USAA grants $1 million to nonprofit group helping students of color in local schools

750 student in 10 local schools will get wraparound social, mental health care so they can successfully graduate, plan futures

Experts and local leaders say education can directly combat racial inequity in communities, which transfers directly into the workforce.

SAN ANTONIO – Experts and local leaders say education can directly combat racial inequity in communities, which transfers directly into the workforce.

USAA granted $1 million to the nonprofit Communities in Schools, or CIS, which offers wraparound case management, social service referrals, mental health services and emergency assistance.

The new grant asks the organization to specifically focus on disadvantaged students of color.

Jessica Weaver, Communities in Schools San Antonio CEO, said students of color are the group’s key demographic and look forward to being able to help more students.

“The 10 campuses that were supported by the USAA grant, three of the ten are brand new to us,” Weaver said. “Two CAST schools and East Central High School.”

Weaver said the grant allows 10 of her employees to work full time at each of the campuses. Currently, seven of the campuses in the grant are already CIS partners, meaning there is already a CIS employee working on the campus.

Weaver said those campuses will now get another employee to help with the caseload.

Ravae Shaeffer, principal at CAST STEM High School, said the grant could not come at a more crucial time.

“They are as willing to work virtually as they are face to face,” Shaeffer said. “We happen to be in a period of time that is a pandemic and we can see that inequity with much more clarity.”

She said inequity includes things like internet access, food insecurity and housing insecurity.

“Many of the kids have lost family members to COVID, Shaeffer said. “We’re able to have our kids served right away, have them come back to neutral and get them back to their life with whatever they’re pursuing.”

Immediate care allows students to focus on education, graduate and move into successful careers.

About 750 students are being identified to be part of the program. Some referrals are coming from school staff and parents, but in some cases, students are asking for the services themselves.

The grant-program just started in January and will continue for two years.

The campuses included in the grant are as follows:

  • Sam Houston
  • Highlands
  • Lanier
  • Legacy
  • Southwest
  • Somerset
  • Wagner
  • CAST Med
  • East Central

Related: NEISD counselor urges parents to be vigilant as students deal with mental health issues

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.