High school students lead the way in summer melt research with Youth Participatory Action Research

High school students lead the way in summer melt research with Youth Participatory Action Research

Youth Participatory Action Research cohort
Ten high school sophomores, juniors and seniors participated in a series of workshops and trainings under the direction and guidance of YPAR scholar Van Lac, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

As part of Our Tomorrow’s Youth in Power, the Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) program this summer was an opportunity for young people to spearhead a research initiative focused on summer melt, the phenomenon of prospective college students’ capacity to attend college “melting” away during the summer between the end of high school and beginning of college.

Ten high school sophomores, juniors and seniors participated in a series of workshops and trainings under the direction and guidance of YPAR scholar Van Lac, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

YPAR is an approach to research that values the lived experiences and voices of those who have experienced systemic oppression, according to Lac. It centers marginalized voices and positions them as problem solvers of their social conditions.

“I was going through summer melt myself and didn’t even realize it,” said Alison Fernandez, a Jefferson High School senior. “As a first-gen student, I didn’t feel like I had the tools, but this experience has helped me feel privileged and more knowledgeable moving forward.”

Students conducted qualitative research with other youth who are experiencing or have overcome summer melt.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure and highlight of my summer working with a group of young people seeking ways to improve their schools and communities,” said Lac.

Why is this important?

Our Tomorrow’s summer YPAR program is the first of its kind in the country to focus on summer melt.

“At first I didn’t know fully what I was getting into, but this has inspired me to inspire others. This program has inspired me to see a new path for myself,” said Sarah Salazar, an East Central High School junior.

This program gave youth the platform needed to find their voice and speak about the impact of summer melt. Students’ findings will be shared with UP Partnership’s Equitable Enrollment Collaborative in the fall through a results recording and a protocol developed by Lac.

Digging Deeper

Throughout the summer, the program focused on three key steps.

Understanding the Roots

Lac and Our Tomorrow leaders trained and supported students as they focused their research and work on summer melt. Lac taught students about the roots of systemic racism and discrimination, especially in education.

“I loved the real talk we had around topics like social justice and inequality. As I am [preparing] for college, I have become so passionate about this topic. And it gives me knowledge about who I am, my background, experiences, and culture.” said Pete Vela, a junior at Jefferson High School.

This gave them a deeper understanding on the underlying causes of summer melt for themselves and their communities.

“We can’t combat an issue if we don’t know it’s a thing. This program is changing the awareness around summer melt,” said Nickoll Garcia, a senior at Jefferson High School.

Conducting Research

Students conducted qualitative research by interviewing 20 self-identified “Melters,” those who have experienced summer melt, and “Thrivers,” those who have overcome summer melt, to find out why summer melt occurs. Themes included financial barriers, family/personal emergencies, and/or mental health issues.

“This program empowered me to do and understand research in a very hands-on way. And we didn’t have to hide behind other people’s research,” said Deija Nunn, a sophomore at Veterans Memorial High School.

Our Tomorrow’s YPAR program was an opportunity rarely given to high school students and youth.

“I have realized that these are summer melt issues so many students endure now, and that can be fixed for future generations. That is the real power of this program,” said Tsomlee Andrew Go, a sophomore at East Central High School.

Sharing their Findings

Their findings have been categorized into themes for Our Tomorrow and the Equitable Enrollment Collaborative as part of a Gates Foundation grant.

High school and college practitioners will take the findings to guide future equitable enrollment strategies.

“I loved being able to create new friendships through this program. And realized that beyond the financial needs of students, many issues can be fixed with policies to make sure that students are empowered moving forward,” said Santiago Hernandez, a senior at Jefferson High School.

Final Takeaways from Youth

Our Tomorrow’s summer YPAR program is the first of its kind in the country to focus on summer melt.

“At first I didn’t know fully what I was getting into, but this has inspired me to inspire others. This program has inspired me to see a new path for myself,” said Sarah Salazar, an East Central High School junior.

This program gave youth the platform needed to find their voice and speak about the impact of summer melt. Students’ findings will be shared with UP Partnership’s Equitable Enrollment Collaborative in the fall through a results recording and a protocol developed by Lac.

—Paulina Sosa, Senior Manager of Storytelling
(202) 379-8940 | paulina@uppartnership.org

UP Partnership releases recommendations for American Rescue Plan Act spending

UP Partnership releases recommendations for American Rescue Plan Act spending

Cross-sector partners develop guide to ensure an equitable recovery in youth outcomes

SAN ANTONIO—In an effort to guide equitable American Rescue Plan Act spending commitments made by the city, county, school districts and institutions of higher education, UP Partnership today released recommendations informed by youth-serving leaders and young people themselves.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) infuses $350 billion to state and local governments, $122 billion to K-12 schools, and $40 billion to higher education institutions. San Antonio received an estimated $1.6 billion in funding.

Leveraging American Rescue Plan Act Funds for Youth Outcomes is a guide developed by UP Partnership, in conjunction with PFM and the Children’s Funding Project, to aid local partners in making transformative ARPA investments to support young people. UP Partnership is a network of 175 cross-sector partners, including young people, who work together to align funding, strategies, data architecture and communication across youth-serving sectors. More than 60 partners, including high school students, participated in a funding alignment taskforce in 2020 to develop recommendations for an equitable recovery post-pandemic.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in the future of San Antonio,” said Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, UP Partnership Executive Director. “By coordinating our efforts, we’ll ensure our young people are not held back in the wake of the pandemic.”

Recommendations for spending are grouped by three outcomes areas: “Safe and Stable,” “Mental Health and Wellbeing,” and “Connected/Academically Prepared.” Ideas include reinvesting funds into front-end prevention and positive youth development opportunities to improve public safety, funding full-time employees to coordinate mental and behavioral health resources, and expanding summer learning and enrichment access, and others.

“From a national perspective, we see San Antonio as a model for how to do this alignment work across sectors,” said Olivia Allen, Strategy Director for the Children’s Funding Project. “More than 60 partners in San Antonio committed to having these tough conversations during a really hard year to lay the groundwork for the impact these federal relief dollars can have on kids and families.”

The recommendations align with UP Partnership’s racial equity goals of ‘disconnection to access,’ ‘punishment to healing, and ‘isolation to voice.’

“The pandemic has impacted our youth, but this process works to counteract that – We co-created a strategy with our youth,” said Myron Anderson, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

All recommendations target inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was definitely a humbling experience to be part of this process, especially hearing perspectives from different sectors,” said Marisa Perez-Diaz, State Board of Education member. “The beauty in the work we did was that adults in different sectors all made a commitment to center the voices of youth. So many times, pathways are drawn for them without their voice. These recommendations ensure their voices are heard.”

—Marissa Villa, Director of Communications
(210) 535-6525 | marissa@uppartnership.org

About UP Partnership

UP Partnership’s mission is to ensure all young people across Bexar County are ready for the future. UP Partnership provides a space for leaders to share vision, strategies and metrics to unlock the potential of San Antonio and its surrounding communities. UP Partnership’s institutional partners serve more than 320,000 students in Bexar County, 63 percent who are economically disadvantaged. By bringing change-makers together while empowering youth to have a voice through its four networks (Diplomás, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Excel Beyond the Bell, Our Tomorrow), UP Partnership strives to achieve extraordinary gains in future readiness through a shared commitment. Learn more at https://uppartnership.org.

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

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

Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio partners reconnect in person at the network’s annual summit

Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio partners reconnect in person at the network’s annual summit

The weather may have been a little muggy, but the atmosphere was a breath of fresh air at the May 26 Excel Beyond the Bell (EBBSA) annual summit. Held at the Good Samaritan Center, the summit allowed EBBSA partners to gather, talk, laugh, and participate in team building activities. It was a sight not seen since early 2020.

With more than 80 partners in attendance, the event was UP Partnership’s first in-person event since the start of the pandemic.

EBBSA partners expressed a deep desire for reconnecting after experiencing more than a year of disconnection with their colleagues, partners and friends. So, the EBBSA Training and Capacity work group decided it was time to come together again.

The Big Picture: EBBSA is an UP Partnership professional network of youth development organizations working in partnership with local school districts to make San Antonio a place where all young people have access to the tools and relationships they need to succeed. Through the power of data sharing, collaboration, and advocacy the network supports the expansion of youth development programs and access.
The annual brings together its 45 youth development partners to celebrate the wins of the previous year and build relationships to further their mutual goal in strengthening youth development.

From the Field: Partners in attendance ranged from community leaders and youth-serving organizations to educational institutions and youth development programs.

  • Partners gathered together to reconnect and engage in development activities. Many attendees shared that “the opportunity to participate and collaborate together in team activities was a breath of fresh air.”
  • Using Open Space structure, attendees brainstormed ideas, helped each other by sharing best practices, strategized, and connected on a deeper level.
  • This year’s summit also marked the launch of the Excel Academy’s 2021 cohort applications. The Excel Academy focuses on professional development using the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships framework.

“The Developmental Relationships framework is critical to the work youth development professionals provide to young people. One activity we used at the summit called concentric circles was a way to bring people closer by sharing thoughts and values with each other from philosophical questions that were asked. Many emotions were experienced as I watched people interact: Crying, laughter, joy.”

-liz moseley

Senior Manager of Community Learning

What’s next: As we collectively transition into an “in-person” world again, the EBBSA Annual Summit set a powerful precedent for in-person events in UP Partnership’s near future. The power of collaboration, relationship, and connectivity were on full display at the summit and the partnership looks forward to slowly moving towards having more of these events in the coming months.

Excel Academy 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

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

MORE THAN A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSE

“[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.

THE BENEFITS OF EXCEL ACADEMY 

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

TESTIMONIALS FROM THE FIELD: 

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’s Executive Director uses poetry to highlight the need for hope and collaboration to ensure a Future Ready Bexar County

UP Partnership's Executive Director uses poetry to highlight the need for hope and collaboration to ensure a Future Ready Bexar County

 

Through the power of art and poetry, UP Partnership Executive Director Ryan Lugalia-Hollon has released a series of poems to provide a passionate view of hope and collaboration. Feeding Patterns, Bright Lights, and Unlocking Our Potential bring to life UP Partnership’s core pillars of Isolation to Voice, Punishment to Healing and Disconnection to Access.

They do this by bringing attention to the need for young people’s voices to be heard, funding to be appropriately allocated for healing and access, and to ensure pathways are built to ensure success for Bexar County youth.

  • Poem 1: Feeding Patterns is more than just a poem that highlights the worries inflicted on children through disrupted class, paused friendships, and lost learning, but about the empowerment of our youth to guide them to their next school in life- as they step into the future where they were meant to thrive. This poem celebrates the power of unity in helping our young people navigate and walk through the “pitfalls and pandemic” of today into the future and success they deserve.
  • Poem 3: Unlocking Our Potential is a poem that highlights the power of partnership, the cornerstone for UP Partnership. “By linking our leadership, we help each student find their best…”- the poem celebrates the power of coming together in Bexar County to ensure that healing, access, and empowerment for all students in the county. This poem is truly a call to action for organizations, leaders, and the community to work together to create a better future for our youth.
  • Poem 2: Bright Stars is a poem that celebrates the brave souls and nurtured minds of the youth in Texas, bringing to light the importance of ensuring funding is allocated to the equitable solutions and interventions in our county’s schools. The youth of Texas will “shine more than we ever dreamed” paving the way for the“ Texas of tomorrow”. This poem shines a light of hope.

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.

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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
202.379.8940
paulina@uppartnership.org

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
Learn more about UP Partnership

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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
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

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