The promise of the East Side



As seen in The Express News

By Harvey E. Najim

Photo: Billy Calzada /San Antonio Express-News

Corey Robinson and his father, former Spurs player David Robinson, converse with students at IDEA Carver school on Jan. 16. IDEA San Antonio students are preparing every day for success in and after college.

Neighborhoods on the East Side of San Antonio have historically struggled from years of neglect, but in recent years the redevelopment of this community has prompted a resurgence of sorts for the businesses, families and community members who call this part of town home.

The progress and opportunity afforded to children and families in San Antonio is something I’m very passionate about. So I was glad to see the recent series in the San Antonio Express-News about the development of the East Side. Unfortunately, I feel like the series glossed over one of the most critical highlights of the growth and redevelopment of the East Side — a renewed and increased focus on educational opportunity in the community.

My foundation is dedicated to advancing education, medical treatment and other areas of need for children in San Antonio. Through this work, one of the best lessons we’ve learned is that the most effective investment we can make to fuel long-term economic impact and success is to provide a high-quality education to our kids. The same holds true for the development of the East Side.

Investing in education expands job opportunities, boosts competitiveness in the community, and supports the kind of income mobility that is fundamental to a growing economy. And it’s no secret that companies and businesses in San Antonio require a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of today’s increasingly competitive global economy.

It is imperative that as we focus on building new facilities and buildings, we not lose sight of the work that must continue to prepare our students for college and career. Student success is possible. College for all children can become a reality. How do I know? Well, we are already seeing evidence of what’s possible for students in San Antonio.

Many traditional school districts like San Antonio ISD are partnering with local public and charter schools to learn and collaborate on best practices to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education. To this end, many local traditional school districts are improving each year, and public charter schools like IDEA Public Schools are committed to ensuring students are prepared for college so they can be whatever they want to be, no matter the obstacles. They also recognize the potential and the promise of the East Side community.

In 2012, David Robinson and I invited IDEA to partner on solving educational inequality in the Alamo City. In June of that year, IDEA and Robinson joined forces to operate IDEA Carver Academy and College Prep, implementing IDEA’s successful individualized learning model in the Carver Academy, the former private school in which I was a longtime investor.

Transitioning the school from private to public opened a lot of possibilities for the community, and today, just five years later, IDEA operates 14 schools serving more than 5,000 students across San Antonio (an increase from 120 students in 2012), with six, soon to be eight, of those schools on the East Side.

IDEA is not only opening schools on the East Side, but it is getting involved in the community. It recently became one of the sponsors of the Spurs’ Silver & Black Give Back Youth Basketball League, has been a partner for the past several years at two YMCAs, and hosted the first IDEA 5K for the San Antonio community this month.

In 2019, IDEA’s first class of seniors will graduate in San Antonio and maintain the legacy of 100 percent college acceptance that IDEA students in the Rio Grande Valley have achieved for the past 11 years. These students will go on to college to aid in the development, workforce and future of their communities. IDEA San Antonio students are preparing every day for success in and after college by studying, completing assessments and visiting prospective colleges.

This is what the promise of the East Side looks like for our kids, and the impact this organization has made in this city is why I’ve personally invested in IDEA’s local expansion. IDEA’s staff, teachers and students are examples of what’s possible for education in our community.

The future of San Antonio, the future of Texas and the future of our country lies within our children. Let’s continue to redevelop, reignite and reinvest in the East Side, maintaining a focus on our most important investment — our children.

Harvey E. Najim is founder of the Najim Family Foundation.

Limited spots are still available at IDEA San Antonio’s newest campuses. Enroll your child today! 



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