SA Youth is a local non-profit that helps students in San Antonio achieve success beyond circumstance. Founded in 1984, SA Youth has been a consistent advocate in our community for youth in need, and continues to grow and adapt to the needs of young people in San Antonio.
SA Youth currently operates two programs – both of which are completely free to participants – that help some of San Antonio’s most vulnerable students realize their potential and make substantial progress toward their future goals.
Who Does SA Youth Serve?
Have you ever known…
… a student who spends long periods of time at home alone after school, waiting for their family members to get off work?
… a student who struggles to cope with the rigid structure of a traditional classroom setting?
… a student who needs the presence of a consistent and caring adult that they can trust?
… a student who has stopped short of earning their high school diploma because they need to care for a loved one or become the sole provider for their family?
These are the types of student who inspire the mission at SA Youth.
Why is SA Youth’s Work Important?
San Antonio is a city beloved by many, but education, health, and income disparities still exist. According to the Child Poverty Action Lab, “Children living in poverty are 3.5 times more likely to experience repeated trauma than their affluent peers.” Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Experiences (ACEs), like household and community instability caused by unemployment, incarceration, abuse, and neglect, can directly impact a student’s academic achievement, as well as their physical and mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after-school programs can help mitigate, and even prevent, the impact of ACEs.
Post-pandemic San Antonio has been a difficult landscape for students to navigate. The city recently surveyed 850 members of its youth, reporting that 56% of students increasingly view traditional schools as harmful and having a negative impact on their mental health. During a 2021 presentation, the City of San Antonio reported that the estimated number of “Opportunity Youth” had doubled to 75,000 during the pandemic. These individuals are young people ages 16-24, who are neither enrolled in school nor employed. Similarly, college and career readiness among San Antonio’s youth has dropped by 14%.
What Programs Does SA Youth Offer?
SA Youth is the sole provider of afterschool programming in the South San Antonio ISD. Working in collaboration with the school district, the Academic Achievers program serves students in grades K-8 during each school year, as well as Spring Break and Summer. Immediately after the school day ends until around 6:30 p.m., students participate in various education-based activities, including help with homework, outdoor play and physical fitness, social time with peers, and a healthy and filling snack. In addition, SA Youth middle school students receive high-impact tutoring in math: tutoring that occurs in small groups three times a week, with a curriculum that meets students where they are on their learning journey to help encourage understanding and growth in mathematics.
SA Youth’s SOAR! (See Our Achievements Rise!) program invites students ages 16-24 who have left the traditional classroom environment to participate in a four-month program that helps them obtain an accredited high school diploma. Students participate in a set curriculum; enhanced by group projects, guest speakers, workforce development training, college application assistance, local universities and organization tours, and therapeutic services. There are currently three cohorts of SOAR! students that operate simultaneously: the SOAR! cohort at SA Youth’s Poplar location, the YASS Center at Travis Park Church that serves unhoused youth, and the all-female cohort Mujeres de SOAR! The program operates three times a year and culminates in a group graduation ceremony, bringing students together to celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends.
What is Next for SA Youth?
Therapeutic Services Department
SA Youth was awarded American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to begin therapeutic services for its students. With the addition of two Licensed Mental Health Professionals, SA Youth now offers individual and group counseling to SOAR! students, and robust social-emotional learning lessons to elementary and middle school students in South San Antonio ISD.
Whole-Student Approach to Service
SA Youth understands that academic success depends on students’ basic needs being met, with particular emphasis on their physical and mental health. With this in mind, SA Youth collaborates with other agencies to take a “whole-student” approach in the services and offerings it provides.
- Girls Inc. and Healthy Futures of Texas programs aid SOAR! students in recognizing the importance of healthy relationships and boundaries.
- The CHEF (Culinary Health Education for Families) program helps elementary and middle school students learn healthy eating habits, as well as basic kitchen skills that empower them to create nutritious meals.
- American Heart Association provides guidance on food insecurity and financial support through vouchers redeemable at a healthy mobile market, Mercado por tu Corazón.
- Planned Parenthood: Access to basic reproductive healthcare products for both women and men, without judgment and free of charge.
How Can My Family Get Involved?
There are many ways that San Antonio families can get involved with SA Youth:
- Learn about opportunities to volunteer time or contribute funds to a program or project. Visit https://sanantonioyouth.org/ and enter your email address at the bottom of the homepage.
- Follow SA Youth on social media and share the posts that resonate with you to your audience. IG: @SanAntonio.Youth, Facebook: San Antonio Youth, Twitter: @SA_Youth, TikTok: @SanAntonio.Youth
- Connect SA Youth with YOUR community! Do you or someone you know work for a local company or organization that sees a potential collaboration or alignment with SA Youth’s work? Help facilitate an introduction and grow the SA Youth network.
- Refer a student who wants to earn a high school diploma. Complete this inquiry form and an SA Youth staff member will follow up with you.
- Donate! The work done by SA Youth is completely funded by grants, organizations, and individual donors just like you.
Join SA Youth’s mission and help create bright futures for youth in San Antonio! To learn more, visit SA Youth or email [email protected]
SA Youth provided the images and text in this article, and all are used with permission from the organization. Alamo City Moms is proud to partner with San Antonio Area non-profits and organizations that are supporting the families of South Texas. Please email us if you’re interested in submitting a Community Spotlight article.