CAST Schools Advance Future Ready Activities Focused on Youth Voice
SAN ANTONIO – Future Ready Bexar County partners gathered to celebrate a historic almost $114 million in funding received by local anchor partners and national philanthropic investor Blue Meridian Partners. These investments will help the strategic community plan enter its next phase – which scales, deepens and strengthens initial community efforts to achieve the plan’s North Star goal of increasing the percentage of Bexar County high school graduates enrolling in a postsecondary degree or credential program to 70% by 2030. Reaching this goal through this first-ever countywide alignment will significantly improve the economic mobility of San Antonio youth and can have positive ripple effects for the future. Local nonprofit UP Partnership serves as Future Ready’s convening and coordinating backbone organization and drives the strategic plan’s progress across more than 90 institutional partners aligned with the plan’s goals.
The event served as a convening of the plan’s Coordinating Committee and the Joint Leadership Table (JOLT), which will lead the community organizations through the next phase of the Future Ready plan. During the next six years, these efforts will be boosted with funding, enabling the aligned organizations to expand, deepen and strengthen initial countywide efforts.
“This is a monumental investment in Bexar County’s children and youth, which will, no doubt, have a positive impact on our region’s future,” said UP Partnership Chair of the Board Elaine Mendoza. “This private investment in Bexar County’s young people is geared toward strategic efforts of Future Ready Bexar County partners who are working together to increase San Antonio’s economic well-being.”
When the Future Ready Bexar County Plan launched in 2022, UP Partnership provided leaders across San Antonio and Bexar County with the shared vision, language, goals, metrics, support, and initial convenings needed to drive aligned contributions toward the Plan’s North Star. During this phase, more than 90 institutional partners made concrete action commitments to scaling Healing, Access, and Voice for young people who undergo their services. These three focus areas are mutually agreed upon must-haves for advancing equity.
“Through its equity pillars of Healing, Access and Voice, the Future Ready Bexar County Plan is a national model for how we can strengthen every aspect of our city to better support children and youth,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
Of the almost $114 million, $64 million of private capital comes primarily from four of the local Future Ready Bexar County anchor partner institutions – United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, the Charles Butt Foundation, the H. E. Butt Foundation and the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn), as well as additional support from USAA, the Greater Texas Foundation and the Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.
Through successful implementation, this next phase of the Future Ready plan could unlock up to $330 million in public resources through 2030, which includes Pell Grants, College, Career and Military Readiness state funds, and local public dollar alignment. The City of San Antonio Department of Human Services will work with our youth-serving delegate agency partners to contribute to Future Ready Bexar County outcomes.
A catalyzing investment of $50 million is coming from national philanthropic investor Blue Meridian Partners, which identifies, invests in, and scales up strategies that target drivers of poverty from cradle to career.
“We believe that Future Ready Bexar County is poised to uproot multiple difficult challenges confronting youth and families in poverty in the San Antonio area,” said Othello Meadows, a Managing Director at Blue Meridian. “The vision set by UP Partnership and its dozens of committed community partners exemplifies why we invest in place-based partnerships through our Place Matters portfolio.
In 2020, Blue Meridian provided UP Partnership and the San Antonio Area Foundation an $8 million investment across two years, which was used for planning and to lay the groundwork for the current work, as well as invest in community-based organizations helping to ensure young people’s recovery from the COVID pandemic.
Anchor Partners and their roles
Today’s event formally introduced the Coordinating Committee of anchor partner institutions that will coordinate the private capital to create a shared operating environment for child and youth-serving partners across Bexar County to fulfill their Future Ready action commitments, uproot isolation between sectors and drive communitywide progress. Together, they will create a connected and relationship-rich city that helps young people thrive. The next phase will be supported by anchor partner institutions and intermediaries supporting the multiple school districts that will play a key ecosystem-level role in the plan implementation. These institutions are fully committed to achieving the Future Ready North Star goal and equity pillars, including embedding a postsecondary-going culture across Bexar County institutions and the community.
Each anchor partner has a defined role in coordinating, organizing and advancing the work of the Future Ready Plan across the more than 90 partner institutions.
The anchor partner institutions include United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, San Antonio Area Foundation, H. E. Butt Foundation, Communities In Schools of San Antonio, CAST Schools Network, Charles Butt Foundation, and Alamo Colleges District.
“Our commitment ensures students will have resource-rich learning environments that drive high-quality learning experiences, pushing us closer to meeting Future Ready Bexar County’s North Star of 70% postsecondary enrollment by the year 2030,” said Chris Martin, the CEO of United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.
Similarly, SAAFdn’s funding focuses on youth-focused grants supporting Future Ready initiatives.
“The Area Foundation will coordinate $25 million in funds to help Future Ready partners fulfill their action commitments to Healing, Access, and Voice,” said Lisa Brunsvold, the foundation’s interim CEO.
Additional funding from the H. E. Butt Foundation has a similar focus.
“Our focus will be to invest in building the organizational and leadership capacity of Future Ready partners committed to advancing Healing, Access, and Voice pillars at scale,” says H. E. Butt Foundation’s President and CEO David Rogers.
Other anchor partners focus on campus-driven initiatives and coordination.
“Communities In Schools of San Antonio is dedicated to coordinating resources and services between partners and campuses, ensuring the districts and post-secondary programs have the resources they need to meet the North Star goal by 2030,” said Communities In Schools of San Antonio President & CEO Jessica Weaver.
Additionally, funding from the Charles Butt Foundation will support anchor partner CAST Schools to strengthen and scale platforms for youth voice. CAST will ensure Future Ready strategies integrate the experiences and values of those most directly affected, young people themselves, in determining the terms of their future – thereby increasing local buy-in, engagement, impact, and sustainability of investment.
“CAST Schools advance Future Ready activities focused on youth voice by working to showcase, document, and expand practices that engage young people in shared decision making and co-creation,” said Jeanne Russell, CAST Schools Executive Director. “We’re looking forward to participating, along with our youth, in the Joint Leadership Table, growing signature community-wide programs such as Speak Up Speak Out, and supporting youth-led research, grantmaking, and advocacy.”
Anchor Partner Alamo Colleges District leads efforts for expanding multiple early pathways to post-secondary enrollment.
“The Alamo Colleges District is proud to advance the work of the Future Ready Plan alongside our partners. Our work will focus on enhancing economic and social mobility for our students by providing an expanded reach of our comprehensive advising services with partnering school districts and youth development agencies,” said Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Mike Flores.
To ensure these efforts meet their intended goals, bimonthly Joint Leadership Table meetings comprised of a senior leader, a youth leader and an additional institutional representative from each Future Ready partner promotes, shares and circulates successes in advancing goals tied to the plan’s equity pillars.
For more information, visit: uppartnership.org/future-ready