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.

National Resource Network logo
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

my brothers keeper logo