Kristy Tijerina testimony

Throughout the years, The San Antonio Education Partnership (SAEP) has helped countless students reach their goals of attending college and acquiring an academic degree. Here at the office, one of our very own has personally experienced all the great things that cafécollege has to offer and has become a walking success story.

Kristy Tijerina is a summer intern here at the San Antonio Education Partnership. She is currently a junior at the University of Texas at Austin and is working towaIMG_6590rds a degree in corporate communications. Kristy is also involved in multiple organizations, holding many prestigious roles such as director of morale for the Texas Thon charity, gateway mentor, member of the Texas Belles event planning organization, and the service chair for the Hispanic business association.

Determined to get a head start, Kristy began coming to cafécollege during her sophomore year of high school after being referred by a counselor. Here at cafécollege, Kristy was advised on issues such as how to transition from high school to college, how to complete the FAFSA and college applications, and how to apply for scholarships. She was also encouraged to become involved in high school organizations such The National Honor Society (NHS), PALs, and student council, and was advised to keep her summers busy. During the next few years, Kristy held internships and attended various workshops, seminars, and SAT/ACT prep classes all in preparation for graduation and her eventual acceptance into her dream university.

Kristy is a great example of how the San Antonio Education Partnership creates college opportunities, access and success for our community. Congratulations Kristy!




Executive Director named to San Antonio Education Partnership

Adriana Contreras, Ph.D., to lead college access organization

SAN ANTONIO, TX (December 3, 2014) – The San Antonio Education Partnership (SAEP) Board of Directors has selected Adriana Contreras, Ph.D, as the organization’s Executive Director. Dr. Contreras assumed her new role on December 1, 2014.

For more than 25 years, SAEP has been a pillar organization in San Antonio’s college access community. SAEP,the managing entity of cafécollege, San Antonio’s premier resource center for college access and guidance, also provides direct college access services to students at 25 San Antonio area high schools and a scholarship opportunity to these students through the cafécollege Scholarship.

“The Board of Directors is confident that the addition of Dr. Contreras will further develop the excellent service that the San Antonio Education Partnership and cafécollege provide to students and its mission to guide students towards their college and career goals,” said Steve Potter, Chairman of the San Antonio Education Partnership. “Throughout her career, Dr. Contreras has exhibited a commitment to higher education and to the principles that our organization upholds.”

Dr. Contreras brings over 30 years of administrative experience in education and a demonstrated ability to lead, plan and execute. She holds an Associate of Arts degree from Austin Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Government, a Master of Education in Student Personnel Services, and Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I am honored to serve the students of San Antonio as the Executive Director of the San Antonio Education Partnership,” said Dr. Contreras. “I look forward to working with our staff and partners to strategically guide this organization to further its mission of equipping students for success in their college pursuits.”

A longtime advocate of higher education, Dr. Contreras’ background includes employee and board development, student and community outreach, as well as strategic and financial planning. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Austin Community College, the Alamo Colleges and UTSA. Most recently, she was Deputy to the Chancellor at Alamo Colleges.

Dr. Contreras will be formally welcomed to the San Antonio college access community at a meet and greet reception on Tuesday, December 9 at 12:00 p.m.

cafécollege hosts Elementary, Middle School Summer Day Camps

More than 40 elementary school students spent time at cafécollege from June 24 – June 26 for “The Forces of Nature” Elementary School Summer Day Camp. Every day these bite-sized eager learners mastered concepts about physics and other natural sciences concepts. The camp also featured time for students to learn about the importance of college attendance in these students’ futures and what careers they can explore related to the concepts they studied at camp.

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On July 8-11, more than 35 middle school students visited cafécollege for a summer camp focused on careers in architecture and the college path to follow that leads to careers in this field. Students heard insight from professionals in the field and cafécollege Advisors as well as created projects to learn about concepts related to architecture.

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SAEP welcomes City Ambassadors

The San Antonio Education Partnership is excited to welcome two representatives of the City of San Antonio’s Ambassador Program. These “star students” will be assisting the Education Partnership with its Road to Success high school services program as well as with cafécollege and the organization’s scholarship program.


Christopher Canedo is a 2011 graduate of Robert E. Lee high school. He is currently attending Saint Louis University and is majoring in education. His leadership skills include Vice President of Community Service for Delta Sigma Pi and co-founder and Vice President of SLU: Teach.


Valerie Vacek is a 2013 graduate of Tom C. Clark high school. She is currently attending Southwestern University and is majoring in computer science. Her activities at Southwestern include cross country, track and field, orchestra and computer science club.

SAEP announces promotion of Diplomás Project Manager

The San Antonio Education Partnership announces the promotion of Vanessa Tobares to Diplomás Project Manager.

Under this new position, Vanessa will be responsible for managing and coordinating Diplomás efforts with continued and refocused support from the San Antonio Education Partnership.













Vanessa previously served as the Diplomás Program Coordinator. She joined the Diplomás Project in March 2013. She helps coordinate the convenings and collaborative work of Diplomás partners, councils and networks, particularly around communication and data. Vanessa is an alumnus of TRiO Upward Bound, San Antonio’s Brackenridge High School and The University of Texas at San Antonio, where she graduated from the Honors College and received her Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology.

Vanessa has previously worked locally in a variety of industries in the areas of academic and career advising, applied industrial and organizational psychology, human resources, research, and resource development. Born and raised in San Antonio, Vanessa is grateful for opportunities to give back to her hometown community through her work with the Diplomás Project and other local nonprofit initiatives.

Summit to focus on progress of college access efforts in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, TX (April 24, 2014) – Next Monday, April 28, over 60 local educators will gather to report progress and identify opportunities for furthering San Antonio’s college access goals during the College Access Summit. The Summit, hosted by the San Antonio College Access Network (SA-CAN), takes place at cafécollege from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. as part of San Antonio’s Destination College 2014.

A report released by Lumina Foundation this week identifies San Antonio ranks 24th of 25 major United States metropolitan areas in college degree attainment but the community has made strides in closing this gap. The College Access Summit provides a forum to build upon the success San Antonio has made in increasing the number of students enrolling in post-secondary studies and attaining post-secondary credentials.

“The College Access Summit will bring together professionals from college access providers, colleges and universities, K-12 schools, and community based organizations to identify strengths and gaps in college access for San Antonio,” states Eyra Perez, executive director of the San Antonio Education Partnership and co-chair of the San Antonio College Access Network (SA-CAN).  “Through this engagement, we will identify citywide strategies for our collective efforts to make greater strides in college enrollment, persistence, and attainment. We will also develop a set of core values, across many partners, which will serve as guiding principles for college access in San Antonio.”

The day continues to focus on local college access efforts as the San Antonio College Access Network (SA-CAN) and the Center for Public Policy Priorities co-host a community forum, “The Road to College Completion: What it takes to survive and thrive in Bexar County,” at cafécollege from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The community forum will highlight the challenges Texas’ working families face in their search to become financially independent.

Focusing on the connection between college completion and getting ahead in Texas, the Center for Public Policy Priorities will explore how a family’s basic expenses and the ability to save and pay for college create significant financial barriers to college access and completion. The event will conclude with a panel discussion with local leaders on what opportunities exist in Bexar County to support college access and success and promote family economic security.


Contact: Tessa Benavides / / p. (210) 207-4769

The San Antonio Education Partnership is a nonprofit organization celebrating more than 20 years of providing key services and college scholarships to at-risk high school students, equipping them for college success. In partnership with the City of San Antonio, the corporate community, school districts, local colleges/universities, Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) and Metro Alliance, the San Antonio Education Partnership provides direct services to more than 35,000 students and their families in career awareness, college entry and enrollment, financial aid, and college transition through its three programs: Scholarships, cafécollege and Road to Success.

Excelencia in Education highlights San Antonio’s experience with removing financial aid barriers for students to inform national efforts

SAN ANTONIO, March 3, 2014Excelencia in Education has released a comprehensive, two year case study, The Impact of Financial Aid on Student College Access and Success: The San Antonio Experience, to help communities across America in their efforts to better serve Latino college students. The case study details San Antonio’s place-based collective impact journey in financial aid. The findings and lessons learned in San Antonio are valuable contributions to the national dialogue on reimagining financial aid design and delivery.

Download the report here.

“From our inception, Excelencia has been very fortunate to partner with community-based organizations and leaders from across the country working directly with students to inspire and conspire to improve Latino students’ preparation, access, and success in postsecondary education,” said Deborah A. Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy of Excelencia in Education.  “Our strategies for research, policy, and advocacy with a Latino lens builds on authentic relationships in communities and institutions that guide our own learning from their innovation and knowledge base.”

Co-authored by two community leaders, Noé C. Ortiz and Eyra A. Pérez, the San Antonio experience demonstrates how a community can partner across different sectors and institutions to remove financial aid as a barrier for students to access postsecondary education.  The success of the financial aid initiative is founded on the premise that the truest impact occurs when issues that impede student progress are owned by the greater community.

“The importance of this work is the collaboration among different partners to reach and assist students to overcome a primary obstacle in going to college—financial aid,” said Noé C. Ortiz, director of student financial aid for process improvement, compliance, and reporting at Alamo Colleges. “In San Antonio, financial aid is everybody’s responsibility.”

With a 72 percent Latino population, San Antonio is the largest majority-Latino city in the United States; however, based on 2011 American Community Survey data, there remains a 20 percent degree completion gap between Latino adults the overall adult population of the city.  Given the increasing proportion of Latinos in communities across America, examining efforts in San Antonio to increase college completion can reveal useful strategies for other communities.

The case study details how the collective efforts of many partners in San Antonio have focused on building the infrastructure to get more students into and through college. The financial aid community and its many partners remain committed to building upon this foundation to help increase the college attainment of San Antonio’s students. The case study also offers concrete examples for proactive communities to improve college success for Latinos and other post-traditional students.

The case study examined successes, challenges and lessons learned in creating and implementing three San Antonio components: 1) Student Aid Saturdays San Antonio, 2) Financial Aid Curriculum for High School Students, and 3) Financial Aid Council of San Antonio.

“San Antonio’s financial aid journey was founded on the recognition that pockets of excellent effort and widespread collaboration already existed in our community. Thus, the initial work focused on strengthening and connecting those efforts, paying homage to the very good work that has occurred and the goodwill that has been built,” said Eyra A. Pérez, executive director of the San Antonio Education Partnership.  “There is a core belief that through the alignment of resources, services, and programming to connect the most unconnected students we will achieve the collective goal of increasing college attainment in San Antonio.”

San Antonio’s growth, diversity, and leadership in strengthening the opportunity for success of its community, provides a useful case study for other communities throughout the United States. In this context, three components of San Antonio’s journey can also inform national discussions on financial aid outreach and support: 1) partnership development; 2) the Latino student and financial aid; and, 3) data use to inform financial aid initiatives.

“By bringing together diverse stakeholders to collaborate with an intentional focus on increasing Latino student success, we provide real solutions for policymakers, higher education leaders, and communities who understand that college completion is America’s path toward a stronger future” said Sarita E. Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.  “Sharing this critical work is an example of that collaboration.”

Download the press release here.

Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.