UP Partnership network gives thousands of dollars to high school students for youth-led projects

UP Partnership network gives thousands of dollars to high school students for youth-led projects

SAN ANTONIO (March 8, 2022) – UP Partnership’s youth voice network, Our Tomorrow, has given 11 youth-led groups from Southwest, East Central, San Antonio Independent School Districts and the Center For Young Minds grants worth a total of $43,000 in a pilot program meant to advance projects that matter most to them and their fellow classmates. 

“We created this pilot program in response to  young people’s request to be active participants in creating solutions to the challenges they are facing. The youth in our community have valuable ideas about the impact they want to make in their school and broader communities and we were thrilled to be able to support them through this initiative,” said Lisa Marie Gomez, UP Partnership’s Vice President of Youth Voice and Restorative Justice.

Through their projects, the chosen high school youth from schools such as Thomas Jefferson, Sam Houston, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, CAST Tech, CAST STEM, CAST Med, CAST Lead, along with a staff mentor from their respective school, are making an impact in areas such as mental health and suicide prevention, food insecurity, tax preparation, professional development and cultivation of social skills. 

Funded projects include:

– A Volunteer Income Tax Program by CAST Tech student Olivia Sanchez and staff mentor Lilian Gonzalez

– A Calming room on CAST STEM’s campus to meet needs around stress, overwhelm, and mental health led by CAST STEM student Christian Young and staff mentor Lilia Montes

– A Flower Flow project that funds the purchase of hygienic products for students by CAST Med student Irene Ramos and staff mentor Sabrina Donatto

– Restructuring and expanding a garden within the Helping Hands program to allow for outdoor classroom space, as well as a composting area to reduce food waste and a mobile produce food pantry led by CAST Lead student Airanda Wollney and staff mentor Calee Jaskula

– Ladies Hurricane Harvest young women conference led by Sam Houston student Yolanda Cisneros and staff mentor Joredanne Carmack

– The Better with Books program that will establish a safe space book club for students by CAST Med student Nicole Nino and staff mentor Anissa Cortez 

– A Dress for Success project by the DECA Inc. club students at CAST Lead and staff mentor Calee Jaskula

– The Feeding Community project by the Pitmaster club students at Jefferson aiming to help feed barbecue to its community and staff mentor Rogelio Garza

– A mental health awareness night in May that will invite professional therapists, counselors and psychologists speak on basics of mental health, healthy eating and exercise led by Young Women’s Leadership Academy’s student Zoe Lopez and staff mentor Kimberly Carter

– The Shooting Star Festival that will highlight mental health awareness through music with all funds raised donated to the Tim Bergling Foundation for Mental Health Awareness led by CAST STEM student Carlos Faz and staff mentor Lilia Montes

– A mental health series by the Center for Young Minds led by students Elisa Gonzalez, Yi Liu, TJ Kalikiri, Trinity Erwin, Alyssa Martinez, Shradha Pavankumar with staff mentor Jennifer Forbes 

“To further uplift the voices of youth, which is the reason why the Our Tomorrow youth voice network exists, all of the projects were chosen for funding by a youth grant review committee consisting of 11 students from all areas of Bexar County,” added Gomez. 

The funding for these grants came from $8 million in funding received by UP Partnership and the San Antonio Area Foundation from New York-based national nonprofit consortium Blue Meridian Partners in late 2020 to help with equitable recovery in San Antonio. 

UP Partnership has used these funds for initiatives that specifically fall under its three equity focus areas of increasing youth voice, access to college and career opportunities and healing instead of punitive disciplinary measures. Grants were awarded to nonprofits with initiatives tied to these focus areas, such as 100 Black Men, the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions and Empower House, formerly the Martinez Street Women’s Center.

About UP Partnership

Founded in 2009, UP Partnership is a San Antonio-based nonprofit that convenes partners in Bexar County that provide healing, access and voice to local youth to create equitable systems and ensure that all young people in the county are ready for the future. Its work is conducted through collaborative efforts with its partners that focus on education and youth development initiatives through its networks of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell and Our Tomorrow. In total, UP Partnership has 200 local and national institutional partners and 500 volunteer leaders across seven sectors of early childhood, preK12, postsecondary education, youth development, workforce, justice, funders, corporate partners and local government.

UP Partnership goes through reorganization in preparation for release of community plan

UP Partnership goes through reorganization in preparation for release of community plan

UP Partnership is realigning our organization to better serve our partners as we prepare to publicly launch the Future Ready Plan, a countywide plan designed to help its partners better collaborate to ensure all young people in our community are ready for the future.

The organization has promoted staff who will now serve as strong points of contact to our partner organizations within UP Partnership’s four systems change networks: Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio and Our Tomorrow.

The Future Ready Plan is based on three major equity pillars—voice, healing, and access—which must be implemented throughout child, youth and young adult serving systems.

Its core components were created after a yearlong process of gathering input from hundreds of stakeholders from various educational institutions, youth development organizations, city departments, and community organizations and was recently approved by a planning table that is made up of UP Partnership’s Board of Directors as well as key education and workforce development partners.

The purpose of the plan is to align the goals of all of UP Partnership’s partners as well as other Bexar County networks, such as ReadyKidSA and the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity through its pillars, collectively driving the work that reach nearly 400,000 young people, or 70% of Bexar county’s youth population, including 330,000 young people of color.

About UP Partnership

Founded in 2009, UP Partnership is a San Antonio-based nonprofit that convenes partners in Bexar County that provide healing, access and voice to local youth to create equitable systems and ensure that all young people in the county are ready for the future. Its work is conducted through collaborative efforts with its partners that focus on education and youth development initiatives through its networks of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell and Our Tomorrow. In total, UP Partnership has 200 local and national institutional partners and 500 volunteer leaders across seven sectors of early childhood, preK12, postsecondary education, youth development, workforce, justice, funders, corporate partners and local government.

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!

10/15/2021 Newsletter

October Newsletter

white stripes

Ryan’s UPlift – Action Builds Hope

Do you believe that all young people can truly become ready for the future? Or, somewhere in the back of your mind, do you doubt the possibility? 

If you answered yes, then you are among the fierce and devoted leaders aligned to UP Partnership’s mission. If you answered no, your contributions are still vital! We just ask that you keep an open mind about what we can all achieve when working together. 

Over the past quarter, UP Partnership has been pushing as hard as ever. Our partners and staff have been actively working to create more equitable systems. We have teamed up with major corporate leaders and the United Way to drive new investments in racial equity in youth and family outcomes. We’ve made major progress on the Future Ready Plan, which directly builds on the Equitable Recovery Pledge we launched at the onset of the pandemic. We have continued working with school districts, colleges and universities, youth and community development partners, and juvenile justice reformers to drive communitywide improvement together. We even helped to lead the national StriveTogether Convening!

We are so proud of the work that we are all driving, but we also know we still have a very long journey ahead. It’s our shared belief that will sustain us for the long haul. If you are struggling to see how our world can truly get better, we invite you to get involved with a youth-serving agency near you. The more action you take with others, the more hope we think you’ll experience.

Call to Action!

Prior to the pandemic, tens of thousands of young people in San Antonio were already hurting from a lack of equitable resources and support. As a result of the pandemic, those inequities have intensified, often many times over. Youth who started off behind in academics have fallen further behind. Children who endured neglect or abuse became further exposed. And students who were struggling to stay on the path to college endured major setbacks.


That’s why the City of San Antonio must invest in our young people’s recovery from the pandemic. In the next few months, COSA will be allocating its last 230 million in ARPA dollars. We know our City Council cares deeply about our young people, but they also hear many voices advocating for other interests. If you have a relationship with your council person, please let them know you will fully support them by prioritizing services for children and youth, such as those provided by members of our Excel Beyond the Bell network.

Big Story

Future Ready Plan 

The Future Ready Plan will be a blueprint that community-wide partners can reference as we build a more equitable future for students throughout San Antonio. We will do this together by ensuring young people in our city have their voice heard, their healing prioritized and access to an education and/or career path that they deserve. Read more about the planning process here.

Data Point Spotlight

70% (3 options for text)

Through our 4 action networks and 3 collaboratives, UP Partnership initiatives have the capacity to positively impact 70% of all young people in Bexar County.

Latest Network Updates

Our Tomorrow

Youth Voice Grant applications are now open through Dec. 3! Students in SAISD, ECISD and SWISD are eligible to apply. Read more here and please share with your networks. If you would like your district students to be eligible for upcoming grant applications, please consider partnering with the Our Tomorrow network.


The annual Growing Up in San Antonio conference has been postponed until 2022. We will be hosting more joint events with MBKSA in the coming year, so stay tuned.


The Education Success Dashboard was completed ahead of schedule. This dashboard provides a shared system to assess the impact of San Antonio’s youth development sector. We also launched Cohort 2 of Excel Academy. The academy was kicked off by a racial equity training by the Search Institute.


With funding support from USAA, MBKSA is awarding up to $160,000 in scholarships. High school students, justice-involved young people and college mentors are eligible to apply with selected partners. The deadline is Nov. 12.

The Equitable Enrollment Collaborative held our first session and will be welcoming high schools to our Oct. session. We are also in the process of granting up to $6,000 awards to our institutions to help them create plans that support boys and young men of color (BYMOC) and Dreamers. The Restorative Practices Collaborative distributed $92,000 to campuses across the city to help them create a restorative justice plan that supports BYMOC. 

Chellie Fernandez

Director of College Pathways

Team Member Highlight

On Oct. 5, Chellie Fernandez, our Director of College Pathways, was awarded the Bill Henningsgaard C2C Champion Award for her dedication and contributions to building local cross-sector cradle-to-career education partnerships. Chellie believes in increasing postsecondary attainment for Latinx, Dreamers and boys and young men of color. As Director of College Pathways, Chellie oversees My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio and Diplomás, two action networks of UP Partnership.

Student Awards

C2C Convening (Art Inspires Scholars)

At the 10th Annual StriveTogether Cradle to Career Convening, partnerships from across the nation gathered virtually to celebrate achievements and lessons learned throughout the last year. For the first time since the scholarship’s inception, StriveTogether doubled its awards by selecting 12 young artists to receive a $1,000 scholarship. Because the convening was originally scheduled to take place in-person this month, UP Partnership, Say Sí and Our Tomorrow partnered to share these opportunities with students across our city. The winning artists’ works were showcased throughout the convening. Check out the list of the scholarship recipients here.

UP Partnership Team UPDates

Here we grow again! We are looking for a dynamic Director of Communications to lead our internal and external communications. Applications are being accepted through Oct. 18. Apply today.

Board UPdates

Board Retreat Recap – On July 28, our Board of Directors and other leading executives met in person for the first time since 2020. During the meeting, the Board and guest leaders made major decisions about the shape of the Future Ready Plan. They also helped to release our American Rescue Plan Act spending recommendations

Our team would like to wish our former Board member, Pedro Martinez, well as he assumes the new role of Chief Executive Officer for Chicago Public Schools. Thank you Pedro for your leadership at SAISD, on the UP Partnership Board and in our city.

Our next Board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15. During that time, our Board and executive guests will continue finalizing the Future Ready Plan.

Coming UP next November

On Oct. 5, Mayor Ron Nirenberg was interviewed by Bre Jimenez and Ayanna Brooks. Bre and Ayanna are both high school student leaders who are active in the Our Tomorrow network. The full recording will be featured in next month’s newsletter. Stay tuned! 

UPComing Events 

Flyer attached regarding: Registration info for the Oct. 28 event Keeping Recovery on Track: COVID-19 and Working with Youth Lunch & Learn if it would be sent prior to that. It is open to all youth serving professionals.

My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio network creates Alternative Discipline Guide to transform punitive discipline practices in schools

My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio network creates Alternative Discipline Guide to transform punitive discipline practices in schools

My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA) has released the Alternative Discipline Guide, a systems-change policy review to guide partners in reforming and reimagining next steps for implementing restorative justice practices.

MBKSA, one of four networks at UP Partnership, focuses on removing barriers to success for boys and young men of color. That includes reducing punitive discipline practices, building bridges for mentorship, and connecting justice-involved young people with opportunities.

Why is this important?
MBKSA partners have identified punitive discipline practices as a barrier to success for boys and young men of color. Already, nine campuses at three local school districts have implemented restorative justice practices in place of punitive practices and have experienced varying degrees of success.

Also known as “alternative discipline” practices, restorative justice is used in an effort to restore and heal the cycle of violence, poverty, and persistent access issues for justice-involved young people. The guide, created by the MBKSA Policy Table and Restorative Justice Working Group and UP Partnership staff, will inform schools, organizations, and city leaders on understanding and implementing restorative practices.

Digging Deeper
To appreciate the benefits of this guide, it’s important to understand the difference between the two terms (punitive versus alternative discipline):

Punitive Discipline Practices

Restorative Discipline Practices


Aiming to punish the “wrongdoer”

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

“A mindset that values relationships at the center of community life.” 

Typical discipline practices in schools

Suspension, corporal punishment, and/or detention

Classroom circles, teacher training, and/or peace circles


To punish the misbehavior and the person who misbehaved

To understand the roots of the misbehavior and restore broken relationships

Punitive discipline practices

  • Wrong doer is punished
  • Consequences include suspension, detention and corporal punishment
  • Person who misbehaved must be held accountable (i.e. punished)

Restorative discipline practices

  • Practices are formed from a relational approach to building school climate and addressing behavior
  • Classroom circles, teacher training and peace circles are common practices in the institution
  • Accountability is defined as understanding the effects of the offense and repairing harm

From the Field
Beyond implementation of practices at various campuses, some MBKSA partners have taken their work to the next level. For example, San Antonio ISD has integrated restorative justice elements into their Student Bill of Rights and Code of Conduct. The University of Texas at San Antonio has hired a Director of Restorative Justice, which sets the precedent for integrated restorative discipline into university settings — moving beyond the typical K-12 setting. Alamo Colleges and Judson ISD also are hiring a Chief Equity Officer. And lastly, the City of San Antonio has made investments into violence prevention, which includes restorative justice practices in schools.

What’s next
This guide has the power to go beyond the MBKSA network. By sharing the guide with a larger network, MBKSA partners have the ability to move from punishment to healing.

— By Paulina Sosa

“Restorative justice focuses on the harm done, restoring relationships, and building community.”
Alternative Discipline Guide

The Excel Academy launches 2021 cohort applications: The transformative power of relationship development and youth empowerment

Excel Academy launches 2021 cohort applications

At May’s annual summit, the Excel Beyond the Bell (EBBSA) network launched its 2021 Excel Academy Application. In the Fall of 2021, EBBSA and UP Partnership will launch its second 10-month cohort of youth development professionals committed to transforming lives of young people through relationships.

“It’s not the soccer ball, or the paint brushes, or the instrument that changes the life; it’s the coach, teacher, [or] mentor that does,” said Francisco Gónima, Excel Academy facilitator and coaching partner.

Excel Academy aims to change young San Antonians’ lives through the power of Developmental Relationships


“[Excel Academy] goes deeper to focus on the power of developing key relationships to empower youth,” Gónima adds. 

According to members in the first cohort, Excel Academy equipped them with tools to build upon even in their own personal relationships. Excel Academy integrates coaching sessions, cross-network collaboration, and reinforces key practices with organizational leadership and staff.

Each organization that participates in the 10-month program brings an integration champion and a youth development coach.


Partners become part of a network of San Antonio youth development professionals focused on acquiring the capacity, tools, and resources needed to build and foster high-quality relationships with students in their programs.  

“The real change happens through connection, and embedding developmental relationships at the core of these programs,” Gónima said. 

Built on the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Framework, partners focus on five key elements of transformative relationships:

  • Express Care
  • Challenge Growth
  • Provide Support
  • Share Power
  • Expand Possibilities

 The Search Institute identified 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Excel Academy focuses on these, ensuring that more San Antonio youth have access to the relationships they need to succeed.

Additionally, Academy participants go through:

  • Ten (monthly) half-day sessions
  • Monthly coaching meet-ups
  • Ten 1-hour coaching webinars


Previous participants agreed that the Academy created a safe space for them to grow, brainstorm, strategize, and expand DR efforts in their organizations. The Academy was both enriching and fulfilling at many levels, according to a number of Cohort 1 participants.

“More than feeling safe, it’s about feeling seen. It’s about learning how to do the work to achieve their potential. The reality is not all youth development programs are created equal – this Academy is the magic elixir to create a program that empowers young people with the confidence they need to be successful,” Gónima said.

A special congratulations to the first cohort of partners for completing the first step of transformative program. They have moved to the implementation phase of the program and have set a powerful precedent for the 2021 cohort! 

Cohort 2 applications are open between June 1 – July 29 to any EBBSA network partner. In August 2021, 15 agencies will be announced for the second cohort.

Learn more about the Developmental Relationships Framework
Learn more about Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio

excel beyond the bell logo

UP Partnership’s Equitable Enrollment Collaborative closes out its first academic year of work with commitments to equity in 2021-2022

UP Partnership's Equitable Enrollment Collaborative closes out its first year

The Equitable Enrollment Collaborative (EEC), a community of practice between Diplomás and My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA) partners, closed out its first year at the spring convening on May 13. 

With more than 80 partners across Bexar County, this collaborative focuses explicitly on equitable enrollment practices for young men of color and Dreamers by providing a tailored space for institutional partners to learn, collaborate, and strategize.

DIGGING DEEPER: To accomplish the overarching goal of equity across institutions, the EEC has identified a number of priorities and objectives for partner institutions. 

The EEC prioritizes its strategies and initiatives around:

  • Enrollment: Increase postsecondary enrollment from underrepresented districts and student groups.
  • Data: Strengthen institutional capacity to analyze and share data.
  • Equity: Develop and enhance equity-focused plans in the institution.

Institutions aim to:

  • Assess current enrollment goals, partnerships and strategies;
  • Develop a strategic enrollment framework to align goals;
  • Review and Revise funding initiatives and policy structures;
  • Monitor real-time application and financial aid data;
  • Build data infrastructure to strengthen data-sharing.

STRATEGIES IN ACTION: As partners celebrated during the spring convening, they acknowledged that a lot of work still needs to be done the next three years of the EEC, starting this summer.

“[We’re] setting a goal for interventions to support at-risk students,” one partner said in their commitment.

Each partner was asked to make a summer commitment and one for the next academic year. Additionally, partners at ISDs and higher education institutions highlighted specific projects and ideas, including mentorship programs, student workshops and enrichment opportunities.

“[We’ll] continue to establish strong relationships and communication to ensure we are meeting student needs,” said another.

UP Partnership and National Resource Network launch citywide planning listening sessions

UP Partnership and National Resource Network launch citywide planning listening sessions

UP Partnership and the National Resource Network (NRN) have initiated the first phase of the citywide planning process for the Future Ready Plan. NRN is meeting with partners to gather initial insights on community-wide goals for alignment, communication and stakeholder role clarity.

As with everything at UP Partnership, this work is designed to grow our shared ability to end racial and ethnic inequities impacting our children and youth.

Communities In Schools of San Antonio is also actively supporting UP Partnership’s Future Ready planning process, supporting the design and organization of community-based alignment plans at the school feeder pattern level. Young people from the Our Tomorrow network will also be conducting interviews with key stakeholders.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how dependent we are on one another. As a collective impact organization, we always strive to bring a cross-sector approach to our plans, but now is the time to ensure our systems serve everyone better. During our listening sessions, we’re ensuring that we include many diverse voices in the planning process.

Listening session vs Institutional Interview:

Listening sessions are characterized as a round-robin session with large groups where facilitators ask participants questions about goals, experiences and expectations to shape the plan’s priorities and direction. Institutional interviews are a more focused approach with institutional leaders to understand their priorities and needs in depth. Together, these two types of sessions help ensure the depth needed for successful planning.

Who is at the table:

Beginning in April, NRN has met with 198 partners, both individually through institutional interviews, and in groups during listening sessions.

The following partners have had a session with NRN:

Listening Sessions:

  • UP Partnership board of directors
  • The Diplomás network
  • Representatives from:
    • Texas A&M San Antonio
    • University of Texas San Antonio
    • Trinity University
    • East Central ISD
    • Southwest ISD
    • San Antonio Education Partnership
    • San Antonio ISD
  • Dreamer students
  • Justice involved young people
  • My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio Postsecondary Success and Restorative Justice work groups, representatives from:
    • San Antonio ISD
    • University of Texas San Antonio
    • IDRA
    • City of San Antonio
    • Judson ISD
    • Harlandale ISD
  • UP Partnership’s Fiscal Alignment Task Force steering committee

Institutional Interviews:

  • The City of San Antonio Department of Human Services
  • Alamo Colleges
  • City Manager’s Office
  • Mayor’s Office
  • City of San Antonio Office of Equity
  • Bexar County Justice System
  • University of Texas San Antonio
  • SA2020
  • United Way
  • Workforce Solutions Alamo

What’s next: This plan will be rolled out through three phases during 2021, to ensure that UP Partnership networks, partners, and community members play a critical role in this process. After listening sessions conclude in June, we’ll begin phase 2 of the citywide planning process. 

  • July to September 2021: Phase 2: Alignment: This phase is focused on conducting consensus workshops to vet and solidify the themes for the Plan.
  • October to December 2021: Phase 3: Implementation: This phase is focused on conducting culmination workshops where the finalization of recommendations will be made for a full launch in 2022.

Why it matters: Our partners know that the success of our community depends on the success of our young people. But we do not yet have a clear shared roadmap to ensure they all succeed. And that is the purpose of this planning process — to create a singular blueprint that community-wide partners can reference in the next stages of our work together.

Who is developing the plan?

UP Partnership Board & Networks

As the backbone, UP Partnership is leading the initiative while our core partners will help shape the content of the plan. Together with NRN, we are facilitating conversations with a number of stakeholders within our networks, boards and Fiscal Alignment Task Force. 

National Resource Network

NRN and its four unique partners will facilitate the planning process. Their partners, JFF, PFM Group Consulting, Enterprise Community Partners and HR&A Advisors were contracted by UP Partnership because of their expertise in other citywide planning initiatives across the country.

Community Leaders & Partners

Our neighborhoods are full of residents and leaders with powerful insights to share. Communities in Schools-San Antonio is leading focus groups and interviews in priority communities to ensure these voices help shape the planning process outcome. 

The 3 Racial-Equity Pillars of this Plan

Isolation to Voice

Ensuring young people have a voice in decisions made for them.

Punishment to Healing

Ensuring restorative practices are used in school and in our community.

Disconnnection to Access

Ensuring all young people have access to postsecondary education.

National Resource Network logo
Communities in Schools San Antonio

My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio announces $300,000 in scholarships for boys and young men of color

My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio announces $300,000 in scholarships for boys and young men of color

With funding from USAA, MBKSA further strengthens commitment to BYMOC’s success

May 4, 2021
Contact: Paulina Sosa

San Antonio, TexasMy Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA) recently announced 150 scholarships totaling $300,000 for boys and young men of color, made possible with funding from USAA. The scholarships, announced at the network’s annual Youth Summit in March, will target high school seniors, student college mentors, and justice-involved young people. Each scholarship recipient will have access to college and career mentors, as well as other MBKSA partners to plan their next steps to attend college or join the workforce.

“Working in partnership with other institutions and organizations to find alignment in our goals is not only necessary for these young men; it’s key to our city’s success,” said Edwin Barea Rodriguez, MBKSA Postsecondary Success work group co-chair and University of Texas at San Antonio Associate Dean for Student Success.

MBKSA is a network of more than 30 cross-sector partners working to ensure boys and young men of color in Bexar County have pathways to success. The network includes school districts, colleges and universities, city and county representatives, and numerous community organizations.

MBKSA is one of four systems-change networks at UP Partnership and was launched in 2014 as a response to former President Barack Obama’s call to action to close opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color.

“Both the MBKSA Youth Summit and these scholarships are a reflection of the commitment our community has made to empower boys and young men of color for their future,” said Lowell Butler, UP Partnership’s College Pathways Manager.

In addition to working with institutions, organizations and systems, MBKSA ensures that young men of color are also included in policy making.

“As a college student, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to access resources which is why I’m a mentor. I’m so excited that my peers and I will have the opportunity to not only potentially secure a scholarship, but continue to serve others like us who are in high school,” said Nya Thornton, St. Phillip’s College student and mentor.

In late 2020, USAA invested $1 million in the MBKSA network as part of a three-year, $50 million commitment to advance racial diversity, equity and inclusion. MBKSA will help ensure that young men of color are on a path to a postsecondary degree or credential, specifically focusing on the educational success of young men who are at the highest risk of not completing high school. 

Applications are available to young people already involved with MBKSA partner institutions.

Learn more about My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio
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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


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

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