Organizations join forces to create a national standard for a leadership program geared toward youth-serving professionals

Organizations join forces to create a national standard for a leadership program geared toward youth-serving professionals

UP Partnership’s leadership program for youth-serving professionals sets the standard using Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework

UP Partnership, a San Antonio-based collective impact organization, and Search Institute, a Minnesota-based positive youth development and equity-focused research organization, are collaborating to create a national standard for a leadership development program. This program is specifically geared toward augmenting youth-serving professionals’ ability to better connect and build transformative relationships with those they serve, which in turn helps young people develop character virtues, such as generosity, self-control, civility, respect, humility, purpose, and curiosity.

Since 2019, UP Partnership has led Excel Academy, a leadership program rooted in racial equity, continuous improvement, adaptive leadership, and Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework. The core of Search Institute’s Framework is based on five elements vital to transformative relationships between youth-serving professionals and young people: expressing care, challenging growth, providing support, sharing power and expanding possibilities. Excel Academy participants are invited to engage in learning around these five elements through a racial equity lens. These elements are important for professionals to utilize in helping young people succeed while also focusing on equity.

“Developmental relationships are close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. Our Developmental Relationships Framework guides youth-serving professionals toward creating meaningful relationships with young people and providing the support and encouragement they need to thrive,” says Search Institute CEO, Ben Houltberg.

Search Institute and UP Partnership have worked together for several years on various projects. In the spring of 2022, both organizations saw an opportunity to scale up Excel Academy through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Through a $1.6 million investment, Search Institute and UP Partnership are currently creating the framework to further expand Excel Academy to a national scale through a new three-year framework that helps organizations to cultivate relationship- and character-rich climates.

“Through Excel Academy more than 75 youth serving professionals in over 26 youth-serving organizations in Bexar County have been impacted through the program, to-date. We are bringing together two professionals each from selected youth-serving organizations – one senior level, one frontline staffer. Having both perspectives at the table is vitally important to ensure diverse voices are heard,” said Emily Calderón Galdeano, UP Partnership’s Chief Strategy and Impact Officer. “The reach that both have to attain feedback from their teams and students inform how the participants create and continually improve their organizational work plans.”

Together senior-level and frontline staff members will co-create an organizational improvement plan that will help them implement changes based on the content covered in the sessions. Frontline and senior-level staff also receive individualized coaching from UP Partnership staff, and training from Search Institute, Quantum Possibilities, and UP Partnership facilitators.

Miray Seward is Search Institute’s Research Scientist and primary researcher for this pilot. The primary lead of Excel Academy at UP Partnership is Senior Manager of K12 and Youth Development Shelby Drayton.

A total of 23 organizations received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. To learn more about this grant and read more about the other awardees you can click here.

About Search Institute
Search Institute is a nonprofit organization with a sixty-plus-year history of collaboration with youth-serving organizations to conduct and apply research that promotes positive youth development and advances equity. Our tools build connections that help all young people learn and grow.

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 and have signed on to a community-wide strategic plan called Future Ready Bexar County or its networks of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Diplomás, and Excel Beyond the Bell. UP Partnership has 130 local partners and 500 volunteer leaders across seven sectors including: early childhood, preK12, postsecondary education, youth development, workforce, justice, funders, corporate partners and local government.

UP Partnership’s social media accounts for systems change networks are moving

UP Partnership’s social media accounts for systems change networks are moving

Big news: Social media accounts for UP Partnership’s systems change networks Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio and My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio are moving! In January 2023, you can find out more about network news, happenings and updates by following UP Partnership on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn using the handle @UPPartnershipSA.

This move comes as network structures and priorities are shifting toward the Future Ready Bexar County’s Plan’s collective North Star goal to increase the percentage of Bexar County’s High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential training to 70% by 2030. While the ongoing work of our systems change networks has an independent purpose, their operations are now highly braided under UP Partnership as the backbone organization.

Our Tomorrow’s Instagram page will also be renamed to UP Partnership Youth Voice.

We look forward to continuing to provide you with our latest network and future ready news through the UP Partnership brand.

Future Ready postsecondary partners provide and assist for local high school juniors’ and seniors’ post-high school graduation plans during inaugural event

Future Ready Postsecondary Partners Provide and Assist for Local High School Juniors’ and Seniors’ Post-high school graduation plans during Inaugural Event

On Nov. 3 and 4, two of UP Partnership’s networks, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio and Diplomás, hosted the inaugural Future Ready Bexar County Youth Summit which brought together approximately 400 students from East Central, Harlandale, San Antonio and Southwest Independent School Districts at Northeast Lakeview College. Programming at the summit focused on providing college and career planning support to students in attendance, many of whom identified as boys and young men of color, Dreamers and/or Latinx.

“It is UP Partnership’s belief that young people will be future ready when they feel supported to enroll, attend and succeed in postsecondary programs that lead to living wage careers,” UP Partnership’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer Emily Galdeano Calderon, Ed.D., said

“ With the support and partnership of our Future Ready partners made up of leaders from local school districts, colleges and out-of-school time organizations, we were able to provide targeted workshops on topics such as the college admissions process, financial aid, college life and support services, as well as better support on how these students can choose their career and future degrees after graduation,” she added.

In addition to those workshops, the students listened to inspiring stores from our keynote speakers that included Rebecca Alejos, Certified Advisor of High School Programs at Northeast Lakeview College; Michael Brooks, Founder of History in the Making, LLC; Brand Crooms, motivational speaker and visiting assistant professor at Trinity University; Tangila Dove, Vice President of Student Services at Northeast Lakeview College; Warren Hurd, Vice President of College Services at Northeast Lakeview College; and Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, Ph.D., CEO of UP Partnership, as well as had a fun visit from mascots such as the San Antonio Spurs Coyote, San Antonio College’s Ace the Armadillo and the host campus’s mascot Nico the Nighthawk.

Providing access to information and resources about college readiness and the college admissions process aligns with UP Partnership’s Future Ready Bexar County Plan which launched in April. This community-wide plan brings together more than 70 partners working toward the plan’s collective North Star goal – to increase the percentage of Bexar County’s High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degrees or credential programs to 70% by 2030. In Bexar County, that number is currently around 50%. This plan focuses on the three equity pillars of Healing, Access and Voice — the must HAVEs for Equity amongst Bexar County’s young people.

If your organization is ready to join in on the Future Ready movement or the Restorative Practices Collaborative, please contact admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to the work here. You can also follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media. 

UP Partnership is thankful to our partners and ask for your support on Giving Tuesday

UP Partnership is thankful to our partners and ask for your support on Giving Tuesday

At UP Partnership, we do the vital work of ensuring that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Our Future Ready Bexar County Plan serves as the framework to reach the community’s collective North Star — to increase the percentage of Bexar County’s High School grades enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030. In Bexar County, that number is currently around 50%. To reach this goal, our work focuses on the equity pillars of HEALING, ACCESS and VOICE — the must HAVEs for EQUITY amongst Bexar County’s young people.

We do this work with the more than 70 community partners, across varying sectors, who have signed on to the Future Ready Bexar County Plan. While UP Partnership does the work as a backbone — serving as the lead convener and providing space for collaboration and centralized support — it is our community partners that are the “boots on the ground,” putting in the necessary work to ensure all young people can reach their full potential and become contributing members of society.

It is their hard work, in their communities, that is propelling forward the collective North Star of UP Partnership’s Future Ready Bexar County Plan.

On Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, we ask that you consider supporting our nonprofit partners during this national day of giving back to your community, in whatever way you can. It is through the generosity of donors like you that our partners can continue their vital work of supporting and bettering the lives of people in their communities. A complete list of our Future Ready partners can be found here.

UP Partnership is thankful to our funders who allow us to do the vital work in our community

UP Partnership is thankful to our funders who allow us to do the vital work in our community

At UP Partnership, we do the vital work of ensuring that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Our Future Ready Bexar County Plan serves as the framework to reach the community’s collective North Star — to increase the percentage of Bexar County’s High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degrees or credential programs to 70% by 2030. In Bexar County, that number is currently around 50%. To reach this goal, our work focuses on the equity pillars of Healing, Access and Voice – the must HAVEs for Equity amongst Bexar County’s young people.

We do this work with the 71 community partners, across seven sectors, who have signed on the Future Ready Bexar County Plan. However, we cannot do our work as a backbone – serving as the lead convener and providing space for collaboration and centralized support for items such as cohesive data collection, communications messaging and policy that advance our work – without the generosity of those that fund our work. These funders include:

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Blue Meridian Partners
  • Charles Butt Foundation
  • City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services
    Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas
  • Corporate Partners for Racial Equity
  • National Post-Secondary Institute
  • San Antonio Area Foundation
  • StriveTogether
  • USAA
  • 3M
  • Enterprise Holdings Foundation

As we take time this week to give thanks for what we have in our lives, we at UP Partnership would like to say thank you to those who understand the importance of the work we do. The Future Ready plan and the success of Bexar County’s young people relies on the generous support of partners like you, and we’re grateful to you for making this future possible.

UP Partnership’s justice work augmented through Corporate Partners for Racial Equity Funding

UP Partnership’s justice work augmented through Corporate Partners for Racial Equity Funding

In May of 2022, UP Partnership was named one of six implementation partners by Corporate Partners for Racial Equity (CPRE) in which the organization was awarded $125,000 annually through 2024, to support My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio’s Restorative Practices Collaborative (RPC). The RPC is a long-standing collaborative effort and the funds received will augment the power of its work, and that of many of its partners, through grant funds beyond what was awarded to UP Partnership.

CPRE was formed a year ago in 2021 by leading local executives such as RC Buford, CEO of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, Phil Green, Chairman and CEO of Frost Bank and Kevin Voelkel, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, among other industry leaders. Committing nearly $14 million over five years, funding focused on three key focus areas — education, economic opportunity and safety and justice.

UP Partnership’s CEO, Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, Ph.D., was invited in January 2021 to Chair the Justice and Safety Resource Group. He recruited national experts and leaders from My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio to shape the investment strategy for reducing racial inequities in and around the justice system. Through extensive background research, national interviews and literature reviews, the priority strategy was formalized and approved by the coalition CEO’s and corporations in the collective.

The funding received from CPRE enabled UP Partnership and key community partners to continue the important work of fostering healing in our community’s young people. We believe that healing, along with access and voice, are the must HAVEs for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people, and are the three pillars of the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, launched in April. Through that plan, we are working with a broad coalition of partners, across varying sectors, in a collaborative effort to reach a collective North Star goal, which is to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030.

Through year one implementation phase work, UP Partnership created a rigorous selection process alongside the San Antonio Area Foundation to provide further funding to six community partners. Those community partners are 100 Black Men of San Antonio Inc., American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas, Empower House, Family Service Association and Rise Recovery. Each partner will provide direct training of restorative justice and social emotional healing in Bexar County.

Many of these partners have a longstanding relationship with UP Partnership’s RPC providing restorative practice training on tools such as peace circles and peace corners to community partners such as local school districts like Harlandale ISD, Judson ISD and San Antonio ISD.

Launched in the 2019-2020 school year, across 21 schools in our partnering districts, the RPC was a response to community outcry to do something different than punitive discipline in order to break the pipeline-to-prison. Based in Indigenous practices, restorative justice works to build the community as a whole and hold community members accountable to each other. The belief is when a community is more connected, the more likely it is to repair harm when it occurs.

In Bexar County, there are 710,000 young people ages 0-24 years and, of that, 84% are young people of color. Restorative justice is a cost efficient strategy that works on improving the quality of life for all those involved. Outside of the school, restorative justice allows families to heal from daily and life-long trauma.

In the two school years since its implementation, schools using restorative justice have seen positive shifts in discipline and school attendance. The benefits of restorative justice are noticeable and tangible. Changes can be seen in schools as everyone — students, teachers and administrators — embrace restorative practices. School communities are seeing the benefits of a healthy campus culture and students are learning the valuable life skills of how to process their thoughts and feelings and to use their voice to express themselves in a positive way.

As one Tafolla Middle School student said, “To me, circle is life because it helped me become the person I am today. It helped me grow.”

Honoring Native American Heritage, Culture and Accomplishments in November

Honoring Native American Heritage, Culture and Accomplishments in November

November 1 kicked off Native American Heritage month, a month not only to celebrate indigenous cultures and contributions, but to learn about the rich history of all American tribes. This month also honors the indigenous people’s ability to overcome the unique challenges they have faced over the years.

The Boy Scouts of America were the first to have a dedicated “First Americans” day at the behest of Dr. Arthur C. Parkers, Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a joint resolution that called for the month of November to be designated as “Native American Indian Heritage Month.” In 2008, the language of the resolution was amended to include Alaskan Natives.

As of 2021, there were 574 federally recognized Native American tribes and 6.79 million Native Americans with their own cultures, traditions and histories. The historically known narrative of Native Americans, however, has been largely told through a Western perspective, not a Native perspective. The month of November highlights the chance to learn from the stories of those who lived history; however, we have the chance to respect and learn throughout the entire year.

November also gives us the change to acknowledge the trauma indigenous nations have suffered — from colonization to genocide — and their continued struggles with stereotyping and cultural disrespect. By taking the time to learn from the offered stories and history of Native Americans, we can shift the narrative to a more historically accurate perspective that allows Native Americans to speak to their lived experiences.

Restorative justice originated from indigenous communities use of peacemaking circles to address and repair harm within a group. Restorative justice focuses on the harm done, restoring relationships, and building community. It can be used in a variety of settings, including schools. At UP Partnership, we highlight the importance of healing circles in our Restorative Practices Collaborative. Circles can provide a safe space for students that allows them to heal from experienced trauma, while fostering a community of support and understanding.

“While the language of restorative justice is contemporary, the [Indigenous] foundation of it is always seeking restoration and renewal to find the well-being of the community,” one partner recently explained in an interview. These circles make up a large part of the teachings from our partners such as American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial MissionsEmpower House, and IDRA and engagement within three school districts in Bexar County – JudsonHarlandale and San Antonio ISDs.

Restorative justice is just one way UP Partnership and its partners are implementing healing within Bexar County’s young people. Healing — along with Access and Voice — are the equity pillars that drive Future Ready Bexar County, a community wide plan that serves as UP Partnership’s strategic plan.

By having practices such as peacemaking circles that help young people recognize and talk out their issues, young people in Bexar County are receiving valuable conflict resolution tactics that increase healing. The work our partners do in restorative justice will be key as we collectively work toward the North Star goal of the Future Ready Bexar County Plan — to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School’s graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030.

UP Partnership’s Communications Council aims to share best practices and messaging across network institutions

UP Partnership's Communications Council aims to share best practices and messaging across network institutions

In April of this year, we launched the Future Ready Bexar County Plan which brings together nearly 70 institutions, across various sectors. Through institutional agreements, our community partners have committed themselves to working together in a collaborative effort to reach a collective North Star — to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030. Enrollment in Bexar County currently sits at around 50%.

In pursuit of that North Star, our partners have agreed to aligned communications celebrating the progress of the Future Ready Plan. Led by UP Partnership, partners will serve as media spokespersons and share the story of the Future Ready Plan through their own marketing channels. Through this Communications Council, we will share, in one voice, the narrative of healing, access, and voice as it connects back to the Future Ready Bexar County Plan and that collective North Star goal. We will collect and highlight stories of success as we look at the bigger picture of why the work that we and our community partners do is so important to ensuring a bright future for the young people of Bexar County.

With a newly designed Communications Council, we brought together leadership and communications experts from across the various sectors for an inaugural meeting that was held on Aug. 19, 2022.

During this virtual event, community partners came together to define the purpose of the Communications Council which is for its members to share best practices, stories of success, and new opportunities so that we can comprehensively share widely. We also discussed Future Ready Bexar County Plan messaging and how we can support and elevate each other as we do the important work necessary to reach our collective North Star goal.

The Communications Council will meet once again in early November in a quarterly cadence.

If your organization is ready to join in on the Future Ready movement, please contact admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to the work here.

You can also follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media.

Restorative Practices Collaborative held its Principal Kickoff for the 2022-2023 school year

Restorative Practices Collaborative holds its Principal Kickoff for the 2022-2023 school year

On Sept. 1, 2022, the Restorative Practices Collaborative held its Principal Kickoff for the 2022-2023 school year at the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Wells Center located in historic Pearl. We brought together principals and community partners including Judson ISD’s Chief of Equity and Diversity Dr. Paula Johnson and Dawn Kulpa, Director of Restorative Practices for San Antonio Independent School District.

Through a check in process, partners came to consensus that they hope to change systems to scale restorative practices in both classrooms and the community to increase a sense of belonging, which will help foster better practices in the classrooms and decrease unfair disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact young men of color through their efforts in the Restorative Practices Collaborative.

There are two components of the Restorative Practices Collaborative, the first of those being community building, through partnerships with organizations like American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AITSCM) and Empower House. Both organizations practice and teach community partners about restorative practices such as peace circles and peace corners and how to incorporate these best practices into their own organizations, including many campuses from the previously mentioned school districts.

Those campuses that have this knowledge can help further build campus capacity in these restorative practices, Ramon J. Vasquez, Jr., said, particularly within other schools in the participating school districts.

A major obstacle the Restorative Practices Collaborative sees is that not all schools within a district carry out restorative practices, which can particularly be challenging for students that are in participating alternative schools who gain some skills to help with the transition back to a home school, but may not necessarily be enough to ensure their success, Vasquez added in a conversation during the event on trying to engage entire school districts, rather than on an individual campus basis.

The second component is collaborative improvement which is led by the work that we do at UP Partnership as the collective’s backbone organization, which includes making space for these organizations to meet and further collaborate and holding partners accountable to the community framework laid out in the Future Ready Bexar County Plan. Through that plan, there is a keen focus on the equity pillars of healing, voice and access—the must HAVEs for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. Falling under the equity pillar of HEALING— Young people will be future ready when they all have the developmental relationships and healing they need— is the vital work of the Restorative Practices Collaborative.

Overall, this work feeds into the Future Ready North Star goal of increasing the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030 (currently, this number sits at around 50%).

If your organization is ready to join the Future Ready movement or the Equitable Enrollment Collaborative, please contact admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to the work here.

You can also follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media.

UP Partnership executive chosen to be part of national leadership class by The Allstate Foundation

UP Partnership executive chosen to be part of national leadership class by The Allstate Foundation

UP’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, Dr. Emily Calderón Galdeano, is one of 35 leaders accepted nationally

UP Partnership’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, Emily Calderón Galdeano, Ed.D., will be a part of The Allstate Foundation’s Nonprofit Leadership Center Executive Leadership Program’s Class of 2023, a national leadership program aimed toward augmenting the skills of nonprofit leaders to further transform their organizations, their communities and the nonprofit sector.

Dr. Calderón Galdeano is one of the 35 leaders nationally selected to be a part of the highly selective program’s 2023 class. Leaders chosen represent a variety of nonprofit sectors roles, locations, experiences and perspectives. Dr. Calderón Galdeano is one of two nonprofit leaders from Texas that was chosen for the class.

Launched in 2014, the Executive Leadership Program is administered in partnership with the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management. Through the program, academic practitioners provide in-person training to thought-leaders through classroom training, executive coaching and peer-to-peer training. Program participants build leadership skills including personal leadership, organizational leadership and nonprofit management.

In addition, the cohort will discuss different topics such as developing high-performing teams, negotiating for mutually beneficial outcomes, guiding difficult conversations and understanding a nonprofit’s financial position.

“I look forward to bringing back ways to further transform our community as we work toward our Future Ready Bexar County Plan’s collective North Star goal,” Dr. Calderón Galdeano, said. Through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, launched in April 2022, UP Partnership is working with a collection of partners, across varying sectors, in a collaborative effort to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030.