Southwest Key Programs

Opening doors to opportunity

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Southwest Key Programs?

Southwest Key is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1987 to improve the lives of children and their families.

Why does Southwest Key exist?

Southwest Key is here to provide quality education, safe shelter and alternatives to incarceration for thousands of youth each day, while helping families become economically self-sufficient.

What does Southwest Key do?

Southwest Key contracts with government agencies and private foundations to operate three types of programs throughout the country: youth justice programs, charter schools for kids in underserved neighborhoods, and shelters for immigrant youth. Additionallly, Southwest Key started a holding company called Southwest Key Enterprises with a portfolio of several small social enterprise businesses. These social enterprises are solely owned by Southwest Key, a non-profit, which means they have no shareholders, and all profits go back to support the Southwest Key mission.

How did Southwest Key get started?

Southwest Key was founded by our current CEO Dr. Juan Sanchez who began by providing services for adolescents, mostly youth of color, who were involved in the youth justice system in Texas. Southwest Key eventually expanded throughout the country, pioneering innovative program models based on the belief that young people are best served in their communities, not institutions. Today, Southwest Key is a national leader in youth program development and replication.

Where is Southwest Key located?

We operate programs in 7 states: Texas, Arizona, California, Georgia, New York, Wisconsin and Florida. Our national headquarters is located in Austin, Texas, home to East Austin College Prep (a free, pubic school for which Southwest Key wrote the charter), and the East Austin Children's Promise initiative.

Who does Southwest Key serve?

The inspiring youth and parents we work with are seeking the American dream: equality, education, and a higher quality of life. At Southwest Key, we simply open the doors to opportunity so they can achieve these dreams.

How has Southwest Key made a difference?

Because of Southwest Key, thousands of youth have been diverted from prisons, jails, and institutions. Immigrant children have been reunified with their families. Children at risk of dropping out have stayed in school. And adults have been equipped to provide for their families.

How does Southwest Key work with kids?

We individualize our approach to each client and develop flexible service plans in partnership with them. We use data to make decisions and improve our services, which are delivered by persons knowledgeable of cultural, language, and ethnic differences. We build on the strengths of each client to develop their capacity to succeed, keeping their family closely involved whenever possible.

How is Southwest Key funded?

Our budget is drawn primarily from government contracts for youth programs, with additional support from foundations, corporations, special events and private contributions. We are taking innovative steps to become self sufficient by operating a growing portfolio of social enterprises—businesses which serve a double bottom line: to create good jobs for low income residents while bringing in funds to support our nonprofit mission.

What else makes Southwest Key unique?

Southwest Key is one of only three nonprofits in Austin to be accredited by the Council on Accreditation, the nation's leading human service accrediting body. We employ creative staff members across the country who represent the cultures of the youth we serve. Southwest Key was recently ranked #4 among the Top 25 Hispanic Nonprofits in America by Hispanic Business Magazine.