Public Partnerships of the San Antonio Area Foundation Partnering with the public sector to leverage philanthropy’s intellectual, community, and financial capital to achieve positive change.

Partnerships

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In every part of the country, community foundations of all sizes are partnering with the public sector to leverage philanthropy’s intellectual, community, and financial capital to achieve positive change. Members of the Council on Foundations are leading these public-philanthropic partnerships. In our community, the San Antonio Area Foundation partners with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County on work that aligns with our Mission and Values.

Patricia Mejia

Patricia Mejia

Vice President, Community Engagement and Impact

Priority addressed: Domestic Violence Prevention
Level of government: City
Geography served: Urban, suburban
Partnership launch date: 2019


For the San Antonio Area Foundation, collaborative grantmaking includes significant investments in key areas of community need, and in partnership with the City of San Antonio and other local and national funders. In 2019, the Area Foundation and the John L. Santikos Foundation partnered with the City of San Antonio on the Domestic Violence Comprehensive Plan, becoming the single largest investor outside of the City itself.

COSA Domestic Violence Comprehensive Plan Launch

At the time, the level of domestic violence, including domestic homicide, had been rising in San Antonio for four years in a row. The San Antonio Police Department, the Health Department, the Department of Human Services and numerous community partners had been working to address this issue for years.

The proposed comprehensive domestic violence plan was unique in bringing key stakeholders together to work collaboratively to break the cycle of violence by identifying the gaps, challenges and deficiencies that currently existed.  All three partners adjusted theirstandard practices to make the collaboration work effectively, including joint- investing and a single decision-making process that will provide $4.4 million in program and capacity-building grants for human-service    agencies in the county.

The San Antonio Area Foundation and the John L. Santikos Foundation partnered with city agencies to support the work of two nonprofit organizations implementing the Triple P Parenting Program, a parenting education program identified by the World Health Organization as effective in reducing child abuse. AVANCE San Antonio and the PEACE Initiative received $600,000 over three years to address the roots of domestic violence by creating healthy family dynamics.


Lessons Learned

✔ Focus efforts and pool resources to lead to deeper impact and sustainability.

✔ Select a program model with demonstrated, verifiable success and be open to change.

✔ Approach potential government partners with an offer rather than a request.

✔ Have the flexibility to make rapid decisions as necessary.

✔ Identify the common mission and keep it a the center of the work.

Priority addressed: The 2020 Census
Level of government: City and County
Geography served: Urban, suburban
Partnership launch date: 2019-2020


For the San Antonio Area Foundation, collaborative grantmaking includes significant investments in key areas of community need, and in partnership with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and other local and national funders. The Count Me In project sought to attain at least a 73% self-response in San Antonio for the U.S. 2020 Census. The project targeted engagement efforts of populations that have been historically undercounted in hard-to-count census tracts in Bexar County.

Census Results

The Complete Count Committee needed to raise $1.2 million in private and public funding to ensure the needed engagement levels. The City of San Antonio and Bexar County supported the effort with nearly $500,000. The San Antonio Area Foundation and the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation provided another $200,000 to the effort. Our support subsidized the day-to-day operations of four organizations in the Census counting:

The Bexar County Health Collaborative partnered with the Complete Count Committee to provide sub grants to organizations representing historically undercounted populations.

CentroMed convened community-based healthcare systems to reach patients at risk of being undercounted.  Strategies included distribution of awareness materials, clinic-based advertising, questionnaire assistance via American Counseling Association certified application counselors, health educators and community outreach workers, a healthcare system employee-based strategy, and community wide train-the-trainer sessions.

Community Information Now established a data collection and analysis system in response to the needs of the community to optimize outreach strategies and create a foundation of data to build from in preparation for the next decennial.  Data collected would help inform future census efforts in understanding and maximizing outreach effort and using response rates to target specific neighborhoods and populations with tailored outreach services.

The San Antonio Food Bank incorporated census messages into daily services and worked with their network of 500 Partner Agencies to provide outreach materials to educate, motivate and engage clients to participate.


Lessons Learned

✔ Select a program model with demonstrated, verifiable success.

✔ Bring together civic and business leaders.

✔ Convene forums to disseminate the work to be done.

✔ Be aware that factors beyond funding affect the ability of a government partner to participate in specific projects or initiatives.

✔ Aligning with federal priorities could unlock funding and technical assistance opportunities.

Priority addressed: Migrant Resource Center
Level of government: City
Geography served: Urban
Partnership launch date: 2019


For the San Antonio Area Foundation, collaborative grantmaking includes significant investments in key areas of community need, and in partnership with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and other local and national funders. In March 2019, the City of San Antonio opened the Migrant Resource Center in downtown San Antonio to provide needed services to the surge of Central American asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio after being released by Border Patrol and legally on their way to host families and cities.

Migrant Resource Center

The City of San Antonio Human Services Department operated the center in coordination with other City departments, multiple nonprofits and community volunteers. The San Antonio Area Foundation and the John L. Santikos Foundation partnered with the City of San Antonio to provide $305,000 to nonprofits providing migrant resource services.  Over a seven-month period, more than 32,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. were served by the center.

Eight nonprofits in total participated in the project with funding from the San Antonio Area Foundation and the John L. Santikos Foundation: American Gateways ($29,000), American National Red Cross ($20,000), Catholic Charities ($35,000), RAICES($35,000), San Antonio Food Bank ($65,000), The Salvation Army ($30,000), Travis Park United Methodist Church ($70,000), and the Interfaith Welcome Coalition ($20,000).

The San Antonio Area Foundation allowed its funding to be leveraged with other dollars to produce greater impact. In the end, thepartnership allowed for greater collaboration among human-service agencies and nonprofits than it could have achieved working on its own. As a result, the foundation has found that partnering with government agencies provides a significant opportunity to build relationships and leverage resources.


Lessons Learned

✔ Deliberate and consistent communication among partners, nonprofits, governing boards, donors, and news media makes a big difference.

✔ Collaborative leadership is critical with government partners, given the dynamics and politics within public entities.

✔ Clarity about shared goals and outcomes is important.

✔ Strong working relationships at the staff level are a must.

✔ Balancing the partnership’s dynamics with the inevitable heightened bureaucracy that follows public dollars is essential.