $44-47,000

The Digital Engagement Coordinator is a social media sharing machine. He or she knows how to repackage old content in fresh ways as well as generate ideas for new content that engages with different online audiences while staying true to our organization’s identity, voice, and mission. We’re looking for 1-3 years’ experience but will also consider applicants with equivalent education and training. If you don’t have every skill we’re asking for but you’re passionate about the job and mission, please apply. We’re willing to train the right person.

Employer Profile – What’s it Like to Work Here?

At Capital IDEA, we aim to empower our income-eligible neighbors with training and education so that they can fill a critical need in our community for caring, skilled, and highly motivated workers. Since our founding in 1998, more than 1,600 Central Texans have launched new careers and secured a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Capital IDEA has built a diverse and dedicated team that shares a passion for our mission. While we expect our team to go above and beyond in service to our community, we also believe that you must take care of yourself to take care of others. All employees earn sick leave and vacation. Plus we offer extra paid time off for everyone during the holidays (we close from December 24th through January 1st every year.) When you join our team, you’ll have high expectations to meet and big goals to work towards. You’ll also have a team who supports you, and you’ll know you’re making a difference.

TO APPLY
Read full job description and qualifications: Digital Engagement Coordinator – Job Description (PDF)
Email resume and cover letter to Senior Communications Officer, Liz Ramon capitalidea@capitalidea.org. Please include the minimum and maximum number of hours you’d prefer to work per week.
Deadline: Monday, June 3, 2019
Expected start date: end of June – early July
Pay: $15.00/hour, approximately 20 hours a week


Dear Friends,

This past year, Capital IDEA celebrated 20 years of lifting adults out of poverty and into living wage careers through education. As an avid runner, I can say that leading Capital IDEA these past two decades has been much like a marathon with progress coming one step at a time. We’ve not only kept the pace, we’ve adapted along the way to the needs of our students and our local workforce. When Capital IDEA started, jobs in the semi-conductor industry were in high demand. Today, that demand is in healthcare and information technology. We’re training students for the best careers of the day and keeping an eye on what’s ahead. Of the students we’ve invested in, 1,600 have crossed the finish line so far, and that number keeps growing. Thanks for reflecting with us on our past accomplishments while we gear up for the miles ahead!

Read now: 20th Anniversary Edition — 2018 Annual Report (PDF) »

– Steve Jackobs, Exceutive Director

Job Description: Digital Engagement Coordinator
part-time | social media, web, and email marketing

POSITION SUMMARY: The Digital Engagement Coordinator is a social media sharing machine. He or she knows how to repackage old content in fresh ways as well as generate ideas for new content that engages with different online audiences while staying true to our organization’s identity, voice, and mission.

Capital IDEA is growing and is looking for an experienced case manager (3+ years of experience strongly preferred) with demonstrated leadership skills. The Career Navigator provides day to day case management for about 100 adult students and guides them through successful completion of their academic plan in preparation for job placement. To be considered for this position, applicants’ resumes should clearly include day to day case management experience working with adults receiving direct services and/or high school students transitioning into college. Please highlight your leadership skills as well.

In addition to case management duties, the Career Navigator will work on strategies to develop and improve our program. This may include working with other staff and partner organizations to achieve the goals of increased retention and completion rates. Please indicate your interest or previous experience contributing to this sort of effort.

Employer Profile – What’s it Like to Work Here?

At Capital IDEA, we aim to empower our income-eligible neighbors with training and education so that they can fill a critical need in our community for caring, skilled, and highly motivated workers. Since our founding in 1998, more than 1,600 Central Texans have launched new careers and secured a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Capital IDEA has built a diverse and dedicated team that shares a passion for our mission. We reward performance through competitive salaries and merit-based raises. While we expect our team to go above and beyond in service to our community, we also believe that you must take care of yourself to take care of others. We offer a generous benefits package which includes a week of sick leave, two to four weeks of vacation (based on experience), plus extra paid time off for everyone during the holidays (we close from December 24th through January 1st every year.) We provide medical, dental, and vision insurance, plus a three percent match on retirement contributions. When you join our team, you’ll have high expectations to meet and big goals to work towards. You’ll also have a team who supports you, and you’ll know you’re making a difference.

Read full job description and qualifications: Career Navigator Job Description (PDF)
To apply, email resume and cover letter with salary requirements to Program Manager, William Askew, Jr. employment_ci@capitalidea.org
Deadline: Sunday, February 10, 2019
Salary range: $44-47,000


Capital IDEA is requesting proposals from qualified firms to provide comprehensive, up-to-date, and cost-effective services of a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). Capital IDEA currently employs a passionate, professional staff of 26 individuals who support our mission. We aim to provide our staff with a comprehensive benefits package with maximum support and minimal payroll and benefit distractions and disruptions.
All proposals must be received by 5:00 p.m. July 31, 2018.
VIEW:
PEO RFP posted 7-6-2018 (PDF)

Join our team! The Development Officer is a key contributor to the success of Capital IDEA. You’ll be joining a passionate team and supporting our fund development efforts through grant writing and reporting, event coordination, prospect research, and donation tracking and acknowledgment. We’re looking for three years’ professional experience in nonprofit fund development, grant writing, grants and contract management, or related field. Additionally, we’d love to hear from candidates who share our vision of a thriving Central Texas where non-traditional students have the opportunity to get an education and reach their full potential.

View full job description: Development Officer at Capital IDEA (PDF)
To apply, email cover letter, resume, and three references to Amy Silvey, Development Director at employment@capitalidea.org. No phone calls.
Deadline: Sunday, July 15, 2018 | Estimated start date: August 20, 2018
Salary: DOE

Highlights From an Oustanding Year
2017 ANNUAL REPORT

Capital IDEA’s 2017 Annual Report is now available online. We are proud to share these highlights from an outstanding year of lifting working adults out of poverty and into living wage careers through education. We hope you enjoy reading about student successes because this report is chock-full of amazing stories and impressive numbers!
2017 was an excellent lead-up year to 2018 — Capital IDEA’s 20th anniversary! We are honored to have served the Central Texas community these past two decades, and we look forward to supporting Central Texans’ career dreams and financial goals for years to come. You can help us mark this milestone year with a gift of $20 (or $200!), and thank you! Donate »

2017 Annual Report (pdf): Read it now! 


Highlights From an Oustanding Year
2017 ANNUAL REPORT

Capital IDEA’s 2017 Annual Report is now available online. We are proud to share these highlights from an outstanding year of lifting working adults out of poverty and into living wage careers through education. We hope you enjoy reading about student successes because this report is chock-full of amazing stories and impressive numbers!

2017 was an excellent lead-up year to 2018 — Capital IDEA’s 20th anniversary! We are honored to have served the Central Texas community these past two decades, and we look forward to supporting Central Texans’ career dreams and financial goals for years to come. You can help us mark this milestone year with a gift of $20 (or $200!), and thank you! Donate »


2017 Annual Report (pdf): Read it now! 


Capital IDEA is honored to be a grantee of the United Way of Williamson County. UWWC unites people and organizations to build stronger communities and improve lives. By stabilizing families, helping kids succeed academically, and empowering good health, United Way is working towards a community where people thrive, lead healthy lives, and everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, Capital IDEA was one of many hosts for UWWC’s “Day in the Community” for students from Hernandez Middle School in Round Rock. At Hernandez Middle School, all 6th-8th grade students are part of the International Baccalaureate Program. In addition to high academic standards, students participate regularly in community service and action learning.

The April event provided opportunities for students to explore STEM-focused careers. As hosts, Capital IDEA staff were on hand to welcome Hernandez Middle School students to the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, home to many of the healthcare and paramedic training facilities at ACC.

We took this opportunity to share with students the advice Capital IDEA is known for—how to turn a career goal into a realtiy. We covered the basics of healthcare career opportunities in our area; the academic credentials that can get them into those careers the quickest; and the best opportunities for them to fund a college education without getting into serious debt.

The tour of ACC’s Eastview campus included nursing classrooms, surgical tech clinical training rooms, phlebotomy and radiology labs, and a visit to the EMS training rooms. Responses from everyone, students, teachers, and staff, were positive and engaging. We were delighted to meet these bright young adults and be a part of this Day in the Community.

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to share the below report with you. The success of any workforce development program is cause for celebration, and we are especially thrilled for the success of Project QUEST. The leaders of COPS/Metro and the San Antonio business community generously shared the Project QUEST model with Austin Interfaith and business leaders when they came together in 1998 to create Capital IDEA. We appreciate their support and we appreciate them undertaking this rigorous, demanding, long-term random assignment study. It provides the gold standard of scientific proof of the Project QUEST model.

Capital IDEA, like Project QUEST, invests multiple years and multiple thousands of dollars in the community college education of unemployed and working-poor adults as they acquire the necessary education, credentials, and soft skills to become productive professionals in health care and other technical fields. This study’s findings of “large, sustained impact on participants’ earnings” gives us confidence in Capital IDEA’s “significant gains in… average quarterly earnings of those employed” as found by the University of Texas Ray Marshall Center in its June 2015 report, “ Evaluation of Local Investments in Workforce Development.” Moreover, the Ray Marshall Center estimated Capital IDEA’s economic return on investment to taxpayers at 501 percent over 20 years. That’s the equivalent of a 17 percent annual rate of return. Read the Ray Marshall Brief

As any parent will tell you, nurturing development in children is neither quick nor easy nor cheap. And it will take you years before you know the results of your daily efforts. We should not be surprised that transformation in adults demands equally persistent effort, investment, and patience. Thank you for your faith in the people of Central Texas.

Sincerely,

Mary Molina
Founding Board Member
Austin Interfaith

Mark Melliar-Smith
Founding Board Member
Retired CEO SEMATCEH, Canon Nanotechnologies

Steve Jackobs
Executive Director


Findings Featured in the Austin American-Statesman

Texas job program shows unusually strong, lasting gains, study finds

by Dan Zehr – American-Statesman Staff

“Other programs have had large earnings impacts, but they haven’t taken people completely out of poverty into the middle class,” said Mark Elliott, a co-author of the study. “That is a stunning achievement.”

“Project Quest served as a model for at least three nearly identical initiatives in Texas, including Capital IDEA in Austin. Elliott said results at those organizations almost certainly would match the successes found in this study.

“To me, this is the best economic development program anywhere,” he said. “Employers are struggling to fill positions, and you’re training residents who are really unlikely to make it on their own to fill those positions.””

READ FULL ARTICLE


Escalating Gains: Project QUEST’s Sectoral Strategy Pays Off

April 2017 By Mark Elliott and Anne Roder, Economic Mobility Corporation

In 2005, QUEST agreed to take part in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study to assess its impacts on participants’ earnings. The evaluation focused on individuals who were pursuing training for health-care jobs, including licensed vocational nurse, registered nurse, medical records coder, and surgical, sonography, and radiology technician. Between April 2006 and October 2008, 410 individuals enrolled in the study, of whom 207 were assigned to the treatment group and 203 to the control group.

The Conclusion: QUEST has demonstrated that investing in low-income individuals’ skills can have a meaningful and lasting impact on their lives.

READ FULL REPORT


As Capital IDEA approaches its 20th year, we are seeing impacts extend beyond simply good careers for our graduates and new skilled workers for the economy. We celebrated our 1300th graduate last year, Amy Lopez-Escobedo—she not only has gone from struggling in unskilled, low-income jobs to becoming a Registered Nurse, she has now become a career navigator for her husband, enrolled in construction management at Austin Community College. AND together they are preparing their three children for higher education. Her story, on page 5 of our 2016 Annual Report, is one of individual, family, and community success. On to 2017!

– Steve Jackobs, Executive Director


2016 Annual Report (pdf): Read it now!


As Capital IDEA approaches its 20th year, we are seeing impacts extend beyond simply good careers for our graduates and new skilled workers for the economy. We celebrated our 1300th graduate last year, Amy Lopez-Escobedo—she not only has gone from struggling in unskilled, low-income jobs to becoming a Registered Nurse, she has now become a career navigator for her husband, enrolled in construction management at Austin Community College. AND together they are preparing their three children for higher education. Her story, on page 5 of our 2016 Annual Report, is one of individual, family, and community success. On to 2017!
– Steve Jackobs, Executive Director

2016 Annual Report (pdf): Read it now!


amy1

Hello, my name is Amy Lopez-Escobedo, and I am a proud Capital IDEA graduate, mother of three, and Registered Nurse at CommUnity Care. I always felt destined to become a nurse. Since I was little, my mom noted I had a caring nature and would try to help people when they weren’t well. Knowing my destiny, I enrolled in nursing school right after high school, but only lasted a semester before life happened and the years went by.

When I had my children, the nurses that helped with deliveries were superstars, and again I knew I wanted to be a nurse one day. Then my middle child who has medical conditions had us in and out of the hospital and again I saw some amazing nurses not only help him as a patient, but us as parents. That inner calling grew stronger.

I found out about Capital IDEA through my husband’s coworker who was in the program. We attended an information session in August of 2011 and I took my first real step toward my future since leaving nursing school all those years ago. I was accepted as part of a cohort of six nursing students supported by the federal Medicaid 1115 Waiver DSRIP program, administered locally by Central Health and the City of Austin. With the support I needed in place, I was on my way.

I worked hard, made good grades, and gained the skills I would need to be a successful student and a nurse—which I loved! However, life continued to intervene and somewhere around December 2015, things got really hairy. I ended up with pneumonia in the hospital for three days right before finals. I studied in my hospital bed and even more when I returned home. Despite doctors’ orders, I took and passed my finals, but because of how hard I’d pushed myself, the pneumonia lingered for six weeks, followed by bronchitis. Coming up on my final semester, I wasn’t sure if I would survive my last clinical rotation!

Just when I started to recover, my extended family suddenly needed me: two family members ended up in the ICU, my cousin passed away followed a few weeks later by my father-in-law, bringing on more heartache while I tried to study for exams and make time to travel to Mexico for the funeral. I had to be there for my family to grieve with them yet stay emotionally together enough to perform at school and in clinicals.

The added struggles impacted my grades and threatened to delay my graduation, but because of the tremendous support around me, I pushed through and I made it to the end! Thanks first and foremost to God, through and with Him, all things are possible, along with my amazing counselor Suzanne, my awesome professors, the student health sciences counselor, my WIOA counselor and, of course, my backbone: my husband Roman, my kids Ruben, Roman Jade and Ava, and all my extended family – you gave me the support and guidance that I needed to complete the roughest semester of my life!

Now that I have finished, it’s my husband’s turn to complete his degree. Our three children are already considering their college options, and I’ve got my sights set on a BSN with a long-term goal of become a Nurse Practitioner…the sky’s the limit!

I was thrilled to be the first of my graduating class to be hired – I started as a Registered Nurse soon as I had my degree. I am also deeply honored to represent the milestone 1,300th Capital IDEA graduate! The impact that Capital IDEA has had on my life and the lives of my fellow RN students is almost impossible to describe but thanks to Capital IDEA and Central Health, I have my dream job, financial security, and the ability to plan for a future I could not have otherwise imagined.

amy1

Hello, my name is Amy Lopez-Escobedo, and I am a proud Capital IDEA graduate, mother of three, and Registered Nurse at CommUnity Care. I always felt destined to become a nurse. Since I was little, my mom noted I had a caring nature and would try to help people when they weren’t well. Knowing my destiny, I enrolled in nursing school right after high school, but only lasted a semester before life happened and the years went by.

When I had my children, the nurses that helped with deliveries were superstars, and again I knew I wanted to be a nurse one day. Then my middle child who has medical conditions had us in and out of the hospital and again I saw some amazing nurses not only help him as a patient, but us as parents. That inner calling grew stronger.

I found out about Capital IDEA through my husband’s coworker who was in the program. We attended an information session in August of 2011 and I took my first real step toward my future since leaving nursing school all those years ago. I was accepted as part of a cohort of six nursing students supported by the federal Medicaid 1115 Waiver DSRIP program, administered locally by Central Health and the City of Austin. With the support I needed in place, I was on my way.

I worked hard, made good grades, and gained the skills I would need to be a successful student and a nurse—which I loved! However, life continued to intervene and somewhere around December 2015, things got really hairy. I ended up with pneumonia in the hospital for three days right before finals. I studied in my hospital bed and even more when I returned home. Despite doctors’ orders, I took and passed my finals, but because of how hard I’d pushed myself, the pneumonia lingered for six weeks, followed by bronchitis. Coming up on my final semester, I wasn’t sure if I would survive my last clinical rotation!

Just when I started to recover, my extended family suddenly needed me: two family members ended up in the ICU, my cousin passed away followed a few weeks later by my father-in-law, bringing on more heartache while I tried to study for exams and make time to travel to Mexico for the funeral. I had to be there for my family to grieve with them yet stay emotionally together enough to perform at school and in clinicals.

The added struggles impacted my grades and threatened to delay my graduation, but because of the tremendous support around me, I pushed through and I made it to the end! Thanks first and foremost to God, through and with Him, all things are possible, along with my amazing counselor Suzanne, my awesome professors, the student health sciences counselor, my WIOA counselor and, of course, my backbone: my husband Roman, my kids Ruben, Roman Jade and Ava, and all my extended family – you gave me the support and guidance that I needed to complete the roughest semester of my life!

Now that I have finished, it’s my husband’s turn to complete his degree. Our three children are already considering their college options, and I’ve got my sights set on a BSN with a long-term goal of become a Nurse Practitioner…the sky’s the limit!

I was thrilled to be the first of my graduating class to be hired – I started as a Registered Nurse soon as I had my degree. I am also deeply honored to represent the milestone 1,300th Capital IDEA graduate! The impact that Capital IDEA has had on my life and the lives of my fellow RN students is almost impossible to describe but thanks to Capital IDEA and Central Health, I have my dream job, financial security, and the ability to plan for a future I could not have otherwise imagined.

ACC Expands Career ACCelerator Program
June 2016

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has donated $250,000 to fund scholarships for adult students entering ACC’s Career ACCelerator Program—combining instruction with financial assistance, support services, and paid internships to help adults train for high-demand occupations. The Chase donation will fund scholarships for 100 students. “Creating a hands-on learning experience that gives our disadvantaged neighbors an opportunity to ‘earn while they learn’ is something JPMorgan Chase supports with great enthusiasm,” says Joe Holt, JPMorgan Chase Austin Region chairman. “This innovative program creates a wider on-ramp to good-paying jobs.”

ACC’s Career ACCelerator Program initially focuses on addressing Central Texas’ substantial and growing information technology sector. More than 9,000 area job openings require computer or IT skills, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “It’s important that we expand the pipeline of skilled workers in our region,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president and CEO. “By joining our efforts and resources through community partnerships and the support of organizations like Chase, we can help more Central Texans transition into promising careers.” The Career ACCelerator program is an extension of ACC’s collaboration with Capital IDEA on its Career Expressway initiative. After launching in fall 2015 with 30 students, spring participation in the program more than doubled. “This is my third semester in the program and it has made a huge difference in my life,” says Michael Brown, Career ACCelerator student.

“I’m getting to go to college, when normally I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I am learning how to become a local area network administrator, essentially getting the skills I need for my future career.”


Industry is key in rebuilding middle-class job pipelines

January 2017 Update
By Dan Zehr – American-Statesman Staff
Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, January 28, 2017

The middle class has taken a beating the past couple decades. Not only have some of its mainstay occupations disappeared – automated away by robots, computers and other technological advancements – the skill requirements for most of the remaining jobs have soared.

Not that long ago, a high school diploma would at least open a door to a middle-wage job. Now, entry-level admission often begins with a college certificate or degree — even if the skills behind the credential don’t match the job’s actual requirements.

So here are the middle class workers of Texas, stuck in a tightening vise. Even though they’re more educated than they’ve ever been — the percentage with at least some college training jumped to 63 percent in 2015 from 23 percent in 1979 — the share of occupations in the state’s two middle-wage quartiles each shrank more than 10 percent over that 35-year span. The resulting job polarization has left more Texan and American workers with two options, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities. Either get more training so they qualify for the new middle- and high-skill occupations, or settle for a lower-wage job. “Nowadays, the rungs are stretched out,” said Elizabeth Sobel Blum, the report’s co-author and senior adviser for community development at the Dallas Fed. “Our arm length is the same, but the rungs are farther apart, so you have to work that much harder to get into the middle class and stay in the middle class.” That becomes even more difficult when education and workforce training programs don’t align with industry needs, Sobel Blum and her co-authors said. They reviewed some of the country’s most successful workforce development programs and then surveyed the 28 regional workforce boards in Texas to see how they stacked up. To successfully prepare workers for the today’s occupations, they concluded, the state’s regional workforce systems ought to do three things: identify the clusters of industry that drive the local economy; forge broad partnerships with business leaders at the helm; and build and strengthen career pathways. Each task seems obvious enough on its own, and most of the workforce systems in Central Texas and around the state incorporate them to varying degrees. But none have ramped up all three elements to their full potential, the authors said. “When regional workforce development systems fully integrate these elements,” the report said, “they are building world-class regional talent pipelines.”

It doesn’t make much sense to train someone for jobs that are in short supply and aren’t likely to grow in the future. So first, regions should identify the interrelated clusters of companies and industries that provide a solid base of jobs now and are likely to remain stable or expand in the future.

Austin workforce experts do a reasonable job of this already, and some of that prior analysis made its way into this report. Government, the University of Texas and the technology industry—each of which include companies that share similar supply chains, labor pools and other infrastructure — underpin a huge swath of the region’s middle- and high-skill jobs. However, looking at these clusters doesn’t mean much when preparing an individual student for a specific job. Regions must then look within those high-activity clusters to identify what a previous Fed-system study called “opportunity occupations” – those that pay a wage at or above the national media and require less than a four-year degree. More than a quarter of Austin metro area’s jobs are opportunity occupations, the report said. For example, electrical and electronics engineering technicians need to have an associate degree, but as of 2015 they earned almost $31 an hour, and there were more than 4,500 of them in the metro area.

The fields in which middle-class jobs exist have shifted from tasks such as assembly and clerical occupations to more technical tasks. Of Austin’s 10 opportunity occupations noted in the report, seven were technician or information-technology jobs, such as web developers. Many of these occupations didn’t even exist a decade ago, and workforce systems and educators have struggled to keep up with the changes. In a rapidly changing workplace, the report said, industry needs to step forward and play a greater role in helping shape training programs, the report said.

True sector partnerships are led by employers and, first and foremost, intended to meet the needs of employers, said Tamara Atkinson, executive director of Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We don’t have that in that form yet in Austin,” Atkinson said. “Other communities have gone before us. They’re only a few steps before us, but they’re before us.” While regulations require consultation between industry and community and technical colleges, educators typically shape the programs and bring them to businesses. The supply side leads the process, said Garrett Groves, a co-author on the report and the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ economic opportunity program director. “At some point,” Groves said, “we need to connect with the demand side a lot better than we had in the past.” This has occurred in isolated cases throughout the state, but almost solely in response to acute labor shortages or other pressures that force employers to act, Groves said. Getting a business leader to step away from their office and spend a day or two designing curricula for students who might never work for them is difficult, even if it likely helps faster industry and regional growth as a whole. As Atkinson noted, “This would call for a pipeline whereby employers see the need to engage with community education and workforce development entities over the long term.”

These pipelines would create a more robust and more nimble training network that offers employers the talent they need and offer students and workers a pathway to the new middle-class occupations of today and tomorrow. Businesses “want to hire the best candidate,” Groves said. “But locally, part of our objective should be to provide talent that can compete with anyone. Are we missing out on some growth because we’re missing that talent?”

A relatively new program coordinated by Austin Community College and Capital IDEA has set out to produce more of that high-demand local talent. The Career Accelerator, which enrolled almost 80 students in the fall semester, combines a streamlined curriculum, support for students and real-life work experience.

“We’re trying to get them into the industry earlier,” said David Borden, the program’s director at ACC. “So when they graduate, instead of having one semester experience, they may have a year or two years of industry experience.” For now, the Career Accelerator targets just a few opportunity occupations in computer- and network-support fields. But ACC and Capital IDEA already are designing the next program for opportunity occupations in health care.

But it’s one thing to set educators to set up the pathway, said Steve Jackobs, director of Capital IDEA. It’s another to get businesses to help design it, to participate in it with internships and to have those graduates in mind as potential job candidates.

“Industry needs to do it, but someone has to intervene,” Jackobs said. “They’ll have to see their competitors are doing this and beating them at their game, but there has to be an active intermediary first.”


Health care costs are constantly in the news—but seldom is it good news. St. David’s HealthCare and St. David’s Foundation have created unique exceptions where the news is invariably good. St. David’s HealthCare includes seven of the area’s leading hospitals and is one of the largest health systems in Texas. St. David’s Foundation reinvests proceeds from St. David’s HealthCare because they believe “good health returns great benefits to our community.” The Foundation helps people in every corner of the community through awards to more than 60 nonprofit partners. In 2016, St. David’s Foundation’s goal was investing more than $75 million in six focus areas: Healthy Aging, Healthy Futures, Healthy Living, Healthy Minds, Healthy People, and Healthy Smiles. Capital IDEA is honored to be a Healthy Futures grantee—for our work in improving the healthcare workforce in the community, and for the impact of our “education to employment” programming on the lives of our participants pursuing a health care career.
Cover Photo SDFThe roots of this community investment span almost one hundred years. In 1919, a handful of Austin doctors opened a Physicians and Surgeons Hospital in an old Victorian home at 17th and Rio Grande. In 1924, St. David’s Episcopal Church formed a nonprofit charitable corporation to take over the hospital operations—and St. David’s Hospital was chartered. “St. David’s: 90 Years and Counting” was published in 2014 to commemorate the people and programs that have contributed so much to the health of Austin.
Every nonprofit that is awarded funding from St. David’s Foundation serves an important role in improving health care options and outcomes in the region. A full list of the nonprofits funded in December of 2016 can be found on St. David’s Foundation’s website.

Health care costs are constantly in the news—but seldom is it good news. St. David’s HealthCare and St. David’s Foundation have created unique exceptions where the news is invariably good. St. David’s HealthCare includes seven of the area’s leading hospitals and is one of the largest health systems in Texas. St. David’s Foundation reinvests proceeds from St. David’s HealthCare because they believe “good health returns great benefits to our community.” The Foundation helps people in every corner of the community through awards to more than 60 nonprofit partners. In 2016, St. David’s Foundation’s goal was investing more than $75 million in six focus areas: Healthy Aging, Healthy Futures, Healthy Living, Healthy Minds, Healthy People, and Healthy Smiles. Capital IDEA is honored to be a Healthy Futures grantee—for our work in improving the healthcare workforce in the community, and for the impact of our “education to employment” programming on the lives of our participants pursuing a health care career.

Cover Photo SDFThe roots of this community investment span almost one hundred years. In 1919, a handful of Austin doctors opened a Physicians and Surgeons Hospital in an old Victorian home at 17th and Rio Grande. In 1924, St. David’s Episcopal Church formed a nonprofit charitable corporation to take over the hospital operations—and St. David’s Hospital was chartered. “St. David’s: 90 Years and Counting” was published in 2014 to commemorate the people and programs that have contributed so much to the health of Austin.

Every nonprofit that is awarded funding from St. David’s Foundation serves an important role in improving health care options and outcomes in the region. A full list of the nonprofits funded in December of 2016 can be found on St. David’s Foundation’s website.

1600

Capital IDEA students have been placed in new careers

3X

Most graduates TRIPLE their previous earnings

$22/hr

was the average starting wage for all 107 job placements in 2018 including 17 early placements

1139

individuals received direct support from Capital IDEA in 2018

$22M

has been invested in our students’ tuition and books since Capital IDEA first opened in 1998

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