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Courtesy of TEXAS YES

Thanks to $167,000 in new grants from a San Antonio-based educational nonprofit, classrooms in 18 Texas schools will receive various upgrades to help further their students’ academic pursuits.

An October 27 news release announced the grants from TEXAS YES (Texas Youth Education Support project) will go towards upgrading classroom equipment including a new computer lab, robotics program elements, chicken coops, a 3D printer, iPads and smart boards, and the purchase of new library books.

For the first-time since its inception, the YES Grant shifted focus to include classroom improvements, which is a crucial need to a child’s education, TEXAS YES officials said.

“It’s incredible to help schools not only update library books, which has seen a huge lack of funding, but also help provide classroom equipment such as computers and even P.E. equipment,” TEXAS YES executive director Danielle Gunter stated in the release.

According to TEXAS YES, the following San Antonio-area schools and organizations are receiving grants: Koennecke Elementary School, CAST Med High School, Palo Alto Elementary School, Harmony School of Excellence, Burleson School of Innovation, Miguel Carrillo Jr. Elementary School, Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio, Patlan Elementary School, Spring Branch Middle School, West Campus High School, and Harlandale Independent School District.

The local grants total more than $100,000 in educational grants. The remaining funds have been distributed to schools in the Dallas and Austin areas.

Organization officials said TEXAS YES understands a high-quality STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education is critical to a student's efforts at forming a successful future.

TEXAS YES partnered up with local injury attorney and philanthropist Thomas J. Henry to create the TEXAS STEAM Grant, which provides students and teachers with funds to provide an effective STEAM education.

“Now more than ever it’s important to bridge the gap of educational inequality and give students the tools and resources they need to thrive in their academics,” said Henry in the release.

Grants are open to public, private, and charter elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as 501(c)3 nonprofits with a youth focus.

Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

San Antonio high school sits at head of the class among Texas' best in 2022

A+ rating

San Antonio is earning extra credit in a new ranking of the best high schools in Texas.

In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, one local district ranks among the state’s best school districts, while one private institution makes the grade among the state’s best private high schools.

Within the top 10 in each respective category are:

  • BASIS Texas Charter Schools in San Antonio, No. 4 among school districts
  • Keystone School in San Antonio, No. 9 among private high schools

“Some of the biggest decisions that parents face have to do with their children’s education,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release. “We strive to put as much power in their hands as possible so they can make informed decisions with confidence.”

Niche says that while traditional rankings rely heavily on metrics like test scores and academic performance, its rankings combine ratings from current students, alumni, and parents with data from the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate teachers, resources, facilities, extracurricular activities and more.

Here’s how other Texas schools and school districts fared in this year’s Niche rankings.

Austin area

  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts & Science Academy, No. 2 among public high schools
  • Eanes ISD’s Westlake High School, No. 6 among public high schools
  • Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High IB World School, No. 8 among public high schools
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, No. 4 among private high schools
  • Eanes ISD, No. 1 among best school districts

Dallas area

  • Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented, No. 1 among public high schools
  • Dallas ISD’s School of Science & Engineering, No. 3 among public high schools
  • Carroll ISD’s Carroll High School, No. 7 among public high schools
  • St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas, No. 1 among private high schools
  • Greenhill School in Addison, No. 3 among private high schools
  • The Hockaday School in Dallas, No. 5 among private high schools
  • Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, No. 8 among private high schools
  • Carrollton ISD in Carrollton, No. 3 among best school districts
  • Lovejoy ISD in Addison, No. 5 among best school districts
  • Coppell ISD, No. 6 among best school districts
  • Frisco ISD, No. 7 among best school districts
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, No 8 among best school districts
  • Highland Park ISD, No. 9 among best school districts
  • Prosper ISD, No. 10 among best school districts

Houston area

  • Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School, No. 4 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Debakey High School for Health Professions, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, No. 9 among public high schools
  • Katy ISD’s Seven Lakes High School, No. 10 among public high schools
  • The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, No. 6 among private high schools
  • The Village School in Houston, No. 7 among private high schools
  • The Kincaid School in Houston, No. 10 among private high schools

Rio Grande Valley

  • South Texas ISD in Mercedes, No. 2 among school districts
Courtesy of ADVANCE San Antonio Facebook

San Antonio Avance

San Antonio Avance< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

AVANCE unlocks America's potential by strengthening families in at-risk communities through effective parent education and support programs. AVANCE has been building families and community in San Antonio for over 45 years and strongly believes that parents must be their child’s first and most important teacher. AVANCE's purpose is to develop strong and stable families, ensure healthy children, and promote economic self-sufficiency in families.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

You do not need prior experience to volunteer at AVANCE. Opportunities range from clerical support to program personnel and becoming a parent-child education program participant. To volunteer through AVANCE's citywide volunteer partners, head here.

BIG EVENT

AVANCE's signature event is the annual Mother of the Year Luncheon.

SA YES Facebook

SA YES

SA YES < div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

SA YES is a local nonprofit founded in 1998 with the simple mission to support Title 1 elementary students and community groups in San Antonio through educational outreach of free school supplies and classroom grants. SA YES has assisted more than 275,000 students since its inception, and continues to be the largest distributor of school supplies in South Texas — it will serve more than 27,000 elementary students in 2018.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

The organization relies heavily on volunteers to help with the distribution of over 27,000 school supply kits in August. Along with school supply distribution, SA YES hosts fundraising events throughout the year, with volunteer opportunities in many different areas.

If you are unable to volunteer your time, you can support the mission with a gift to SA YES. Any amount counts and will make a difference. To learn how to become involved, contact Melody Mejia at Melody.Mejia@sayes.org or 210-298-8880.

BIG EVENT

SA YES hosts its Taste of Education Dinner and a Golf Classic each year. Proceeds from both events support the organization's school supply distribution and classroom grants for schools and nonprofits.

UNICEF USA Facebook

UNICEF USA

UNICEF USA< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

UNICEF USA works to put children first all over the world through fundraising, advocacy, and education for UNICEF’s global mandate here in the United States. They are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes, and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories around the world and has helped save more lives than any other humanitarian organization. With every dollar donated, 88.4 percent goes directly toward helping children all around the globe.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Although its offices are located in Dallas and Houston, UNICEF's engagement and activations cover the entire state of Texas. Students can get involved with UNICEF’s work by joining their local UNICEF club, currently operating in 67 schools in Texas. Participants support campaigns and put on fun events to raise money for UNICEF.

UNICEF USA implemented the original Kids-Helping-Kids program with the iconic Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Kids can support their peers throughout the year with UNICEF Kid Power, which allows kids to get active and save lives by tracking physical activity through the Kid Power band and app. Kids run, jump, and dance to unlock funding from partners which UNICEF uses to deliver lifesaving nutrition to severely malnourished children. The more kids move, the more lives they save. To date, over 10 million packets of lifesaving nourishment have been unlocked saving over 70,000 lives.

UNICEF Next Generation is a group of young leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who commit their resources, resolve, and enthusiasm toward supporting UNICEF’s lifesaving work. Members study issues that affect children around the world and choose UNICEF projects to support through education, advocacy, skill sharing/remote volunteering, and fundraising. Through their activities, members mobilize their networks and inspire their generations to take action on behalf of the world's most vulnerable children.

BIG EVENT

In Texas, the major events include the UNICEF Gala Dallas and the UNICEF Gala Houston. These events are held annually in the spring. Both are black-tie affairs honoring outstanding humanitarian leaders and celebrating UNICEF’s mission. Head over to their websites to learn how to attend.

Better World Sex Ed Facebook

Better World Sex Ed

Better World Sex Ed< div> WEBSITE >
MISSION

Better World Sex Ed is a San Antonio-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to provide comprehensive, medically accurate, and inclusive sex education coaching to parents and the young people in their lives. BWSE provides workshops addressing various sex ed topics with a goal of empowering parents to step confidently into leading the sex education of their children.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Please donate or attend the workshops.

BIG EVENT

Offering different educational events and workshops are offered monthly.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.