Over 23 years ago a group of King William neighbors were working and planning a program. Neighborhood leaders, who realized the urgent need in the community for youth development programming with a critical emphasis on the arts, launched SAY Sí. Starting from very humble beginnings, but with admirable ideals, the program quickly grew.
After 23 years we have broadened our philosophy beyond arts education to join an international movement, creative youth development. At the forefront, SAY Sí has successfully shown that creative communities help young people succeed.
When students join SAY Sí, they’re not just joining a class where they learn how to draw, take a photograph or write a monologue – they are joining a vibrant and supportive community of young people. We are there for our students when they are transitioning from middle to high school. We help them apply to colleges and develop competitive portfolios for interviews. Above all else, we provide a place of belonging where they feel they can thrive. With a strong retention rate and 100% high school graduation and college acceptance rate, the students prove this.
Throughout our history we have reached various tipping points, and we are now at another one: more deserving youth wish to join our tuition-free program than we have the capacity for. On average, we have to turn away 30-40% of students who apply. And while we have worked to create an inspiring facility in the arts community (we use every square inch), it is still not sufficient for the needs of the community. Additionally, after losing two of our biggest funders this year and with project/program specific funding, the real need is for sustainability in capacity, operations and staffing.
This is why we continue to need support. In our 23rd year as an organization, we have plenty to be grateful for. When we look back to where we began, serving a small group of students from Brackenridge High School in one studio at the Blue Star Arts Complex, we are reminded that we couldn’t have done it without the generosity of our neighbors. Now, after gradually expanding our age group, programs and spaces, we serve every district in the city. Two decades after we were founded we’ve recognized that the need for arts programming is indeed great, but the need for inclusive creative communities is even greater.
How can you support? For one, you can spread the word about what we are doing. Share a social media post, grab a flyer and post it on your work bulletin board. This fall, we are launching a monthly donor membership program to ensure long-term sustainability. Finally, you can come see us. SAY Sí’s galleries are an ever-changing opportunity to see what young people in San Antonio have to say. Our community is your community. We are proud of our roots with the King William Association and welcome you to experience the legacy that it began so many years ago.
- Stephen Guzman, Communications Manager