News and Updates
Located in a vital corridor of activity in a historically underrepresented community, the UTSA Westside Community Center is connecting human intellectual and economic capacity to empower the lives of the people it serves.
The center’s latest effort involves bridging the digital divide of residents living in the heart of San Antonio’s West Side. The student-led group, known as the Digital Inclusion Ambassadors, serve as a model for community engaged scholarship—working to improve digital literacy in a community that lacks amenities common to other neighborhoods.
As part of its commitment to shaping educational, economic and cultural programs and services for individuals living and working in San Antonio’s West Side, The University of Texas at San Antonio will kick off the Westside Community Center Virtual Event Series with two college admissions sessions.
In the year since its inception was announced, UTSA’s Westside Community Center has made great strides in fostering meaningful relationships with residents and business owners in its San Antonio neighborhood in an effort to spark educational excellence, economic opportunity and vital research partnerships in the community.
“We are learning so much from our West Side community, which is culturally rich in resources and achievements, and is a true asset for this city,” said Elvira Leal, assistant vice president for community relations at UTSA.
Students take math tutoring to underserved communities
A group of future educators from UTSA is working at closing the achievement gap in mathematics in San Antonio’s underserved communities.
Students within the College of Education and Human Development’s teacher education program are serving as tutors for local parents as well as elementary-age students primarily from San Antonio’s West Side as part of a math literacy initiative called the Community Math Project.
UTSA partners with West Side Community to help restore iconic mural
UTSA students, faculty and staff painted shoulder-to-shoulder with artists and members of the local community on Jan. 30 to help restore an iconic mural on the San Antonio’s West Side. The event—Painting with a Purpose—took place on UTSA’s Downtown Campus.
Titled La Música de San Anto, the 150-foot public mural pays homage to 10 San Antonio music legends. Completed in 2009, the mural is located near the West Commerce Bridge, considered a gateway to the city’s West Side neighborhood.
The Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design is bringing its nationally recognized educational program to UTSA’s Downtown Campus beginning Jan. 6.
Due to the City of San Antonio’s extensive renovation of the Alameda Theater complex, where the Alameda School is currently located, an appropriate, temporary learning space was needed. The high school will move to UTSA over the winter break and kick off 2020 in its new home.
Although this is a temporary move for 18 months, it is a win-win for both the school and UTSA.
UTSA program aims to prevent substance abuse among local middle schoolers
UTSA is working with a San Antonio middle school on the city’s West Side to provide an alcohol and substance abuse prevention intervention program designed to educate at-risk adolescents on the effects that alcohol and other illicit drugs have on the body and mind.
The UTSA Institute for Health Disparities Research has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to fund Project Preventing Adolescent Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
A UTSA researcher is helping youths cope with life’s challenges and build resiliency skills. Heidi Rueda, an associate professor of social work in the College of Public Policy, is collaborating with a San Antonio youth-serving and community-based after-school program to conduct exploratory research on building skills to overcome adversity.
The area selected for the implementation of the program, in the 78207 ZIP code, is located at the center of “concentrated poverty” on San Antonio’s Westside.
UTSA launches Westside Community Partnerships Initiative to shape neighborhood programs and services, aligned to campus master plan
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) today announced a Westside Community Partnerships Initiative to help it shape educational, economic and cultural programs and services for individuals living and working in Westside zip codes, including 78207, 78237, 78226, 78228, 78201, 78227, 78236 and 78204.
UTSA is collaborating with District 5 City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, the Family Service and Northwest Vista College to reduce child abuse in one of the most economically distressed parts of the city.
Together, the partners are implementing and evaluating a District 5 Child Maltreatment Prevention Project that aims to provide Promotoras job training and subsequently place those Promotoras in the community to work with targeted, at-risk families.
UTSA reaches out to San Antonio's historic Westside with new community center
To further realize its vision to provide world-class educational, economic and cultural opportunities to underserved communities in San Antonio’s urban core, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) today announced its intention to establish a community center in San Antonio’s historic Westside neighborhood. The new center will serve as a hub for UTSA to foster meaningful relationships with Westside residents and business owners that drive educational access, lifelong learning and economic opportunity.
As part of the university’s commitment to bring educational opportunities to its surrounding neighborhoods, UTSA’s Center for Inquiry for Transformative Literacies—in partnership with nonprofits Urban Strategies and United Way—provided a 4-week summer reading program “Roadrunner Readers” throughout July 2019. Pre-service teachers from UTSA taught reading to youth from the East Meadows public housing at the Downtown Campus.
As the Education Liaison specialist for Urban Strategies, Elizabeth Arevalo ’01,’03 worked closely with UTSA to run this summer literacy program. Elizabeth was one of the first students to attend UTSA’s Downtown campus because it was close to the East Side neighborhood where she grew up. Inspired by her father’s community engagement, she helped establish student life on UTSA’s Downtown campus. After graduating, she taught school for several years and now continues to impact her community by working at Urban Strategies.
UTSA has a long tradition of working closely with Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) vendors. Among those UTSA has established a longtime relationship with is The Sabinal Group, a Hispanic-owned HUB specializing in professional construction services and located in the downtown central core of San Antonio. Led by founders Danny Benavidez (L) and Mark Woholfarth (R), the Sabinal Group has completed multiple projects with UTSA, including renovations on the Downtown Campus, renovations in the Student Union and repairs to Chaparral Village.
For the last five summers, UTSA has offered a unique teacher’s academy that helps local educators incorporate Mexican-American studies into their curriculum. Marie “Keta” Miranda, UTSA Professor of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, has helped organize the Mexican-American Studies Teachers Academy since its inception, enlisting faculty instructors from UTSA’s College of Education and Human Development. The weeklong academy, which takes place at the Institute of Texan Cultures, provides educators with resources, literature, information and best practices on how to bring Mexican-American studies into their classrooms.