UpSkill SA!

San Antonio, Texas

How might we upskill incumbent retail workers over 18 months to prepare them for careers in Advanced Manufacturing and other growth sectors that can enable their social mobility?

Challenge Overview

San Antonio is the fastest growing U.S. metropolitan region, yet its 14.5% poverty rate is the second highest in the country. Concentrated poverty and an increasing income divide make San Antonio one of the most economically segregated American cities.

We believe that creative place-based approaches bridging industry and higher education are essential to equip incumbent workers with the tools necessary to compete for middle-skill jobs that can increase their social mobility. For San Antonio, such partnerships could be key to unlocking economic opportunity. SA Works, a division of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, has identified a significant mismatch between employer needs for middle-skill labor in high growth sectors and the availability of talent in the local workforce. At the same time, San Antonio has a large pool of entry-level incumbent employees in the services sector eager to develop these middle-level skills.

With a local footprint of 24 retail centers across seven counties in the region, Goodwill San Antonio employs 1,400 workers, including many frontline incumbent workers who serve in customer-facing and logistics capacities. In collaboration with the Alamo Colleges District and Palo Alto College, UpSkill SA! aims to quickly upskill Goodwill San Antonio’s incumbent workers, most of whom are adults facing life barriers to employment. Through this 18-month pilot, we will support over 400 workers as they receive a foundational exposure to both 21st-century and technical skills that will prepare them for careers in Advanced Manufacturing and other growth sectors.



Timeline + Critical Milestones

Meet Our Partners

Goodwill San Antonio

The Goodwill San Antonio mission is to help change lives through the power of work. Goodwill provides career training and placement assistance for employment. We support our programs through profits generated through the sale of donated goods by our Retail unit and revenue from business services offered through our Contract Services unit. We invest 92.6 percent of our earnings in educational programs and career services provided through our Good Careers Academy and Good Careers Centers.

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

SA Works, a division of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, will serve as a partner to evaluate the design and planning for 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.

UpSkill SA! is one of nine funded projects as a part of a broader effort by Walmart to upskill incumbent workers throughout the US. Each project, including this design challenge, brings together entire communities or regions, in a collaborative approach, to create pathways into middle-skill careers that respond to industry demands and foster greater systemic change.




Latest News




For more information, contact