Teens and adults come together to address mental health at the 2021 Youth Voice Summit

Teens and adults come together to address mental health at the 2021 Youth Voice Summit

Our Tomorrow network uses event to facilitate conversations between young people and adults to address mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic

April 6, 2021
Contact: Paulina Sosa
202.379.8940
paulina@uppartnership.org

 

San Antonio, Texas – On Saturday, April 10, community leaders and teens will come together for the Our Tomorrow Youth Voice Summit with the 2021 theme Mental Wellness: Moving Past the Stigma and into Wellness.

The third annual summit will be held virtually and was planned by young people and adults to tackle the challenges teens are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health challenges are at the forefront for many young people who have endured extended school closures, lost learning, and myriad COVID-19 uncertainties. Additionally, with February’s Texas winter storm adding a layer of trauma, the summit is being held at a time of critical need for young people, who chose this year’s summit theme.

“With both COVID-19 and the winter storm, many of my friends and I have been struggling and craving a space to connect and talk about these issues. The Youth Voice Summit is doing that for us,” said Breanna Jimenez, a freshman at East Central High School.

Our Tomorrow is one of four networks at UP Partnership, and brings together 14-19-year-olds and community partners like school districts (East Central ISD and Southwest ISD), youth-serving organizations (Boys and Girls Club and San Antonio Youth Council), and universities (UTSA) to advocate for change in policies that affect young people. The coalition’s work focuses on data, policy and arts & media.

“It’s been so motivating to see youth and community partners come together to collectively plan this year’s Summit. At the core, planning has been relationship building — strengthening bonds and building new bridges for collaboration. This event is the epitome of what UP Partnership stands for — making change together,” said Leroy Adams, UP Partnership Youth Voice Manager.

The event will feature a welcome from Mayor Ron Nirenberg, community leaders discussing mental health topics, and a cross-cultural dialogue on mental health with guests from Pakistan and Sierra Leone, among other topics.

“Being part of Our Tomorrow has been a privilege because as a coalition, we can do more and make a greater impact in our community,” said Patricia Reyes, Business and Community Outreach Facilitator at East Central ISD and co-chair of the Our Tomorrow arts & media work group.

The Our Tomorrow Youth Voice Summit will be held on Zoom from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 10. Young people, ages 14-19 can register at bit.ly/YouthVoiceSummit.

Learn more about Our Tomorrow
Learn more about UP Partnership
Watch a conversation about the Youth Voice Summit

our tomorrow logo supply education resources for young people

UP Partnership and San Antonio Area Foundation Announce Grant Application Period Open to Nonprofits Serving Youth

UP Partnership and San Antonio Area Foundation announce grant application period open to nonprofits serving youth

Applications due April 9, 2021, 11:59 p.m. CDT

UP Partnership and the San Antonio Area Foundation are pleased to announce a call for proposals for the Youth Leadership Development Grant open to Bexar County organizations that serve young people. 

The Area Foundation, an UP Partnership anchor partner, is leading this community grantmaking initiative that will award up to 15 Youth Leadership Development grants and four Artist Fellowship grants throughout the city. These grants will support community-serving organizations that work directly with young people to prepare them for future success, career readiness, and resiliency. 

These grants are made possible through an investment from Blue Meridian Partners as part of a community-wide strategy to ensure equitable recovery in San Antonio and spur long-term economic mobility in our city.

About Our Partners and Purpose

UP Partnership serves as the backbone of the larger equitable recovery initiative, accelerating a citywide plan alongside its 175 cross-sector and youth-serving institutions throughout Bexar County. The citywide alignment initiative is composed of UP Partnership and its two anchor partners, the City of San Antonio and the Area Foundation, as well as implementation partners who will receive funding for their work on this project. This particular project is between UP Partnership, the Area Foundation and selected grantees. 

About the Youth Leadership Development Grant

Youth Leadership Development grants will support organizations that develop and foster the following strategies for youth and have a strategy in place for youth empowerment and growth:

  • Leadership: Develop young leaders by providing opportunities for youth to exercise their voice
  • Resiliency: Support social and emotional learning and mental health to develop resiliency
  • Future Success: Prepare youth for future success by offering education and career development programs that align to student passion and interest

Number of grants: 15
Grant Amount: $5-50,000 grants/ 2 years (depends on the size of the organization)

About the Artist Fellowship Grant

Additionally, art-based learning grants will support four organizations awarded Youth Leadership Development grants to hire artist fellows. This fellowship will support art-specific strategies centered on empowering the youth voice and building civic engagement. These projects are intended to promote collaboration between an artist or artist collective and youth participants.

Artist fellowship grants are added on to the Youth Leadership Development Grant applications and foster the following strategies:

  • Use art to support social and emotional learning and mental health to develop resiliency
  • Develop youth leaders by providing opportunities for youth to exercise their voice through art
  • Partner with UP Partnership’s Our Tomorrow network on a citywide youth-led exhibit
  • Share artist and youth participant stories on Our Tomorrow’s podcast

Art Fellow: $15,000
Partnering organization: $5,000

Anchor Partners

Restorative Justice pilot initiative proves successful despite shortened academic year

Restorative Justice pilot initiative proves successful despite shortened academic year

The University of Texas at San Antonio releases evaluation of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio’s pilot restorative justice program

After one academic year, eight out of nine campuses that participated in My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio’s (MBKSA) pilot restorative justice initiative have shown progress on first-year implementation indicators, according to an evaluation by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Restorative justice is a whole school approach to building a positive school climate and addressing harm.

 

“Though the year was cut short due to COVID-19, what we see in this report is promising. The passionate and clearly committed school teams can expect to see continued results if they follow the recommendations we made in the report. Having a clear vision grounded in social justice, using best practices and committing to removing barriers at the individual, school and district levels will be necessary for significant systemic change with long term impact for our community,” said Jelena Todic, principal investigator and assistant professor in the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy.  

MBKSA launched whole school restorative justice models at nine campuses in the San Antonio, Judson and Harlandale school districts during the 2019-2020 academic year with support from UTSA restorative justice researchers and practitioners, Robert Rico and Todic.

 

MBKSA, a network of community-based organizations, school districts, UTSA, and city and county government, formed the Rethinking Discipline Community of Practice (RDCP), which met monthly to discuss best practices and implementation strategies. The RDCP is one strategy MBKSA uses to tackle inequities in education. Local disaggregated data shows that exclusionary discipline practices disproportionately affect young people of color, especially boys.  

 

Despite a disruption in the academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of schools that implemented the restorative justice model achieved increased commitment to restorative practices, changing dialogue and increased options for managing behavior. Additionally, all schools provided various elements of the practice such as professional development for staff, peace rooms and ‘circles’ to build community and resolve conflict among staff and students.

 

Restorative justice provides opportunities for my son to share his thoughts and feelings in a safe space. Circles also help him learn more about his classmates and their experiences,” said Paula Johnson, a parent and the Director of IDRA EAC-South.

 

Because they prioritize relationships and community, restorative justice practices became critical during the pandemic because social emotional learning became a high priority while working in a virtual environment. 

 

“We know that having an administration that is committed to this process is critical to success for any whole-school restorative justice model. What we saw in this academic year was that these tools we’d established in schools were actually critical during the pandemic” Todic said.

 

Because of the initiative’s infancy, especially in light of the COVID-19 interruption, it is promising that four schools decreased suspensions and one maintained low rates throughout the project. Additionally, three out of eight schools showed signs of reducing disproportionate impact of exclusionary discipline on children of color. 

 

“By shifting mindsets and creating a culture of supportive accountability in schools, we set up our boys and young men of color for greater success not only in school, but into adulthood. MBKSA has been committed to providing pathways for boys and young men of color to college success and I believe this is critical to this work,” said Derek Taylor, MBKSA Justice-involved Young People Chair and Senior Management Coordinator for Stand-Up SA at the City of San Antonio’s Metro Health District.