Our Tomorrow hosts third annual youth-led Policy Institute for 50 young people from across Bexar County

Our Tomorrow hosts third annual youth-led Policy Institute for 50 young people from across Bexar County

Youth leaders use institute to learn from city leaders and develop policy recommendations

San Antonio, Texas – UP Partnership’s Our Tomorrow network is hosting its third annual youth-led Policy Institute to empower and educate young people who have a desire to change the local landscape of youth voice and shared power.

The Policy Institute is a five-day event held July 19-23 that was developed by Our Tomorrow college and high school interns. Fifty young people from across Bexar County will attend the institute to receive training from experts in advocacy, policy, and data, reconnect with other students, and strategize on ways to ensure youth voice is not only heard, but utilized at decision-making tables across the community. They’ll develop policy recommendations throughout the week for issues they care about.

“This Policy Institute is an opportunity for our voice to be heard and to finally make a real change here in San Antonio” said Bella Garcia, a Policy Institute college intern and incoming Sophomore at Mills College.

Additionally, on July 26, Policy Institute students plan to invite city and school leaders to attend the Policy Institute Celebration and Close-out to present their policy recommendations.

The Policy Institute comes at a crucial moment, as students return to school in-person. The recommendations youth leaders will develop at the Institute will ensure continued progress for youth engagement at the city and school board level.

“I am excited about how well this Institute was designed and executed by the youth. I always tell students that engage with Our Tomorrow that now is the time for them to leave their legacy for the benefit of young people today and the generations of young people ahead—this gives them that opportunity,” shared Leroy Adams, UP Partnership’s Senior Manager of Youth Voice.

To learn more about the Policy Institute or attend in person, please contact Paulina Sosa directly to coordinate and schedule next steps.

  • Important Dates
    • All Policy Institute workshops, trainings and networking sessions will be held daily from 12-5 p.m. from Monday, July 19 – Friday, July 23.
    • The Policy Institute celebration will be held from 2-4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 26.

Our Tomorrow’s Youth in Power focuses on research, policy and funding this summer

Our Tomorrow’s Youth in Power focuses on research, policy and funding this summer

When young people develop their leadership skills, they are empowered to make their voices heard.

Our Tomorrow’s Youth in Power 2021, a three-track leadership skill-building series for young people ages 14-19, takes the concept of youth empowerment to the next level by establishing programs based on the key principles of research, policy and funding.

Our Tomorrow leaders began a Youth Participatory Action Research in June with 10 participants leading a research project on summer melt, defined as when high school seniors are accepted into college and do not enroll.

In July, Our Tomorrow will host its annual Policy Institute with an expected 50 participants spending a week learning about policy, advocacy, data and other ways to use their voice.

At the same time, Our Tomorrow is working with the San Antonio Area Foundation to start a Youth Grants Committee, an opportunity for young people who are interested in philanthropy and aligning investments into youth-serving organizations and programs.

Why is this important?
As UP Partnership progresses through its Citywide Planning for a Future Ready Bexar County process, keeping youth voice at the center is priority.

“We are creating spaces and platforms to help build on the voices and power young people already have,” said Leroy Adams, UP Partnership’s Senior Manager of Youth Voice.

Finally, the Youth Grants Committee’s focus will help young people be part of the funding alignment process, ensuring that youth voices are heard.

Digging Deeper
Though Our Tomorrow’s 2021 opportunities each have a unique focus—all center on ensuring young people have a voice in the decisions that will affect them well into their future. Here’s a deeper look at each of the programs and how they tie into UP Partnership’s overarching mission:

  • Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)
    This research program gives 10 juniors and seniors from across Bexar County the opportunity to work with Dr. Van Lac, a YPAR scholar. These students will be trained and supported as they focus on research around the phenomenon of “summer melt.” Their findings will be recorded in a best practice guide and results recording that will both be shared with UP Partnership’s Equitable Enrollment Collaborative in the fall. EEC participants will use these tools to guide their enrollment strategies. 
  • Policy Institute
    The 2021 Policy Institute, which is in its third year, allows young people and community leaders to engage on a deeper level to make a tangible impact in local politics.
    The Policy Institute will be held July 19-24 and focuses on policy, advocacy and data.
  • Youth Grant Committee (YGC)
    This initiative will offer high school students the opportunity to turn their ideas into action by determining how $40,000 in grants will be distributed. Working alongside leaders from the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFDN), students will receive training in philanthropy, reviewing grant applications, and consensus decision making.

What’s next
Our Tomorrow youth leaders are also part of new arts-centered initiatives, including a newly-launched podcast called Youth Voices and a student-led art exhibit in the fall called “WE ARE NOW”—both done in collaboration with Say Sí.

– By Paulina Sosa

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

our tomorrow logo supply education resources for young people