An IDEA Public Schools jacket during the IDEA Public Schools luncheon. Photo by Scott Ball.
An IDEA Public Schools jacket during the IDEA Public Schools luncheon. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The rapidly growing IDEA Public Schools charter network will grow by three more San Antonio campuses by August 2017. Currently, IDEA has 14 schools in San Antonio, spread across seven K-10 campuses. The additional campuses will each house an Academy and a College Prep and bring the total to 20 schools serving 9,000 students in the city, from pre-K through 11th grade.

The three new campuses will bear the names of major donors who have contributed to the expansion of the network in the city: The Najim Family Foundation, the Ewing Halsell Foundation, and the George W. Brackenridge Foundation.

The IDEA Harvey E. Najim Academy and College Prep will be named after Najim in honor of “his dedication to advancing children’s education, medical treatment, and other charitable purposes for children in San Antonio.” 

“The future of San Antonio, the future of Texas, and the future of our country lies within our children,” Najim said. “I am honored to be affiliated with IDEA Public Schools as they continue to impact the lives of children across Texas.”

Najim personally donated $1 million toward the local expansion of the charter school network, with the Najim Family Foundation contributing another $1 million.

IDEA Ewing Halsell Academy and College Prep will be named after the foundation itself to recognize “its commitment to exemplifying the values of hard work, strong moral character, and social compassion.”

The Ewing Halsell Foundation gave $10 million to support the growth of IDEA in San Antonio.

IDEA Brackendridge Academy and College Prep will be named after the George W. Brackenridge Foundation to recognize “its work to create transformative educational opportunities in the San Antonio community.”

The George W. Brackenridge Foundation gave $1.5 million to further the expansion of the charter network. Under the leadership of Victoria Rico, the Brackenridge Foundation has enticed high-performing charter networks like Great Hearts, BASIS, and IDEA to expand into San Antonio. The former two charters began in Arizona while IDEA got its start in the Rio Grande Valley.

Harvey Najim hugs an attendant following the press conference. Photo by Scott Ball.
Harvey Najim after a press conference earlier this year. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“When we learned about the success IDEA Public Schools was having in the Rio Grande Valley, we knew we had to support their expansion to San Antonio,” Rico said. “IDEA has proven to the San Antonio community that student success is attainable and they are willing to do whatever it takes to see students in our community to and through college.”

IDEA Founder and CEO Tom Torkelson has served on several education discussion panels in San Antonio, representing one of the most prolific networks in the state, now with 51 campuses statewide serving nearly 30,000. Donors are continually attracted to the success of the schools, which report a 100% college acceptance rate, and a 99.6% college matriculation rate. Six out of 10 San Antonio schools earned distinctions from the Texas Education Agency for the 2015-16 school year.

“We could not be prouder of what IDEA Public Schools has brought to children and families in San Antonio,” Ewing Halsell Foundation Manager Jackie Moczygemba said.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.