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SWK Founder Dr. Juan Sánchez Kicks Off 25th Anniversary Tour

By Southwest Key on 02/15/2013 @ 07:33 AM

Tags: Events, Southwest Key, Juan Across America

Dr. Juan Sanchez

Sanchez, age 34, at La Esperanza

2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of Southwest Key Programs. Founded in December of 1987 by Dr. Juan J. Sánchez, the non-profit was created in direct response to experiences in Dr. Sánchez’ childhood.

Dr. Sánchez grew up in one of the poorest barrios in a South Texas border town where life was full of challenges. As a young man, he first found refuge in boxing where the physical and emotional demand of conditioning focused his energies and time. In addition, a number of caring, supportive adults, especially his mother Andrea, encouraged him to expect more from life and to pursue an education. Dr. Sánchez enrolled in St. Mary’s College in San Antonio to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. After graduation, he went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Seattle and ultimately Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was among the first Latinos to receive his doctorate from the School of Education at Harvard University.

SWKey 25th Anniversary Logo

Dr. Sánchez soon returned to his hometown of Brownsville Texas to lead La Esperanza Home for Boys, a residential center for at-risk youth. La Esperanza is now a Southwest Key program.

Through this experience he realized that children can’t be treated in isolation; to truly make a difference in their lives, families must be empowered in the process and the impact of poverty and discrimination must be addressed. Dr. Sánchez began developing program models that had not been seen before: they were culturally-specific, they addressed underlying problems, and they were always combined with uncompromising system-reform efforts. He took his models across the country, sought new growth opportunities along the way and Southwest Key was born.

Dr. Juan Sanchez Posing with two young students.

Sánchez in 2012, with East Austin community

In December, 1987 he founded Southwest Key Programs with a team of five in a small basement in San Antonio, Texas. Decades later, that small team has grown to a workforce of over 1,600 nationally and we have expanded our efforts to serve 6,000 youth daily in multiple states and cities across the country. Southwest Key has become a national leader in providing juvenile justice programs, shelters for immigrant youth, alternative schools, social enterprises, child care management services, housing programs, workforce programs, cultural arts programs, empowerment programs, a college prep middle school, and a community center.

Throughout 2013 Dr. Sánchez will be touring the country, visiting Southwest Key programs, taking stock of progress, accomplishments, and challenges for the future. In January Dr. Sánchez visited Southwest Key operations in Phoenix Arizona.

Dr. Sánchez says,

“This year we celebrate 25 years serving youth and families, and Southwest Key has so much to be grateful for. This year, I have made my own commitment to celebrate the 25th anniversary by visiting as many programs as possible across the country. In January, I was moved by my experience in Phoenix, and this March, I am excited to meet employees in the San Antonio area. I look forward seeing our values in action and talking with you about what great things we’re doing for families every day. We are setting up dates in various cities and channels of communication to share this experience with everyone across Southwest Key.”

We’ll provides updates, photos and videos of his tour on this blog as Dr. Sánchez helps Southwest Key plan for 25 more years of accomplishing it’s mission: opening doors to opportunity so people can achieve their dreams.


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