2021 Year End Review

2021 Year In Review

2021 brought exciting progress to UP Partnership and, in turn, our city. As we enter 2022, check out 22 ways that we helped to grow our community’s commitment to ending the racial and ethnic inequities that impact children, youth, and young adults in our community. Whether you took part in our convenings, citywide planning, continuous improvement work, or youth-focused investment efforts, many thanks to all of you who helped make 2021 a success!


We began the year by kickstarting a citywide planning process for young people, supported by major grants from Blue Meridian Partners and USAA. To anchor this planning, we launched the Future Ready Planning Table, which brings together top decision makers from seven vital sectors influencing cradle to career outcomes. These include: Early Childhood, PreK-12, Youth Development, Higher Education, Funders, Employers and Workforce and Local Government.


Diplomás, MBKSA, and Excel Beyond the Bell hosted multiple listening sessions for the Future Ready Plan, shaping the plan’s commitment to ensuring youth have a voice in decisions made for them, the resources to heal from harms and access to college and career opportunities.


Excel Beyond the Bell held it’s in-person Summit in May. Partners gathered for a day of team building around Developmental Relationships, exchanging ideas and exploring ways for strengthening youth recovery from the pandemic.


The Future Ready Planning Table adopted Voice, Healing and Access as the equity pillars for the Future Ready Plan, as informed by feedback from over 180 institutions including UP Partnership networks and a unified Coordinating Committee composed of educational and community leaders from across the city.


At the network’s annual Youth Summit in March, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA) announced student scholarships totaling $300,000 for boys and young men of color, made possible with funding from USAA. Each scholarship recipient also received guidance from college and career mentors, as well as network partners.


UP Partnership released its guide to spending American Rescue Plan Act dollars to support youth recovery from the pandemic. Recommendations include expanding youth development programs for young people most impacted by the pandemic and funding full-time employees to coordinate mental health services in and out of school.


In partnership with Excel Beyond the Bell, we mobilized an ARPA advocacy campaign with city leaders to ensure that ARPA investments are dedicated to youth recovery and resilience with a focus on expanding out-of-school time seats for young people most impacted by the pandemic.


Thanks to the Blue Meridian grant and the support of UP Partnership, the San Antonio Area Foundation awarded 15 grants to Bexar County organizations that are growing the youth voice and leadership components of their programs.


We directly distributed over $1,000,000 to local implementation partners who are helping to close racial and ethnic disparities for young people in bold ways, including innovations in equitable policymaking, dreamer supports, restorative justice and career access.


In October, Corporate Partners for Racial Equity announced its $13.8 million contributions to our community throughout the next five years, with a focus on equitable education, economic opportunity and community safety and justice. UP Partnership is an anchor partner for this coalition and is supporting its implementation strategy.


In partnership with the San Antonio Area Foundation, Our Tomorrow launched a youth voice grant application anchored by a youth committee of 11 grant reviewers that awarded $26,000 in mini grants to support youth-initiated and led projects across three districts: East Central ISD, San Antonio ISD and Southwest ISD.


UP Partnership hosted the virtual StriveTogether Cradle to Career Convening for 2021. Partnerships from across the nation gathered to virtually celebrate achievements learned throughout the year. 12 local youth artists received a $1,000 scholarship from StriveTogether as a part of its Art Inspires scholarship award. 


Our Tomorrow hosted its third annual Youth Voice Summit focused on young people’s mental wellness. The virtual event brought together local youth and adult advocates to explore how young people can increase their civic literacy skills and cope with changes caused by the pandemic.


We strengthened our continuous improvement work across three communities of practice: Excel Academy, the Restorative Practices Collaborative, and the Equitable Enrollment Collaborative. These collaboratives provide resources to youth-serving professionals to better support future ready outcomes.


We deepened the work of the Restorative Practices Collaborative, which supports 21 campuses across three districts to reduce punitive discipline practices and, in turn, close disparities in high school completion and college readiness.


We launched the second cohort of Excel Academy, which is supporting nine organizations to grow their adaptive leadership skills, with training rooted in evidence, centered on results, and focused on racial equity.


To increase postsecondary enrollment among San Antonio’s boys and young men of color and Dreamer students, the Equitable Enrollment Collaborative (EEC) engaged five school districts and seven college and university partners. EEC participant teams come together monthly to advance targeted strategies.


To align with MBKSA priorities, we partnered with the American Indians of Texas and Empower House (formerly Martinez Street Women’s Center) to grow community capacity for restorative justice and reduce youth involvement in the justice system. 


We partnered with Education Service Center Region 20 to support Local Education Agency (LEA) leaders to ensure budgeting practices address equity for all students. To this end, they have developed a curriculum that supports LEA teams to develop a deeper understanding of Texas School Finance in the context of equity. 


Our Tomorrow held its third annual Youth in Power program, providing three tracks for youth to build their leadership and civic literacy skills. The tracks were: Policy Institute, the Youth Grants Committee and Youth Participatory Action Research.


In partnership with SAY Sí, we launched “Youth Voices: An Our Tomorrow Podcast,” which highlights key civic engagement issues from a youth perspective. Click here to listen to interviews with community leaders, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg.


Our Tomorrow’s “We Are Now: Youth Voices During Challenging Times” art exhibit opened to the public on Dec. 11, in partnership with SAY Sí. Please visit SAY Si’s new location to see amazing student art through the beginning of the new year!