Student Advocacy Center Receives $760,000 Grant from United Way

May 3, 2019

Russell Guerrero - Public Information Officer

The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County has awarded the San Antonio College Student Advocacy Center a $760,000 grant to create a helpline to support students at SAC and the other colleges in the Alamo Colleges District.

The grant, according to Lisa Black, head of the Student Advocacy Center, will be given over a period of five years.

The grant comes at a time when the Student Advocacy Center was ready to expand the way it offers support to students. Already operating at capacity at their physical location, a helpline will provide an effective and proven way to extend services to more students in need.

The Student Advocacy Center, submitted their proposal to the United Way in November and made passed the first round of proposals. In January, officials form SAC, including Black, President Robert Vela, and Debra Martin, director of major gifts with the Alamo Colleges Foundation, made a formal presentation to the United Way for funding the helpline. The Center learned in April that its proposal was approved and in May.

At the same time the Student Advocacy Center was working on its proposal last year, the United Way was moving to a new strategic alignment process to work with local agencies and provide funding. The new strategy will form a new collaboration among 27 agencies.

Black said that as well as receiving the funding, she is also excited at the prospect of the Student Advocacy Center being part of the United Way’s new initiative to help families struggling in the community.

“We get to work together as a team with the agencies to intensely support these families and move the needle on poverty,” said Black.  

The funds will be used to hire a coordinator for the helpline, as well as build infrastructure and purchase equipment. Once it is running, the helpline will be staffed by student interns who will receive important experiential learning in the social work program.

The helpline will provide students assistance with emergency needs such as money to avoid the termination of energy and water utilities or with making a monthly rent payment to prevent eviction. In addition, the service will make sure students who are food insecure receive the benefits they are eligible for under the Supplemental Nutrition Plan.

Students will also be able to use the helpline to learn about public welfare services available through their colleges and community agencies.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to really dig in and improve the amount of support for these students,” said Black.

Members of the SAC Administration, President Dr. Robert Vela, Dean of Student Success Tiffany Cox Hernandez, and Director of Student Success Lisa Black, spoke about the SAC Advocacy Center recently with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and were featured The Community College Voice Podcast, Season 2 Episode 8. Listen here.   


Photo caption – a picture inside the food pantry, one of the services offered by the Student Advocacy Center.