In 1994, SAY Sí was founded under the umbrella of the King William Neighborhood Association with the vision that all youth should have equitable access to opportunities that develop their worldview and creative potential. For 26 years, our path as a nonprofit organization has been driven by the recognition that the arts reshape the way young people learn, communicate and prepare for their futures.
What began as a small after school arts program serving 12 students from Brackenridge High School, SAY Sí has grown into an award-winning, nationally recognized out-of-school time model that annually serves 3,700 youth from across San Antonio.
On-site we offer long-term, year-round, multidisciplinary art programming for middle school and high school students – completely tuition-free. With a focus on access, priority enrollment is given to youth from lower-income households and underserved areas.
SAY Sí motivates and inspires these creative youth of San Antonio through four studios: Visual Arts, a comprehensive program providing study drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and art history; Media Arts, a technology-based learning program that provides a hands-on focus in filmmaking, photography and digital design; Theatre Arts, a performing arts program that empowers youth to create original works; and New Media, an innovative program exploring digital art, video game design, 3D modeling and creative coding. All studios provide access to trained teaching artists, quality materials and state-of-the-art equipment.
High school students select one studio to master, building a body of work through hands-on lessons and practicums provided by SAY Sí teaching artists and visiting artists. High school students attend 8 studio hours weekly. In the high school program, youth gain real-world experience, showcase their works in SAY Sí exhibitions and graduate with a professional portfolio.
Our middle school program, Working Artists and Mentors, is held Saturdays throughout the year and focuses on long-term individual achievement and skills enhancement. Each student chooses two studios to participate in, selecting one upon their entry into the high school program. In addition to classes led by SAY Sí instructors and visiting artists, WAM students receive peer-to-peer mentoring from SAY Sí high school juniors and seniors.
In addition to our onsite programs, we extend our reach through our community-based Artists Building Communities (ABC) program. In ABC, SAY Sí alumni and trained teaching artists facilitate weekly art workshops for youth served by local children’s shelters, juvenile detention programs, hospitals and recovery programs, public libraries, Title I schools and fellow nonprofit organizations.
A creative youth development model, we strive to develop each individual student by enhancing their social, academic, cognitive and vocational competencies, improving their self-esteem and self-identity and enhancing their character so that they possess all the tools and motivation necessary to become productive, thoughtful leaders. SAY Sí prepares students for their futures through the college and career preparation embedded in our curriculum. Centered on youth voice, our programs encourage students to embrace and celebrate their unique identities and cultures, become creative leaders and to see the arts as a tool for creating a positive impact in their communities.
In our 26 years, we have been able to track how the arts support other aspects of young people’s lives. 100% of SAY Sí high school seniors graduate high school with 98% college acceptance; 40% of SAY Sí high school youth perform higher in math and reading test scores than the county average; 96% of our youth state that SAY Sí helps them understand other people’s views; and 86% say we help them contribute to their community.
In 2021, SAY Sí will make the biggest move in our history – to the heart of San Antonio’s westside. Nearly four times the size of our current campus, we will have the ability to reach more youth through increased enrollment and the addition of new programs, including Journalism, Digital Music and Culinary Arts, and the expansion of existing programming. Currently, we turn away over 40% of applicants due to capacity. More students will soon have access to our proven model of creative youth development that builds their creative, educational and technical abilities in preparation for successful, inspiring futures.
Since March, when COVID-19 began influencing major operations in San Antonio, things have been looking different at the organization’s current location at 1518 South Alamo. We have reimagined our in-person programs to connect virtually with our youth. Our staff is working from home and our galleries are no longer open to the public. However, as part of our commitment to the community, we are sharing our latest exhibitions as well as at-home art activities and creative videos virtually at saysi.org. We hope that you visit our website to see what exciting things our young people have been up to while at home.