Working Together to Affect Change in Our Community with SA2020: Start by taking the survey

Even in our busy lives, we still want to get involved and make a difference in our community.  The question I often hear is “Where do I start?” A quick Google search or a conversation with your amigas can leave you feeling overwhelmed because there is so much to do. I get it. I’ve been there. Let me tell you about how I narrowed down my focus with SA2020; how this organization reports the data on what’s working in San Antonio; and how you can engage to affect change.

SA2020 2019 Community Impact Report Luncheon
Photo by Vanessa Velasquez Photography

Take the 5-minute SA2020 Survey online: Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is preserved or maintained in San Antonio? Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is improved or changed in San Antonio?


What is SA2020?

San Antonio has a community vision that was created by its very own community. It’s a special thing that no other large U.S. city has. Vision statements are guides that help us make decisions and choices about our future. But how great is a vision if there is no accountability to reach that vision? San Antonio, SA2020 is our accountability partner. This nonprofit organization was created to drive progress toward this shared vision of a thriving San Antonio. 

San Antonio’s Community Vision
Our residents are among the healthiest in the nation with access to the quality education and economic opportunity. San Antonio is the safest big city in the U.S. wit connected neighborhoods and residents that are engaged civically. The city is growing, but is sustaining its natural resources as a respectful steward. San Antonio has public transportation that is recognized as a model of efficiency, a vibrant downtown, a diverse and thriving creative community, and a local government that’s responsive and accountable. Our entire community takes responsibility for our collective well-being. 

So, how do we get there? The short answer is TOGETHER. It takes all of us, Queridos. Private citizens, nonprofit organizations, corporate entities, our local government, and, of course, funders must all do our part to make a lasting impact in our city. Let’s begin with knowing where we are.

SA2020 Community Impact Report

One of the best products from SA2020 is the annual Community Impact Report. Think of it as San Antonio’s report card.

SA2020 Facebook

Included in the report are eleven Community Results:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Civic Engagement
  • Community Safety
  • Downtown Development
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Education
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Family Well-Being
  • Health & Fitness
  • Neighborhoods
  • Transportation

Which one is most important to you and your family? These are the areas that, in 2010, San Antonio told SA2020 were the most important areas for them – for us. 

In the annual report, there are 62 indicators which measure and help quantify the Community Results. For example, in Education, there are six indicators: Improve Kindergarten Readiness, Improve 3rd-Grade Reading, Increase High School Graduation, Improve College Readiness, Increase College Enrollment, and Increase Adults with College Degrees. By measuring each of these, we can determine which direction the needle is moving to reach our community vision. 

In 2010, San Antonio’s high school graduation rate was 78.5%. The goal was to increase that to 85% by 2020. As of 2018, the graduation rate has increased to 88.9%. Good news, right? The answer is YES. Let’s celebrate the progress.

On the other hand, the goal to increase percentage of high school graduates enrolled in higher education is 80%. In 2010, that rate was at 51%. At the end of 2018, it dropped to 47.5%. Well, why?

SA2020 2019 Community Impact Report Luncheon
Photo by Vanessa Velasquez Photography

All the other four indicators in education are improving but we’ve not yet reached the goals. I look at all these results with curiosity. Why are each of them moving in their own direction? What more can we do? Education continues to be identified as a top priority in San Antonio. And yet, there is still so much work to do. It helps to have the data to know exactly where we are and then to guide us how to move toward the goal. The data helps us identify who the key players are and what we can learn.

Identify Your Priorities in Order to Take Action

Mentioned above are all the parts of our community that can work together to see our vision a reality. The first step is to identify what’s important to you. For me, it’s education and arts & culture. I also self-identify as a multi-passion chaser. I’ve found a way to serve in two places.

The first is serving as a board member of a nonprofit which is an SA2020 nonprofit organization partner, SAYSí. (Which was a result of SA2020’s Board Game.) SAYSí is at the intersection of education and arts & culture. Read more about that on my blog post SAY Sí Continues to Grow to Serve San Antonio (Plus, I’m Serving on the Board).

Adrian Jackson, Melanie Mendez-Gonzales, Mayor Ron Nirenberg
SA2020 2019 Community Impact Report Luncheon
Photo by Vanessa Velasquez Photography

The second place is currently serving as an SA2020 Ambassador. This fulfills my multi-passion chasing. As a multi-passion chaser, I want to volunteer in all the places and tell all the stories. That’s not realistic. As an SA2020 Ambassador, I get to share the work of this organization which connects people to their nonprofit organizations and builds community through collaborations across sectors.

There are still other ways that I stay involved such as looking for opportunities to volunteer with the many nonprofits who are SA2020 partners. Visit SA2020.org to see a list of the partners. You can search by cause to help you find the partners who are doing the work close to your heart. Queridos, the partners are the ones doing the work every day and they need our support. Many of them already work together keeping our community vision at the core and the common goal.

If you are part of an organization, consider becoming an SA2020 Partner. As a partner, SA2020 supports your organization to align your work with the Community Vision. 

How to Engage to Affect Change in Our Community

First things first. We need to hear from YOU.

Before March 31, 2020, help reaffirm and strengthen San Antonio’s Community Vision by sharing what you want to see maintained and improved over the next ten years. Take the 5-minute survey online at sa2020.org. You can also text “2020survey” to 51555 for the survey link to be sent to your phone. Please do this BEFORE March 31, 2020. Share this with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers. Everyone you know who also loves San Antonio needs to complete this survey.

Attend SA2020 Forums. SA2020 will host four community forums in 2020 – April, June, August and October. The first forum is about education and is on April 14, 5:30 p.m. at The Witte Museum. Visit sa2020.org for registration and more details.

Hold your elected officials and policymakers accountable to allocating resources and creating policies based on community need. This includes voting in all elections. You can also share the data from the SA2020 Community Impact Report to show them why the resources and policies are needed. 

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales and Heidi Proctor
SA2020 2019 Community Impact Report Luncheon
Photo by Vanessa Velasquez Photography

We all lead busy lives. In order to affect change, we don’t have to do all the work alone. We just have to be responsible for the work we are doing. The best thing we can do is ask ourselves, “How does the work I am doing help move the needle on San Antonio’s Community Vision?”

Together, we can affect change in our community. Start by filling out the survey.


Take the 5-minute SA2020 Survey online: Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is preserved or maintained in San Antonio? Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is improved or changed in San Antonio?

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

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