AUGUST 21, 2020 — 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.
The Downtown Campus and the historic near West Side share a ZIP code, 78207, where residents are largely low-income and Hispanic. Citywide partnerships are necessary to tackle the community’s concerns over housing, poverty, low educational attainment and lack of internet access. The Westside Community Center was created in August 2019 to bring city stakeholders together and serve as a hub for community-based research, while additionally providing educational and cultural services and career development and training opportunities.
Its creation also aligned with President Taylor Eighmy’s vision to expand the Downtown Campus over the next decade and his commitment to be informed and influenced by the West Side’s historical and cultural context. “Our goal is to balance our growth with the preservation of community assets, such as the heritage, artistic legacies, social movements and the working-class landscape that shape San Antonio’s West Side,” Leal explained.
After settling on its location at 1310 Guadalupe St. in September 2019, the center fulfilled many needs for both the university and the local community. It served as home base for a workshop in which UTSA students went door to door for housing research and outreach in an effort to prevent the displacement of homeowners from San Antonio’s traditional neighborhoods.
It’s where focus group interviews were held for a report on Bexar County’s “opportunity youth”—young people who are neither working nor in school—that was authored by demography professor Rogelio Sáenz, education professor Sofia Bahena, Westside Community Partnerships director Roger Enriquez, and doctoral fellow Joshua Anzaldúa.
Beyond research, the center launched the first Westside Community Scholarship Fund, hosted the Celebrate History ReinVOKed exhibition featuring rare memorabilia from Lanier High School, and served as a venue for small group meetings and sessions on public art feedback, housing information and social work training. The center was fully furnished in February, shortly before its doors closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the doors are still closed, the planning continues. In partnership with the César E. Chávez Legacy and Education Foundation, the center will launch a series of activities for the recognition of the city’s 25th anniversary of the César E. Chávez & Dolores Huerta March. The center will be virtually hosting the keynote address by San Antonio activist and educator Rosie Castro M.A. ’01 at 11:30 a.m. on September 30. The event will launch a call to action for video submissions from UTSA students, faculty, staff and alumni that will be compiled for a virtual march in March 2021.
Despite pandemic-affected constraints, UTSA’s efforts to serve the West Side aren’t slowing down. On the same week that the ribbon was cut to open the center in 2019, UTSA announced the Westside Community Partnerships Initiative to shape educational, economic and cultural programs and services for individuals living and working in West Side ZIP codes.
As part of this initiative, task forces were formed to positively impact the community in areas such as creating pathways to economic prosperity and educational excellence. Since last fall small-business advising and training was held at UTSA and the Guadalupe Center for historically underutilized businesses, government contracting, exporting, minorities, women and veteran firms. Furthermore, the UTSA Small Business Development Center advised 70 neighborhood businesses, created 27 jobs and started six new businesses in the community, providing more than $1.5 million in capital infusion.
Meanwhile, the College of Education and Human Development engaged in community conversations with Lanier High School, Tafolla Middle School, J.T. Brackenridge Elementary School, and the San Antonio ISD about educational offerings. The task force identified potential educational activities and wrap-around services that COEHD could offer through the center.
“We look forward to beginning our work together with the community, while also providing our students with community-based experiences,” said Belinda Bustos Flores, a member of the Pathways to Educational Excellence task force and associate dean of professional preparation and partnerships at UTSA.
The Westside Community Center is hoping to open soon for visits by groups no larger than 10 people. For now, however, the best way to connect with the center is to contact Leal by email at email@example.com or during her weekly virtual “walk-in hour” at 2 p.m. each Tuesday on Zoom.
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The First Generation and Transfer Student Center (FGTSC), Transfer and Transition Student Success Services (T2S3), and Alamo Runners invite you to join the virtual fun as we celebrate National Transfer Student Week. UTSA is enriched by transfer students who bring their diverse experiences, backgrounds, and assets to our campus. National Transfer Student Week seeks to celebrate, empower, and support transfer students with events and workshops specifically designed for transfers.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Intellectual Wellbeing with TRC - Academic Success Coaching.Virtual Event
Are you missing our Roost Tournaments? We will be having our UFC 3 tournament and our tournaments are now back to Wednesdays! Sign up and show us your skills. See if you have what it takes to be our champion.Virtual Event
Dr. Mo. Jamshidi is an Endowed chaired professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He is a Persian Native, born in Shiraz, Iran in 1944. He was an advisor to NASA for 10 years (including with the first MARS Mission and seven years with NASA Headquarters (Washington, DC), among other organizations. He has over 800 technical publications including 74 books in English and 5 foreign languages. For the past 20 years, he has been collecting data on Persian Scientists and Poets from 1000 BC to 2021 AD. This presentation will be about the book written by Dr. Jamshidi that collects information on Persian scientists and poets.Virtual Event
Join this informative, interactive webinar with practical tips on how to plan your charitable giving now and for the future. Michael Perkins, member of the UTSA Alumni Association and the UTSA College of Business Accounting Advisory Board, is no stranger to gift planning. As managing partner and CEO of Slattery Perkins Ramirez P.C. (“SPR”) his primary areas of focus include counseling business owners, executives, and other high net worth individuals on personal financial issues, including estate planning, wealth transfer, and income tax planning techniques. Michael also practices philanthropy himself – establishing an endowed scholarship at UTSA as well as supporting numerous charitable causes throughout San Antonio.Virtual Event
UTSA Main Campus is a voting poll for Election Day on November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.