Ready Makers in Action – May 2024

MAY 2024

Future Ready partners guide local high school juniors and seniors with options for their post-high school success

On January 19 and 26, approximately 800 high school students from CAST Schools, Edgewood, East Central, Harlandale, Judson, Northside, San Antonio, Southwest and Lytle Independent School Districts participated in the Future Ready Youth Summit held at Northeast Lakeview College.

The Summit was hosted by UP Partnership and a group of cross-sector Future Ready partners from local school districts, colleges and universities, and youth development organizations  – many of whom are members of UP Partnership’s My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio and Diplomás networks. Together, the partners co-created and facilitated the summit’s programming, which included career and degree pathways, college 101 and financial aid guidance. 

In addition to sessions they attended, the students listened to inspiring stories from Keynote Speakers that included San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg;  Warren Hurd, Northeast Lakeview College’s Vice President of College Services; Gable Crowder, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas’ Director of Community Engagement; Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, UP Partnership’s CEO; and Dr. Emily Calderón Galdeano, UP Partnership’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer.

Read more here.

Future Ready Leadership Table

Executive leaders from cross-sector community partners shared updates on the policy work being done under the Future Ready Bexar County Plan on April 4 at the Whitley Theological Center. This includes initiatives carried forward by the recently launched UP Partnership Policy Council, which includes advocacy centered around the ongoing San Antonio’s Charter Review process and attempting to close the gap in youth-funding by creating a set aside fund for children and youth to equal 20% of the City of San Antonio’s revenue growth — approximately $20 million that would be dedicated to youth services. Currently, young people ages 0-24 represent 35% of San Antonio’s population, but only 6% of funding goes to them. 

Over the past two months, dozens of community leaders including families, students and CEOs from various Future Ready Bexar County partners spoke at the City of San Antonio Charter Review commission meetings to advocate for the ongoing investment mechanism, which will guarantee that in the coming decades, San Antonio will have a steady stream of capable public servants, including business leaders, firefighters, teachers, community builders, affordable housing developers and many other key roles.

Partner Highlights Shared

Investment Strategy by H. E. Butt Foundation, San Antonio Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County

Representatives from H. E. Butt Foundation, San Antonio Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County updated Future Ready partners on their organization’s respective investment strategy for the next phase of the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.

Alamo Colleges District

Dr. Mike Flores, UP Partnership Board member and Alamo Colleges District’s Chancellor and Dr. Anne Monroe, Alamo Colleges District’s Chief of Strategic Enrollment Management, introduced the next steps Alamo Colleges District (ACD) are taking within their colleges to reach the North Star goal of 70% enrollment by 2030 which includes:

VIA Metropolitan Transit

Akeem Brown, VIA Board of Trustee member and Brian Dillard, VIA’s Vice President of Technology and Innovation, led a conversation on Youth Transit Access to ensure public transportation is not an obstacle for young people getting the supports and services they need throughout Bexar County.

Empower House and Rise Recovery

Jenny Castro, Empower House’s CEO, John Jacobs, UP Partnership’s Director of K12 and Justice and Evita Morin, Rise Recovery’s CEO were part of a panel discussion on scaling healing programs that reduce young people’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Panelists shared best practices and insights from their respective organizations to ensure Bexar County’s young people have the healing supports they need for a successful future.

Future Ready Joint Leadership Table

Our intergenerational table that meets quarterly and consists of senior leaders and youth representatives from all Future Ready partners, met on February 13 at Girls Inc. of San Antonio for the first meeting of 2024. Future Ready partners from Communities In Schools of San Antonio (CISSA), East Central ISD (ECISD), San Antonio ISD (SAISD), the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the YWCA San Antonio presented on the amazing progress partner have made to their action commitments focused on the equity pillar of ACCESS which, alongside HEALING and VOICE, are the must HAVEs for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. 


Through connection and deep work with cross-sector partners, UTSA and SAISD announced in January a newly co-designed direct enrollment pathway that aims to remove barriers for SAISD students who want to pursue a college degree at UTSA. Of the first cohort, who are currently seniors in high school, over 150 students have been admitted at UTSA as of the date of publication. This work was facilitated through connections made through UP Partnership’s Equitable Enrollment Collaborative (EEC). Read more about this program here

East Central ISD

As part of the EEC, ECISD is working to ensure all students, PreK-12th grade, have postsecondary goals after high school graduation. Aspiration surveys were collected from students in 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th grades in order to create individualized postsecondary readiness plans that include college prep courses and needed standardized testing. To date, the district has seen the following successes:

Communities In Schools of San Antonio
and YWCA San Antonio

Communities In Schools of San Antonio (CISSA) and the YWCA San Antonio continue to provide layered support to East Central ISD (ECISD) as members of the EEC. 

CISSA’s on campus staff members work to expand access to healing supports to ensure that all students feel safe at school and are engaged enough to connect to resources available to them through restorative practices guided by UP Partnership’s Restorative Practices Collaborative (RPC). The impact of those practices can be seen in classrooms at Pecan Valley Elementary School where teachers who have implemented restorative circles have seen a notable decrease in disciplinary referrals and minor incidents.

The YWCA continues to offer out of school programs For ECISD students such as their E=MC2 program that encompasses topics like math, financial and digital literacy, with Social Emotional Learning integrated into each session. Other after school program activities include gym time, outside time, American Sign language lessons, art classes, community projects and many more.


Future Ready Policy Council

The Future Ready Policy Council successfully launched on March 7, bringing together Future Ready partners to drive major shifts in policies that scale the equity pillars of Healing, Access and Voice to help the community reach the Future Ready North star goal of increasing the percentage of Bexar County’s high school graduates enrolling in a postsecondary degree or credential program to 70% by 2030.

Specifically, the Council strives to substantially increase the resources available to children and young people across Bexar County.

Future Ready Data Council

The Future Ready Data Council met on February 27 to continue the work of advancing Future Ready partners’ unified alignment of data capacity and insights to drive progress toward the North Star goal. The Council discussed a proposal of leading indicator metrics to assess progress toward the collective goal of the plan that included dual credit and advanced placement enrollment and outcomes; college, career and military indicators; the number of college applications students from partner ISD’s submit and 3rd grade STAAR reading test results.

Dr. Judy Zimny of Economic Mobility Systems (EMS) presented on the process of creating a student journey map which serves as visual representation of the path a student follows to achieve specific milestones and desired outcomes, spanning from early college and career awareness to, and through, postsecondary competition and eventual employment. By tracking this data, communities are able to create an ecosystem to help all students reach their desired postsecondary outcomes.

Future Ready Communications Council

The Future Ready Communications Council met on March 7 with a virtual meeting and introduction of the new Steering Committee composed of representatives from Future Ready Anchor Partner organizations Alamo Colleges District, CAST Schools Network, Communities In Schools of San Antonio, H.E. Butt Foundation, San Antonio Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.

The Steering Committee will work alongside UP Partnership’s Communications department to guide the Communications Council’s unified narrative of the collective impact work being done in Bexar County, while also expanding platforms for collective engagement and storytelling linked to the fulfillment of the equity pillars of Healing, Access and Voice.

Meet UP Partnerships Communication Team

UP Partnership’s Communications team creates messaging, provides strategic marketing and communications guidance to UP Partnership staff and partners, in addition to coordinating an editorial calendar to collectively share stories of healing, access and voice. The team consists of Jeannette Garcia Director of Communications, Ana Sevilla, Senior Manager of Communications and Carrie Ballard-Bañuelos, Storytelling Communications Manager. Read more about them here.

K12 and Justice

My Brother's Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA)

On February 29, Future Ready partners and youth representatives met for the first MBKSA convening of 2024 at Judson ISD’s J-TECH to begin identifying trends and disparities in data in order to begin co-designing population-level strategies that will impact Boys and Young Men of Color (BYMOC) in Bexar County. In addition, they also participated in a data story and root cause analysis to identify specific barriers BYMOC in the community face in their educational journey. Each sector — Prek-12, institutions of higher education, local government and youth development organizations — identified the top two barriers that will guide the network’s future strategies and implementation.

The Restorative Practices Collaborative (RPC)

RPC Cohort 3 held its final session on March 28 at Alamo Colleges District’s Central Office, Practitioners heard from Dr. Paula Johnson, Judson ISD’s Chief of Student Advocacy, on how strategies of targeted universalism used in RPC  directly tie to the Future Ready Bexar County Plan’s equity pillars:

K12 and Postsecondary


The Diplomás network met on February 29 at Café College to continue their work to scale and expand access to promising programs and services that support postsecondary opportunities for Dreamers and Latinx students through the development of a landscape map. The map will help identify existing resources that are available throughout Bexar County that are designed to support that student population. The network is also moving forward with designing an empathy interview that is aimed at gathering feedback and insights directly from Dreamer and Latinx students.

K12 and Youth Development

Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio (EBBSA)

EBBSA invited its network partners on February 8 to a coffee mixer and a funder panel moderated by UP Partnership’s CEO, Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon. Panel participants included Future Ready Anchor Partners Andrea Figueroa, San Antonio Area Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Youth Success, Meg Loomis, H. E. Butt Foundation’s Capacity Building Program Director and Dr. Jeniffer M. Richardson, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Public Policy who spoke on evolving relationships with out-of-school time (OST) organizations and/or programs through involvement with UP Partnership, Blue Meridian match funding and how those are likely to impact the support of families and youth programming.

Excel Academy

Excel Academy held its Spring Social March 28 bringing together all Excel Academy cohorts for an evening of relationship building, networking and recruitment for both the Class of 2025 and graduates who will serve on the Mentor Team for members of that class.

Future Ready in the News

  • Commentary: School violence must be addressed with wrap-around student care (San Antonio Express-News): Written by Future Ready partner Jessica Weaver, Communities In Schools of San Antonio’s President and CEO, addressing the need of wrap-around services for the whole-child.” While it’s tempting to blame the COVID-19 pandemic, and the years of stunted social and emotional learning it caused, or generic mental health crises, it is not that simple. The causes are myriad and multifaceted,” she wrote. 

  • Alamo Colleges credits Promise program with record enrollment for spring (San Antonio Express-News): Future Ready partner Alamo Colleges District has seen nearly 25% increase in students in the past decade, as well as a 9.7% increase in spring enrollment from last year with 66,703 students enrolling across its five campuses. Alamo Promise has reached 8,047 students this year, up 23.6% from last year thanks to “Alamo PROMISE, dual credit partnerships and expanded workforce education and development offerings,” the district said.

  • San Antonio High School Student’s leadership Skills Flourish with Virtual Exchange (Stevens Initiative)  Future Ready Partner Culturingua’s Joint Leadership Table youth representative Alma Dominguez shared her story of participation with the organization’s Global Social Entrepreneurship Journey (GSEJ), a project-based learning program that connects high school students from around the world to co-create solutions to a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).

  • Why San Antonio nonprofit is pushing for multimillion- dollar children’s Fund (San Antonio Express News) UP Partnership’s CEO Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon was interviewed by the San Antonio Express News to discuss a new clause to San Antonio’s City Charter that would devote 20% of annual city revenue growth to children and youth which would result in millions of dollars annually for organizations and programs that serve Bexar County’s young people ages 0-24 who make up 35% of San Antonio’s population. 

Future Ready Events

Future Ready Practitioner Conference

In May, more than 200 youth-serving professionals across Bexar County came together at the inaugural Future Ready Practitioner Conference held at St. Mary’s University.

The conference was hosted by UP Partnership and a group of cross-sector partners, many of whom are members of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio and Diplomás networks, which helped form the conference’s programming.

The conference provided professional development and networking opportunities for teachers and college faculty, principals, counselors, economic advisors and college admissions officers, among others.

“The UP Partnership Practitioner Conference was an opportunity to celebrate innovations in practice for youth across our Future Ready Bexar County partners,” noted Dr. Abel Gonzales, Director of Instructional Outreach Programs at the University of Texas at San Antonio, “Teachers, faculty and staff members from every level of the education ecosystem shared how equity minded practitioners are making a difference in better serving the leaders of tomorrow.”

Moving the needle forward
with a national lens

Spotlight: San Antonio
Second Annual Funder Impact Summit

Dr. Emily Calderón Galdeano, UP Partnership’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, and Future Ready partner Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges District, spoke at the Second Annual Funder Impact Summit, hosted by Economic Mobility Systems in partnership with The Greater Texas Foundation, Commit Partnership, Educate Texas and the Rural Community College Alliance. The Summit brings together educational leaders and college presidents to share best practices in regional educational and workforce community impact work.

Dr. Calderón Galdeano and Dr. Flores kicked off the Summit with a spotlight session on San Antonio and shared the announcement of a $114 million investment over the next seven years for the Future Ready Bexar County Plan. They highlighted the importance of our community collectively working together to address the college and career pipeline for Bexar County and the role of data to accelerate outcomes, alignment, and public support for the work. 

Pahara-Aspen Fellowship program

Dr. Calderón Galdeano was also recently accepted into the newest cohort of The Pahara-Aspen Fellowship. This program is designed to strengthen and sustain leaders who are transforming public education so that every child is prepared to lead a free and fulfilling life.

Dr. Calderon Galdeano is one of 23 leaders nationally selected to be part of the highly selective program’s 2024 class. Leaders chosen represent a variety of public, nonprofit and private sectors experiences and perspectives.

Accelerate ED in San Antonio: Strengthening Accelerated Pathways to Degrees and Careers 2024 Summit for Dual Credit Programs

Dr. Briana Hagelgans, UP Partnership’s Director of K12 and Postsecondary, alongside Future Ready Partners Yvonne Benton, San Antonio ISD’s Coordinator of P-TECH and ECHS Programs, Dr. Amanda Holman, East Central ISD Director of College, Career and Military Readiness and Sara Mann, Alamo Colleges District’s Chief High School Programs Officer shared insights, challenges and achievements of work being completed in San Antonio at the 2024 Summit for Dual Credit Programs, a conference designed for colleges and universities, school districts and community organizations to advance dual credit and college readiness for their young people.

In a session entitled “Accelerate ED in San Antonio: strengthening Accelerated Pathways to Degrees and Careers,” Dr. Hagelgans and team presented on how UP Partnership, as a community backbone, has successfully fostered collaborative partnerships between local school districts and colleges and universities to enroll more high school students in career-connected programs that lead to postsecondary opportunities.

In Bexar County, Future Ready partners are co-creating expansion of dual credit, P-TECH and ECHS pathways that complement classroom learning with work-based experiences and internships so young people can develop professional behaviors, networks and experience before high school graduation.

“San Antonio Community Talk: Black Youth Today”
San Antonio DreamWeek 2024

John Jacobs, UP Partnership’s Director of K12 and Justice, was a panelist on “San Antonio Community Talk: Black Youth Today,” organized  by The Black Advisory Council of Big Brother Big Sister of South Texas (BBBS) and YWCA San Antonio. The  discussion focused on the current status of black youth in San Antonio, along with their future hopes and goals. The panel, which included black male professionals in Aerospace Engineering, Corporate Training and Entrepreneurship, provided valuable insights into mentoring boys of color. They shared best practices, success stories and emphasized how mentoring serves as a tool for healing in the community. Additionally, BBBS highlighted how their work aligns with youth healing commitments outlined in the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.