Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Since 2010, SA2020 has been tracking San Antonio’s progress as as city that is growing in both diversity and population. SA2020 Board Vice Chair Gurpaul Singh announced Thursday that The Kresge Foundation has awarded the nonprofit a $400,000, two-year grant to continue that work.
Some questioned SA2020’s long-term viability after former Mayor Julián Castro, whose vision helped forge the nonprofit, left in 2014 to join President Barack Obama’s cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The two-year grant from The Kresge Foundation, a national foundation based in Michigan that focuses on expanding opportunities in cities across the United States, ensures that SA2020 will continue to thrive. A number of other organizations also have invested in SA2020’s work.
“Kresge believes that SA2020 is doing groundbreaking work at a national level to help drive better outcomes toward collective community goals,” said Singh, speaking at the organization’s annual Impact Report luncheon.
SA2020 will leverage the funds from the Kresge Foundation’s Human Services Program and American Cities Practice teams to continue to track data across the city with its data partner, CI:Now, in order to catalyze community action. It also will continue to support its existing nonprofit partners, as well as help to align their missions to collaborate toward a common goal.
This past year, the nonprofit grew its number of partnerships with local organizations to 145.
“SA2020 was built by people and it continues to be moved by people,” SA2020 President and CEO Molly Cox told the Rivard Report. “I’m excited that a foundation from Michigan can see that San Antonio is doing something different and cool and innovative.”
SA2020 measures 11 cause areas – such as arts and culture and civic engagement – and 59 sectors, or indicators – like voter turnout or recidivism rates – across the city each year to give a glimpse of the San Antonio of today and help plan for the city’s successful future.
To see the SA2020 Data Dashboard, with an explanation of each cause area and up-to-date data on each indicator, click here.
This year’s impact report was presented by Cox Thursday to a sold-out crowd of more than 300 at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center. The report doesn’t necessarily portray any significant gains or losses in any of the indicators measured over the last few years, she said, though the organization has already met or exceeded 41% of its goals since its inception.
The numbers show that 12 indicators have already met or exceeded the organization’s 2020 goal; 12 are on track; 17 are making progress, but not at the rate to meet the 2020 goals; 13 are flat-lining or getting worse; two are still under development; and three only have baseline data at this point.
To see the full 2016 report, click here.
High school graduation rates have increased, according to the report, but the city still struggles when it comes to improving the third-grade reading level, college readiness, and college enrollment rates, all of which are flagged as remaining flat in progress or getting worse.
Health-wise, San Antonio has reduced its diabetes and teen birth rates, and is on track to increase access to health care. However, it has seen no progress in reducing the obesity rate.
Other indicators are telling of San Antonio’s quickly growing economy and burgeoning downtown. Goals for increasing downtown employment and its economic impact have already been met, and increasing downtown housing remains on track as well as reducing crime rates.
Big gains also were seen in the city’s arts and culture community, where funding increases and employment in those sectors are on track to reach the 2020 goal. Attendance at art and cultural events have already exceeded that goal.
Reducing the poverty rate remains a work in progress, the report states.
No one indicator can tell a full story because they are all interrelated and affect each other in some way, Cox told the crowd of local leaders, business owners, and dignitaries such as Mayor Ivy Taylor; Council members Rey Saldaña (D4), Alan Warrick (D2), Shirley Gonzales (D5), and Roberto Treviño (D1); Police Chief William McManus; and Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4).
Alamo Colleges Board Chairwoman Yvonne Katz and SAISD Board President Patti Radle also were present, along with a number of leaders of local nonprofits.
Many of the gains in this year’s report, Cox said, portray an increase in community collaboration to address key issues affecting the city. This targeted collaboration is what makes San Antonio “not yet perfect, but actively coordinated.”
“In every single cause area we are seeing movement at the community level,” Cox told the Rivard Report. “What you’re seeing at that community level are really cool initiatives and events and city-wide programming that we believe will ultimately affect the indicators in a positive way.”
Transportation, for example, has long been an issue in the city, Cox said, and increasing public transit use and decreasing vehicle miles traveled and commute times are flagged in the report as areas in desperate need of attention. San Antonio’s walkability and bike-ability in general pale compared to other large cities. But targeted efforts such as SA Tomorrow and its Multimodal Transportation Plan, and VIA’s Vision 2040 Long Range Plan are in place to enhance the city’s transit systems.
The SA2020 team also is working closely with the SA Tomorrow steering committee, an advisory group to City Council tasked with planning the implementation of the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan.
SA2020 will eventually update its indicators by adding a few more that are consistent with the SA Tomorrow plan and will continue to track data that will be updated on its data dashboard “to show transparently, for accountability sake, that this is how the city is moving toward these goals,” said Cox, a member of the steering committee.
“As a planner I get excited by those connections between the social environment and the built environment,” Mayor Taylor said, “and I can really see the synergy between the work we’ve done with SA2020 and how we’re moving forward with SA Tomorrow.”
There is still work to be done across the ever-changing city, Cox said, and there will be more to do even in 2020. But the collaboration thus far, she said, is inspiring.
“We’re literally in the center right now and what’s very inspiring and fantastic to us is everyone [around the city] is doing the hard work,” she said, “and that’s really cool.”