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February Blog

February 1, 2014

February Blog

What an exciting start of 2014 for the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium! Fresh off an amazing Texas Capitol launch of our pre-kindergarten research project, terrific meetings about parent engagement around the new high school, and growing support for our work around out-of-school-time policy, there’s so much to tell you! But first you need to hear about the Consortium’s recent visit to Washington, D.C. for meetings with the United States Department of Education, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and others.

The Consortium Goes to Washington

When you’re immersed in your daily work it can be hard to remember that what you’re doing is not only important, but also innovative and maybe even groundbreaking. Earlier this month the Consortium had a chance to sit down with some of the country’s leading voices in philanthropy and education and was reminded how impressive what our members have created together really is. I could try to summarize the reactions we received but think that the words of Andy Carroll of the Association of Small Foundations in a follow-up note do a much better job: 

“Impressed is a word that utterly fails to capture my reaction to your AMAZING work. More like… “in awe”. I believe that you are creating and modeling an incredibly powerful approach to engaging private foundation benefactors and trustees, and empowering them to do what foundations are poised to do in our nation—bring their concerns to the policy table and be part of the essential process of educating lawmakers. 
What you are making possible and showing is that philanthropists bringing their voices to the policy table is not only possible, but unbelievably effective—and necessary.”

The Consortium has always known that you – our members and our inspiration – are “amazing”. But it’s always nice to hear it from such a respected leader and organization. 

Pre-Kindergarten Work group Launches Research at the Texas Capitol

In collaboration with our Pre-K research partner Children at Risk , the Consortium helped host a policy briefing for legislative and Governor’s Office staff to outline the objective analysis and data collection currently underway. Consortium members the Powell Foundation and United Ways of Texas were on hand to speak to the almost eighty staffers in attendance. Staff attended the event from offices across the entire political spectrum and from every corner of Texas. Representatives of school districts had a chance to discuss their pre-k programs and answer questions from staffers. Numerous Capitol types expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to hear from philanthropists and school districts themselves. A huge Consortium thanks to Chairman Dan Patrick (R-Houston) for sponsoring the event and to Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) for attending in person!

At the conclusion of the event work group members visited with key legislative offices to discuss the research project and to ask how the effort might be of most use to members of the Texas Legislature and their staff. The meetings were well received and staff had constructive input that will undoubtedly improve the project and the ultimate usefulness of the final report for policymakers. 

Progress on House Bill 5 Parent Engagement and Out of School Time Research

It’s clear from both the Senate and House Education Interim Charges that implementation of HB 5 is a high priority for the Texas Legislature and will be a big topic of conversation in 2015, which is all the more reason we are so excited about the potential for the HB 5 work group. We are getting very close to finalizing both the final list of work group partners and the potential research partners and scope of work for HB 5. The ELO work group is also moving along nicely, and we will be meeting with the work group partners next week to discuss next steps. 

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