StriveTogether is excited to congratulate Cradle to Career Network member UP Partnership in San Antonio, Texas, for reaching proof point, an important milestone of progress along the StriveTogether Theory of ActionTM. Reaching proof point recognizes communitywide efforts to change systems and improve outcomes for children.
UP Partnership has been a leader for systems change in San Antonio, and throughout surrounding Bexar County, by supporting partners to use data to make decisions, guiding effective policy changes and facilitating collaborative action across the community. Here are a few examples of UP Partnership’s impact:
Partners have access to meaningful real-time data.
Before the partnership formed, partners were using observational data and making individual assumptions about what was best for children. UP Partnership provides tailored data tools to give partners the data they need to make informed decisions. By joining one of the partnership’s networks, partners commit to breaking down data by race/ethnicity and economic subgroups and discuss interpretation of results.
UP Partnership maintains data-sharing agreements with nine independent school districts and maintains an agency-level dashboard for dozens of institutions. This commitment also played out in Harlandale Independent School District when staff looked at disciplinary and attendance data dashboards to rethink their disciplinary practices. They acknowledged the connection between chronic absenteeism and disciplinary involvement that disproportionately affects male students of color and decided to adopt restorative justice principles. With data to pave the way, multiple campuses are revamping their entire disciplinary systems toward a more inclusive and reparative approach.
Local policies are changing, with equity at the center.
One of the partnership’s networks, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, led a campaign to end the city’s youth curfew ordinance. The ordinance stated that youth who were outside unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. were susceptible to a Class C misdemeanor ticket, requiring them to appear in municipal court and pay a fine of up to $500. By using data and bringing together local influencers, My Brother’s Keeper led the decriminalization of the curfew violation. UP Partnership also supported other local leaders — from Goodwill, to Communities In Schools, to the City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services — to create a youth re-engagement center. The center specializes in supporting disconnected youth by providing the local police department with a case management resource, a new Juvenile Case Management Department of the San Antonio Municipal Court/Truancy Court, for young people in need.
Additionally, partners in San Antonio are increasingly committed to putting youth voice at the center of their efforts, so that systems change is not just happening for young people but with them. This commitment has ranged from forming a youth-led policy agenda, to teaching adults to share power with those they serve, to completing a citywide student voice survey. UP Partnership’s Our Tomorrow network has engaged students by forming a youth-driven steering committee, training young people in policymaking and empowering them to share their voices through an annual summit called “SA Youth Speak Up.” More than 100 youth participated in this year’s summit, sharing their top concerns and offering insights around their policy priorities for the upcoming year. UP Partnership has connected Our Tomorrow with city leaders in a way that has resulted in a level of youth inclusion unparalleled throughout most of the country.
Partners have a shared vision, and it shows.
Founded in 2009, UP Partnership strategically convenes partners around a shared community vision and common metrics to improve outcomes and narrow disparity gaps. Another of their action networks is Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio, which has adopted a multi-year strategic plan that unites all of the city’s youth-serving nonprofits behind a shared commitment to social and emotional growth. Before the partnership formed, there were separated and duplicative efforts taking place across the city. “It was difficult for partners across San Antonio to see beyond themselves and their individual agendas, to understand what gaps they might best fill as it relates to the larger picture of serving our kids,” shared Kelly Hughes Burton, executive director of City Year San Antonio.
With the support of UP Partnership, partners are now working toward shared goals. What does this type of collective effort look like? It looks like 175 partners developing and contributing to a set of community measures that drive their work as organizations and collectively as a partnership. It looks like postsecondary partnerships that led to San Antonio driving up its FAFSA completion rates, becoming a Promise city where eligible students can go to community college tuition-free and expanding dual-credit offerings aimed at improving outcomes for Latinx students. Ultimately, it looks like big systems changing in ways that work for more students.
UP Partnership is the 13th Cradle to Career Network community to earn StriveTogether’s proof point designation.