Southwest Key Programs

Opening doors to opportunity

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Southwest Key Programs?

Southwest Key Programs is a private, nonprofit organization that is committed to keeping kids out of prisons and detention centers and home with their families, in school, and in their communities.

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 through a variety of community-based programs.

What does Southwest Key do?

Southwest Key operates youth justice alternative programs in seven states. We provide out-of-school and support services for our partner non-profit organization Promesa Public Schools. And we operate shelters for immigrant children in Texas, Arizona and California. Additionally, 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 in 1987 by our current CEO Dr. Juan Sanchez who saw that people of color were overrepresented in prisons and jails and underrepresented in colleges and universities. Southwest Key began providing alternatives to incarceration for adolescents, mostly youth of color, who were involved in the juvenile justice system in Texas. Eventually, our programming expanded across the country, as we pioneered innovative program models based on the belief that young people are best served in their communities, not in institutions. This same belief is the basis for our immigrant youth shelter program which seeks to reunify unaccompanied immigrant children with their family or a trusted sponsor. Our educational and community engagement programming works in partnership with the community to create the optimal environment for children and families in historically underrepresented neighborhoods to succeed.

Where is Southwest Key located?

We operate programs in 8 states: Texas, Arizona, California, Georgia, New York, Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado. 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 learned valuable skills that better equip them 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 has been recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the League of United Latin American Citizens and UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) as a leader in the fields of human services for immigrants and the Latino community. We are also accredited by the Council on Accreditation, the nation's leading human services accrediting body. We employ creative staff members across the country who represent the cultures of the youth we serve. Southwest Key was ranked #4 among the Top 25 Hispanic Nonprofits in America by Hispanic Business Magazine.