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Westside Community Partnerships
A Working Draft for Community Input

Through this initiative, UTSA seeks to amplify the economic and cultural strengths of the Westside by marshalling UTSA talent and resources to engage in strategic community partnerships. UTSA will develop a coordinated approach in alignment with the university’s commitment to delivering a world-class education to communities in San Antonio’s urban core. 

View the initiative brief  »  View the initiative brochure  »

Visit the Office of Community Relations homepage »


UTSA engaged the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) to assist in developing this initiative and to conduct research on vulnerable people and institutions on the Westside. NALCAB is a national, non-profit organization based in San Antonio that works with community-based institutions and units of government throughout the country to plan and implement equitable neighborhood development efforts.

NALCAB’s Guide to Equitable Neighborhood Development articulates a set of principles that UTSA views as valuable guideposts for our downtown development and community partnership efforts.

  • Ensure transparency and public accountability in decision making
  • Promote public participation that addresses disparities in access for different populations, includes community organizing efforts, and incorporates education for all stakeholders
  • Value and balance both the experiences of community members and technical expertise
  • Ensure that public policy and public-sector investment advance a public interest
  • Advance economic security and mobility for low- and moderate-income communities by increasing access to affordable housing, transportation options, good jobs, high-quality education, resources for healthy living, and opportunities for wealth creation
  • Be data-driven
  • Respect local history and culture
  • Acknowledge and address legacies of racial/ethnic inequality
  • Promote resiliency for the built environment and for vulnerable populations
  • Connect to broader planning efforts, including those related to housing, transportation, economic development, and health

This initiative is intended to positively impact the Westside community around four key themes: 

  • Creating Pathways to Economic Prosperity
  • Creating Pathways to Educational Excellence
  • Community-Based Research, Sustainable Partnerships & Advocacy
  • Fostering Community-Campus Engagement

UTSA will engage in community partnerships in alignment with these themes. UTSA values the many, widely ranging partnerships with the Westside community that are already in place. This initiative will help to contextualize our existing partnerships and seek new ones while clarifying how they fit into a broader framework.

Oversight and Impact Measurement

This initiative will be led by the Vice President for University Relations, working in conjunction with an internal Steering Committee and a Westside Community Advisory Council made up of key external stakeholders and community partners. Both groups will periodically review the goals and progress of this initiative and help guide its evolution over time.

Westside Community Advisory Council

UTSA will identify 10-12 stakeholders who share a deep commitment to the Westside and who are willing to meet quarterly to provide guidance and feedback to the Vice President of University Relations and, semi-annually, to the President regarding the planning and implementation of this initiative.

Internal Steering Committee

Chaired by the Vice President for University Relations and consisting of the chairs of each task force, the Steering Committee provides oversight and direction regarding UTSA’s Westside community partnership efforts. Initially, this group will work to establish UTSA’s new Westside Community Advisory Council.

In addition, the Committee will determine the sequencing and resources needed to follow through with action items designated for each task force and establish mechanisms to collect impact data. At the end of 2020, the Steering Committee will share information gathered in an annual Westside Community Impact report. 

The Steering Committee will also determine potential roles for UTSA in regard to issues identified in NALCAB’s forthcoming study on vulnerable populations near the Downtown Campus.

Task Forces

UTSA will organize itself internally into task forces, each with a specific charge related to the themes defined above.  Each task force will seek to coordinate well-defined partnerships in order to achieve an overarching vision.  Additional task forces may be formed based on community input and as partnerships develop. 

Impact Measurement

Each task force will have their own individual goals and metrics for measuring impact. The Office of University Relations will seek to be a clearinghouse for information about the university’s engagement in the Westside and to aggregate relevant data.

Unless otherwise defined, UTSA will seek to measure its impact under this plan in the following zip codes: 78207, 78237, 78226, 78228, 78201, 78227, 78236 and 78204. A particular emphasis will be placed on determining the focus of community partnership efforts and impacts in zip code 78207, which is closest to the Downtown Campus.

Communications, Partnerships & Community Input

Active communication, feedback solicitation and engagement with existing and new partners will all be key to the success of this initiative.


UTSA will develop targeted strategies to raise awareness among residents, business owners and other stakeholder audiences regarding UTSA’s services, programs, research and other opportunities benefiting the Westside community. Making communications materials available in Spanish and understanding the scope of the digital divide in Westside neighborhoods will be integral to the work of this initiative. 


UTSA seeks to engage new partners in this effort. This framework will help prospective partners to more easily connect with UTSA and to understand how the university sees its own role. UTSA invites any individuals or organizations interested in exploring partnerships to submit our online UTSA Partnership Exploration form or contact Elvira Leal, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, at 210-458-4009 or elvira.leal@utsa.edu

Community Input

This initiative framework is a working draft, intended to act as a starting point to be further shaped by community input and additional partnerships. UTSA is very interested to hear your ideas for how the university can deepen partnerships with the Westside community through additional or alternative approaches. Send your thoughts to Elvira Leal, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, at elvira.leal@utsa.edu, or call 210-458-4009.