Three Austin high schools will get the opportunity to participate in a new program to keep students in school, develop leadership skills and prepare them for jobs.
Austin Interfaith made the announcement today at AISD headquarters with Sen. Kirk Watson and AISD Board Trustees Paul Saldaña and Ann Teich speaking on behalf of the program.
“The best investment Austin could make in its economic future is to help every Austin ISD student find a path to a great job," Sen. Watson said. “I encourage business leaders across Austin to create opportunities for our students to connect their work experience with their education and a future full of potential."
The High School Youth Leadership Development Program will operate in Crockett, Lanier and Travis high schools, all of which have a large number of students from underserved neighborhoods. With a strong internship component, the program will create more opportunities and incentives for low-income and at-risk youth to complete high school, while gaining meaningful work experience.
The program is funded through a contribution from AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s signature education initiative focused on school success and career readiness.
“Education has been a priority for AT&T for more than a century, and we believe that when we invest in education, we are making our communities stronger, safer and more economically viable,” said Eva Muñoz, area manager of external affairs for AT&T Texas. “Investing in a well-educated workforce may be the single most important thing we can do to support a strong global economy. We are very pleased today to partner with Austin Interfaith, Austin schools and school leadership and leaders, like Sen. Kirk Watson, who are dedicated to education and understand clearly the tie between an educated workforce and a thriving economy.”
The Austin Interfaith project will target students 14 years and older for summer employment internships.
Ofelia Zapata, an Austin Interfaith leader, said the program is an important step in the group’s ongoing efforts to reach at-risk youth.
“I developed strong leadership skills long after high school,” Zapata said. “Our students need to learn now to be leaders—to be successful adult workers, employees, parents and community leaders. The program today is just the beginning of a much larger partnership that we hope will grow this project into all high schools.”