SA2020 CEO updates progress

Public investment in nonprofit continues to grow

SAN ANTONIO – SA2020 President and CEO Darryl Byrd says the nonprofit is on track to achieve a majority of its goals, but there is still much work to be done.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro launched SA2020 in November with the mission of transforming San Antonio into a world-class city by the close of the decade.

More than 6,000 people came together to identify 11 vision areas and nearly 60 benchmarks in a variety of fields such as economic development, health and wellness, and education.

"The idea is not just to ask (residents) for their opinion and what they would like to see happen going into the future, but for them to take ownership and essentially be vested in it happening," Byrd said. "We do not exist as an organization to move the needle. Our job is to be a catalyst for all San Antonians to move that needle."

In June, the organization released its first annual report, which showed the nonprofit has reached or exceeded several goals.

The city's teen birth rate has been reduced by 15 percent, while high school graduation rates have increased to 92 percent -- both ahead of schedule.

However the report showed the city's poverty rate grew to 15.8 percent, more than double the 2020 goal of 7.5 percent.

Voter turnout, the adult obesity rate, and attendance at arts programs also lag behind 2020 goal-setting levels.

"There's some things that we're doing well and we need to keep the pedal to the metal and the foot on the gas and other areas where we have to have a, frankly, serious conversation as a community about do we really want to get to where we said to go and if we do, then we need to get more serious as a community -- particularly folks who have specific responsibilities," Byrd said.

City Council support

The city's 2014 budget aligns with the goals outlined in SA2020.

The nonprofit has the overwhelming support of the San Antonio City Council, but Byrd knows he has his detractors.

"The San Antonio City Council has been a big partner for us," he said. "I'd say nine of the 11 are huge supporters and partners of SA2020."

The most outspoken critics are District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules and District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan.

Soules sees SA2020 as a pet project that is far outside the core functions of city government while Chan has been critical of the program's goal to increase housing downtown.

Byrd said the criticism is just a part of the process and will not slow his organization, or the public's investment in it, down.

"We're not striving for perfection here we're striving for the resources and the partnerships to get things done," he said. "So I don't worry too much about if there's a couple of people who may have legitimate differences of opinion about the philosophy of SA2020 or the community ownership of SA2020."

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