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Goodwill, Alamo Colleges District, and Education Design Lab Team-Up to UpSkill Frontline Workers in San Antonio

UpSkill SA! taps the potential of learner-centric design to prepare frontline workers for jobs in the region’s fastest-growing fields. Learn more about this project and meet our partners at

SAN ANTONIO, May 2, 2019— Education Design Lab, the national nonprofit that helps design, test, and implement education models aligned with the demands of a fast-changing economy, today announced an ambitious new partnership designed to upskill frontline workers in San Antonio. With funding from Walmart, the UpSkill SA! project will begin an 18-month design and pilot period, with a goal to scale. During the pilot period, UpSkill SA! aims to equip more than 400 Goodwill San Antonio incumbent workers with the skills they need to succeed in fields like logistics and supply chain management, where jobs are growing at two and a half times the national rate—especially in the San Antonio region.

Rooted in the Education Design Lab’s learner-centric design process, the UpSkill SA! pilot program will marry Palo Alto College’s employer-aligned curriculum with intentional support services from both Palo Alto College and Goodwill San Antonio, including counselors, caseworkers, and life coaches, who can address the barriers to completion that students face, such as child care, transportation, or access to technology. A cohort of incumbent workers who participate in the “stackable” program can earn valuable credit toward a certificate or associate degree programs from Palo Alto College.

“Skill and equity gaps are often two sides of the same coin, and it takes local partnerships between learning providers and employers to close both,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder and president of Education Design Lab. “This work is about building new pathways to opportunity for individuals, while addressing challenges that can help to build a more equitable economy in the San Antonio region.”

“We’re very excited about this collaboration between Education Design Lab, Palo Alto College, and Goodwill – San Antonio,” said Joshua Frazier-Sparks, senior manager for Walmart. “We know meeting the upskilling needs of incumbent workers is important and we can only get there through innovative partnerships like this.”

“UpSkill SA! reflects the power—and necessity—of cross-sector collaboration to build accessible pathways into the most in-demand fields,” said Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College. “By connecting Goodwill workers with marketable skills in high-growth jobs, we can help ensure every person in our community has the ability to gain the education needed for a stable career.”

“The UpSkill SA! Program is an innovative partnership that further develops the potential of our team members by providing training opportunities that can lead to future career advancement,” stated Steven Hussain, chief mission services officer for Goodwill San Antonio. “When our team members have the support and skills needed to be successful within their employment, they become empowered to create a stable and secure future both for themselves and their families.”

SA Works, a division of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, will evaluate the design and planning for the program to ensure alignment between education and employers to promote economic mobility and ensure meaningful career pathways for underserved populations in the San Antonio region.

About Education Design Lab: Education Design Lab is a national nonprofit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities. The Lab demonstrates where technology, rigor, and design can improve opportunity for historically underserved learners to maximize their potential in the higher education system.

About Palo Alto College: Palo Alto College, part of the Alamo Colleges District, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and a recipient of the 2015 Texas Award for Performance Excellence, a finalist for the 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and a top 10 finalist for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. With over 10,000 students, Palo Alto College is accredited to offer associate degrees and short-term certificates. The College is located on the south side of San Antonio at 1400 W. Villaret Blvd. at I-410 and Texas Hwy 16 and online at