Stories

Connectors. Collaborators. Catalysts.

By Molly Cox | Sep 25 2015

Yes, that’s me helping facilitate public discussion at one of the original SA2020 meetings back in 2010.

So much has changed in the last five years.

My hair is but one of those things. (I apologize for that hair and that scarf and those glasses, younger self.)

But so much has changed in our city. On our 5th birthday, you should know how far we’ve come and how far we’re going.

SA2020 believes in outcomes.

More specifically, we believe in outcomes that lead to observable change – change that you can see, touch, hear, and feel.

In fact, that’s how SA2020 began – transforming San Antonio with bold ideas that could be touched, seen, heard, and felt.

Now, it’s five years into our community vision, and we have definitely rolled up our sleeves.

SA2020 knows that systems change and behavioral change have to happen together.

Cultural norms, public policy, and funding need to happen in tandem with professional practices and individual behavior shifts. In fact, when these things occur together, real impact happens.

Health in San Antonio is a perfect example.

Millions of corporate and public dollars have been spent on free exercise in the park, yoga on bridges…you can’t get through a weekend without a 5K happening. There’s the expansion of BCycle, and Síclovía is slated to see 75,000 people this Sunday. Additionally, we’ve seen policy addressing access to healthcare and a fantastic collaborative effort to reduce teen pregnancy in our county. But unless individuals took advantage of these opportunities, then all you have is a system shift. Companies across our community are instituting health and wellness programs like never before. People have begun to own their own health decisions, making real behavior shifts. And we have seen a decrease in obesity rates and teen pregnancy. We have seen an uptick in insured individuals and San Antonians are living longer.

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A young student from Boys & Girls Clubs shares her wish for San Antonio in the year 2020.

This strategy is also in the works right now for education and economic development.

House Bill 5 has changed the way educational institutions are approaching college and career readiness. Funding for experiential learning, talent recruitment, and workforce development is increasing exponentially. We are thinking more strategically about policy at the city and county levels, while corporations are considering their job gaps, and educational institutions are working to fill them. At the same time, we are asking students and our potential workforce to think about their future in ways they may never have considered before. We’ve got place-based strategies targeting workers on the Eastside, high school programs that allow for more internships in real-life work spaces, and strategic outreach and communications strategies cropping up to help students see the potential opportunity. We’ve seen an increase in high school graduation rates, and we are on track to increase employment in target industries, while reducing unemployment. We’re seeing movement on college attainment, but need more momentum there.

The SA2020 team works every day on both systems and behaviors. We make connections. We collaborate. We drive action.

Some of this is done on coordinating councils and committees: driving strategy, guiding vision, facilitating collaboration. We sit on more than 15 of these, spanning each of our cause areas. We know that it is in these behind-the-scenes roles that we see some of the most alignment and mobilization.

Just this month, for example, through a collaborative effort with the United Way, we launched ReadyKidSA, a comprehensive early childhood system that promotes the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of children 0-8, while providing parents and caregivers with the tools and resources to better support their families.

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SA2020 partner, cafécollege, celebrates the work they’ve done since 2010.

Some of the work we do is more out in the open – outreach that helps build public will and inspires action.

We are part of a 20-organization collaborative group for Destination College, a week of free events that promote San Antonio as a college town and a college going town – an effort noticed nationally that provided the site for First Lady Michelle Obama’s launch of her Reach Higher Campaign.

This year we revamped SA2020.org to be even more outcomes driven for organizations and drive individuals to give their time, talent, and dollars to organizations who are driving real change in very specific ways. By the end of October, more than 100 organizations and public agencies will be accessible on our website, showcasing their outcomes, while providing an easy to access way to get involved. We want individuals to know that we they find an organization on our website, they are directly contributing to the goals we set as a community.

We are involved in our community. Our 7 member team has participated in 81 events and volunteered nearly 195 hours. And there’s no slowing down.

  • We’re hosting a Recolvia at Síclovía on Sunday at Dignowity Park, showcasing some of our partners, while showing the community that health is about the whole person – mind, body, and soul.
  • We’re partnering with the Downtown Residents Association for a National Night Out at the VFW on October 6.
  • We partnering with PechaKucha San Antonio for their biggest event yet – at the Majestic Theatre on December 1. (Save this date!) Come hear how individuals in San Antonio, like San Antonio’s Chief Friendly Officer Jody Bailey Newman, Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero, and 8th grader (class of 2020) Kylie Helterbrand, are making our city better.
  • We’re working with the Hispanic Chamber’s Alex Briseño Leadership Class on innovation projects.
  • We help coordinate two city commissions on Education and Family Well-Being.
  • We are coordinating an effort for youth engagement and development.
  • We’re working with several local funders on catalytic funding projects, filling gaps that need an influx of resources.
  • We’re ramping up our individual work with partners, providing workshops and resources for building capacity in their organizations.

And we do all of this with data – real measures of success – on our brains, and outcomes – observable change – on our minds.

When someone says to you, “What does SA2020 do?”

I would love if you say any or all of the following:

  • They are collaborative problem solvers.
  • They are community activators.
  • They are champions for San Antonio.
  • They are creating systems and behavioral change.

Change that you can see, touch, hear, and feel.

And I hope you will also say, “And I support them.”

Happy Birthday to us! Five years in we should all be celebrating our collective successes. So, get yourself a piece of cake, but drink some water, too…because, you know, #health.

Molly Cox

Molly grew up in Corpus Christi, TX where she spent the majority of her adult life as a radio “personality.” She received her BA in theatre from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, then went on to get her master’s degree in political science from UTSA. Molly worked as the Director of UTSA’s Center for Policy Studies, where she led the Nonprofit Management and American Humanics Programs. Her focus in nonprofit capacity building grew to include her own consulting business, Nonprofit Fancy Pants. In March 2013, she joined SA2020 as the Chief of Engagement and in early 2015 became President & CEO of SA2020.

View all posts by Molly Cox

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