UP Partnership’s Restorative Practices Collaborative aims to increase inclusion practices for local boys and young men of color​

UP Partnership's Restorative Practices Collaborative aims to increase inclusion practices for local boys and young men of color

Did you know that in Bexar County, Black students represent 6% of the student population, yet they represent 11% of out-of-school suspensions, according to a 2020 Texas Education Agency report. This statistic is due, in part, to punitive and exclusionary discipline practices like suspensions and expulsion and those types of punishment affect students of color through isolation, alienation, and criminalization.

This is where UP Partnership’s Restorative Practices Collaborative focuses their work.

The purpose of the Restorative Practices Collaborative (RPC) is to change systems to scale restorative justices in classrooms and communities to increase a sense of belonging and connection for boys and young men of color. The RPC serves all students of color, with a focus on boys and young men of color,on twenty-one campuses, in three partner districts, in partnership with Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center, the Restorative Practices Collaborative, strives to reduce those disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact young students of color.

Through monthly community building sessions and providing and sharing data to track progress and share best practices, the RPC seeks to strengthen relationships and provide alternative methods of discipline practices through a comprehensive, focused, community driven strategy. We work with our long-term partners, American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AITSCM) and Empower House, to deliver Community Building Circles to Judson ISD, Harlandale ISD and San Antonio ISD.

As we progress with our Future Ready Bexar Plan and its collective North Star, to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030, the Restorative Practices Collaborative’s work is deeply rooted in the equity pillar of healing.

Along with access and voice, healing is one of the identified must HAVEs, an acronym that aligns with the pillars that lead toward equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. Young people will be future ready when they all have the developmental relationships and healing supports they need. By focusing on healing traumas and fostering positive relationships with adults, we will increase high school completion and participation in programs outside of school, while also reducing suspensions, expulsions and juvenile court appearances.

We kicked off the final semester for the current Restorative Practices Collaborative cohort with principals and district leads from the three school districts previously mentioned, so please stay tuned for a recap of that powerful event. A new cohort will start in 2023.

We are all in this together. It will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.

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

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

Diplomás network has tangible impact on Latinx students in Bexar County

Diplomás network has tangible impact on Latinx students in Bexar County

Today we kickoff Hispanic Heritage Month—a month to appreciate and celebrate the culture, history and diversity of Latinx communities. Introduced in June 1968 by Congressman George E. Brown, the celebration was originally only one week long. It was extended to the now 30-day celebration by President Ronald Reagan and was formally adopted into law on Aug. 17, 1988.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year. While the Sept. 15 start day may seem odd, it is important and relevant considering Sept. 15 is the day of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, followed by Mexico’s independence day on Sept. 16 and Chile’s independence day on Sept. 18. The month ends three days after Día de la Raza (“Race Day”), held Oct. 12, a prominent holiday celebration in many Latin countries that honors the rich history and culture of a pre-colonized America. 

As we begin this month of celebration of the Hispanic culture, we would be remiss to acknowledge the difficulties and disparities that continue to impact our Latinx communities.

At UP Partnership, our network, Diplomás, is a collective impact effort that unites 23 cross-sector partners to increase the college attainment and quality of life of San Antonio’s Latinx youth

Diplomás’s core beliefs center around economic viability as it ties to the success of Latinx students, college access for everyone and shared responsibility between community partners in student success. Therefore, at UP Partnership, we  focus on creating alignment between community partners, streamlining college admissions resources and supporting Dreamers in getting into, and completing, college. 

Providing ACCESS to postsecondary opportunity is the foundation of Diplomás, and is one of the three equity pillars, along with HEALING and VOICE, that our recently  launched Future Ready Bexar County Plan is rooted in. Those equity pillars have been identified as the must HAVES for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people.  As we work toward our collective North Star goal, to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030, the work that Diplomás does is integral to reaching our goal. This work will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Plan.

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.

Local nonprofits looking for high school-aged artists to submit artwork for an upcoming exhibit

Local nonprofits looking for high school-aged artists to submit artwork for an upcoming exhibit

SAY Sí and UP Partnership aim to showcase young artists’ during the WE ARE NOW 2022 exhibit in December

San Antonio, Texas (August 24, 2022): SAY Sí and UP Partnership’s network, Our Tomorrow, invite diverse young artists from local high schools grades 9-12 to submit artwork to be considered for a curated hybrid art exhibition now through Sept. 30. Art mediums accepted can range from items such as photography, painting, illustration, video, to poetry, performance and others.

Once all submissions are received, a committee of professional judges will review each piece and make decisions on what will be used for the exhibit. Final selections will be announced by November 2022.

Artists chosen will be featured at the WE ARE NOW 2022 art exhibit that will be held at SAY Sí’s headquarters at 1310 S. Brazos St. on Dec. 10, 2022.

Artists are encouraged to explore the following themes:
Self-Discovery: Since 2020, we’ve experienced so many changes. In the last couple of years, What have you uncovered about yourself or your perspective on the world around you? Consider how the changes around you have developed new views in your life: new perspectives on mental health, social injustices, cultural understanding, and more. Let your artwork be a reflection of yourself, who you are and what you believe in.

Social Activism: While youth around the world face socioeconomic, political and cultural struggles, how can artistic expressions explore some of the most relevant social justice issues of today? From COVID-19 casualties, gun violence, school shootings, police brutality, reproductive rights, and racial discrimination to financial loss, mental wellness and social unrest, youth have raised their voice to empower themselves and others through resilience, creativity and community.

About SAY Sí: SAY Sí is a national award-winning year-round, long-term, nonprofit arts-based youth development program for San Antonio area students in grades 6-12 that provides opportunities for these students to develop artistic and social skills in preparation for higher educational advancement and professional careers. SAY Sí programs serve over 200 students from all of San Antonio’s school districts – in addition to serving 3,000 youth in community programs. SAY Sí accepts diverse students from all areas of San Antonio, but first priority is given to students from inner-city schools and low economic households. SAY Sí’s unique approach to education has placed the organization on the national stage, with recognition as one of the top out-of-school-time organizations in the country by The Wallace Foundation on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. More recently, SAY Sí was one of seven international youth arts organizations chosen to receive an inaugural Creative Catalyst Award by Adobe Project 1324 on Tuesday, February 8, 2016. Creative Catalyst Awards are given to organizations across the globe that support and inspire the next generation of creatives. For more information, visit www.saysi.org.

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. UP Partnership believes that making sure all of our young people are future ready is our entire community’s responsibility. This mission is ambitious, challenging— and achievable — if we organize our efforts. UP Partnership drives a countywide strategy through collaboration, data sharing and advocacy. Its work is conducted through collaborative efforts with its partners that focus on education and youth development initiatives through its networks of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell and Our Tomorrow.

Envisioning a Future Ready Community: 3 pillars that guide our plan

Envisioning a Future Ready Community: 3 pillars that guide our plan

It is the responsibility of everybody in the community to ensure that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, UP Partnership will work with a collection 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.

This is, without a doubt, an ambitious undertaking, but we also know that the framework of the Future Ready Bexar County plan will support and facilitate the differences required to attain that North Star. The plan is centered around three equity pillars — healing, access and voice, the must HAVEs for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. Throughout this article, we will address how each of these pillars will ensure that young people in Bexar County are future ready.

Pillar One: Healing — Young people will be future ready when they all have the developmental relationships and healing supports they need. By focusing on healing traumas and fostering positive relationships with adults, we will increase high school completion and participation in programs outside of school, while also reducing suspensions, expulsions and juvenile court appearances.

Pillar Two: Access — Young people will be future ready when they can all access high quality education and career opportunities. By ensuring young people have crucial resources and support, we will increase postsecondary enrollment and success, as well as access to key technology needed for success.

Pillar Three: Voice — Young people will be future ready when their voices are heard and their leadership potential is nurtured. By uplifting the voices of young people, we will give young people ownership of problem solving and policy making at the tables addressing the very issues that they face.

We are all in this together. It will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, and this list continues to grow with more and more partners signing up to be institutional agreement partners to the plan.

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.

Follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media @UPPartnershipSA.

Leaping Forward Together: Reflecting on Seven Years of Partnership

Leaping Forward Together: Reflecting on Seven Years of Partnership

My family and I made the leap to San Antonio seven years ago this July. We wanted to be closer to our parents and we wanted our parents to be involved in our children’s lives. We were also excited to escape Chicago winters, even knowing we were trading them for the unrelenting heat of Texas summers.

This was a leap that led to many others. 

I was fortunate to get a job supporting Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio. Two years into that work I took on the executive role with UP Partnership, known at the time as the  P16Plus Council. We then merged Excel Beyond the Bell and UP in service of making San Antonio the “top city in the country for youth to learn, grow, and thrive.” 

These roles connected me to collective impact – the art and science of working across institutions to solve big population level problems, such as educational equity. Collective impact quickly became my professional home. It gave me a way to combine my commitment to young people and my passion for urban planning, largely by building new structures for focused partnerships. 

I love how collective impact constantly draws us into the unknown, calling us forth into new possibilities. It helps us to see that there is an infinite pool of solutions waiting to take shape: Connections that need to be built. Agreements waiting to be formed. Collaborations ready to take root. And so many of these possibilities require enhanced versions of ourselves, new ways of showing up in the work.

Throughout these years, I’ve had the great fortune of working with more than two dozen staff and hundreds of passionate volunteers. Together, as one friend said, “we have thinned the walls that separate our institutions.” We have built a growing community movement by embracing emergence at each step of the way. 

While some benefits of this movement are intangible, many of the results are concrete. 

Through the leadership of Diplomás, we’ve built breakthrough training resources and large-scale convenings for educators. Through My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, the Restorative Practices Collaborative has scaled restorative justice tools such as peace circles and corners, reducing several school districts’ reliance on punitive discipline. Through Excel Beyond the Bell, youth serving agencies have gained unprecedented access to program data and Excel Academy has helped dozens of agencies build higher quality relationships with those they serve, a key to strong program outcomes. 

Working alongside many other contributors, our collective has helped the larger San Antonio community to deepen its commitment to racial equity. We were among the first communities in the country to commit to an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, we have set a shared North Star of attaining 70% postsecondary enrollment for our high school graduates by 2030, a goal that will help to uproot longstanding racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic disparities.

Together we’ve helped bring tens of millions of new dollars to the table to support young people. This has happened through: multi-million dollar increases in how the city funds youth violence prevention, a dedicated $10 million youth recovery fund through ARPA, $4 million in new community grants we’ve facilitated through Blue Meridian Partners, and $14 million in gifts we’ve helped shape through the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity in partnership with the San Antonio Area Foundation and the United Way. 

Importantly, we haven’t settled for just using our own voices. We have prepared young people for future waves of advocacy. This was initially accomplished by revitalizing the San Antonio Youth Commission and more recently through youth-led research, policy training, grantmaking, and storytelling in conjunction with partners such as SAY Sí.

Collectively, we have treated the unknown as a stepping stone to discovering what’s possible. As a result, we have found new ways of leading together, built a movement that is now more unified than ever, and many of us have made close new friendships along the way. 

The next phase of our work will be anchored by the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, which supports our new bold North Star goal. This plan is backed by nearly seventy institutions, including local government departments, school districts, universities, non profits, and funders. These partners have all made explicit commitments to scaling Healing instead of punishment, Access instead of disconnection, and Voice instead of isolation, the must HAVEs for our young people to shine.  

Today, so many leaps later, I am proud to walk alongside so many of you brilliant community champions. Thank you all for your dedication to this work and for allowing UP Partnership and myself to support along the way. I am excited to continue leaping forward together and, in so doing, breaking down the walls that separate us.

In very serious cahoots,

Ryan Lugalia-Hollon

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.

National Resource Network logo
Communities in Schools San Antonio

UP Partnership and San Antonio Area Foundation announce grant application period open to nonprofits serving youth

UP Partnership and San Antonio Area Foundation announce grant application period open to nonprofits serving youth

Applications due April 9, 2021, 11:59 p.m. CDT

UP Partnership and the San Antonio Area Foundation are pleased to announce a call for proposals for the Youth Leadership Development Grant open to Bexar County organizations that serve young people. 

The Area Foundation, an UP Partnership anchor partner, is leading this community grantmaking initiative that will award up to 15 Youth Leadership Development grants and four Artist Fellowship grants throughout the city. These grants will support community-serving organizations that work directly with young people to prepare them for future success, career readiness, and resiliency. 

These grants are made possible through an investment from Blue Meridian Partners as part of a community-wide strategy to ensure equitable recovery in San Antonio and spur long-term economic mobility in our city.

About Our Partners and Purpose

UP Partnership serves as the backbone of the larger equitable recovery initiative, accelerating a citywide plan alongside its 175 cross-sector and youth-serving institutions throughout Bexar County. The citywide alignment initiative is composed of UP Partnership and its two anchor partners, the City of San Antonio and the Area Foundation, as well as implementation partners who will receive funding for their work on this project. This particular project is between UP Partnership, the Area Foundation and selected grantees. 

About the Youth Leadership Development Grant

Youth Leadership Development grants will support organizations that develop and foster the following strategies for youth and have a strategy in place for youth empowerment and growth:

  • Leadership: Develop young leaders by providing opportunities for youth to exercise their voice
  • Resiliency: Support social and emotional learning and mental health to develop resiliency
  • Future Success: Prepare youth for future success by offering education and career development programs that align to student passion and interest

Number of grants: 15
Grant Amount: $5-50,000 grants/ 2 years (depends on the size of the organization)

About the Artist Fellowship Grant

Additionally, art-based learning grants will support four organizations awarded Youth Leadership Development grants to hire artist fellows. This fellowship will support art-specific strategies centered on empowering the youth voice and building civic engagement. These projects are intended to promote collaboration between an artist or artist collective and youth participants.

Artist fellowship grants are added on to the Youth Leadership Development Grant applications and foster the following strategies:

  • Use art to support social and emotional learning and mental health to develop resiliency
  • Develop youth leaders by providing opportunities for youth to exercise their voice through art
  • Partner with UP Partnership’s Our Tomorrow network on a citywide youth-led exhibit
  • Share artist and youth participant stories on Our Tomorrow’s podcast

Art Fellow: $15,000
Partnering organization: $5,000

Anchor Partners