Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Recycling With Break It Down Austin

Break-It-Down_Austin-logoI recently found myself staring out of the doorway to my office at a giant stack of boxes and old vinyl banners. They had been staring at me for weeks asking me, in my mind, what was to become of them. The boxes weren’t a problem and were dispatched quickly when I finally sprung into action, but the banners were another matter.

I opened our storage closet to find a quiet place for them to die and unearthed another wealth of vinyl banners that had been collecting dust for years. Another quick look around the office revealed more vinyl banners that had been furtively stashed in closets, left in isolated corners, or hidden behind furniture. See, they’re too big and pricey to just be trash, but once a banner proclaiming, “Welcome to the 2008 _____” has been used, it’s done. But they’re hard to just toss, so they all get…”stored”. Not wanting to store them any longer and feeling awful about the prospect of just tossing out 30 large vinyl banners, I decided to find out if there was anybody that could recycle them.

The local print shops that produce these banners seemed like a good place to start, but turned out to be a pretty fruitless endeavor that yielded no leads. So, I went to the interwebs and a brief search led me to an article about a partnership between a Whole Foods in North Carolina and a local recycling agency called the Barefoot Press. The article was from 2008, but they were definitely recycling vinyl and it seemed like a pretty good possibility that it was still going on. I decided to call the Whole Foods in Austin to see if a similar program had been initiated here.

At Whole Foods, I was eventually channeled to a lovely woman whose name has now disappeared along with the yellow sticky note it was written on. (Sorry for the journalistic oversight.) Anyway, we had a brief conversation where she knew nothing of a program of that nature in Austin but agreed to look into the matter and get back to me with any information she found. I had little hope of hearing back from her. There was really nothing to be gained by her helping me. It turns out I was quite wrong, though. My Whole Foods contact did call back, the next day, and informed me that Whole Foods had recently unloaded some vinyl banners of their own to a new recycling agency called Break It Down Austin (@BreakItDownAustin) and provided me with the contact information for Jeff Paine.

I spoke briefly with Jeff and he agreed to take our vinyl banners and I obliged him. Perhaps this is an overly verbose way to thank Jeff at Break It Down Austin and Whole Foods for their time and efffort, but I wanted to make sure and let everyone know that there is now a place in Austin to recycle your vinyl banners. This is a big deal for us, because we use vinyl banners for all of our events and we hate to create trash if there is another option. So, please take your own used banners to the nice people at Break It Down Austin. Thanks Jeff!


John-Scott Horton
Director of Marketing, Skillpoint Alliance

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Useful Websites from your Friendly CTTC Staff

By James Noblitt, CTTC Site Coordinator

As all of you know, the internet can be a great resource to find information, but sometimes finding what you need can be an overwhelming experience. To help with this I have compiled a list of websites that contains lots of useful tools and information that can be helpful to both the new and experienced internet user. Below are links for various websites that I have selected as well as brief descriptions of these websites. Enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized

FIRST® Robotics Grant Opportunities

Central Texas FIRST logoWith generous support from Care for Education, an initiative through U.S. FIRST® and the LEGO Foundation, the Technology & Education Executive Council (TEEC) at Skillpoint Alliance is pleased to offer grant opportunities to new FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) teams and new Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) teams in select areas of Central Texas for the 2011-12 Food Factor Season and 2011-12 Snack Attack Season.

FLL is an international program that introduces children to the fun experience of solving real-world problems by applying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—with the hope that these young people will pursue higher education and explore STEM careers.  As part of an annual tournament season, FLL teams design, build, and program robots to complete tasks, develop a research project and presentation on a real-world challenge scientists face, and learn to work in teams and display gracious professionalism™.

Read full article…

Visit the Central Texas FLL homepage for full details.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gateway Programs

Gateway LogoIf you are aware of who Skillpoint Alliance is, it is likely that you have heard about our Gateway programs. These rapid employment training programs provide an opportunity for people who need a second chance in the workforce and don’t know where to go or how to get started, whether it be people who made a mistake and spent time in jail, or a mother that never entered the workforce and is looking to do so now. I have been at Skillpoint Alliance for almost 2 years now and of all the great programs and events we are a part of, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing these students and their families at a graduation ceremony, with the realization in front of them that they have begun the process of turning their lives around. It is very emotional and very uplifting. We all need a second chance sometimes and it is an honor to be part of an organization that is there to help provide that opportunity.

Lately, our Gateway programs have been expanding and working overtime, meeting a rising demand for training and rapid employment in today’s workforce. (Note to job seekers: Gateway programs provide training, not job placement–though we do try to help with that too) I would like to use this space today to recognize our Gateway staff for all of their hard work and invite any and all of our friends here in Central Texas to come out and join us for one of the many Gateway graduations taking place this fall. All are welcome.

To find out more about how to join Gateway or to attend a graduation, visit or give our offices a call at (512)323-6773 ext. 123. We’d be more than happy to provide you with the information you seek in regards to these wonderful programs.

Educator Institutes Logo2011 Summer Educator Institutes are open for registration now! If you are an educator who wants to connect with Central Texas industry members and discover great new tools and information that will help you prepare your students for the high-demand jobs of our region, then our Educator Institutes are for you. Classes are short, fun, informative, and reasonably priced for educators. Visit our registration page at today to sign up. For more questions, contact Carol Wright at We hope to see you there!

Categories: Uncategorized

Keep Central Texas Strong

Like many organizations, Skillpoint Alliance has been feeling the lingering effects of the economic recession of late. Given our mission, now is the most important time for our organization to be strong and provide the programs and skills that Central Texans need to continue their education and stay viable in the workforce. In light of this, we recently reached out to the community through an event called ‘Keep Central Texas Strong’. This was a fund drive that culminated in a concert at Stubb’s BBQ on Monday, May 9th. It was a great event that allowed us to get together with all of our friends and sponsors while supporting our programs and I believe that everybody had a very good time. We’d like to thank Jonathan Terrell, a.k.a. ‘The Heartache Tycoon’, who provided the musical stylings, as well as all of our friends and sponsors who support our organization–through this event and many others. Special thanks to AMD, who was the top donor of the Keep Central Texas Strong campaign. Thank you all!

To view more information on Keep Central Texas Strong, visit

If you would like to make a donation to Skillpoint Alliance, please visit

Jonathan Terrell onstage at Stubb's during Keep Central Texas Strong

Jonathan Terrell onstage at Stubb's during Keep Central Texas Strong

Gateway Construction Featured on CNN

February 26, 2010 2 comments


Each month, from now until August, the CNN Express is hitting the road with correspondent Tom Foreman, seeking out tales of how people are Building Up America despite the economic hard times.

First stop: Texas. Some economists have predicted that the corridor from Austin to San Antonio is on the leading edge of a nationwide recovery. Tom looks to find out why, chatting with local officials, business owners, and citizens. One featured stop is the Skillpoint Alliance Gateway Construction program at the ACC Riverside campus.

Tom’s Building Up America stories from Texas are featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, American Morning, Situation Room, and other shows. In addition, expanded coverage of the trip will be available on

This post has been having technical difficulties, so if the video fails to pop up, you can view it here instead:

The New Digital Divide: Access to High-Speed Internet Necessary but Unobtainable

While the “digital divide” of the 1990s has abated as more Americans own their own computer, a new digital divide threatens the rural and low-income to middle-class populations in the US.

The new divide separates the high-speed Internet connection haves from the have-nots. Some have-nots simply cannot afford the expense of high-speed Internet. According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), “in the U.S., DSL generally reaches speeds of up to 1.5 – 3.0 megabytes per second (mbps) at a price averaging $30-$50 per month while cable modems generally reach speeds of 3-5 mbps for $40-$50 per month.” By contrast, “in Japan, an average connection with a speed of 26 mbps costs about $22 per month.” The expense of Internet, an invaluable resource, is becoming a luxury for many American families due to job uncertainty or unemployment who are forced to cancel subscriptions.

Another group of have-nots simply do not live in an area serviced by high-speed Internet providers. Typically, rural areas fare the worst. The CWA reported that “only 17% of adults in rural areas subscribe to high speed Internet compared to 31% in urban and 30% in suburban areas.” While it may seem like these rural areas are far-flung, out-of-the-way places, one may be surprised that this issue hits close to home. Bastrop, only an hour east of Austin, does not receive any broadband services.

So why does this matter? The Website explains it well.

“High speed Internet is essential for economic growth and global competitiveness. The United States – the country that invented the Internet – has fallen from 1st to 15th in high-speed Internet penetration. High-tech innovation, job growth, telemedicine, distance learning, rural development, public safety, and e-government require truly high-speed, universal networks.”
Skillpoint Alliance and CTTC agree with The US needs national, universal high-speed Internet access. It is time to replace the hodgepodge networks built by obscure government programs and private service providers.

Please take time to learn more about this issue. is a wonderful resource to learn why this is so important and how to get involved, and you can read about how broadband access can bring job growth to rural towns in a recent article in The Washington Post.