Closing Racial Disparities in Access to Education

Closing Racial Disparities in Access to Education

Talent is equally distributed across young people in our community, however, opportunity is not. Though this is tied to larger nationwide issues, we will start here in Bexar County to change outcomes for local young people. Since 2009, UP Partnership actively serves as the backbone organization to various institutions including school districts, postsecondary education partners, local government and other education-focused nonprofits to ensure all students in our community are prepared for the future.

As the backbone, we lead in convening our partners so that we can collectively coordinate data, align pathways and promote policy change so that all students are able to succeed.

Together, we not only relish our successes, but learn from the times we have “failed forward” by sharing lessons each of us have learned along the way.

Through some of these lessons learned, we and our partners collectively identified the need to establish a communitywide plan to ensure all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future, which is called the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.

With a north star goal of increasing postsecondary enrollment of Bexar County High School graduates in a degree or credential program to 70% by 2030, UP Partnership—alongside its partners in the nine sectors of early childhood, preK12, postsecondary education, youth development, workforce, justice, funders, corporate partners and local government leaders—will use data and metrics to develop solutions that will aid in the success of Bexar County’s young individuals guided by racial equity pillars of healing, access and voice.

We want the voices of young people to be heard and have their leadership potential nurtured. Our Future Ready vision will activate adults, the community, and youth-serving systems to prepare the next generation of leaders. When young people can identify their needs and apply their problem solving efforts, they’re better able to contribute to advocacy efforts on their own behalf. This way our young community will be prepared to join and influence decision making tables while also giving them the credit and implementation support they need.

Young people deserve every opportunity to become their best selves. With the right support, they can achieve great things in life. But their potential is often hindered by systemic obstacles. We believe that these obstacles are holding back a generation of youth and our community as a whole. We aim to change this and give kids all the opportunities they deserve.

These problems include: economic segregation and harsh disciplinary measures, for which UP Partnership’s partners are providing direct service measures to try and improve.

Problem: Economic Segregation

Economic segregation is measured by how evenly economically sound and underprivileged children are distributed within the U.S. public school system. Research shows that Black and Latinx students are more likely to attend schools with high levels of economic disadvantage compared to White and Asian students. These results have been shaped by federal and state housing policies and through a history of discrimination. These opportunity youth also experience unequal access to the same resources and learning opportunities as students from wealthier backgrounds. What this ultimately means is that school poverty rates are a key measure with educational learning and achievement.

How UP Partnership is addressing issues with equal access

This starts with a shared community vision. We want to ensure that all young students have access to education and the career opportunities they deserve. Our systematic plan will support these young individuals in enrollment and succession in postsecondary programs to reach the ultimate goal of attaining a prosperous career. With UP Partnership partner support, these students will have access to technology and high quality out-of-school-time programs. Additionally, with the help of the systems and organizations involved with UP Partnership, we will implement outreach and engagement strategies to connect young people to school and living wage opportunities.

Problem: Disciplinary Measures

Research has shown that childhood misbehavioral issues like aggression, can actually predict higher earnings later on in life. Yet, there is a disproportion regarding disciplinary measures when misbehavior occurs in schools within different racial groups. It has been found that Black children face harsher penalties for acting out on the same levels of behavior externalization compared to their White peers. For the children in lower income markets, exhibiting this type of external behavior finds no benefits, while White students have been shown to benefit from this form of expression in their fields.

To succeed, young people need to have access to restorative justice practices and healing support. Far too many of them get held back by punitive disciplinary measures and unjust systems that negatively impact their future opportunities. These individuals need to be given the support to overcome trauma and elevate their strength and resilience. UP Partnership teaches restorative justice practices to our partners that aid educators in keeping these young individuals connected to their school without providing harsh punishment.

How UP Partnership is addressing disciplinary measures in school environments

UP partnership is here to ensure all students part of this San Antonio community are prepared for the future and given the right tools to do so. We coordinate data, align pathways and promote policy change so that all students are able to surpass these negative statistics and succeed.

To learn more about who we are and our impact visit About Us | UP Partnership | Unlocking Potential.

How to prioritize your mental wellness during the pandemic​

How to prioritize your mental wellness during the pandemic

When COVID-19 first broke out, it seemed as though the entire world had turned upside down. Everything we did before the virus—daily activities we participate in, how we communicate and interact with one another, how we travel—would never be the same again. Feelings of uncertainty and fear resulted from altered daily routines, financial stresses, and social isolation. More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, many people continue to face challenges that are stressful and overwhelming. Although most people are back to school, work, and going out with friends again, many carry the impacts of the pandemic with them. Many still fear that their family members may be affected by the virus now that schools, workplaces, grocery stores and other large public gathering places have reopened. The anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness experienced during the pandemic is natural, but learning effective self care strategies and receiving proper care can help individuals cope.

First, be mindful of your physical health. Getting enough sleep, participating in regular physical activity, eating nutritious foods, avoiding harmful substances, and taking the time to relax can play a huge part in your mental wellbeing. For example, try finding an activity that includes movement, such as dance, or find techniques, such as yoga or reading, that help you relax. This will lower your body’s stress hormones and release endorphins which will reduce feelings of pain and ultimately improve your mood.

Try to reduce stress triggers. Maintain a regular schedule, limit social media which may expose you to inaccurate information about the pandemic, find reliable sources for pandemic news, spend time doing hobbies you enjoy, and choose to focus on the positive things in your life. Reliable sources to help keep up to date on COVID recommendations include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Hobbies you might like include reading books, writing in a journal, crafting, cooking, and many more.

Finally, strengthen relationships and build support. If you go to school or work remotely from home or need to isolate yourself due to COVID, try to find time for virtual socialization by texting or videochat. These are only a few ways to help reduce stress and relax. There are many ways to reduce anxiety and stress, try several methods and find what works for you.

TJ, Yi and Shradha

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you to The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Eight ways to cope with grudges

Eight ways to cope with grudges

It is part of human nature to hold grudges. The reasons behind grudges can be because of misunderstandings and assumptions, unrealistic expectations, feeling left out, reaching a limit, or even envy. We hold grudges when we feel anger, bitterness, resentment, or other negative feelings after someone has done something to hurt us. However, grudges are often persistent and can end up hurting you as much as the person who caused it. This is because holding onto grudges can cause you to relive bad experiences or feel trapped in an unpleasant event, leading to more distress, frustration, and disappointment. Therefore, although these negative feelings towards others may be unavoidable, it is important to learn how to cope with them in a positive way and overcome them.

  • The first step to overcoming a grudge is acknowledging the problem. What caused your grudge? Allow yourself to see the real issue in order to solve it.
  • Communicate with the person about the issue. Grudges often result from a lack of confrontation, so when you are ready, clarify your feelings with the other person about the issue. Whether you resolve the issue or not, this can be beneficial as you may feel more relieved by releasing built up emotions.
    Try putting yourself in their shoes. You may better understand their point of view and where they were coming from or what may have caused them to act a certain way. This doesn’t justify their actions, but it may help you understand why something happened.
  • Don’t wait for the person you are upset with to apologize. The person who inspired your grudge might not care about the issue, may feel remorseful but unable to apologize, or may not understand that they even caused harm towards another person in the first place. By accepting the situation without an apology, you can begin healing on your own.
  • The more you dwell on the issue, the harder it will be to move past it. Therefore, try to change the topic if the issue is brought up and try to leave it in the past.
  • Try viewing your grudge as a learning experience. There are positives to every negative situation. You may benefit by choosing to walk away with a better understanding of yourself and the situation.
  • Let the issue go. A persisting grudge will negatively impact your mental health by draining your energy. Letting the grudge go will give you more room for peace and happiness.
  • Lastly, try to forgive. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, but it means you acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and we should learn from them. This may be difficult, but without forgiveness, it is even more difficult to truly let go of a grudge and be at peace.

Although it is difficult to forgive others when they hurt or offend us, holding a grudge can be more detrimental to your mental well-being. Allowing small things that upset us to consume energy can take us off the course toward our overarching goals. Overcoming grudges is a sign of maturity and resilience as you encounter different experiences in life. Communicating your negative feelings to the source can help prevent long-term grudges and develop your personal relationships to a healthier and more mutual understanding.

TJ, Pooja and Elisa 

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you to The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health create a large barrier to accessing behavioral healthcare among today’s youth. Intergenerational trauma is a term used to describe the impact of psychological distress through several generations. The intergenerational transmission of trauma is a possible result of stigma surrounding getting treatment for mental health concerns. This stigma stems from inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness such as stereotypes and prejudices that people with mental illness are dangerous, incompetent, or unpredictable. Additionally, those with mental illness face discrimination such as not getting hired or receiving worse health care. As a result, many people have negative attitudes and internalized shame about their own condition, and many others have a negative outlook on those with mental illness, decreasing the chances of receiving treatment. Consequently, around forty percent of people with mental illness do not receive treatment. This can lead to their kids inheriting a susceptibility to a mental illness as people who have a family member with a mental illness may be more likely to develop one themselves.

Moreover, stigma around mental illness is especially an issue in some ethnic communities. Underutilization of mental health care services is common among Asian Americans due to stigma that has resulted from cultural values of collectivity and filial piety as opposed to American values of independence. Other barriers include lack of adequate health insurance, limited linguistically accessible services, and distrust of the mental healthcare system. Stigma and discrimination often worsen symptoms and likeliness of receiving treatment and can lead to reduced hope, lower self-esteem, and difficulties with social relationships. In order to combat this issue, it is important that we take the time to educate ourselves about mental illness, educate others , challenge myths and stereotypes, give support to people, and find more ways to practice inclusion.

In some ways, our world has become more accepting of the diversity new generations largely embrace. On the other hand, an intersectional identity can often make seeking help within your community more difficult. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, “Culturally Competent Care” is vital in breaking down these barriers of inequity that have long restricted access to youth mental health resources. Long-standing racial discrimination, especially for Latinx, African-American, and Native American children in the healthcare system has made it difficult to break the stigma in the past. In fostering inclusive discussion, education, and helpful resources in communities of color in early stages of development, we can normalize and prioritize mental wellness for future generations. The cultural and generational stigmas around youth mental health and the disparity in our healthcare system have often made the conversation and seeking assistance difficult in communities of color.

Latinos account for over 67% of San Antonio’s population. Cultural stigmas are also prevalent in the Latino community, in part, because of the lack of general knowledge and resources to assist children in need of help. Some adults believe the new generation has not had to struggle as much as the previous ones, and in ways, this is true. However, generational trauma and new issues that have risen with our new society make life difficult for teens to handle, especially pertaining to mental wellness. Some of my peers who identify as Latin/x have shared experiences similar to those in the Black community. One said that because many adults in the Latinx community are not informed on mental wellness, some may jump to negative conclusions and label you when you do communicate your needs. Religious beliefs also play a big role in determining the views of adults.

In talking with HBCU alumna and newly graduated Physician Assistant Margaret Hazelton, who completed her primary care preceptorship rotation in adolescent medicine, older generations in the Black community often view mental illness as a weakness that can be “prayed away” and tend to look down upon younger generations who take medication or receive therapy. She says that in order to break this stigma, it would be helpful for people to tell their own stories to encourage the idea that “taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health”. Actions like introducing mental health support early on in life so that people would see it as they see regular doctor or dentist visits could also be beneficial. Finally, she firmly believes that “we need more uplifting and encouraging people in the Black community to talk about mental health and realize that taking care of it is more rewarding than you may think.”

Alyssa, TJ, Elisa 

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.