SA2020- San Antonio, TX

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Racial equity and healing
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Community meetings (townhalls, forums, etc), Digital engagement, Engaging non-English speakers, Surveys and data, Visioning/ strategic planning
Project Description

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With the community-at-large as their North Star, San Antonio intentionally works toward equitable outcomes and community results. Creating a community vision utilizes civic engagement, as residents prioritize exactly what to continue to work toward. Additionally, because SA2020 transparently reports on San Antonio’s progress toward these goals, community members are always able to see where strides are being made and where improvements are needed. With this information, San Antonians are better equipped to advocate for–and lead–change.  

Project Summary: 

In 2010, Former Mayor Julian Castro launched SA2020, a community-wide visioning process. Through a series of public meetings, online chat sessions, and surveys, San Antonians shaped a shared vision for their community by the year 2020. Nearly 6,000 residents, representing a diverse cross-section of San Antonio, were tasked with developing a framework, defining community results, and identifying measures of success. The first SA2020 report, released in 2011, identified eleven community results tracked by 59 indicators, generating a decade-long strategic vision for San Antonio.  

In order to guide the strategy into implementation, SA2020 became an independent, non-profit organization in 2012. In collaboration with the city, 133 non-profits, 7 major corporations, the San Antonio Area Foundation, and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, SA2020 has now created an ecosystem. This ecosystem supports incremental change, tracking our progress to identify gaps, thereby directing programs, initiatives, funding, and policy.  

In January 2018, SA2020 released its annual report. The annual SA2020 Impact Report serves multiple objectives by providing an update on where San Antonio is in relation to its shared vision, as well as direct calls-to-action. Although SA2020 is committed to remaining true to the original set of eleven community results, they also want to continuously paint a truer picture of where San Antonio stands. In collaboration with the city and additional community engagement, SA2020 adopted 4 new indicators, included in the 2017 Impact Report. 

Original Set of 11 Cause Areas:

  1. Arts & Culture
  2. Civic Engagement
  3. Community Safety
  4. Downtown Development
  5. Economic Competitiveness
  6. Education
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Family Well-Being
  9. Health & Fitness
  10. Neighborhoods
  11. Transportation.

These cause areas are tracked by 61 indicators prioritized by the community during the visioning process. 

SA2020 and the city’s Office of Equity applied an Equity Impact Assessment to seven high-impact city initiatives including streets maintenance and civic engagement to inform the City’s budget, and boards and commissions. The assessment, a set of guiding questions in 6 steps, results in policies and services that are accountable to communities’ needs and priorities. Each high impact initiative created fifteen-member teams diverse by race, gender, and position (from directors to front line employees). Diverse teams are important opportunities for city employees to exercise leadership and signify the value of knowledge across our organizational hierarchy.  

Engagement Strategies: 

Through a series of public meetings, online chat sessions, and surveys, San Antonians shaped a shared vision for their community by the year 2020. Nearly 6,000 residents, representing a diverse cross-section of San Antonio, were tasked with developing a framework, defining community results, and identifying measures of success.  

As part of the equity assessment in SA2020, community engagement became a central component with guiding questions that include—who are the most affected community members who are concerned with or have experience related to the proposed initiative? How are they involved in the development of the initiative? What has your engagement process told you about the factors that produce or perpetuate racial inequity related to this program? How will you continue to partner and deepen relationships with communities to make sure your work to advance racial equity is effective and sustainable?  This framework of questions has set the standard for working towards equity in engagement of all eleven focus areas and corresponding projects.  

Targeted Outreach: One component of SA2020 is SA Speak Up, the largest annual initiative to gather community input for developing the city’s $2.7 billion budget. The city began collecting demographic data for their SA Speak Up surveys in 2016 and found that the respondents did not reflect the population by race, gender, or Council District. Engagement is lowest in communities of color and low-income communities, two segments of our population that have been historically discriminated against by government.  After applying the assessment in 2017, the city shifted its outreach strategies. Instead of leading a traditional town hall, the city hosted the first Spanish-language Community Night in a district with the highest density of Latinos. Held in a local park, the family-friendly event included food, activities, and health screenings and drew 200 people, the largest number of participants for a SA Speak Up event. As a result of this outreach, SA Speak Up successfully reduced the gap between White and Latino respondents in 2017, and further created a more equitable engagement plan for 2018. Planned strategies for this year include mailing surveys in English and Spanish, along with return postage, and administering surveys at grocery stores targeting specific Council Districts.   


Of the 61 indicators currently being tracked, 70% are trending better today than they were in 2010. This includes progress toward high school graduation rates, per capita income, health care access, teen birth rate, and diabetes rate.  

Prioritized under their civic engagement focus is the community’s desire to increase the diversity of elected and appointed officials to better reflect the San Antonio population. SA2020 currently tracks this as percent of City Board Members who are “non-minority.” Incremental progress has been made towards the SA2020 goal of 26.6% of non-minority board members, decreasing this value from 42.4% in 2012 to 36.3% in 2017.  

In addition to the diversity of elected officials, SA2020 tracks civic engagement through voter turnout, volunteerism, and philanthropic giving. Small but positive gains in municipal voter turnout are encouraging, as it is one of the most difficult to-shift numbers in a community. The number of registered voters increased by 20% in two years—from 821,615 in 2015 to 1,026,817 in 2017. The total number of ballots cast in 2017 was 116,222, a 19% increase over the 97,697 cast in 2015. San Antonio’s volunteer rate, measured by a three-year moving average, is making slight progress. Finally, although the community has experienced some significant success in philanthropic giving, progress on this indicator has remained relatively flat over the past several years and is doing worse in 2018 than in 2011.

Additional Resources:
SA2020 Annual Reports
San Antonio, TX– 2018 AAC Winner: Presentation
Local Contact:



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