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San Antonio continues to be the only region in the state of Texas to partner with the Annette Strauss Institute at UT-Austin to bring their signature youth civic engagement event, Speak Up! Speak Out!, to a metropolitan region. This year, student teams from Krueger Middle School, Advanced Learning Academy, International School of the Americas, CAST Tech, CAST STEM, and CAST Lead will be competing this year. Finalists will advance to a statewide competition in Austin in February.
Tony Weaver, Jr. is an award-winning writer and educator creating diverse stories that make young people feel seen and valued. After seeing the impact that media stereotypes had on students in his community, Tony embarked on a journey to create new media narratives that would challenge the status quo.
He is the CEO of Weird Enough Productions, where he developed The UnCommons, an award-winning webcomic with over 800,000 readers. In 2018, Tony made history as the first comic writer to ever be selected for the Forbes “30 Under 30.” He was named a History Shaker by Coca Cola, a Global Barrier Breaker by Marriott International, and a Champion for Change by CNN.
Tony has brought stories and wisdom to the Ted Stage, as well as organizations like Facebook, The Boys and Girls Club of America, and The American Federation of Teachers. Tony has collaborated with brands like Instagram, Coca Cola, Marriott International, and American Express to champion creativity, self-love, and being weird.
By being open and vulnerable about his childhood experiences, and telling new stories that uplift underrepresented voices, Tony hopes to show everyone that as long as you pursue your truth you’re never too weird, you’re just Weird Enough.
One of the core pillars of CAST is Student Voice and Agency. Students act as co-creators and co-problem solvers at the school and beyond, offering ideas, posing new questions and authentically engaging in their education. Student-led learning promotes effective collaboration, development of leadership skills, and the development of self-management, goal setting, self-advocacy, and student agency. In the spirit of promoting student voice, the CAST Network Student Advisory established the Virtual Youth Rally to showcase their ideas through civic workshops, speakers, curated student art, and a poetry reading. We hope to encourage them to find issues within their communities and share their solutions.
Kristen Grant-Evuleocha, also known as Kristen Geez, is a digital content creator, training consultant, TEDx speaker, author, and founder of Advising Generation Z, a non-profit organization focused on giving students and young adults become the best version of themselves. Kristen holds a BS. in Ethical Leadership, MEd in Leadership & Development, and will begin pursuing her Doctoral Degree in degree in Leadership and Learning Specialization in Organizational Leadership fall of 2020.
Kristen is the red carpet reporter for Women That Soar, a Dallas-based media and content development company. She creates and produces empowering and inspiring content, for broadcast, online, digital media, and live events.
Kristen is dedicated to building confidence, developing leadership, inspiring unity, and setting high standards for young people and the adults that love them. Her philosophy of creating context and covering events that help develop and empower people has inspired thousands of adults and children to pursue their personal and professional goals.
Lorenzo Gomez III has served as CEO of Geekdom, Texas’ largest coworking space, and is cofounder of The 80/20 Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to investing in the future of San Antonio.
Despite having little college experience, he used valuable lessons from his entry-level jobs to catapult himself into high-impact positions. At the managed-cloud provider, Rackspace, he worked closely with co-founder Graham Weston.
Prior to 2017, Lorenzo was tasked with converting a dying downtown sector into an attractive tech district. He recruited startups, evaluated competitive coworking spaces, convinced civic and government leaders to support tech companies considering relocation and asked academic institutions to supply talent. The goal of this work was to establish and develop a tech district in the heart of San Antonio, one that did not exist yet.
Lorenzo’s driving passion is his love for his city, San Antonio, Texas. It is truly a city on the rise. His goal is to enable others to see the vision and help advance the seventh largest city in the United States into a world-class center for startups, especially in the tech industry.
Toward that end, Lorenzo collaborates with a network of professionals to fortify growth of the tech district in downtown San Antonio. He is a cofounder of Techbloc and serves as board member, advisor, and mentor for a variety of local and national tech and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Mark Menjivar is a San Antonio based artist and Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University. He is also a current member of the Advanced Learning Academy (ALA) Advisory Board. His children are also students at ALA. His work explores diverse subjects through photography, archives, oral history and objects. He holds a BA in Social Work from Baylor University and an MFA in Social Practice from Portland State University.
He has engaged in projects at venues including the Rothko Chapel, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, The Houston Center for Photography, The San Antonio Museum of Art, The Puerto Rican Museum of Art and Culture, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum and the Krannert Art Museum.
Mark's work has been featured by Artforum, TED, NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Gastronomica, National Geographic, Orion Magazine, GUP Magazine and more.
1) Racial Justice, Akeem Brown
Given everything that happened this summer, and just last week in our country, we wanted to have an open-ended discussion about how we address racial justice in our community and in our world. This will be kicked off by a student panel, moderated by local educator Akeem Brown, to include a period of Q&A and discussion
2) Youth Organizing, Ayesha Darilek from the Advanced Learning Academy and the SAISD Student Organization
Youth Organizing: A group of students in the San Antonio ISD first began organizing around the topic of “Counselors not Cops” and has since mobilized to speak out on a variety of issues. CAST Advisory Board member and Advanced Learning Academy Senior Aysha Darilek is joined by other students to talk about how to advocate as a young person, in a panel followed by Q&A.
3) Poetry Session - Amy Stengel, Advanced Learning Academy
Creative Writing and Tech Theatre Teacher at the Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech High School, and several of her students will lead an interactive workshop on the Spoken Word.
1) Student Life in Mexico, Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP)
Students from partner university, the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla (UDLAP), will engage in a dialogue about what it is like to be an international student during a pandemic, college life in Mexico right now, and what is happening with youth organizing in the lead up to the legislative elections in July.
Panel will be moderated by Arlena Amaro, News Anchor, Telemundo
2) The Importance of Networking in a Virtual World, Katie Chain, H-E-B
The Importance of Networking in a Digital World: H-E-B’s Katie Chain will share tips about different ways you can network as a high school student, and how establishing those relationships will help you with your goals, your career, your life purpose, and more.
3) Art as a Revolutionary Act, Say Si
Art as a revolutionary Act: In this interactive workshop with SAY Sí, we will explore how we consume art in our lives, how art has looked during revolutionary moments in our history and present times, and then we will turn our thinking more intrinsically as we create illustrated mind maps to navigate our feelings and understanding of the world around us. No matter your creative skill level, this workshop is an opportunity to express yourself! The only materials needed include a piece of paper and something to draw or write with (other decorating tools are optional)
1) Time Management, Ignite Mindshift
Ignite MindShift, along with interns from the Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech, will host a workshop for students to teach them how to effectively manage their time to achieve the results they want out of life.
2) Zine Workshop, Audrey Herrera, SA2020
Let’s create zines and talk about youth voice, with Audrey Herrera, Trinity University student and SA2020 Community Impact Assistant! Zines are short, self-published art books that are a fun and creative way to share your voice in the community. Be sure to have a piece of paper and something to write with.
3) Poetry Session, Amy Stengel