SAN ANTONIO – A local nonprofit that offers free after-school programs to students is expanding and moving to the West Side.
“We have visual arts, film and photography, a theater program, and then we also have new media, which is everything technology-based,” said Stephen Garza-Guzman, communications director of SAY Sí.
The creative youth development program at SAY Sí serves middle and high school students in the San Antonio area.
It’s tuition-free and has been around for 25 years.
“We started serving 12 students from Brackenridge High School, right around the corner, and we’ve grown steadily throughout the years. And now, we serve about 200 students from every district in the city, both middle and high school,” Garza-Guzman said.
Garza-Guzman said with that growth came challenges.
“We recognize that a lot of the students who applied to be part of our programs, we had to turn them away. (It was) roughly 30% to 40% of those students who applied,” Garza-Guzman said.
Due to a lack of space to accept more students, the organization decided to sell its current downtown building on South Alamo Street.
“We were able to acquire a building that’s four times the size of the one that we have now. It’s 98,000 square feet, and it’s going to be huge growth for us,” Garza-Guzman said.
He said they’re excited to move to the West Side on South Brazos Street.
“We really want to allow those young people who are on that side of town to have access to arts education, to quality arts programming, to a community of people who support them. I think that we have the potential to do some really good community work on the West Side of San Antonio,” Garza-Guzman said.
The nonprofit will be adding more programs, including culinary arts, journalism and digital music composition.
“We'll have enough spaces that are dedicated to all of our programs, in addition to a new culinary kitchen, a brand-new restaurant. We'll have a black box theater that seats about 100 people, as well as a 350-seat proscenium theater,” Garza-Guzman said.
Ashley Perez said her life changed in high school after joining the program.
“I think I experienced a lot of growth that I wouldn't have had if I didn't attend a challenging space like that,” Perez said.
Today, Perez is the visual arts director of the organization.
“The students are, like, blowing me away and inspiring me quite a bit,” Perez said.
She said the program will give students a place to be themselves.
“I think that you can’t underestimate that power. It’s really a great opportunity for those kids,” Perez said.
The nonprofit hopes to move into the new location by late 2020. The project will cost $20 million, which will cover construction and create an endowment. The money will come from fundraising. So far, the nonprofit has raised $9.4 million.