Texas Education Grantmakers 
Advocacy Consortium
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Issue: #10


It's officially summer! This means an end to another school year for millions of Texas public school students and only about six months until the Texas Legislature convenes for the 84th Legislative session. With that in mind, TEGAC is busy gearing up for the upcoming session and our priorities have never been so clear.


Our policy work groups are immersed in research into the priorities determined by the Consortium: 1) Pre-Kindergarten Quality and Access; 2) After-School, Summer and Expanded Learning; and 3) Counseling and Implementation of House Bill 5. The research findings will be available in September. To help disseminate these research findings, the Consortium recently put out a request for proposals to nonprofit organizations interested in these issue areas. We received a strong response and each of the work groups are currently reviewing proposals from potential partners who will use innovative methods to help advance and disseminate TEGAC's policy work groups' research. We will announce the grantees by the end of the month.


In April, the Consortium held its Spring luncheon celebrating its recent accomplishments and continuing the conversation around the upcoming session's education budget and policy debates. A second event focused on Pre-K was held in May, co-sponsored by TEGAC, Children At Risk and the Texas Association of Business. In September, the Consortium will hold its Fall meeting at the Austin Club. You won't want to miss this event, as it will be an opportunity for members to be the FIRST to hear from the research partners regarding their research findings and to meet the Consortium's new advocacy partners.


In other news, the primary season is over and we have our Texas ticket for 2014. The Republican primary runoff resulted in the ousting of several incumbent senators and the ascent of Tea Party candidates to run in the November elections. The race for lieutenant governor between Dan Patrick and Leticia Van De Putte will be of particular interest for the future direction of public education as the Lt. Governor appoints Senate committee chairs, who have significant influence on which legislation moves and which doesn't. Read more about the primary and its potential impact below.


Finally, in this issue you will find our Q & A with one of our member foundations, The Dallas Foundation. The Dallas Foundation is the oldest community foundation in the state, linking donors and the community issues they care about. In this interview, President Mary Jalonick explains the foundation's commitment to public education and its interest in advocacy as an effective method of leveraging private dollars to have a greater impact on the community. The Consortium is honored to have the support and leadership of The Dallas Foundation. 


Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and please continue to check our website for more upcoming events and blog posts. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!

  Q&A: The Dallas Foundation

1. What is the mission of the Dallas Foundation?


 The Dallas Foundation, established as a community foundation in 1929, serves as a resource, leader and catalyst for philanthropy by providing donors with flexible means of making gifts to charitable causes that enhance our community.


 2. Why is public education an important issue to the Foundation?


A strong public education system is the most important issue that faces any community.  It is important for us to spotlight what private philanthropy can do in concert with the public sector to give our youngest citizens a chance to succeed in life.


3. What role does your community foundation play in public education?


Our board has determined that early childhood education for children 0-5 years old is where we will focus a large part of our discretionary grantmaking. We brought the Nurse Family Partnership program to Texas in 2006, and over the last seven years have concentrated on the low-income, Hispanic, Bachman area neighborhood in Dallas through the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative. The mission of the Collaborative, made up of over 30 foundations, is to ensure that the children are physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually ready for school by age 5 through measurable progress. This is accomplished by saturating the neighborhood with services assisting the children and their families. 


4.  As a community foundation, are there any unique attributes that make you particularly helpful to the policy process?


A community foundation is a broad community funder with multiple donors, so we have a large group of supporters who we can educate on policy issues, adding to our impact.


5.  As a community foundation, you actually have more flexibility under IRS guidelines than a private foundation in terms of working in the advocacy and policy space. What does this mean potentially for the Dallas Foundation?


Advocacy is new for The Dallas Foundation, but we are committed to learning what to do and how to be the most effective in educating our lawmakers on the strategic benefits of investing in best practice education for our Texas children.


6. Why did the Dallas Foundation feel that joining TEGAC was important to its mission?


Advocacy is not a traditional activity for either community or private foundations, but when we learned of the successes that TEGAC accomplished in the last legislative session, our board felt that we needed to be a part of this group of concerned funders making a difference in our state.


7. Why do you feel advocacy is important to nonprofit foundations?


The private sector can only do a small part of what needs to be done in the area of public education. The total assets of all foundations in the State of Texas would not be able to make the difference needed for our children. We can only succeed by working together with the public sector.


8. What is your goal for the foundation in regards to its work with public education and advocacy?


Legislators are convinced by data and by the success of pilot programs throughout our state. Foundations must not only fund the gathering of data and the entrepreneurial programs, but we must disseminate that information to others who can leverage our grantmaking.

Legislative Update
Primary Colors Become Clearer:

The run-off elections in the Republican and Democratic Texas primaries are over and Texans now know who will be at the top of the ballot in the General Election on Tuesday, November 4. The Texas primary elections are a huge deal for lots of reasons, but one really important one: Most Texas Capitol watchers believe that at least 90% of legislative races are determined in the primary election. In other words, 1 in 10 Texas House and Senate races will be determined in November. To put that in context, the largest city in Texas, Houston, has essentially no truly contested Texas Senate or House races in November. 
In the Texas Senate, there are two parallel stories - both of which taste a lot like tea. The Tea Party made huge gains in the Republican primary runoff and no place will that be more clear than in the Texas Senate. The big story of the runoff was the ascendance of Senate Education Chairman Senator Dan Patrick (sponsor of last fall's pre-k Capitol event and a speaker at the Consortium's Capitol meeting in 2013) in the race for Lieutenant Governor. Senator Patrick bested incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the runoff, setting him up for a November showdown with Senator Leticia Van de Putte. While the Lieutenant Governor's race has seized the public's attention, other Senate primary races will also dramatically change the politics of the state's upper chamber. The primary defeats of Senators John Carona and Bob Deuell and the departure of Senator Robert Duncan for the Chancellorship of the Texas Tech University System will mean a drop in the Texas Senate's moderate Republicans and a boost for the Tea Party with all three Republicans likely to win in November. 

On the west side of the Capitol, the House of Representatives will see less change as a result of the primary election but there is going to be plenty of political action. Speaker Joe Straus lost key supporters and education experts like Representatives Diane Patrick and Bennett Ratliff to Tea Party challengers. Most Capitol watchers expect Speaker Straus to retain his gavel in 2015. The rumor mill is already buzzing about whether Texans can expect this to be the Speaker's last session in a leadership role. With Speaker Straus' return, it is safe to assume that Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock will maintain his center seat on the Committee dais - making him the sole returning Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance and Education and House Appropriations and Public Education Committees.
Legislative Pre-K Briefing
The Big Business of Pre-K
On May 29th the Consortium joined with co-sponsors Children at Risk and the Texas Association of Business to conduct the second of three scheduled briefings on pre-kindergarten for legislative staffers at the Texas Capitol. The event featured lively discussion and comments from panelists, including Samsung Electronics, Prism Energy Solutions, and a representative from Commit! in Dallas. Not surprisingly, legislative staffers had diverse and often pointed questions about the value and returns on pre-kindergarten. All panelists agreed that the business community supports quality pre-k because of its positive returns to taxpayers and educational benefits for children. However, legitimate concerns were expressed about the ability of Texas school districts to deliver quality under increasingly difficult circumstance to more children. Bill Hammond - CEO of the Texas Association of Business - might have had the quote of the day when he commented "Quality pre-k works. Lousy pre-k doesn't."

About Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium


In 2011 the Texas Legislature approved historic cuts to funding for public education.  Foundations across Texas have seen successful public/private partnerships threatened or eliminated by budget cuts.  Also, demand for scarce foundation dollars is increasing as community groups see their revenues eliminated from school district budgets.


In response, a geographically and politically diverse consortium group of foundations is joining together to promote, protect and improve public education. The Consortium is designed to be a forum and serve as a focal point for organizing philanthropic efforts.  In some cases the Consortium seeks to pool funds from multiple foundations to increase the impact of its advocacy efforts. The Consortium is partnering with policymakers, the media, the business community, academics, advocates, parents and others to ensure the broadest dissemination of its work.


Foundations with all levels of interest and experience in advocacy grantmaking are welcome to participate.  Because every foundation is different and the needs of the Consortium are so diverse, there is a place for every foundation in the Consortium.   


How do foundations join the Consortium?


Foundations are encouraged to become members of the Consortium.  When appropriate, members may decide to make a financial contribution to the Consortium. Contributions will cover the costs of research on the impacts of budget cuts, support for multi-foundation events like the 2013 Education Funders Day at the Texas Capitol, and basic administrative overhead such as printing and travel costs. The suggested contribution is $5,000 annually; however, Consortium members are encouraged to contribute at an amount commensurate with their endowment size. The Consortium has created a fund at the Austin Community Foundation to accept contributions.  Contributions can be forwarded to the Austin Community Foundation at:


Austin Community Foundation

C/O: Paula Lange, Finance Manager

4315 Guadalupe, Suite 300

Austin, Texas 78751

Tel: 512 472 4483


What are the benefits of membership?


Foundations that join the Consortium will receive:

  • Bi-monthly legislative and policy updates
  • Up-to-the-minute information on the localized budget impact data produced by CHILDREN AT RISK and available via the Texas Tribune website
  • Annual summary of the impact of changes to education funding for all school districts
  • Media related exposure (if desired)
  • Logo placement on Consortium materials (if desired)
  • On-going training on the legal parameters of foundation and nonprofit advocacy
  • Participation in the Education Funders Day at the Capitol in February 2013 and 2015
  • Participation in a variety of specific policy work groups during the 2013-2014 Interim Period 

Additionally, members can self-elect to be involved in developing the Consortium's strategy by participating in the Consortium's Leadership Committee.


To learn more, please contact 
Jennifer Esterline, Project Consultant, Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium at jennifermesterline@gmail.com or 512.796.4530
Q&A: The Dallas Foundation
Legislative Update
Big Business of Pre-K
Quick Links

TEGAC's website:


TEGAC's Request for Proposals a Success!


The Consortium received a great response to its request for proposals to increase public awareness of the Consortium's priorities in 2014 and 2015. These proposals from nonprofits across the state outlined unique ideas to help disseminate and supplement the groundbreaking research of TEGAC's policy work groups.


The Consortium will award grants to nonprofit organizations with demonstrated experience and capacity to engage diverse audiences in one of the three following education issues :  

  • Pre-Kindergarten Quality and Access
  • After-School, Summer and "Expanded Learning"
  • Counseling and Implementation of House Bill 5  

The Consortium will announce the organizations selected by each of the three work groups later this summer.  


TEA Reports Public School Enrollment Surges 


Enrollment in Texas public schools grew by 820,019 students or more than 19% over the past decade, according to a new report released April 1 by the Texas Education Agency. Enrollment in Texas increased by 21.6% between 2000 and 2010, or four times more than the increase of 4.8% over the same period nationwide, according to the report.


Highlights from the report include:

  • Enrollment increased for all student groups between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 except for whites, who experienced a numeric and percentage decrease statewide.
  • The number of students in grades 9-12 participating in career and technical education programs was 35.2% in 2012-2013, a slight decrease from 35.5% the previous year.
  • The number of students participating in bilingual or English as a Second Language programs increased by 268,538 or 46.9% between 2002-2003 and 2012-2013.
  • The percentage of children living in poverty remained steady at 60.3%.

This data highlights how important it is to ensure schools have the appropriate policies in place to enable them to navigate this shift in demographics - and enough funds for them to do so successfully. Read full report here.


Texas Education Agency changes how it grades public schools


The Dallas Morning News, May 11, 2014:

Most Texas public school students are done with this year's standardized tests. This year's school ratings will be very different from the ones used for several years. This year, for the first time, the work of many English-language learners will be included in the ratings, and a few of the state's highest-achieving students will be excluded. New measures of "post-secondary readiness" are part of the mix. And nobody - not at the state or district level - knows exactly what the effect of those changes will be. Click here to read full article.



Texas Tribune TRIB+EDU

The Consortium has partnered with the Texas Tribune to help sponsor the TRIB+EDU education newsletter, a weekly digest of news and information exclusively dedicated to public education in Texas. Each of our policy work groups will make a small grant to support the development of the newsletter, which will serve as the primary source of objective data on public education policy and issues from across the state. Don't forget to read this month's TRIB+EDU edition



Calendar of Events:


Summer 2014: Announcement of RFP Awards
September 9, 2014: TEGAC Fall Consortium Meeting
February 24, 2015: TEGAC Advocacy Day


TEGAC has drawn attention from groups around the U.S. Most recently, the Consortium was highlighted by the Association of Small Foundations (now Exponent Philanthropy) in a webinar, an ASF blog, as well as in a blog by the Alliance for Justice in March. In case you missed any of these, click below!


TEGAC Highlighted in ASF Webinar