Texas Education Grantmakers 
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Issue: #11


Fall is upon us, and elections are behind us.  Before you know it, the 2015 Legislative Session will be here! The 2014 Texas election was the first open election for Governor since 1990. In January, Governor Rick Perry, who has served in the office since 2000, will step down and Republican State Attorney General Greg Abbott will move into the Governor's Mansion. Senator Dan Patrick's rise to Lieutenant Governor means big changes for the Texas Senate. Finally, Speaker Joe Straus is set to retain his gavel when the Texas House of Representatives reconvenes. Get ready for one of the biggest transitions in modern Texas political history.   

In this issue, we highlight the Amarillo Area Foundation, one of TEGAC's member foundations working to better the community in the Panhandle. As a statewide consortium, it is important to be as diverse as the communities we serve, and this is why we wanted to focus on the unique efforts of the Amarillo Area Foundation in dealing with issues specifically facing West Texas communities.


Additionally, you will find an update on the Consortium's policy work groups. Last month, all of the time and hard work of the policy work groups came to fruition! The research partners conducting research projects related to the Consortium's three core policy issues released their initial findings and are busy preparing final reports to be released at the end of the month. This critical data will prove invaluable to policymakers this upcoming session. We are so thrilled to have this information and our six advocacy partners are already hard at work disseminating these findings in preparation for the 2015 session.

The Consortium has also been busy planning events to bring together our members and other grantmakers. In September, we held our Fall convening to hear first-hand from the researchers and advocacy partners about the research findings, as well as leaders from the Texas Senate and TEA. We are also getting ready for the Texas Education Grantmakers' Advocacy Day at the Capitol, which will take place on February 24 and 25, 2015. This is a unique opportunity to be a part of the largest gathering of private philanthropy at the Texas Capitol in the history of the state on any public policy issueDon't miss this chance to meet with grantmakers, legislators, and policy experts who will come together to discuss important public education policy issues during the 2015 Legislative Session.


Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and please continue to check our website for more upcoming events and information! Have a wonderful weekend! 

Amarillo Area Foundation Q&A



1. What is the mission of the Amarillo Area Foundation?


To improve quality of life in the Texas Panhandle through effective philanthropic efforts.


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


Education is the primary building block to decrease poverty, increase economic security through better paying jobs, build a stronger community, and create an improved quality of life.


3. Can you give an example of a program that the AAF is involved in related to improving public education in our state?

The Amarillo Area Foundation is the lead organization in a community partnership comprised of 21 educational, corporate, government and nonprofit institutions focused on improving postsecondary success leading to a living wage job. To these ends, our strategies include a robust collaboration between educators and employers to ensure a workforce prepared for local demand occupations; reduced barriers to postsecondary success leading to increased completion rates; a public awareness campaign that engages diverse audiences and instills a community culture of universal achievement; and a comprehensive base of local, state and national data that guides the partnership efforts.

The "No Limits No Excuses" community education model refers to the shared belief that there are "no limits" for individual student success when the adults in the community embrace that there are "no excuses" and accept the obligation that the community has to its students to remove the barriers to getting an education beyond high school that leads to a living wage job. By working together, Amarillo's prospects for the future are improving by strengthening the kind of community supports that will help all individuals.


4. Why did the Amarillo Area Foundation feel that joining TEGAC was important to its mission?


The Foundation felt that it was important to participate in a collaborative network and communication structure to build on and leverage major funders' investments in Texas education to expand capital assets for the long-term sustainability and large-scale impact of public education success.


5. Why do you feel advocacy is important to philanthropic foundations?


The involvement of community, institutional, government and philanthropic partners in advocacy is essential to affect systemic change and improve the outcomes of educational success.


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


Our goal is to create and support collaborative community and educational systems that will move people out of poverty and into an improved quality of life.

Research Findings Are Released
After many months of intensive research, the Consortium's research partners released their initial findings outlining data related to: 

Pre-Kindergarten Access and Quality, Effective Implementation of House Bill 5, and Access to and Quality of Expanded Learning Opportunities.

Children At Risk: Pre-K Access and

Seed Funder: Meadows Foundation (Dallas)
Partner Funders: Still Water Foundation (Austin), Dallas Foundation, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Powell Foundation (Houston), Rainwater Charitable Foundation (Ft. Worth), MR and Evelyn Hudson Foundation (Keller), United Ways of Texas. 

The Pre-K work group commissioned Children At Risk to research best practices for maximizing existing public and private resources and expanding local and federal support for pre-kindergarten in the state of
Texas. Children At Risk developed a research report on the most effective school district strategies for delivering pre-kindergarten services amid budget cuts with policy recommendations for legislative action concerning: full-day pre-kindergarten; pre-kindergarten class sizes and ratios; creative methods of finance utilizing existing funding streams; and opportunities for expansion with supplemental local and/or federal funds. Children At Risk released its final report on September 30, followed by a flurry of media attention including front-page news articles, press conferences, and op-eds (see articles listed on side bar).  

Ray Marshall Center at the LBJ School: Effective Implementation of HB 5: 

Seed Funders: Meadows Foundation
Partner Funders: Trull Foundation (Palacios), Wright Family Foundation (Austin), Sid Richardson Foundation (Fort Worth), Educate Texas/Communities Foundation of Texas (Dallas)

The House Bill 5 policy work group commissioned the Ray Marshall Center at the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin to evaluate both the supply and demand sides of current high school counseling for all 1,100 Texas school districts. The study examines these issues and the final report will include recommendations to the Texas Legislature of appropriate counselor staffing/new ways to provide counseling (through technology, etc) to meet the additional student assistance necessitated by the passage of House Bill 5. The research will also include a school/parent guide that explains these realities to schools and families. 

Bush School at Texas A&M: Expanded Learning Opportunities: 

Seed Funder: KDK-Harman Foundation (Austin) 
Partner Funders:  San Antonio Area Foundation, Andy Roddick Foundation (Austin) 

This work group commissioned the Bush School at Texas A&M University to research and analyze the workforce side of Expanded Learning Opportunities with a focus on business community engagement. The study determines employer attitudes about out-of-school-time and their strategies for assisting employees. Once the report is finalized, the Consortium and its advocacy partners will provide these policy recommendations to the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council (created by the Texas Legislature in 2013), the Texas Workforce Commission, and to businesses across Texas. 
TEGAC Fall Meeting 2014
On September 9, more than 40 representatives from member foundations across Texas met at the Austin Club for the annual TEGAC Fall Meeting and Luncheon.  TEGAC members celebrated the release of the Consortium's research partners' initial research findings. 

Attendees heard from key public education policy experts and legislators, and heard firsthand results of the research findings on pre-k class sizes, the growing burden on high school counselors, and business perspectives on Out of School Time. The Consortium's advocacy partners also discussed their proposed strategies for disseminating research findings across Texas and beyond. Special thanks to Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, District 25, and Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, Chief Deputy Commissioner at Texas Education Agency, for addressing the group and providing critical insight into what to expect for public education moving into the 2015 Legislative Session. 
TEGAC Advocacy Day at the Capitol

Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Day at the Capitol


Tuesday, February 24 and 25, 2015

On February 24 and 25, 2015, the Consortium will hold its 3rd Annual Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Private, community and corporate grantmakers from across the state and nation will convene for two days of learning and networking. This event is the largest gathering of private philanthropy at the Texas Capitol in the history of the state on any public policy issue. 

On February 24th, 2015, national and local grantmakers will convene at the Stephen F. Austin hotel to share information, learn and collaborate followed by a cocktail reception. On Friday, February 25th, 2015, grantmakers will have the opportunity to meet individually or in teams with legislators to discuss important public education policy issues.

Don't miss your chance to hear from legislators, grantmakers, and policy experts on public education issues that will be of utmost importance during the 2015 Legislative Session! Register here

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 2014 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:

  • Monthly legislative and policy updates
  • 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 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
Amarillo Area Foundation Q&A
Research Findings Released
TEGAC Fall Meeting 2014
TEGAC Advocacy Day at the Capitol
Quick Links

TEGAC's website:


Calendar of Events:


November 4, 2014: General Election

January 12, 2015: 84th Texas Legislative Session Begins


The release of the Consortium-commissioned report by Children At Risk, "The State of Pre-K: Realities and Opportunities in Texas," garnered considerable media attention, as evidenced by the multitude of articles related to the report listed below. 

With support from the Meadows Foundation and TEGAC, Children At Risk conducted an assessment of access to pre-kindergarten education in Texas and challenges school districts face in providing pre-kindergarten programs. The attention given to this report illustrates that there is a lack of information regarding this important public education issue and is why the Consortium is committed to providing this data to inform public policy moving into the upcoming legislative session. 

Texas Seeks Federal Grant for Pre-K Expansion

The Texas Education Agency asked the federal government for grants to­ fund an expansion of pre-k programs statewide for moderate and low-income families.

Texas will compete with 35 other states, and Washington, D.C., and is eligible to receive up to $30 million annually over a four-year grant window. The new federal grant would help states that currently serve more than 10 percent of four years olds to build and expand on those programs, which have faced drastic cuts over the years. Several members of the Consortium expressed support for the TEA's decision to apply for these funds, including two op-eds in major newspapers. 

TEGAC Members' Op-eds

Advocacy Grants

One of the main goals of the Consortium and our policy work groups' research is to produce politically balanced, objective research and the creation of non-controversial policy recommendations to improve public education in Texas. The dissemination of this data is critical, as even good research has very little value if it stays in its three-ring binder prison.

As such, the Consortium planned a targeted dissemination of our policy recommendations by collaborating with unlikely advocacy partners. The Consortium awarded $110,000 in grants to six nonprofit organizations with demonstrated experience and capacity to engage diverse audiences in one of the three education issues outlined in the research section of the newsletter. The grantees are as follows: 

The Consortium will work with these advocacy partners to ensure this information reaches legislators, media and the public in preparation for the 2015 Legislative Session. 

Recent Article On Grantee Pastors for Texas Children:

Grantee Partner Events

October 2: Children At Risk Pre-K Press Conference, Houston

October 17: Commit! K-12 and Out-of-School Time Event, 

October 24: Commit! Early Education Advocacy Roundtable, Dallas

December 4: TXPOST Webinar on Recent Out of School Time Studies

December 16: Council for a Strong America's Fight Crime: Invest in Kids release of research report: the effect of high-quality pre-k on crime reduction