SA2020, a community vision turned nonprofit, revealed the results of eight years of work towards a “better San Antonio” on Friday. About 70 percent of its indicators of community strength – including downtown housing stock and homelessness – are headed in the right direction, according to various data sources.

To continue this momentum, the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation committed $400,000 to SA2020 over the next two years, said Rebecca Brune, president and chief operating officer of the San Antonio Area Foundation.

Of the 11 “cause areas” identified by the community in 2010 as metric categories, the Area Foundation’s philanthropic mission overlaps with seven, Brune said. The Area Foundation provides about $153 million total going to about 300 individual nonprofits. The Santikos fund is one of many managed by the Area Foundation.

SA2020 is the “dream weaver” that takes the missions of those nonprofits and guides them towards action and results, Brune told a crowd of about 650 gathered at the Hemisfair Ballroom in the Henry B. González Convention Center for SA2020’s 2017 Impact Report luncheon.

Click here to download the 61-page report.

SA2020 receives financial support from the City of San Antonio, the Kresge Foundation, and hundreds of other business and individual donors. The Kresge Foundation announced its two-year $400,000 grant to SA2020 during last year’s impact report event.

The annual impact report produced by SA2020 draws from approximately 30 sources of data to show the community its progress – or lack thereof – towards several goals established eight years ago under former Mayor Julián Castro through a series of community workshops. In 2012, SA2020 became a nonprofit, independent from the city and charged with keeping track of the metrics, or indicators, and convening nonprofits and other organizations to improve those metrics.

But it’s not a static list of indicators. SA2020, which started with 59, has removed, adjusted, and added some over the years. New indicators this year include: measuring income segregation, digital access, housing cost burden, and traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Because data that measures satisfaction with downtown living and housing near public transit are no longer available, those two metrics have been removed.

Here’s a breakdown of the 61 SA2020 indicators and their status:

Indicator snapshot from SA2020's 2017 Impact Report.
Indicator snapshot from SA2020’s 2017 Impact Report. Click to enlarge. Credit: Courtesy / SA2020
  • 10 = met or exceeded (16%)
  • 11 = on track (18%)
  • 22 = progress (36%)
  • 17 = at/getting worse (28%)
  • 1 = baseline only

These new indicators emerged from SA2020’s continuing partnership with the City and its SA Tomorrow comprehensive plan, which started under former Mayor Ivy Taylor.

“SA2020 is the community’s vision and it’s also the constant, objective evaluation of the city, and SA Tomorrow is the strategic planning and actual infrastructure work that the city needs to implement in order to achieve this vision,” Nirenberg told the Rivard Report after the event. “SA2020 was the launch point for everything that’s come after it, including SA Tomorrow.”

Many of the new indicators come from a more widespread awareness of equity – or lack of it – in the City. After winning a tough runoff election in 2017, Nirenberg and several Council colleagues directed staff to start looking at the 2018 budget through a so-called “equity lens.”

The City’s Office of Equity has begun to apply this lens throughout all 40 municipal departments, City Manager Sheryl Sculley said, and in three years will complete its work in delivering the City’s “equity strategy.”

Another new element of the impact report this year is the de-aggregation of some citywide data by Council district. The disparities demonstrated in the map are hardly surprising: higher rates of poverty on the East and West sides of the city, and higher voter turnout and more diplomas on the Northside.

“This is what we do every day,” SA2020 CEO Molly Cox said. “Look at the information and try to find out the why” behind it.

But SA2020 is about more than numbers going up and down, Cox added. “That doesn’t tell the full story.”

For instance, data show that the number of child abuse and neglect victims continues to decrease, which should be a win. But an analysis by SA2020’s data partner CI:Now revealed a much more complicated story, she said. “We’re not seeing a decrease in child abuse. … There is a decrease in the ability to go out and confirm” that child abuse and neglect are happening.

“SA2020’s strength is identifying the challenges where some parts of our community are falling behind others and what we can do,” Nirenberg said. “Whether it’s through housing initiatives, through transportation, through simple city budgeting.”

While there has been significant progress, he said, the city has more work to do.

Former Mayor and U.S. HUD Secretary Julián Castro speaks with guests at the SA2020 Impact Report luncheon.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro speaks with guests at the SA2020 Impact Report luncheon. Castro, a former San Antonio mayor, launched the initiative in 2010.

Castro said he looks forward to celebrating success on Sept. 25, 2020, exactly 10 years since the first SA2020 community workshop.

“We’ll know we’ve succeeded,” Castro said, “if in the years to come the list of high school and college graduates in San Antonio has grown much longer; if we and our neighbors spend less time sitting in traffic; … if we feel safer in our neighborhoods because we are safer; if we can say that every single man or woman [instead of being homeless] has a safe, decent, and warm place to sleep at night; and if we’ve grown more prosperous with jobs and better ones.”

Data Director Emily Royall contributed to this article.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...