Peer Learning Cohorts

Select nonprofits work together for 36 months to become more efficient and effective leaders so their organizations operate at peak performance.

What we do

Each year, our Capacity Building Program forms a Peer Learning Cohort consisting of select nonprofits that agree to work together for 36 months at becoming more efficient, effective, and cooperative. They dig deep on leadership development, continuous learning processes, managing, planning, oversight, and generating resources. The goal: to help vital nonprofits operate at peak performance.

The organizations involved represent a breadth of services being offered in San Antonio, from after-school activities to distressed housing restoration to mental health support and more. Each nonprofit is provided with an external assessment using the Impact Capacity Assessment Tool (iCAT), which helps orient them to the work ahead. In the first year, cohort members meet on five occasions, connecting through peer learning opportunities, and creating the potential for lasting collaborations that can benefit communities for years to come.


Help support one of nonprofit partners during these challenging times.

Learn More


Subscribe today to get the latest stories of the amazing work our partnering organizations are doing.


2020-2021 Cohort

AVANCE – San Antonio | Website

AVANCE (Uh-vahn-say) is a national, non-profit organization, primarily serving Texas, that meets hard to reach, low-income families where they are. Meaning “advance” or “progress,” AVANCE serves as a trusted guide to assist under-resourced families of young children in overcoming isolation and lack of opportunity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas | Website

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. More than 100 years later, Big Brothers Big Sisters remains true to the founders’ vision to defend the potential of every child and help all children achieve success in life.

Jewish Family Service | Website

Jewish Family Service of San Antonio (JFS) strives to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds in San Antonio and the surrounding area, through social, psychological, health and educational programs guided by the Jewish values of “repairing the world” and “taking responsibility for each other.” Additionally, JFS seeks to remove the financial barriers to mental health and social services in our community.

Madonna Center | Website

Madonna Center helps individuals and families improve their daily lives through education, connections to resources, healthy aging and a sense of community. From after-school programs to senior services, Madonna Center has activities and programs meant to build community among all age groups.

Presa Community Center | Website

Presa Community Center improves lives by providing access to needed resources and tools for social and personal transformation. It envisions a community where individuals and families, businesses and institutions are actively engaged with each other in positive relationships that improve the physical environment, reduce social and economic facts that contribute to the cycle of poverty, and improve quality of life for all.

SA Youth | Website

SA Youth empowers San Antonio’s high-risk youth and young adults to achieve their full potential by providing quality educational programming in a safe environment. They work so all San Antonio youth and young adults can receive equitable access to educational opportunities, graduate from high school, and become successful community-minded adults, regardless of circumstance.

Previous Cohorts

Cohort 3 (2019-2020)
Cohort 2 (2018-2019)
Cohort 1 (2017-2018)


Capacity Building is based out of our San Antonio office at 153 Treeline Park, Suite 330, San Antonio, TX 78209. For inquiries, please contact María Fernández.

Capacity Building Program Director

MARÍA A. FERNÁNDEZ | 830-315-9316

María joined the H. E. Butt Foundation after serving for four years as the Senior Director of Diversity and Equity Leadership Development for a national nonprofit developing teachers as policy, elected, and community organizing leaders. Over her 22-year career, she has led a variety of initiatives in California and Texas, including spearheading cross-sector initiatives at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities at Stanford University. Fully bilingual and biliterate in Spanish and English, María also ran her own translation and interpretation business for over 10 years.

Prior to launching her career, María earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Stanford University and a Master of Education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. María also earned her Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University in 2019. She lives in San Antonio with her husband, a bilingual-bicultural studies university professor, and her two bilingual children.

Click here to return to the Community Engagement page.

Community Engagement