Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium Newsletter 
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Issue: #13

September 2015
Summer is now officially over and the Consortium is gearing up for an exciting Fall! As Texas implements important new laws and looks to future education policy debates and a possible school finance special session, the Consortium is already planning to bring the voices of the foundation community back to the Texas Capitol in 2016 and 2017. Over the summer months, we have traveled across the state to continue our efforts to educate grantmakers. We held multiple events, gathering input from TEGAC members and key stakeholders, and conducted a statewide survey to identify priorities for our policy work groups moving toward the 2017 session. Work is well underway to build on your Consortium's previous success.
This newsletter outlines our outreach efforts this summer and offers highlights of our advocacy grantees' activities now that their grant periods have come to a close. I hope that you too will be encouraged and inspired by your partners' hard work in disseminating the high-quality research and data produced by the Consortium. These diverse voices were instrumental in educating policymakers on issues of critical importance and undoubtedly helped shape education policies resulting from 84th Legislative Session. 

Lastly, we are thrilled to welcome three new members to the Consortium: The Carl B and Florence E King Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, and Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (TG). This brings our total membership to 31 foundations from across the state! 
We are excited to have these new voices at the table and are grateful for all of our members' interest in protecting and improving public schools in Texas. 

With the implementation of important bills and a possible school finance special session, public education in Texas is at a critical moment. Texas needs the participation and interest of the philanthropic community to ensure that leaders in education, government, and business find a common voice for high-quality education, grounded in data and evidence. Thank you for your support and interest in the Consortium and have a great week!
Taking Research on the Road: Legislative Briefings
Dallas Foundation President and Consortium Chair Mary Jalonick welcomes foundation representatives at the June legislative overview in Dallas.
As soon as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus gaveled out their respective chambers Sine Die on June 1st, the Consortium launched its travels around the state to educate grantmakers on critical public education policy changes resulting from the 84th Legislative Session, and, more generally, the importance of the role of grantmakers in supporting advocacy and policy. These events continue to help grantmakers become better informed about how public education policies affect their local communities and philanthropy.  

We hosted well-attended meetings in Amarillo, Midland, Houston, San Antonio, El Campo, Dallas and Austin, and were invited to speak to hundreds more philanthropists at other events around the state. More than 50 foundations have attended one or more of the meetings so far since June 2015. The Consortium owes a special thanks to our hosts for these events: the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Dallas Foundation, Powell Foundation, Simmons Foundation, Trull Foundation, Abell-Hanger Foundation, Scharbauer Foundation, Amarillo Area Foundation, and the Austin Community Foundation. Please continue to check tegac.org for upcoming meetings and events! 
Advocacy Grantee Activities Update
Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children speaks during the 84th Texas Legislature.
This past session, the Consortium had great success commissioning and communicating high-quality research on critical public education debates. Too often, critical education research is left in its three-ring binder prison, not used to inform policy decisions. In order to ensure that the Consortium's investment in research was widely available and distributed, policy work group members supported non-traditional voices to disseminate the Consortium's research findings. Below are some highlights of the grantees' activities over the grant period.

Pastors for Texas Children: Pastors for Texas Children (PTC) proved to be a unique and powerful voice this session on behalf of high-quality Pre-K. Using the Consortium's strong data, PTC captured the attention of legislators throughout the Capitol and Texans statewide. Not surprisingly, debates about pre-kindergarten at the Texas Capitol in 2015 became contentious. The power of good data became clear during the session when Governor Greg Abbott's groundbreaking pre-k proposal came under attack as "Godless" and "socialistic." The Consortium's partners stood strong with good data. Who better to refute the notion that pre-k is "Godless" than Pastors for Texas Children? PTC reached out to policymakers, media, and the general public to communicate the importance of pre-k as an educational tool and as a moral compass for state spending. 

The efforts of such unusual advocates proved effective, securing more than ten op-eds on Pre-K by PTC in major newspapers, including Houston Chronicle, the Amarillo Globe, the Texas Observer, Houston NPR, Texas Public Radio, Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning NewsNacogdoches Daily Sentinel, and the Austin American-Statesman. Additionally, PTC directors and members have appeared on television, radio and in social media several times promoting public education and full-day pre-k. 
Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST): 
Texas Partnership for Out of School Time was a prominent voice in support of expanded learning opportunities (ELO) in Texas. In preparation for the 2015 Legislative Session, TXPOST created the "TXPOST Advocacy Toolkit" which highlights TEGAC's OST-Employer Strategies Study, as well as other information on ELO demand, impact, policy recommendations, and advocacy training. The toolkit was delivered to 143 legislative offices, the Governor and Lt. Governor, and ELO Day participants, and was emailed to TXPOST's listserve of 2,000 plus individuals
TXPOST's ELO Day at the Texas Capitol on February 26, 2015, brought together more than 130 participants and garnered considerable media attention for ELO. The event was covered by the public radio program Texas Standard, as well as local news stations KEYE and KXAN. Furthermore, TXPOST co-authored two op-ed pieces with Andy Roddick, which called for state funding for OST. These were published by the Texas Tribune and the Austin-American Statesman and were widely circulated at the Texas Capitol.

A law enforcement officer from Council for a Strong America testifies in front of House Public Education Committee
Council for a Strong America: Council for a Strong America (CSA) was another distinctive voice for public education at the Capitol this session. CSA is the umbrella nonprofit for five membership organizations comprising the unique and powerful voices of business, military, law enforcement, faith, and sports. Who better to make the case for the return on investment of quality Pre-K than the deputy sheriff who runs a costly juvenile detention center? Or a retired brigadier general concerned about the availability of future soldiers? CSA produced a research report on the importance of pre-k as a crime-prevention tool, which incorporated the Consortium's Pre-K report research findings. CSA released the report in a press conference during which Harris County Sheriff Garcia announced that early childhood education was a top legislative priority for his office. The event garnered considerable media attention, including Univision Houston, KIAH (Houston), KHOU.com (Houston), and  KUHF-AM Houston Public Radio. CSA also wrote several op-eds picked up by major newspapers, including the Austin American Statesman, and San Antonio Express News.

Retired military members of CSA testify at a Senate Education Committee hearing 
Additionally, CSA members sent Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature a letter signed by nine retired generals encouraging lawmakers to provide funding that would allow for a qualified teacher for every 10 children, research-based curricula aligned to early learning standards, benchmarks for parent involvement so parents are better prepared to be their child's first teacher, and a move towards full-day programs as resources become available. CSA also brought the Travis County Sheriff's Office to the Capitol to provide testimony in the Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee regarding quality pre-k legislation.   

Children At Risk: CHILDREN AT RISK successfully led advocacy efforts focused on pre-k, expanded learning opportunities, and HB 5 during the 84th session. C@R published its year-long assessment on the state of pre-k education in "The State of Pre-K: Realities and Opportunities in Texas" prior to the start of session, and then hand-delivered copies of the State of Pre-K study to all the members of the 84th Texas Legislature, which resulted in several follow-up meetings with key stakeholders  including the House Public Education Committee and Senate Education Committee, before and during Session. These broad outreach efforts raised awareness of the research and directly educated legislators on the importance of pre-k for children.
CHILDREN AT RISK's long-established partnerships with local and statewide media garnered quality media hits regarding pre-Kk throughout session, including an op-ed in TribTalk and highlights in its Growing Up in America radio show to further spread awareness to the community. Following the extremely successful legislative session, C@R will continue to raise awareness of the importance of pre-k and continue to study its effect on children throughout the interim. This summer C@R hosted three legislative debriefs in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston to recap the "hits and misses" of the 84th Legislative Session and raise awareness of the importance of quality pre-k for Texas' youngest learners.
TEGAC Fall Member Meeting     
TEGAC Members at the Austin Club
for Fall Members Meeting on September 8, 2015
The Consortium held its Fall 2015 member meeting on September 8 at the Austin Club. More than 32 foundation members attended the luncheon. Attendees heard from staff from the Texas Senate and House of Representatives, as well as journalists covering education and budget policy. Staff and leadership from the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission also provided updates on the implementation of legislation from 2013 and 2015.

The Consortium is committed to building its presence in communities across Texas and knows that personal engagement matters.  During our summer legislative de-brief meetings, foundations were asked about their priorities for future advocacy efforts. In addition, the Consortium distributed a survey to all Consortium members in August with an opportunity to pick among five potential priorities for 2016 and 2017, including:
  1. Early Childhood and 2015 House Bill 4 (Pre-Kindergarten)
  2. Public School Finance
  3. Blended Learning (Technology in Education)
  4. Expanded Learning Opportunities (After-School and Summer, extended day and year)
  5. Guided Pathways to College and Career (HB 5 Implementation)
The results indicated that members would like to focus on the following issues of priority for the 2017 Legislative Session: Early Childhood Education; Effective Teaching; and Guided Pathways to College and Career. Over the next few months, we will be focused on developing policy work groups around these three issue areas. Consortium members who are interested in participating in these policy work groups will be identified by November. Policy work group members will then decide on the scope of work and research questions for each of these three policy work groups by the end of the year. If you are interested in becoming a member of one or more of these policy work groups, please contact Jennifer Esterline, the Consortium's Project Manager, Jennifer Esterline. 
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 by making a financial contribution to the Consortium. Contributions will cover the costs of the Consortium's operations. 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: Alison Waxler, 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 during the legislative session; quarterly updates during interim period
  • On-going training on the legal parameters of foundation and nonprofit advocacy
  • Participation in the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Day at the Capitol in February 2013, 2015 and 2017
  • Participation in a variety of policy work groups during the Interim Period
  • Participation in various other learning opportunities on public education policy issues during the interim and during legislative sessions
Additionally, members can self-elect to be involved in developing and guiding 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
Legislative Briefings
Advocacy Grantees Activities Update
TEGAC Fall Members Meeting
Quick Links
TEGAC Members as of September 2015:
KDK-Harman Foundation (Austin)
Powell Foundation (Houston)
The Meadows Foundation (Dallas)
The Kathryn and Beau Ross Charitable Fund (Austin)
San Antonio Area Foundation (San Antonio)

Wright Family Foundation (Austin)
The Dallas Foundation (Dallas)
Webber Family Foundation (Austin)
Andy Roddick Foundation (Austin)
Rainwater Charitable Foundation (Fort Worth)
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (Dallas)
Austin Community Foundation (Austin)

Educate Texas/Communities Foundation of Texas (Dallas)
Buena Vista Foundation (Austin)
MR and Evelyn Hudson Foundation (Dallas)
Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation (San Antonio)
Greater Texas Foundation (Bryan/College Station)
Simmons Foundation (Houston)
Trull Foundation (Palacios)
Still Water Foundation (Austin)
RGK Foundation (Austin)
Tapestry Foundation (Austin)
Sid Richardson Foundation (Ft. Worth)
Amarillo Area Foundation (Amarillo)
Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation (Waco)
United Ways of Texas (Austin)
Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas (Austin)
Harold Simmons Foundation (Dallas)
The Carl B and Florence E King Foundation (Dallas)

Raise Your Hand Texas (Austin) 

Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation (TG) (Statewide)

Guest blog by Jennifer Esterline, TEGAC Project Manager, on what did and did not happen around public education legislation during the 84th Texas Legislative Session

"During back-to-school orientation, Jennifer Esterline's son's third-grade teacher asked parents to complete a questionnaire with their student's help. One question asked about the student's goals for the year. This made her pause to think." Read Jennifer's blog here.