Are You Looking for Free Tuition?

If you’ve heard the buzz and now you’re ready to learn more about FREE Tuition, then read on! We’ve compiled all the information you need in one place. Whether you’re a graduating high school student, a current college student, or an adult with no college degree, you could be eligible for one of the tuition-free programs available right here in Central Texas. Explore your options below to find out if you qualify to earn your college degree, debt-free.

Career Expressway Program
by Capital IDEA
Free Tuition Pilot Program
by Austin Community College
WHO SHOULD APPLY?

Adults with no degree
Current ACC students
See below for additional qualifications.

Sign Up »

Class of 2024 high school graduates
2024 GED and home school graduates
See below for additional qualifications.

Learn More »

WHAT’S FREE?

100% Free Tuition and all Student Fees from start to graduation for select associate degrees and certifications.

  • Note: Capital IDEA students who attend ACC will have access to all ACC student resources listed at right except student loans.
100% Free Tuition and General Fees for 3 years, or up to 5 years if you want to pursue your bachelor’s at ACC.

  • Not included: course/program-specific fees and textbooks.
WHAT ARE MY
CAREER CHOICES?

  • Choose from 29 Select Career Fields:
  • Healthcare
  • ▪ Nursing
  • ▪ Dental Hygiene
  • ▪ Physical Therapy
  • ▪ + 11 more Healthcare Careers
  • Technology (IT)
  • ▪ Cyber Security
  • ▪ Network Administration
  • ▪ IT User & Computer Support
  • Manufacturing & Trades
  • ▪ Advanced Manufacturing
  • ▪ Automotive Technician
  • ▪ + 7 more Advanced Skills Professions
  • ▪ + 3 Union Apprenticeship Programs
  • Visit: Career Directory »
  • Choose from 100+ Programs in 10 Areas of Study:
  • ▪ Arts, Digital Media & Communications
  • ▪ Business
  • ▪ Computer Science & Information Technology
  • ▪ Culinary, Hospitality & Tourism
  • ▪ Design, Manufacturing, Construction & Applied Technologies
  • ▪ Education
  • ▪ Health Sciences
  • ▪ Liberal Arts
  • ▪ Public & Social Services
  • ▪ Science, Engineering & Math
  • Visit: ACC Academic & Career Programs »
DO I QUALIFY?

  • Age: Adult 18+, no maximum age.
  • Education Level: Must have a high school diploma or GED. May be currently enrolled in college or have some previous college. Must not have a degree (associate degree or higher). No GPA requirements.
  • Income Qualifications: Must qualify as low-income. See Qualifications page for income chart.
  • Resident Requirements: Must live in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, or Caldwell County. Must have lived in Texas for 12+ months. Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.
  • ACC Out-of-District: Class of 2024 high school graduates who live out-of-district and meet Capital IDEA’s qualifications (including career choice) may apply to both programs to cover their out-of-district fees.
  • Education Level: Must be a 2024 high school graduate (including GED completers and home school graduates). No GPA requirements.
  • Income Qualifications: none.
  • Resident Requirements: To be considered in-district, students must live within ACC’s service area: City of Austin, Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Elgin ISD, Hays CISD, Leander ISD, Manor ISD, and Round Rock ISD. See: Map of service area. Not available to non-residents or international students.
  • ACC Out-of-District: Out-of-district students will also receive free tuition but will be responsible for the out-of-district fee of $201 per credit hour. Those who meet Capital IDEA’s qualifications (including career choice) may apply to both programs to cover their out-of-district fees.
WHERE WILL I GO?

Capital IDEA sends students to these approved partner education and training providers:

  • ▪ Austin Community College
  • ▪ Temple Junior College
  • ▪ Union Apprenticeship Programs
The Class of 2024 Free Tuition Program is exclusively available at:

  • ▪ Austin Community College
GET STARTED

Career Expressway »

ACC Free Tuition Program »

outreach@capitalidea.org
512-457-8610
Ask a Question Form »
startnow@austincc.edu
512-223-4636 (Option 1)
Request Information Form »

DECEMBER 5, 2023


Katherine Flatley, a resilient and empowered individual, proudly holds the title of a two-time graduate of both Capital IDEA and Austin Community College. Her healthcare career began when she completed the Licensed Vocational Nursing program in 2003 and the Registered Nursing program in 2006. Determined to continue her education, Kat went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas.

Her story is one of triumph over a challenging past, which she’s learned to share, not for sympathy, she’s quick to say, but as a way to reach and inspire those with shared experiences. “Education can change the course of someone’s life drastically. It can point someone going down a dark path in the right direction.” It’s something she’s experienced first hand.

Kat’s childhood was marred by difficult circumstances and her parents’ poor choices, which left her feeling lonely and lost. She was often raised by strangers and friends due to her mother’s incapacity to parent; and her father, an addict, was largely absent since her infancy. When he did show up, his actions often put her in harm’s way, adding to the unimaginable hardships Kat endured as a child which included years of physical and emotional abuse.

In the face of adversity, Kat refused to succumb to hopelessness. At 14, she took her first job, an attempt to survive on her own though it also led to bouts of homelessness. She recalls the pivotal moment when she discovered Capital IDEA four years later. She walked into an information session at age 18, a high school dropout with an 11th-grade education. “Capital IDEA gave me hope! The resources and support provided by Capital IDEA were exactly what I needed. I don’t believe I would be alive today if this opportunity hadn’t come my way. It was right on time!”

“Capital IDEA gave me hope! The resources and support provided by Capital IDEA were exactly what I needed.”

Capital IDEA offered Kat crucial financial support, covering her tuition, books, and more, which allowed her to work part-time to cover her living expenses. “I didn’t have to worry about how I would make it from week to week, but more important than the financial assistance was the motivation and encouragement I received from my Career Navigator at our weekly meetings,” she says, stressing that her Navigator played a pivotal role in her academic success.

College was a vastly different environment from high school, and as she progressed, things started to change. “I suddenly began seeing things differently. I gained confidence and felt myself advancing. It shocked me to see how well I was doing. In my last semester, I took five classes and crushed it!” She was achieving things she’d never thought possible in high school, and it marked a transformative period that gave Kat a new perspective on her own abilities.

“I suddenly began seeing things differently. I gained confidence and felt myself advancing. It shocked me to see how well I was doing.”

After graduation, Kat embarked on a successful career at Ascension hospitals, dedicating 17 years to serving as an ER and ICU nurse. Leveraging her expertise, she then transitioned to the medical sales industry, working with Interventional Radiologists and delivering Boston Scientific’s flagship product, Y-90 TheraSphere, to treat liver cancer. Today, she continues to rise in her career, breaking barriers in the professional landscape. “I’m currently amongst the top Territory Managers across the country for Boston Scientific, and I’m the only one of my ethnicity across the country for the product.”

Kat’s favorite quote shared with her recently from a highly respected Interventional Radiologist. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin. “This quote is something I’ve been doing and living unknowingly. I’ve worked really hard my entire life to be the best at everything I do. Capital Idea’s support was exactly what I needed to give me the opportunity to be seen and heard. As a child I wasn’t heard nor seen and that will never be the case again.”

“Capital IDEA believed in me when no one else did and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.”

Without the opportunities afforded by Capital IDEA, she believes her life would have taken a different, uncertain path. “Having the opportunity to become a nurse was a true gift. Capital IDEA believed in me when no one else did and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.” She has this to say to supporters of the program. “Your impact doesn’t stop with the graduate. It can change the course of generations. I have two sons with aspirations to go to college. One wants to be an attorney, and the other wants to pursue graphic design. That’s because of people like you who are supporting Capital IDEA. You matter, and I truly appreciate you.”

Kat’s story exemplifies what’s possible when a resilient individual finds the right support. This season, consider a gift of empowerment for future students of Capital IDEA. Your support is not just a present for the moment; it’s an investment in futures filled with hope and opportunity. Give Today»

Health Sciences Student Interest Form

This form is for current and potential Health Science Department students at ACC who are interested in being supported by Capital IDEA. Please fill out this form and a Capital IDEA team member will reach out to you soon!

  • ACC email address preferred
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

It’s time to complete Step 3!

Welcome to Step 3. This step can be a big task for some applicants, depending on your situation. As you’re working on this step, you might have questions — We have answers! Reach out. We can explain which documents you need and why: CALL US or EMAIL US

Upload Documents Instructions:

1. Create your password using the link that was emailed to you.

2. Gather your documents and take pictures. Go through the list at the bottom of this page to find out which documents you need. Then, collect those documents. Next, use your phone to either take pictures (make sure the text is clear), or use an app like Adobe Scan to turn your documents into digital files ready for upload. See FAQ: How do I use Adobe Scan?

3. Log in to your dashboard. Bookmark this link for future logins: https://a3997.socialsolutionsportal.com/login

4. Find the form labeled: New Applicants – Upload Documents. From your welcome dashboard, use the lefthand menu labeled ‘ALL ASSIGNED FORMS’ and click ‘Capital IDEA-Austin’ to view a full list of forms. Scroll to the form ‘New Applicants – Upload Documents’. You can also scroll through the list of available forms on the dashboard home page by clicking ‘show more’.

5. Upload Documents. Carefully read and answer questions. Your answers will update your form with new ‘Select File’ buttons to guide you. If a section has no buttons and you’ve answered all questions, no document is needed in that section.

6. Save. Hitting the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the form will submit your documents for review. A staff person will check your submission and be in touch soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What if my link expired?
A. Use the ‘Forgot My Password’ link on the login page: https://a3997.socialsolutionsportal.com/login

Q. What if I don’t have all my documents?
A. Upload the documents you do have and come back when you have the rest.

Q. Can I submit more than once?
A. Yes. You can submit as many ‘Upload Documents’ forms as needed. Click the ‘View Form Submissions’ button in your dashboard to see your previous submissions.

Q. What if I need help?
A. Call our helpline: 512-485-9350 or email: info@capitalidea.org.

Required Documents

Household IDs
• For yourself, submit three items: 1. your driver’s license (or other state-issued ID), 2. social security card, and 3. birth certificate (or permanent residency card).
• For your spouse or partner, submit 1 form of ID. These can be: birth certificate, social security card, passport, driver’s license, or state identification card.
• For each child or dependent in your household, submit a birth certificate. If the child is under 12 years old, also submit a social security card.

Education documents
• If you’ve attended college, submit your college transcripts. Unofficial copies are acceptable.
• If you have not attended college, submit your high school diploma or GED.

Income documents
• Pay stubs for one month of income for yourself and/or your partner or spouse.
• Your most recently filed taxes.
• (If applicable) Retirement, SSI, Workman’s Comp, Disability

Housing documents
• Proof of address and residence.
• Provide a lease or mortgage statement
• If you do not have a lease or mortgage because you are living with friends or family, provide these three things: 1. a letter from the head of household confirming that you live there and stating whether or not you will continue living there while in school. 2. A utility bill showing the head of household’s name and address, and 3. a piece of mail with your name at the same address.

Assistance documents (if applicable)
• Food stamps, AFDC/TANF, Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, unemployment, child support, housing or utility assistance, refugee assistance
• If a family member or friend is providing financial support, ask for a letter of support. The letter should include their contact info, how much support they are able to give you, and should say if that support will continue while you’re in school.

Financial aid documents (if applicable)
• Education loans, grants (PELL Grant, or SEOG, TPEG), scholarships

Criminal history (if applicable)
• If you have a criminal record, please submit a copy of your criminal background. You’ll need to get a copy from the DPS.
• If you do not have a criminal record, skip this item.

Selective service and military families (if applicable)
• If you or your spouse served in the military, please submit a copy of the DD214.
• If you are a male U.S. Citizen who did not serve in the military, please submit proof of selective service registration. You can print that here: www.sss.gov.

August 9, 2023

Letter From Our Executive Director | 2022 Annual Report

Dear Friends,

I am incredibly honored to have joined the dedicated and passionate team at Capital IDEA on July 1, 2022. And six weeks in, I had the joy of attending my first graduation ceremonies in August 2022. It was wonderful to celebrate with over 30 Capital IDEA students and their families as graduates completed their academic milestones and embarked on their dream careers. The fact that these graduates tripled their income (on average) and are now earning starting salaries close to $60,000 annually is a testament to the transformational nature of Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program, our extensive community and employer partnerships, and the motivation of each and every student to succeed.

Since then, I have had the privilege of seeing the continued hard work of our students, our team, and our community every single day. There have been more graduations and celebrations, along with challenges and opportunities for growth. Capital IDEA enrollment slowed during the pandemic, much like higher education institution enrollment nationwide. Last September, we saw the first signs of enrollment growth, with indications that this growth will continue as more and more of our neighbors see the life-changing potential that a degree in a high-demand field can bring.

I am exceptionally proud to be the Executive Director of Capital IDEA during such a critical time for our region. My commitment to this work stems from a deep belief in the transformative power of education. Like many, I have been fortunate to experience it firsthand in my own family. Education has the power to generate lifelong and multi-generational rewards. By working together to fill specific, high demand and high-need jobs in our region, we can see exponential rewards for the time, energy, and money we invest. This is the heart of what we do at Capital IDEA. Together, we invest in students today so they can become our much-needed talent for tomorrow– our employees, our leaders, our changemakers. To highlight this impact, I encourage you to read Connie Castillo’s story starting on page five of our 2022 Annual Report*.

Alyssia Palacios-Woods
Executive Director

* Having trouble viewing the PDF?: Try updating Adobe Acrobat Reader »

HIGHLIGHT | Year In Review

Page 4: In 2022, Capital IDEA served 1,041 Central Texas adults, graduated 118 students, and placed 108 graduates into new careers with an average starting wage of $27 an hour or approximately $56,000 a year. Read »

By Jeff Sanchez | MAY 2, 2023

Are you tired of feeling lost and unfulfilled in your career? You’re in the right place! Figuring out how to find a career you love may seem daunting, but with the right tools and mindset, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Below are the top three tips our Intake Specialists have to offer. Read on to learn how to find a career you love so you can start living your best life.

An Assessment Can Help You Find A Career You Love

Tip 1 – Get to know yourself. Assessments can unlock the secret to finding a career you’ll love. At Capital IDEA, we pay for our applicants to take the Wonderlic, a professional assessment that reveals key insights into personality, strengths, and interests. If you’re not ready to apply to Capital IDEA just yet, try a free assessment like the O*NET Interest Profiler. The O*NET will help you discover your interests and how they relate to the world of work. If your assessment matches you with a career on our list, start your application right away so we can help you earn your degree for free!

Reflecting on Past Job Experiences Can Help You Find A Career You Love

Tip 2 – Learn from your past. Digging into your job history can help you discover what makes you tick, what excites you, and what you find meaningful in a career. Did you love working with lots of people? Did you prefer some tasks over others? Make a list of things you liked about past jobs and things you didn’t. When you apply to Capital IDEA, our Intake Specialists will go over your past job experiences to help pinpoint what you’re looking for in a career. Together you’ll eliminate options that aren’t the right fit, saving you time and energy in the long run!

Be Informed To Help You Find A Career You Love

Tip 3 – Research careers.  Let’s face it, no job is perfect, but knowing the realities of a job can help you make the best decision for you. You may be fiercely passionate about helping others but get queasy at the sight of blood, making healthcare an iffy choice. Take the time to research the job requirements, working conditions, shift schedules, and daily tasks of the careers you’re most interested in. Think about what those details would mean for your day-to-day life. Be honest with yourself. Would you be okay working twelve hour shifts or outdoors in the heat of summer? Our Intake Specialists will discuss these details with you to ensure you are fully committed before you start your degree program.

A Final Note on Finding A Career You’ll Love

A fulfilling career will provide you with two important things: meaningful work and great pay. At Capital IDEA, we create opportunities to help individuals launch careers that deliver on both. The careers on our list offer high salaries, amazing opportunities, and generous benefits, which is why we think they’re good enough to offer to you. If you’re in Central Texas, don’t hesitate to contact Capital IDEA for financial support and expert guidance on your journey to a fulfilling career. Sign up for a CareerUp info session to learn more.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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April 18, 2023 | Updated: October 1, 2023



BIG NEWS — As of April 2023, Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program is expanding its service area to include Caldwell County. Residents of Caldwell who apply and get accepted into the Career Expressway program before the new extended deadline of September 30th, 2024 will be eligible for the support services we offer to residents of Travis, Williamson, Hays, and Bastrop counties. This includes financial support for college, guidance, college prep, childcare assistance, and job placement services.

With our support, your college degree will be FREE to you! As long as you continue to work towards your degree, you’ll keep your eligibility through graduation. You’ll get to choose from our full list of careers in healthcare, technology, trades & other careers. Apply now to  receive all of the benefits of our Career Expressway program:

TUITION & TEXTBOOKS – We’ll cover your tuition and textbooks each semester. Plus, we pay for required tools, uniforms, and licensing fees.

GUIDANCE – You’ll have a Career Navigator to guide you, connect you with resources, and help you succeed in college.

COLLEGE PREP – If you need help passing the college entrance exam, our College Prep Academy will help you do just that!

CHILDCARE – We also offer childcare assistance to parents.

PLACEMENT – Once you’ve earned your degree, we’ll guide you in your job search and help you land your dream job. It’s our mission is to get you into a new career, and we’ll be with you from start to hired!

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For a full list of qualifications, please visit: Qualifications »
To get started, sign up for a CareerUp information session:


FAQ: Why is this program FREE?
We’re a nonprofit with a mission to get our Central Texas neighbors into great careers. Each year, Capital IDEA raises enough money to pay for tuition and textbooks for over 800 adults, like you! If you’re eligible for our program, your tuition and textbooks are already paid for by the generous support of our funders, including the City of Austin, Travis County, Hays County, and St. David’s Foundation. Get started with your FREE education —

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS & EVENTS | Don’t miss our next blog post!




By Jeff Sanchez | APRIL 14, 2023

If you’ve ever Googled ‘nursing schools near me,’ and you live in Central Texas, chances are your search came back with a lengthy list of options. Trying to narrow that list down to the right one for you can be difficult, but if you’re searching for ‘nursing schools near me’, then one of your top considerations is probably location, and for good reason. Earning a degree and making a career change is hard enough. Choosing a nursing school that’s close as possible can make your goal feel a little easier to achieve. Below we’ve provided four criteria (including location, #4) to help you narrow down your choices when searching for the best nursing school near you.

1. The Best Nursing School Near Me Is Accredited

Capital IDEA has worked with nursing students for over 25 years and one thing we’ve learned is that keeping your options open is smart. Many of our students start out believing that an associate degree will be enough for them, but by the time they graduate, they have a desire to go even higher. That’s why we partner with Austin Community College and Temple College. Both colleges offer nursing programs that are fully accredited by SACSCOC, and their credits can easily transfer to four-year institutions that offer a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

What’s the big deal about accreditation? Here’s what SACSCOC has to say about it. “Regional accreditation helps ensure that students get the best education possible. The public can feel confident that the colleges and universities we accredit are stable and deliver high quality student outcomes.”

2. The Best Nursing School Near Me Is Affordable

The cost of higher education keeps getting more expensive. Many students take out student loans to afford it which puts them in a tremendous amount of debt after graduation. Finding an affordable college can make all the difference and set you up for success. With Capital IDEA, nursing students graduate from an accredited college with no college debt. We pay 100% of their tuition, textbooks, and exam fees. This helps graduates focus on working hard to build a stable financial future without worrying about paying off any student loans.

3. The Best Nursing School Near Me Will Help Me Find Employment

For most people, the ultimate goal of getting a degree is to get a great job! Nursing students look forward to the day when they can start caring for patients and do the life-saving work they have so diligently trained to do. That’s why finding a nursing school with an excellent track record of graduate employability is perhaps the most crucial of our four criteria.

At Capital IDEA, we have partnered with two nursing schools that give our students the best opportunity to launch their careers: Austin Community College and Temple College. Our graduates have found employment at every major healthcare system in Central Texas, plus clinics, assisted living facilities, and private practices. They’ve received praise for their readiness and skills upon entering the workforce. Their nursing programs have prepared them for the demands of the job, and that’s what employers love to see.

4. The Best Nursing School Near Me, Is Well… Near Me!

Finding a nursing school that is conveniently located can be a big help, especially if you have things like family and work responsibilities. Capital IDEA’s partner colleges (Austin Community College and Temple College) provide convenient options for attending classes and getting a degree. Here’s more information on their locations and their programs:

AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE. ACC has 11 campuses across the greater Austin area, 3 of which offer nursing courses. In addition, ACC also boasts one of the top associate degree nursing programs in Texas, and their graduates typically have no problem finding jobs at some of the largest healthcare providers in Central Texas. (Visit: ACC Nursing)

Note: Campuses that offer associate degrees in nursing are marked (RN). Those offering licensed vocational nursing are marked (LVN)

  • ACC Eastview Campus (RN)(LVN)
    3401 Webberville Road, Austin, TX 78702
  • ACC Round Rock Campus (RN)
    4400 College Park Drive., Round Rock, TX 78665
  • ACC Cypress Creek Campus
    Note: This campus offers some nursing skills courses for RN and LVN, but nursing students will complete their program at Eastview or Round Rock campus.
    1555 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park, TX 78613

TEMPLE COLLEGE. Temple College offers both an associate degree in nursing and a certificate program for those who wish to go the Licensed Vocational Nurse route (Visit: Temple College Nursing). The nursing school is located on their main campus in Temple, Texas.

While your nursing classes will be at Dell Martin Nursing Education Center, you may be able to take some of your general education courses at a Temple College Campus in Hutto or Taylor.

Are You Ready To Choose Your Nursing School?

Searching for ‘nursing schools near me’ is just the starting point for many aspiring nurses looking to launch their career. From there, it comes down to choosing the best nursing school from the numerous options out there. By sticking to our 4 criteria above, you can’t go wrong. If you’d like to learn more about how to attend a nursing school for FREE, sign up for a free, no cost info session, to learn more.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS & EVENTS | Don’t miss our next blog post!




By Jeff Sanchez | MARCH 28, 2023 (updated MARCH 13, 2024)

Worried about FAFSA? Read on for 3 great ways to pay for college without going into debt.

One of the many reasons people put off going to college is the fear of student debt. With all the recent news around FAFSA, worries are at an all-time high. But getting a degree doesn’t have to put you in debt if you know some alternative ways to pay for college, like scholarships, grants, and workforce programs. At Capital IDEA, we want all of our Central Texas neighbors to have the opportunity to get a debt-free quality education. To help more people do that, we’ve compiled a list of the top three ways to pay for college. Each option is good on it’s own but even better when stacked!

Ways To Pay For College #1: Workforce Development Programs

There are several workforce development programs in Central Texas that can help you pay for college. Depending on the program, they can provide financial assistance for skills development, professional certifications, or even college degrees. These organizations are often looking to help the community fill workforce gaps in high-demand fields like healthcare, tech, and trades. They will offer financial assistance only to individuals willing to enter one of these career fields. If one of these fields sounds interesting to you, the good news is Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway is exactly this type of workforce program! We can help you with the cost of tuition, textbooks, and other expenses, making your associate degree free to you!

Ways To Pay For College #2: Scholarships

Applying for scholarships can be an excellent way for students to fund their college education. Scholarships can cover various expenses, including tuition, fees, textbooks, and living costs. A scholarship can significantly reduce your financial burden, allowing you to focus on your studies and pursue your career goals without worrying about repaying debt. Some colleges, like Austin Community College (ACC) offer a single application, making it easy for students to apply for multiple scholarships at once. Applying directly through your college is also a great way to make sure it’s a real scholarship, not a scam. Check with student services or financial aid departments at your college to see which scholarships you’re eligible for. The best news is — you can be a Capital IDEA student and still qualify for scholarships! You can use your scholarship money to pay for other living or college-related expenses not covered by Capital IDEA.

Ways To Pay For College #3: FAFSA

The recent headlines may have shaken your confidence in the federal aid program, but applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still one of our top suggestions for everyone going to college, and we hope you won’t skip it. By submitting a FAFSA, you can receive grants, scholarships, and low-interest federal loans to significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. Please note that we require Capital IDEA students to say ‘no’ to loans, but they can accept grant money, and just like with scholarships, any grant money you’re awarded can go towards paying your other college-related expenses. Captial IDEA will continue to pay your tuition, books, and student fees every semester regardless of the scholarship or federal aid money you’re awarded. By stacking all three of these financial aid options, you earn a free degree and successfully avoid the trap of student loan debt.

More about us: Capital IDEA in Central Texas provides one of the best ways to pay for college. We cover 100% of your college expenses. You can choose from a list of degrees in healthcare, tech, or trades offered at Austin Community College and Temple College and get the following college expenses covered: tuition, textbooks, school supplies, testing, and certification fees. As a nonprofit, we can also help with things like childcare assistance, gas cards, and more.

Not only is Capital IDEA a great way to pay for college, it’s also a great way to get hired. Our graduates get job preparation and job search support to make sure they transition from student to professional without delay. They’ve gone to work for companies like Facebook, VISA, Ascension, St. David’s Healthcare, KIA, and other top employers in the region. Our partnerships with numerous employers give our graduates a leg up over the competition when looking for a job, which is why we like to say — we’re with you from start to hired!

Don’t let the fear of debt stop you from earning a college degree and starting a great career! You have options because there are many ways to pay for college. If you live in Central Texas, start by checking out Capital IDEA. We can help you go to college and get a degree for free in an in-demand career field.

Sign up for a CareerUp info session to learn more about our program. It’s a great way to pay for college without getting into debt.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS & EVENTS | Don’t miss our next blog post!




By Jeff Sanchez | MARCH 21, 2023


Spring is the perfect time of year to start planning for college, but if you’re concerned about the cost of tuition and student loans, you’re not alone. The rising cost of college education in recent years has made it difficult for many individuals to get the education they need to achieve their career goals without taking on significant debt. Programs like the Career Expressway through Capital IDEA are making it possible to get a degree without student loan debt. However, this question keeps coming up: Why should I choose the Career Expressway if you mostly sponsor associate degrees? Keep reading for three great reasons why you should pursue an associate degree and apply to the Career Expressway program.

Reason #1: Get an Associate Degree Without Student Loan Debt

This is the number one reason. You can enroll in any 2- or 4-year university on your own, but unless you’re lucky enough to have a full scholarship, or a college savings account, chances are, you will probably end up having to take out student loans to afford it. Student loan debt can be a heavy burden you’ll carry for years or even decades after you graduate. The Career Expressway offers a great opportunity for adults who want to avoid the burden of student loan debt. By earning an associate degree, debt-free, you will be able to start your career without the financial stress that often follows college graduates.

Reason #2: These Associate Degrees Are For In-Demand Jobs

We select only the best associate degrees to add to our sponsored career list. That means there are plenty of local employers looking to hire graduates as soon as they have their associate degree. Our graduates go on to work for leading employers and top companies and earn great pay. By earning an associate degree in an in-demand job field, you’ll have a competitive edge in the job market, making you an attractive candidate to potential employers. Furthermore, with many local employers seeking graduates with specific skills and knowledge, you’ll have an excellent chance of finding employment in your chosen industry right after graduation.

Reason #3: These Associate Degrees Transfer To Top Universities

We select associate degrees that start you in a great career with room to advance, earn more, and move up. After our graduates gain some experience and financial stability, many choose to go on to get their bachelor’s degree and even their master’s degrees. The associate degrees we sponsor at Austin Community College and Temple College transfer to several top universities, and good employers often offer tuition assistance to employees. That means — you could get your next degree free, too!

Imagine having a degree, a good paying job, and no student loan debt to worry about! That’s the advantage of the Career Expressway program. To make sure you succeed, we also offer wraparound services that can help you overcome the most common obstacles to getting your education.

Forget the debt! Get a degree for FREE with Capital IDEA. Sign up for a CareerUp info session and learn more and get started.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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Frequently Asked Questions About Career Navigators

Career navigators are a key part of the wraparound support offered to all Capital IDEA students in our Career Expressway program. Their number one priority is to help you succeed in college.

Who will my career navigator be?

As soon as you’re accepted into the Career Expressway program, you’ll be assigned to one of nine navigators. Which navigator you’re assigned to depends on your career field. While all of our navigators know the ins and outs of how to help you succeed in college, your navigator will have in-depth knowledge of your specific degree plan and will be able to guide you from enrollment to graduation.

What will my career navigator do?

Every navigator has one goal: to help their students succeed. To do that, they’ll check in with you regularly. They’ll want to hear updates on your classes, grades, and life outside of school. Whenever struggles or problems arise, talk to your navigator. They are armed with resources and can make referrals for a variety of supports, including tutoring, counseling, financial emergency assistance, and more.

When will I meet with my career navigator?

You’ll meet with your navigator before the start of every semester to make sure you have your classes, textbooks, and childcare (if needed) squared away. Then you’ll continue to have check-ins with your navigator throughout the semester. New students will be required to check in more frequently, as much as twice a month.

Where will I meet with my career navigator?

Navigators’ offices are either at ACC Highland Campus (on Airport Blvd across from the Accelerator Lab) or our main location within LifeWorks East Austin (on Pleasant Valley Rd, third floor). You will meet with your navigator at their office as needed, usually once a semester. Your other check-ins may not need to be in person. Navigators conduct check-ins through Zoom, phone, and email, depending on the student’s needs.

Why does Capital IDEA provide career navigators to students?

Navigators have been a key program component since our founding in 1998. Since then, they’ve had an incredible impact on student success. Going to college is challenging. You’ll have questions. Things will get difficult. But as a Career Expressway student, you’ll have someone to turn to. Your navigator will be there to guide and encourage you. They’ll hold you accountable and connect you with resources so that no matter what problems arise, you can keep going and reach your ultimate goal — a new career.

Learn More

To learn more about Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program, sign up for a Career Up information session.

Support Services: Financial Assistance | Childcare Assistance | Career Navigators | Career Placement

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: Ask Us, call 512-457-8610, or email outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Assistance

As a student in the Career Expressway program at Capital IDEA, your college education is fully funded by our generous supporters. Are you wondering what this means for you? Continue reading for answers to some frequently asked questions about the financial assistance offered through our program.

Who is eligible for financial assistance through the Career Expressway?

The Career Expressway by Capital IDEA was specifically created for students like you who are chasing their dreams. If you’re ready to ramp up your efforts, the Career Expressway can help you reach your destination faster with no debt. To qualify for our financial assistance, you must be 18 years or older, have a GED or High School diploma, have NOT completed a college degree (associate degree or higher), and meet our other eligibility requirements. Visit our qualifications page for a full checklist.

What financial support do I get as a Career Expressway student?

When it comes to achieving your career aspirations, a little help can go a long way. That’s where Capital IDEA comes in – our financial assistance includes not only tuition, textbooks, testing, and student fees, but also any necessary items for your degree program like scrubs or mechanic’s tools. Additionally, through our network of partners, we’ll help cover a significant portion of your childcare costs.

When does my financial assistance start and how long does it last?

Once you are accepted into the Career Expressway program, your financial assistance will kick in at the start of the semester. We do not reimburse for courses taken before you were a Career Expressway student, but going forward, we pay your tuition bill directly to the college and cover the cost of your textbooks. You do not have to reapply. Our support renews automatically as long as you continue with your education. If life interrupts, we will look for additional supports to help you stay in your program and make it to graduation, but as a last option, you can withdraw from the program and reapply when you’re ready to return, graduate, and start your new career. We are committed to your success, which means — We’re with you from start to hired!

Where will I go to college?

As part of our Career Expressway Program, you have a choice of three stops: Austin Community College, Temple College, or our Union Partners. We’ve carefully chosen our education partners based on their proven track records of providing career-focused, professional-level training that leads to employment. To see if we provide financial assistance for your future career, browse through our directory of sponsored programs. Note: If you are currently enrolled in one of these institutions, you may be eligible for financial assistance through our Career Expressway Program. Review our qualifications to find out.

Why does Capital IDEA offer FREE College?

As a nonprofit, our mission is to connect you with the best opportunities in Central Texas. We partner with local employers who are struggling to find enough skilled professionals to fill essential roles in healthcare, technology, and trades. These careers offer high wages, great benefits, and a career path. Plus, they’re critical to the well-being of our community. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the job openings in Central Texas. That’s where you come in! If you’re ready for a new career and willing to train for one of these essential occupations, we can provide financial assistance to make college FREE to you. You’ll have a great career with nothing to repay and zero debt because when you succeed, we all succeed!

Learn More

To learn more about Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program, sign up for a Career Up information session.

Support Services: Financial Assistance | Childcare Assistance | Career Navigators | Career Placement

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: Ask Us, call 512-457-8610, or email outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Childcare Assistance

Parents who want to earn a degree and move into a great career need extra help to make that happen. For that reason, Capital IDEA has a dedicated team member to help our Career Expressway students access or set up childcare assistance. Below are answers to questions parents frequently have about the childcare support we provide.

Who is eligible for childcare assistance?

Capital IDEA students with dependent children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old who have obtained social security cards for their children are eligible for childcare assistance. As long as you continue in the Career Expressway program in good standing, you’ll continue to be eligible for childcare assistance all the way through graduation.

What is the process for getting childcare assistance?

Most Capital IDEA students qualify for Child Care Services (CCS) through Workforce Solutions Travis or Rural Counties, and that’s where you’ll start too. As a Career Expressway student, you are a priority applicant, and your application jumps ahead to get approved faster! Once your Career Navigator approves you for childcare, you’ll meet with our in-house Program Specialist, Rosemary Cavazos. From there, Rosemary will help you complete your CCS application. If you don’t qualify, or if there is a waitlist, Rosemary will work with you to find another provider. She’s great at what she does, and her goal is to have you set up with a personalized childcare plan in time for you to start classes.

When will I have access to childcare and for how long?

Your childcare assistance starts the same semester you start college, and it continues through graduation. While you’re a student, you’ll meet with Rosemary to create or update your individual childcare plan as needed. Depending on your provider or situation, you may need to renew your childcare contracts every semester or every year. Stay in touch with Rosemary to make sure you don’t miss your renewal dates!

Where will my child go for daycare or after-school care?

For students who qualify for CCS, you’ll have many licensed childcare providers to choose from (Texas Availability Portal lists licensed childcare centers in the state of Texas). If you don’t qualify for CCS or if you’re on a waitlist, we’ll explore other options, which may include having a relative or friend provide childcare. Over the years, our students have found the right care for their children in programs like CCS, YMCA’s Extend-a-Care, Boys and Girls Club, Austin ISD Pre-K, Head Start programs, ACC, and more.

Why is childcare assistance part of Capital IDEA’s support services?

More than a third of our students have children under 12 years of age, which makes childcare assistance a vital component of our Career Expressway program. Childcare support helps our parent-students keep up with their classmates and avoid graduation delays because when a parent-student has childcare in place, they are less likely to miss classes and are more likely to graduate on time. And thanks to our extensive partner network, we are confident we can find a solution for every parent ready to pick up a backpack and become a Career Expressway student.

Learn More

To learn more about Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program, sign up for a Career Up information session.

Support Services: Financial Assistance | Childcare Assistance | Career Navigators | Career Placement

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: Ask Us, call 512-457-8610, or email outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Career Placement Services

Graduation is an important milestone, but it’s not the finish line for Career Expressway students. We provide career placement services to help you transition from student to professional. We’re with you from start to HIRED!

Who?

Who provides career placement services?

Our Senior Employer Coordinator, Ron Modesty, provides our job search and career placement services. Ron has been with Capital IDEA for over twenty years, and he single-handedly places IT interns, keeps up employer partnerships, and prepares graduates for professional job searches. With decades of experience, Ron is a pro at connecting graduates to employers and fully equips Capital IDEA students with the job search tools that will serve them for the rest of their working career.

What?

What kind of career placement help does Capital IDEA offer?

In your first meeting with Ron, you’ll complete a career placement checklist. This will guide your search. Next, you’ll work on your resume. Once that’s ready, Ron will review it to make sure it’s what employers are looking for. He’ll give you tips for interviews and suggestions on how to use your social media accounts (especially LinkedIn) to help and not hurt your job search. Once you start applying, you’ll stay in touch with Ron. He’ll forward you job leads that match your checklist, and when you accept a job offer, he’ll be among the first to congratulate you!

When?

When do students start receiving career placement services?

You’ll first meet with Ron in the weeks before you start your last semester of college. Over the course of your final semester, you’ll not only work with Ron to get ready for your job hunt, you’ll also start applying. For some students, especially those in healthcare, job offers can come before graduation. For others, your job search may extend a few weeks to a few months past graduation.

Where?

Where do graduates get hired?

Capital IDEA has long-standing relationships with some of the biggest and best employers in Central Texas, which is a huge benefit when it comes to career placement. Our healthcare employer partners include Ascension Seton, St. David’s HealthCare, CommUnityCare, Baylor Scott & White Health, and more. Graduates from the Career Expressway have gone to work for highly recognizable tech employers with corporate offices right here in Central Texas, including VISA, Indeed, and Spectrum. Others have found great jobs in government or education, like Austin Community College, Austin ISD, Travis County, and the City of Austin. To see more, visit: Employer Partners

Why?

Why does Capital IDEA ask students to commit to going to work after graduation?

At our foundation, Capital IDEA is a workforce development program, which makes career placement the best measurement of success for our program. Our employer partners come to us when they are struggling to fill essential roles in healthcare, technology, and trades. These careers offer high salaries, amazing opportunities, and generous benefits, which is why we think they’re good enough to offer to you. But it’s not until you go to work that our community reaps the benefit. When you get hired to fill an essential role, the work you do has a positive impact on our entire community. Helping you succeed helps our whole community thrive.

Learn More

To learn more about Capital IDEA’s Career Expressway program, sign up for a Career Up information session.

Support Services: Financial Assistance | Childcare Assistance | Career Navigators | Career Placement

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: Ask Us, call 512-457-8610, or email outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs

By Jeff Sanchez | MARCH 2, 2023

From an early age, Connie Castillo felt the odds stacking against her. She had her first child when she was 15 years old, and the naysayers made their opinions known — the best future she could hope for was finding someone who would take care of her. “I heard a lot of negativities. I was told that I was never going to achieve anything or amount to anything. My life was over, and I might as well get married now.” But Connie didn’t let the negativity take root. Instead, she held on to her belief that, “you play the hand you are given and use it to your advantage,” and imagined the future she would shape for herself.

As a single mom at age 15, Connie knew she had to figure some things out if she was going to provide a stable home for her child. She was resourceful and motivated. As a single mother, she was able to find resources to finish high school earlier, she entered the Alternative Education Program for her local high school and achieved additional credits by testing out of courses, achieving her goal of completing high school in three years vs the traditional four, and in the top 10 of her class. On the day of her graduation, she learned she was pregnant with her second child and faced the bigger challenge of raising two kids. She lined up government resources and found entry-level jobs, which was just enough to secure an apartment and scrape out a living for herself and her kids. But she didn’t want to just scrape by. Her vision for the future included buying her own house and car. If she wanted that, she knew what it would take. “I knew that if I was going to move forward in my life, if I was going to be able to provide for my kids the life that they deserved, then education was the key.”

Once again, the odds were against her, and once again she would not be stopped. She went hunting for resources and managed to find enough help to start at Austin Community College (ACC) pursuing a degree as a Dental Hygienist. “At first, I had FAFSA, food stamps, TANF. I survived off government aid. The bare minimum. I worked part-time every now and then to make a little extra cash.” She had goals. She had the drive. She even had the grades to get into the highly competitive dental hygiene program. Things were going great, but unfortunately, government aid has its limits. “I’d finished all of my prerequisite courses, and just as I was applying for the Dental Hygiene program, I lost all my benefits.”

“I knew that if I was going to move forward in my life, if I was going to be able to provide for my kids the life that they deserved, then education was the key.”

As her semester (and possibly her entire college journey) came to a close, Connie walked into the cafeteria at the Eastview campus and spotted a table advertising free college. She went over and picked up a flyer for a special event which she attended. “I took my kids because I thought it was going to be an orientation and we were just going to be sitting and listening to someone tell us about the program. The conference room was packed, and then I noticed they were doing interviews on the spot! And I was like, oh my god, had I known I would not have brought my kids because this isn’t how I would present myself in an interview.”

By now she had her third child, and with a toddler on her knee and a five- and three-year-old playing on the floor, she sat down for an initial interview. “I am thankful that as a 20-year-old with three kids, I wasn’t judged. Capital IDEA didn’t hold that against me. They listened to me. They listened to my goals and my plans. They could tell from the start that I was a go-getter, regardless of my situation, or regardless of the cards I had been dealt.”

“I am thankful that as a 20-year-old with three kids, I wasn’t judged. Capital IDEA didn’t hold that against me. They could tell from the start that I was a go-getter, regardless of my situation, or regardless of the cards I had been dealt.”

Connie was accepted into the Career Expressway program. “Capital IDEA came into my life during a difficult time. It helped me finish. They helped me apply for the childcare assistance program, CCMS, and helped me find assistance to pay bills.” Yet, while it was the financial assistance that drew Connie to Capital IDEA, ultimately, it was her Career Navigator that meant the most to her. “I never felt like I was just another person or just a number. I never felt like I was just someone who had to get pushed through the program. I was genuinely treated as a human. As someone with struggles, my Navigator helped me, guided me, counseled me, and talked to me when I had stressors.”

Connie graduated from ACC with an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene in 2009, and accepted a job offer from Texas Smiles in South Austin. With a degree and a new career, she’d already surpassed the naysayers’ expectations. But she wasn’t finished.

Eight years into her dental hygiene career, Connie joined the Army Reserves. In 2020, she was deployed for a year to the Middle East where she served her country proudly. She was given the responsibility of keeping up her unit’s morale. This meant she was responsible for organizing events and activities to keep her unit’s spirits up during their deployment. She did such an outstanding job she was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for Leadership. She’d already learned to envision and shape her own future, now she knew she could also play a role in shaping her surroundings. She wanted to do more of that, and when her deployment was over, that desire and her leadership skills came with her, ready to be applied.

“I never felt like I was just another person or just a number. I never felt like I was just someone who had to get pushed through the program. I was genuinely treated as a human. As someone with struggles, my Navigator helped me, guided me, counseled me, and talked to me when I had stressors.”

Connie graduated from ACC with an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene in 2009, and accepted a job offer from Texas Smiles in South Austin. With a degree and a new career, she’d already surpassed the naysayers’ expectations. But she wasn’t finished.

Eight years into her dental hygiene career, Connie joined the Army Reserves. In 2020, she was deployed for a year to the Middle East where she served her country proudly. She was given the responsibility of keeping up her unit’s morale. This meant she was responsible for organizing events and activities to keep her unit’s spirits up during their deployment. She did such an outstanding job she was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for Leadership. She’d already learned to envision and shape her own future, now she knew she could also play a role in shaping her surroundings. She wanted to do more of that, and when her deployment was over, that desire and her leadership skills came with her, ready to be applied.

As a dental hygienist, Connie had long been aware of a problem. “There was always a big disconnect between dentists and Spanish-speaking patients or patient’s parents if the dentist only spoke English.” Connie felt that the most direct way she could help fill this gap was to become a dentist herself. Thanks to her G.I. Bill she was able to start right away. She enrolled at Texas State and is now only a few months away from finishing her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. After that, she’ll tackle dental school and earn the advanced degree required to start her own practice.

“Can you believe it? This teenage mom has already gotten two of her four kids to become self-sufficient and two into higher education! And my third oldest is starting at UTSA in the Cybersecurity program in the fall of 2023. I have always told them education is a door opener for bigger things in life.”

Outside of her career field, Connie has adopted several community causes and applied her leadership skills there, too. For years, she’s been a passionate advocate for Capital IDEA by sharing her story with Hays County officials and with City of Kyle officials, to support petitions for funding. She’s also mentored Capital IDEA alumni in Kyle developing leaders who can support each other and their community. Connie also serves as the Sponsorship Director with Ancora Ministries, an organization that provides food to children in need both locally in Kyle and in Guatemala. Whenever Connie sees an opportunity to shape a better future, she’s all in.

Connie’s drive to do more, and her passion to help others shows up in everything she does. Yet, of all her achievements, Connie is most proud of what she has been able to accomplish for her children. She eventually bought a car, and a beautiful home in Kyle where she raised her kids. She continues to emphasize the importance of education in their lives. “Can you believe it? This teenage mom has already gotten two of her four kids to become self-sufficient and two into higher education! And my third oldest is starting at UTSA in the Cybersecurity program in the fall of 2023. I have always told them education is a door opener for bigger things in life.” And her kids are extremely proud of her too. She recalls her son joining her at a City Council meeting where she spoke on behalf of Capital IDEA. “He was so excited he recorded it, and said, ‘Mom, I didn’t know you were going to speak in front of everybody. That was cool!’ To see him light up like that made me feel so happy to know my kids are proud of what I do and the things that I’ve achieved.”

Throughout her life, Connie’s display of leadership is evident. With the odds stacked against her as a single mom at age 15, her resourcefulness and drive helped her shape a better future for herself and her children by achieving things that once seemed out of reach, and now she is using those same qualities to lead others. Her outstanding leadership efforts with the Capital IDEA Alumni Network, the Army Reserves, and Ancora Ministries are fueled by her belief that, as a leader, she has the responsibility to help the people around her reach their full potential. “For me leadership is the ability to build leaders yourself, to help others grow, help expand their minds, and to show people who they are. A leader to me is someone willing to grow the people around them.”

“For me leadership is the ability to build leaders yourself, to help others grow, help expand their minds, and to show people who they are. A leader to me is someone willing to grow the people around them.”

And how does she do that? She starts by sharing the core belief that’s kept her motivated since she was 15 that to achieve your goals, you must choose to work with the cards you were dealt. She reminds single parents that, “You are a role model whether you want to be or not. Don’t allow something like being a single parent to hold you back. There are programs out there to help you, so use what you’ve got.” And she encourages Capital IDEA students too. “See worth in yourself. If someone else is willing to bet on you, and they don’t even know you, then why can’t you? Capital IDEA was willing to bet on me and they only interviewed me for 20 minutes. If someone else could see in me that there was something there and allowed me in this program, why would I not bet on myself that I can do it?” That’s advice that we can all take to heart.

In March of 2023, Capital IDEA proudly awarded Connie the Mark Melliar-Smith Award in recognition of the incredible leadership qualities she continues to display in her community. View photos from the event: Facebook » | Dropbox »

“See worth in yourself. If someone else is willing to bet on you, and they don’t even know you, then why can’t you?”

We’re willing to bet on you! Are you? Earn your degree for free through Capital IDEA. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS & EVENTS | Don’t miss our next blog post!




By Jeff Sanchez | MARCH 2, 2022

Walking into the Capital IDEA office for the first time in 4 years was a blast from the past for Shahida Ferdous. The memories of sitting on the couch in the reception area, walking down the hall into the testing room where she took her vocational assessment, and finally, the office of Janie Mendoza, where she had her initial interview. These memories were quite vivid to Shahida, and she couldn’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming gratitude and accomplishment. Compared to her first visit to Capital IDEA, she was a different person now. She’s graduated college, started a new career, and grown in confidence, both in herself and her abilities. It was a notable and exciting difference.

Shahida was born and raised in Bangladesh, a country where she says women were typically not given many opportunities for career advancement and learning. Still, Shahida’s father noticed how good of a student she was in high school and hoped she would continue her education. “My dad always wished I had higher education, but he died about 17 years ago. Sadly, he didn’t see it.”

Feeling the pressure of cultural expectations, Shahida married shortly after turning 18 and immigrated to the United States with her now ex-husband. She devoted 20 years to running a household and raising a family until a tumultuous marriage led to a divorce and left her on her own with three daughters. With no work experience and limited English, she worked a series of low-paying, entry-level jobs, mostly in hospitality and retail, doing what she could to survive and provide for her children.

After six years of bouncing between entry-level jobs, Shahida needed a change. Two of her daughters had started their own careers, and she wanted that for herself. “I was tired of struggling. I wanted a job with good pay so I could pay my bills, and I wanted a job with health insurance.”

“I was tired of struggling. I wanted a job with good pay so I could pay my bills, and I wanted a job with health insurance.”

One fateful afternoon, while stopping for food, she saw a flyer for Capital IDEA. At first, she couldn’t believe it. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “is this real?” With her daughter’s encouragement, she looked into it and was excited to learn they really would pay for her college. But other doubts quickly crept in as she wondered if she could juggle college while working enough hours to provide for her family. She applied anyway. “When I was taking the exam, I was praying, ‘God, please let them pick me. I’ll work hard. Just give me one chance, and I promise I’ll do it. I can do it.’ In my country, we don’t have opportunities like this.”

Her vocational assessment matched her to tech, her career field of choice, but even with that confirmation, Shahida still had doubts. Before her divorce, she’d barely touched a computer, and since then, everything she’d learned, her daughters had taught her. “I still wasn’t sure I could do it, but Janie reassured me that I could and that I would end up with a good job.” It was the push she needed. Shahida enrolled in the Network Administration program at ACC, moving one step closer to a degree, a career, and, importantly, health insurance.

Even though Shahida had been a good student in high school, 25 years had passed. She’d forgotten what it was like to be in a classroom, and her English was self-taught. “Could I even do it?” She worried, but her resolve won out. “I just had to try. My daughters would tell me to just try it.”

“I still wasn’t sure I could do it, but Janie reassured me that I could and that I would end up with a good job.”

Shahida worked hard for every grade in every class, opting for extra tutoring between shuttling her youngest daughter to and from school. “I’d drop her off. Then go to class. Then go back to pick her up in the afternoon. I worked Saturdays and Sundays full-time just to get more hours. Sometimes Fridays too, and one of my older daughters had to pick her up from school.”

Along the way, she rediscovered something she had forgotten about herself — she was smart. “When I got an A in Introduction to Network Administration, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m smart! I can do this!’” After that, she got A’s in all her classes except Python. “It was really hard. It was the only class I got a B in.”

In the summer of 2020, Shahida got word that her mother had passed away. It was a difficult loss made even more difficult by COVID restrictions. Unable to travel to be with her family, she continued with her online classes and found moments to grieve when she could. Then a few months later, in the midst of a pandemic, Shahida was diagnosed with cancer.

“When I got an ‘A’ in Introduction to Network Administration, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m smart! I can do this!’”

She could’ve dropped out of school, and nobody would’ve blamed her. “When I found out I had cancer, I wondered if I should put so much effort into my classes if I might not finish the program. My daughter encouraged me to keep trying because she believed I would get better.” Her daughter was right. While painful and grueling, the radiation treatments were successful. In 2022, she was declared cancer-free, though she’ll remain under medical supervision for the next five years.

During treatment, she managed to keep her grades up while also interning at VISA. “The people at VISA were so great. They said I could take it easy if I needed to. I would go to radiation treatments in the morning and work in the afternoon.” As an intern, she reported to Capital IDEA alum Skyler Coffman. “Skyler was very good as my supervisor and very understanding.”

In December 2022, Shahida graduated with a 3.96 GPA and her associate degree in network administration, delivering on that promise she’d made to God years before during her assessment, “Just give me one chance. I’ll do it.” After graduation, VISA offered her a flexible permanent position working remotely and part-time to allow her to work around ongoing medical appointments with health insurance.

“When I found out I had cancer, I wondered if I should put so much effort into my classes if I might not finish the program. My daughter encouraged me to keep trying because she believed I would get better.”

Today, Shahida’s career in tech continues to move upward. While, historically, the tech field has been male dominated, more women, like Shahida, have found tech to be a great fit. “In my perspective, women are very capable of doing this job, and with remote jobs, it provides an opportunity for them to take care of their family and work from home if they need to.” Next, she has her sights set on earning a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. She plans on enrolling in ACC’s bachelor’s program when it launches, and her accomplishments have given her every confidence that she can reach this next goal too. “In ten years, I made it here!” In 10 years, she learned English, became proficient at computers, got her degree in network administration, landed a job at one of the top companies in the country, raised her daughters as a single mother, and beat cancer. Compared to all of that, earning a bachelor’s degree seems eminently possible.

Shahida overcame so much to get to where she is today, but she doesn’t think it makes her unique. “There are a lot of people like me. They don’t know every opportunity available to them, and sometimes people lose hope. When I got out of my damaging relationship and started my own life with my children, I was just looking for an opportunity because I never had it. I didn’t know how to apply for a job or school. My daughters had to figure it out for themselves, and I was learning from them. So, when I got the opportunity, I valued it.” To anyone doubting they can succeed the way she has, her advice is to “Just try. Trust in yourself and the people around you to help you, and if you don’t believe it’s real, just at least try it. And keep faith and hope that it’s real. Because it is.”

In March of 2023, Capital IDEA proudly awarded Shahida the Aurora Alworth Spirit Award in recognition of the incredible perseverance and dedication she displayed throughout her academic journey. View photos from the event: Facebook » | Dropbox »

“Just try. Trust in yourself and the people around you to help you, and if you don’t believe it’s real, just at least try it. And keep faith and hope that it’s real. Because it is.”

If you’re looking for an opportunity like Shahida, we have one for you. Earn your degree for free through Capital IDEA, and start a career path that can change your life. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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By Jeff Sanchez | JANUARY 11, 2023

Partnerships are crucial to Capital IDEA’s success. From donors to employers to education providers, our success and the success of our students depends on the quality of our partnerships. One key partnership that has been in place since Capital IDEA’s founding is with Central Texas’s largest education and training provider, Austin Community College District (ACC). The majority of our students attend and earn their degrees at Austin Community College. Because of the exceptional educational services Austin Community College offers, our graduates have the cutting-edge training they need to compete in today’s workforce.

As partners for nearly 25 years, Austin Community College and Capital IDEA have worked together to transform the lives of thousands of Central Texas adults, lifting them out of low-income situations and into high-earning careers. Throughout those two and a half decades of partnership, many Austin Community College employees have contributed to the growth of Capital IDEA. Advisors, professors, and administrators have all referred students to our award-winning Career Expressway program. In fact, “ACC referred me,” consistently ranks in the top 5 reasons students find their way to Capital IDEA.

Today, it is our pleasure to feature two Austin Community College administrators. Both share a mission to connect students with the abundant support and resources available to them, whether on campus or through partnerships.

Meet Roxane Royalty

Roxane Royalty is the college’s Executive Dean of Student Affairs for the North Region at Austin Community College. She oversees Student Affairs services within the Campus dean’s areas of responsibilities across six of the college’s 11 campuses. She believes their services are enhanced with partnerships like Capital IDEA, “I see it as a mutual benefit. There’s so much to gain from what organizations can do for each other.” Roxane has been an avid supporter of Capital IDEA throughout her 13-year career at Austin Community College. From her time as a counselor at Northridge Campus to where she is today, Roxane was key in advancing pivotal initiatives for Capital IDEA, like organizing a summer event for re-enrolling Capital IDEA students who had left the program and wanted to come back.

Meet Roman Escamilla

Roman Escamilla, Ed.D., is Dean of Student Affairs at Austin Community College Highland Campus. The Student Affairs office supports students with degree planning and career planning. It also connects students to outside resources like Capital IDEA. “Student Affairs is a support service of the college,” said Roman, “We’re here to help students to be successful.” Roman started his career in Austin Community College’s Continuing Education Division, working alongside Dr. Hector Aguilar, Dean of Continuing Education and long-time collaborator with Capital IDEA. “I remember when I first heard about Capital IDEA. I asked how it worked. At first, I thought they were going to have their own school, but then I was told that the students are sponsored by Capital IDEA, and they’re enrolled in ACC programs and managed all the way through. That sounded awesome! To have an organization that can work in collaboration with the college is incredible.”

“To have an organization that can work in collaboration with the college is incredible.”

– Roman Escamilla, Dean of Student Affairs at ACC Highland Campus

In addition to educational services, Austin Community College also provides office space for Capital IDEA staff at its Highland Campus, making it easier and more convenient for Capital IDEA students to connect with all the supports available to them. They’ve also welcomed Capital IDEA staff into ACC Advisor staff meetings to present on the Career Expressway program and benefits. Roman sees this type of synergy and open communication as beneficial to maintaining a solid partnership, “When Capital IDEA keeps us informed of the latest and greatest things that are going on, that helps me. Part of my role is to be a conduit to the students from every department, and if I hear of someone who needs the kind of help Capital IDEA offers, then I can connect them.”

The strong partnership between Capital IDEA and Austin Community College can be attributed to each organization’s mutual passion for helping students succeed. “It’s like somebody’s helping you do your job and for the same reasons,” says Roxane about Capital IDEA, “That’s a partner and an ally.” Capital IDEA Deputy Executive Director Eva Rios-Lleverino echoes that sentiment, “We work well together because they’re very student oriented and passionate about helping students. It’s what’s front-and-center for all of us. In addition to hosting the summer event to re-enroll students and the opportunities to present to Austin Community College staff, they’ve also helped smooth the way for our students in other ways. One example that comes to mind is helping us find a way to get more of our applicants to complete the college entrance exam. We were struggling with that, and they helped us find a solution that has worked great!”

“It’s like somebody’s helping you do your job and for the same reasons. That’s a partner and an ally.”

– Roxane Royalty, Executive Dean of Student Affairs for the North Region at ACC

Roxane’s and Roman’s passion for students is unwavering, and they’re both eager to do even more. Roman would like students to know that “Student Affairs is here to help your learning experience be the best it can be. Whatever you need, whether you’re in trouble, in good graces, need assistance, have a question, or just need directions to the bathroom, we’re here to help.” Similarly, Roxane wants to remind students that “We care. Whatever your goals are, we care about your success — whatever that translates into for you. Let us know how we can serve you better, because we want to.” You can find Roman in the Student Affairs office at Highland Campus, Building 1000, on the second floor just past the social staircase. You can also find Student Services online at: austincc.edu/student-support or email them at student.success@austincc.edu.

“Austin Community College is a vital partner in our shared goal of helping students from enrollment to completion to employment.”

– Alyssia Palacios-Woods, Executive Director, Capital IDEA

Capital IDEA is honored to have such a great partnership with Austin Community College. Capital IDEA Executive Director Alyssia Palacios-Woods describes the partnership this way, “Austin Community College is a vital partner in our shared goal of helping students from enrollment to completion to employment. Austin Community College’s commitment to meeting the needs of today’s students both inside and outside the classroom, coupled with Capital IDEA’s intensive career navigator and wrap-around support, offers a holistic approach to ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed.” We look forward to the months and years ahead as we continue our strategic work together to lift working adults out of poverty and into living-wage careers through education and career advancement.

To learn more about our programs or if you’re interested in becoming an employer partner, you can visit our website at www.capitalidea.org or call us at 512-457-8610.

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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By Jeff Sanchez | DECEMBER 7, 2022

“Without my degree, I would not have been able to do any of this.” Growing up in Cuba, Yasmin Sosa was taught that earning a degree was the best way to ensure a good financial future for herself. From an early age, her grandfather, Juvier, saw that Yasmin loved learning and encouraged her to find a way to go to college. At the age of 24, Yasmin immigrated to the United States, determined to realize her dream of earning her degree and making her grandfather proud.

From the start, Yasmin’s path to a college education was filled with challenges. While she knew she wanted to work in the tech field, she needed to get her English up to a college level before she could even begin working toward her degree.

Yasmin started taking English classes at a local church, embarking on what would turn out to be a three-year effort to improve her English language skills. After one year at the church, she transitioned to basic English at Austin Community College (ACC). By the time she finished two years of English courses there, she’d used up big chunks of her financial aid, and like many first-generation college students, she was unaware of the Federal limits. When it came time to start her associate degree program, her ACC advisor, Lucia Ponce, informed her of a great program for students in technology majors—Capital IDEA.

“Without my degree, I would not have been able to do any of this.”

Yasmin applied, got accepted, and the very next semester, her college expenses were covered through the Career Expressway by Capital IDEA. She could let go of the worry that funds would run out and focus on studying and finishing her degree program. And she would need that focus because even after four years of English courses, the language and cultural barriers still presented significant obstacles. “Everything here was different than where I came from, even school and how you are taught, so it was hard to feel like I fit in.”

Eight years after immigrating to the U.S., with three of those years spent learning English and two years spent earning her degree at ACC, Yasmin’s dedication paid off. In 2017, she graduated with her Associate of Applied Science in Computer Science and was one step closer to getting into her dream career field. “Since I was a kid, I’ve loved learning everything about computers.” Upon graduation, Yasmin continued taking a database class, which Capital IDEA paid for, and earned her Database Administrator certificate. That certificate, coupled with the two internships Capital IDEA had connected her to at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and Missionbox, plus her degree, had prepared her to land a job with one of the world’s most recognized tech companies, Meta, the parent company of Facebook.

The steadfast determination and dedication that got her through college helped her succeed in a competitive career field, but Yasmin credits her success to something she learned from her grandmother—having the right attitude. “I think being a Latina, and my English not being the best, especially with a heavy accent, my attitude has been a big factor in getting this far.” Yasmin’s grandmother taught her the importance of staying calm and collected and letting her work speak for her. With this powerful piece of advice, Yasmin has propelled her career to a leadership position as a Senior Project Engineer in Virtual Reality Labs. “I like the leadership aspect of my job, managing a team, organizing, and preparing reports. I like working with different personalities and finding ways to motivate them. I get great satisfaction from helping my team members achieve their work goals and bringing out the best in them.”

“I think being a Latina, and my English not being the best, especially with a heavy accent, my attitude has been a big factor in getting this far.”

Yasmin’s attitude and self-confidence have also helped her navigate the difficult terrain of being a woman in tech and gain the respect of her mostly male co-workers. To her female colleagues vying to succeed in the male-dominated tech field, she offers this piece of advice: “Be confident in yourself and be the best in your area, get out of your comfort zone, and don’t give up. To me, having confidence is the key to everything.”

Yasmin’s dream of a college degree and a career in tech came true, and while her grandfather wasn’t alive to see it, she dedicated her graduation to him, knowing she’d made him proud. She had the advice and encouragement of her family, the guidance of a wonderful college advisor, and the support of Capital IDEA to see her through. “Capital IDEA changed my life, and because of the opportunity they gave me, I can provide a better future for my son. What Capital IDEA is doing is making dreams come true.”

“Capital IDEA changed my life, and because of the opportunity they gave me, I can provide a better future for my son. What Capital IDEA is doing is making dreams come true.”

Just like Yasmin, you can earn your degree and get your dream career. We’ll be with you every step of the way. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or Ask Us! »
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


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Posted: December 1, 2022

Overview

Capital IDEA seeks proposals from qualified consultants/firms to assist in the development of a new strategic plan to guide the organization over the next five years (2023-2028). The goal is to anticipate the challenges and opportunities Capital IDEA will face and build a forward-looking, actionable plan that will drive key strategies, impact areas, and decisions.

The plan will provide clarity for the board and staff on long-term, internal organizational efforts as well as high-impact opportunities to support community-wide, mission-driven workforce development efforts in partnership with external stakeholders.

Qualifications

Capital IDEA is seeking an experienced organizational consultant to work with the Executive Director, Board of Directors, senior management team, staff members and stakeholders. The consultant should have:

Relevant experience in working with nonprofit, public, and/or private sector organizations to develop strategic plans that respond effectively to internal, environmental, political, and fiscal realities.

Extensive strategic planning experience, including the ability to conduct all required research, coordinate and facilitate the planning process, conduct confidential internal and external stakeholder interviews, and create a strategic planning document that is measurable and suitable for public review and presentations.

Experience working with strategies of the Industrial Areas Foundation or Central Texas Interfaith is preferred, as is experience with agencies that deliver impactful workforce development.

Bidder Instructions and Questions

Before submitting a proposal, please carefully read and consider our RFP: RFP: Strategic Plan Consulting Services (PDF).

Consultants are to provide an electronic proposal (PDF preferred) via email to the contact provided within the RFP document by 11:59 pm on January 3, 2023.

Q & A

Bidders were invited to submit questions on this RFP up until 11:59 pm on Monday, December 12, 2022, with the understanding that answers would be posted publicly here on our website on December 13th.

12/15/22 Update: The below questions experienced a delayed receipt due to a technical issue.

  • Q. Is there an expectation for services to be delivered virtually or in person?
  • A. We expect a hybrid scenario, where some conversations, especially in larger groups, will be more impactful and meaningful in person. Other 1:1s, such as with key stakeholders, can be accomplished virtually.
  • Q. Is the requested number of interviews (20-25) a firm number, or can that number be adjusted in the scope of work to help meet the budget?
  • A. Consultants can recommend an adjusted number to meet budget constraints. All proposals will be considered.
  • Q. Is Capital IDEA a grantee of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation?
  • A. Capital IDEA is not a current grantee of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

By Jeff Sanchez | OCTOBER 26, 2022

“I did this for my daughters. I started this journey to take care of them.” When Dr. Debra Utpadel was asked what she was most proud of, she did not hesitate to mention her daughters, “The best thing to come out of all this is that I have two wonderful daughters who look up to me as a nurse with a doctorate.” Dr. Debra is working on something bigger than herself. She’s leaving a legacy for her daughters in the same way others left one for her.

Dr. Debra has benefited from the legacies of the strong women in her family. Her desire to help people was a character trait learned from her great-grandmother. “She was always helping people, and I was always with her when I was little.” Her passion for nursing came from her great aunt, a nurse herself, who introduced her to the nursing profession when she was a young teen. Ever since Dr. Debra has pursued a career as a nurse, but her journey took longer than expected.

Her entry into the healthcare profession was working as a paramedic while she applied to nursing school, but time and again, it didn’t work out. “Getting into school and paying for tuition were some of my biggest roadblocks. I had tried to get into nursing school at ACC for 3 or 4 years to get into their ADN program. I had applied to get into nursing colleges all over Texas before my kids were born.” In the early 2000s, not unlike now, nursing schools had limited spots and numerous applicants, and Debra had no luck in landing one of those coveted spots. After her second daughter was born, life as a single parent got demanding. Her EMS certification expired, and she no longer had the time for nursing school.

“I did this for my daughters. I started this journey to take care of them.”

Debra had no choice but to walk away from healthcare and her family legacy. She felt hopeless as a single mom of a newborn and a toddler. She cleaned houses to scrape out a living for her family, and she had little to no time for anything else between her job and her responsibilities as a parent. She knew an education would help her, but it felt so far out of reach. Interestingly, she received a bit of hope from an unlikely place, her gynecologist. She gave her a flyer about a program called Capital IDEA that would pay for her degree. Debra went to an information session because, why not? What did she have to lose?

A funny thing about legacies, they often hinge on small moments that make a lasting impression. That’s exactly how Debra remembers her CareerUp information session. “(Career Navigator) Sister Ane saw me and came towards me. I think she saw that I was in great distress, and she told me that this wasn’t the end and I wasn’t going to be on welfare forever, and she talked me into the program. It was Sister Ane who convinced me to go to school. I wasn’t going to go back. I was done.” Sister Ane encouraged Debra to do this for herself and her daughters. And just like that, she was back to building on her family legacy. Debra applied and got accepted into the program. Now came the hard part, going to school.

Walking into a classroom as a student in her thirties was a bit intimidating. “Back then, adult learners weren’t the thing. I was the oldest person in my LVN class.” But as time went on, the helping nature that was passed down from her great-grandmother came out, and soon Debra would find herself guiding some of her classmates. “I was able to help the people younger than me. They looked up to me. There was quite a number who were single moms. They were struggling to get through classes because they didn’t realize what was out there to help them.”

“(Career Navigator) Sister Ane saw me and came towards me. I think she saw that I was in great distress, and she told me that this wasn’t the end, and I wasn’t going to be on welfare forever, and she talked me into the program.”

Yet, as helpful as she was to others, it didn’t make going to school any easier for Debra. “I had my Career Navigator on speed dial. Every time it got tough, I called Maria Mora to tell her that this was too tough and hard. She held my hand through the whole thing and kept telling me I could do it.” As a single parent, she not only had to figure out childcare while she was in classes and, subsequently, her clinicals, but she also had to figure out when to study. Fortunately, her mom could help with some childcare responsibilities, but she lived across town, “Sometimes I had to drop off my kids at 5 a.m. to make clinicals. I did that for about 18 months through my program. It was really difficult to put in the time to study. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. and wake up 2 hours later to study more.” Capital IDEA helped by providing resources to supplement daycare, and eventually, the long days and sleepless nights culminated in Debra earning her Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). She continued the legacy of her great aunt, who worked as a nurse, but was also creating her own, as she became the first female in her family to get a degree.

Overcoming her obstacles to getting her ADN gave Debra the confidence to do more. Debra went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN), her Master’s degree, and a Doctorate in Nurse Practice and is now a Board Certified Adult Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Her career took her from the Austin area to Connecticut, Arkansas, and finally, Nacogdoches, Texas, where she is the Senior Nurse Practitioner at East Texas Community Health Services, helping people who need it the most. Her clinic provides medications at little to no cost for an immigrant population with little to no money to pay for healthcare. Her patients are more than bodies she patches up, they’re people she cares for, even to the point of walking them through the grocery store to teach them what foods to buy for their diabetic needs, leaving a legacy of love with a population that is so often forgotten.

“Sometimes, I had to drop off my kids at 5 a.m. to make clinicals. I did that for about 18 months through my program. It was really difficult to put in the time to study. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. and wake up 2 hours later to study more.”

Yet, the most important legacy for Debra will always be the one she has passed on to her daughters. While Dr. Debra was earning degrees and working as a nurse in various locations, she raised two strong, independent women, of whom she is very proud. “They love school. It gave them the sense that they needed to do something with their lives. They know they need to go to school to become somebody so they can take care of themselves.” Her youngest, Roxanne, saved up her money as a teenager and purchased her first house at 18, and now is going to nursing school to pursue her BSN, following in her mother’s footsteps. Her oldest, Samantha, was diagnosed with autism as a teenager, and she was told she would never be able to live alone and care for herself. “When the doctors told her this, she said, ‘Yeah, No.’” Today, at 24, she is pursuing a degree in Neuropsychology and living very comfortably on her own.

As Dr. Debra nears retirement, she’s not done adding to her legacy. She still teaches the new nurse practitioners at her clinic, and “I’m really considering going back to school and getting a Post Master’s certification in Psych and Mental Health. I really like to travel, and if I’m a psych mental health nurse, I can do that from anywhere.” Yet even with all her accomplishments, Dr. Debra remembers that she benefited from the many people who helped shape her, encourage her, push her, and uplift her. And to prospective students, she offers this advice: “Capital IDEA is a family. There’s always somebody there that you can talk it through and figure it out. You’re not on your own. You just have to take that first step. Sometimes just knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself will encourage you to try and do it.”

“Capital IDEA is a family. There’s always somebody there that you can talk it through and figure it out. You’re not on your own. You just have to take that first step. Sometimes just knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself will encourage you to try and do it.”

Just like Dr. Debra, you can create a legacy that you and your loved ones will be proud of. And we’ll be with you every step of the way. You can email our team at outreach@capitalidea.org, or sign up for an information session: LEARN MORE »

To apply, sign up for an info session: CareerUp »
For questions: 512-457-8610 or outreach@capitalidea.org
Quick links: Qualifications | Career Directory | FAQs


SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS & EVENTS | Don’t miss our next blog post!




2200+

Capital IDEA students have been placed in new careers

3X

Most graduates TRIPLE their previous earnings

$27/hr

was the average starting wage for Capital IDEA students placed in 2022

1,041

Capital IDEA students received direct support in 2022

$22M+

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

Guide Star Gold

News & Events

Graduate Spotlight: Kat Flatley

DECEMBER 5, 2023 Katherine Flatley, a resilient and empowered individual, proudly holds the title of a two-time graduate of both Capital IDEA and Austin Community College. Her healthcare career began when she completed the Licensed Vocational Nursing program in 2003 and the Registered Nursing program in 2006. Determined to continue her education, Kat went on […]

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