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UP Partnership and San Antonio Area Foundation announce youth leadership development grantees and artist fellowship grantees

Uplifting San Antonio’s youth takes a village. So together, with the San Antonio Area Foundation, UP Partnership is investing $500,000 in non-profit organizations who are amplifying youth voices through its first-ever Youth Leadership Development grants and Artist Fellowship grants.

Twelve youth-serving community nonprofit organizations were selected for first-ever Youth Leadership Development grants, and four community nonprofit organizations were selected for the Artist Fellowship grants. These grants are part of a large-scale $8 million effort to ensure that young people in Bexar County are future-ready.

These non-profits were selected for the critical work they do to support and uplift young people in Bexar County. Four were selected for their focus on the arts.

Below is a list of these organizations and highlights of the work they do with Bexar County young people.

Youth Leadership Development Grantees

Who they serve: Girls and young women of color
What they do: Empowering and engaging young women of color to help them achieve their highest potential through intentional engagement activities. These activities include civic and public service; mentorship; and community outreach and volunteerism. Additionally, several women serve as empowerment leaders over seven “Empowerment Circles” in the program to move younger women on Leadership Development. The circles include: Boss Up, Mirrors and Windows, Heart to Heart, Nonprofit Connections, My Sister’s Keeper, and Senior Round Up.

Who they serve: Youth in the Southside of San Antonio
What they do: This local San Antonio chapter of Boy With a Ball uses its after-school program, Velocity Cross Age Mentoring Program, to recruit and train high-school students to mentor middle-school mentees. In an effort to break the mold of generational poverty, mentors also have access to community volunteers who coach them in practical needs such as college-readiness, job training and other life skills. These high school-aged students also spend 6 weeks in the summer designing and executing a weeklong summer camp for younger students in low-income government housing units on the city’s South side

Who they serve: Women and other minority and underserved students
What they do: With a focus on developing women and other minority and underserved students, the Dee Howard Foundation exists to build on the legacy of Dee Howard, a pioneer in the aviation industry and an inventor. The foundation has several principal initiatives, including the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner, the Pre-K through 12 Aeronautical STEM Pathway Initiative, the DHF/UTSA Annual Student Art Contest, and the UTSA Aerospace Engineering Initiative. As part of the Pre-K through 12 programming, the foundation also partners with the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA).

Who they serve: High school students
What they do: Culturingua provides high school students a platform to work with a team of peers from around the world, find & use their voice to create a solution for a global issue that they are passionate about. The issues they choose are tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students present their solutions to the San Antonio entrepreneurship community in partnership with LaunchSA. This program supports social emotional learning competencies such as self-awareness through recognition of passion, self-management by showing collective agency to make decisions on a global challenge, relationship skills by establishing healthy ones with their peers, and responsible decision-making.

Who they serve: K-12 students
What they do: SAMSAT exists to inspire innovation through STEM programming, education and training. Together with Communities in Schools (CIS) of San Antonio and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, SAMSAT founded and runs “SA Smart: The Mayor’s K-12 Smart City Challenge,” an annual competition that positions students as scientific, civic and business leaders by having them address challenges that face San Antonio between now and 2040, as seen in the SA Tomorrow plan. Students form teams, identify localized examples of problems, conduct research, and deliver persuasive proposals. In the process, students learn interdisciplinary skills in problem solving and innovation, and they learn not to accept the world as it is, but to work to change the world on their terms.

Who they serve: K-12 students
What they do:
The Guadalupe Community Center’s After-School Program (ASP) provides free tutoring, extracurricular activities and fresh meals to promote young people’s education and character development. Throughout the year, ASP delivers 40 workshops that encourage leadership through character-building activities and lesson plans. These lessons involve an activity, short video, round table discussion, and end with a short quiz to measure retention of key points in the lesson. Lessons cover a range of topics such as mental health, college interest, leadership and social justice.

Who they serve: Students
What they do: Communities In Schools of San Antonio takes the resources students need into classrooms. Being rooted in the power of relationships, CIS has invested in training its staff on Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework. One element from the Framework that staff is trained to implement intentionally and inclusively with students is “Sharing Power.” In practice, sharing power might manifest as CIS-SA Site Coordinators incorporating student voice as they plan group activities, community service projects, and school-wide services. Some CIS-SA programs have youth leadership components explicitly built-in.

Who they serve: The San Antonio community, with a focus on youth development
What they do:
As part of the YMCA’s Y Teen Achievers, participants in the Youth in Government program have the opportunity to discover how the government functions including understanding the context while analyzing its response to current issues. By taking on the roles of attorneys and civic leaders, participants in the YG program benefit from knowledge gained and enhanced confidence, further boosting their development as individuals and leaders. The YMCA uses youth voice through its assessments on food insecurity, social-emotional well-being, and supportive relationships.

Who they serve: Youth, individuals and families
What they do: Good Samaritan’s Youth Advisory Committee is student-led, with annual elections with 1-year terms for President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Historian. The committee provides youth between the ages of 13 and 17 a vehicle to build a sense of purpose, explore their interests, and find their voice. The committee participates in service projects and is an essential voice in organizational decisions.

Who they serve: Girls and young women
What they do:
Through the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, South Texas girls develop their character and self-reliance through organized leadership development activities. Through structured programs and positive adult guidance, girls develop a sense of responsibility while gaining an understanding of themselves and their potential. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) is girl-led across all levels of participation and empowers girls to discover her own world as she develops a strong sense of self and strengthens her values; connect with others in the community as she forms caring relationships and embraces diversity; and take action as she identifies and solves problems.

Who they serve: Girls and young women
What they do: Youth voice exists in every program at Girls Inc. to ensure girls can lead and be agents of change within their community. The organization’s work with UP Partnership and Our Tomorrow allows girls in Girls Inc. programs such as Mentors Valuing Peers (MVP) and Eureka! to plan and participate in the annual Youth Voice Summit to strengthen their voices, practice their leadership and decision-making skills.

Who they serve: Young women
What they do:
YWCA San Antonio has engaged Youth in its Teen Service Learning (TSL) and Mi Carrera programs in leadership and decision-making within the organization. Annually, TSL youth plan events related to MLK Day, including Pajama Jam, a youth Friday night “lock-in” in which teens listen to music, engage in readings about racial justice, and create signs and banners for the MLK March.

Art Fellowship Grantees

Who they serve: Students
What they do: A Monument for the People is a participatory art project that works with students to reimagine what monuments are and who they are for in our community. CAST began this project in fall 2020, with students from across our five CAST Schools. Through a series of artist-led workshops, students will engage in facilitated discussion exploring the history of monuments in San Antonio and then have the opportunity to create their own monuments for people who have most impacted their lives. The project also amplifies our youth mentoring by supporting the leadership development of the young artists and peer mentors to facilitate workshops with younger students.

Who they serve: Students at Each Central High School
What they do:
This artist project, “Health and Harmony” will engage students at East Central High School who are identified by the school guidance counselors as students who could use a mentor, benefit from a special connection with a young musician, use a friend and role model, or benefit from learning to play a musical instrument. Three artist fellows, proficient in violin, cello, string bass, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, drums or keyboard will provide musical instruction and mentorship. Loaned instruments will be provided by the center. Students will be allowed to take these instruments home to play and enjoy.

Who they serve: Students at Each Central High School
What they do: The Guadalupe Community Center arts project will consist of a series of technical workshops that will introduce youth to different art techniques, history and their respective practical uses. The goal of each exercise will allow youth to use their new skills creatively and in the workforce or as an artist-entrepreneur. In addition to gaining new artistic skills, participants will inherently practice and develop other skills, including communication, critical thinking, teamwork, work ethic, and leadership. Each technical workshop in the series will be completed in one to two weeks, with students meeting three days a week for three hours per day.

Who they serve: Students
What they do:
The Artist Fellowship will reach Margil, Barkley-Ruiz, J.T. Brackenridge, De Zavala and Tafolla students in the proposed Youth Leadership ABC program. Up to 50 youth in the program’s first year will participate in weekly after-school workshops led by the Fellowship artists. Students in the fall program held September-October 2021 will experience consistent mentorship with the artists, engaging in workshops centered on youth voice and hands-on learning. Through each artist’s unique style and perspective, youth will be immersed in skills and community-building that encourages them to explore their own talents, work and learn alongside professional artists, and see themselves as creative leaders.

—Paulina Sosa
paulina@uppartnership.org