Texas Higher Education Community Launches Unified Giving Initiative to Provide Emergency Aid to College Students Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Harvey HELP will enable individuals, institutions, foundations, and corporations to contribute funds for emergency aid for Texas college students as they recover from storm and return to classroom

AUSTIN, TEX. (Sept. 1, 2017) — Texas and national leaders from higher education associations, institutions, foundations, and businesses have come together to launch the Harvey HELP Fund, a crowd-sourced relief fund dedicated to aiding the close to 500,000 students impacted by Hurricane Harvey–almost a third of all of the college and university students in the state. Announced today, HELP, which stands for Higher Education Learning Pathways, will provide emergency funds to enable students in southeast Texas to stay on or more quickly return to their education pathway.

“The storm has disrupted hundreds of thousands of students’ lives, most of whom were just about to start the new school year. We all know students, neighbors, and fellow Texans who are now displaced from their homes, employment, schools, and are even coping with the loss of loved ones,” said Dr. Richard Rhodes, President of Austin Community College. “Like volunteers and citizens across this country, we were determined not to just stand by, but to take action. We formed Harvey HELP to pool the collective strength, resources, and passion of higher education to enable and streamline community support for these students. We want to make sure the students have what they need to overcome these challenges and return to the classroom.”

The relief efforts are being led by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Austin Community College (ACC), Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), Council of Public Universities Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), Civitas Learning, and Communities Foundations of Texas (CFT), the parent of Educate Texas.

Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Harvey HELP GoFundMe page at GoFundMe.com/HarveyHELPStudents or directly through Communities Foundation of Texas. The Communities Foundation of Texas is serving as the charitable partner as education has been a primary focus of its philanthropic investments and through Educate Texas, its statewide, public-private initiative.

Emergency aid will help students and their families recover from and manage immediate life-and-logistics emergencies so they can afford to resume their studies and complete their higher education pathways. Research shows that many students leave school because of non-academic challenges related to work, family, and personal finance. Hurricane Harvey is likely one of the most extreme examples of the range of issues that can knock students off their education pathway.

“This is an opportunity for anyone, within the higher education community or beyond, within Texas or beyond, to make a real difference,” said Dr. Mark Milliron, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Civitas Learning, one of the corporations stepping up to donate. “With Harvey HELP, everybody who believes deeply in the power of education to change lives has a simple way to get involved and help the tens of thousands of students who were planning on attending Texas colleges this Fall and are now grappling with much more pressing challenges than getting to class, including finding food, shelter, transportation, child care, health care, and more.”

To ensure that all of Harvey HELP’s funds are used in a way that best benefits students, Harvey HELP’s steering committee of nonprofit and institutional leaders will evaluate applications from colleges and universities. Approved institutions will receive Harvey HELP’s funds to support aid programs, respond to their students’ specific needs, and help with students’ school expenses – such as tuition and textbooks – as well as personal expenses like transportation, rent, and groceries.

To get involved or donate to the fund, visit www.GoFundMe.com/HarveyHELPStudents or contact Carolyn Newham at the Communities Foundation of Texas at 214-750-4146.


About Communities Foundation of Texas: Communities Foundation of Texas works with families, companies and nonprofits to strengthen our community through a variety of charitable funds and strategic grant making initiatives. Communities Foundation of Texas is committed to serving and understanding donor needs, expertly handling complex gifts, wisely managing charitable funds, and leveraging its community knowledge to increase charitable impact. CFT professionally manages nearly 1,000 charitable funds and has awarded more than $1.7 billion in grants since its founding in 1953.

www.cftexas.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/CFTexas Twitter: @GiveWisely

Media Contact: Ben Heverly, heverly@whiteboardadvisors.com, 202-851-3622

Gearing Up for Community College Day 2017

Poster.pngCommunity College Day at the Texas State Capitol: February 7, 2017

Students from community and technical colleges across the state will converge on the Texas State Capitol on February 7 for Texas Community College Day. In lieu of our usual #TXsuccess Tuesday, we want to promote Community College Day on social media channels across the state!

Whether you’re attending or not, you can help us boost the #TXsuccess message on Community College Day! Here’s how:

  • Share this handout (.pdf) with students who are attending. We’re going to be giving away Amazon and Starbucks gift cards from $25-$100 to students in attendance who post using #TXsuccess and #txlege. Give them a heads up so they can be sure to participate!
  • If you can’t attend but your students can, make sure you share/retweet their posts on your official college channels using #TXsuccess and #txlege.
  • You can follow the action on our live #TXsuccess Tweetwall!
  • Share the Community College Day 2017 Facebook event. Encourage people to mark themselves as ‘attending’ or ‘interested’ to show their support.

Visit the Texas Association of Community Colleges website for a full Community College Day agenda.

The #TXsuccess Campaign: We Need Your Help

Sample #TXsuccess social media post for September
Sample #TXsuccess social media post for September

We all know the value of Texas community colleges. After all, it’s our job to promote them in all corners of the state every single day. But while we’re thoroughly convinced of their value, there are many Texans and Texas legislators out there who don’t really understand how much of an impact community colleges make on higher education in Texas.

For the past few legislative cycles, Texas legislators have slashed community college funding.

We aren’t here to complain—what we’ve learned is that we have to collectively do a better job of helping the decision-makers in our state understand what services we provide, who we serve, and how we work every day to make this state a better place with a stronger economy. We have to help them understand that in order to achieve the ambitious goals of 60x30TX, our state must have strong, adequately funded community colleges.

The #TXsuccess Campaign is a way to help them understand, and we need your help.

TACCM is partnering with the Texas Association of Community Colleges to launch the #TXsuccess Campaign beginning this month. Based on feedback from TACCM membership, we’ve identified hot topics that affect community colleges statewide and have developed a statewide communication plan centered around those topics.

You’ll find that communication plan available for download on our #TXsuccess Campaign Resources page.

Here’s what else you’ll find there:

  • A monthly media release that can be customized to feature your college’s information, quotes and stats;
  • Social media posts that you can use as-is or customize with your own photos and colors;
  • and #TXsuccess talking points that your presidents will be using when they speak to legislators and decision-makers.

The point of this: for all of us, all over the state, to collectively promote Texas community colleges as a whole. In November, for example, we want everyone to be talking about how community colleges uniquely serve veterans.

There’s no particular entity out there campaigning for Texas community colleges. We’re it—the marketers at each community college in the state. And together, by taking just a few simple steps each month, we can make an impact.

How can you contribute? Each month, we’ll send out a notice that our new materials are available on the resources page. When you get that, we ask that you:

  • Distribute the media release to your news contacts—feel free to put it on your own letterhead and drop in your own quotes/facts/figures.
  • Schedule 3-4 #TXsuccess social media posts. You can use our images as-is, use the customizable Photoshop files to add your own photos, or just lift our talking points and make your own altogether. While we’re at it, let’s make #TXsuccess Tuesdays a thing. If you can, schedule your posts for Tuesdays.
  • Use the hashtags #TXsuccess and #txlege on everything you do. #TXsuccess will help us track the campaign, while #txlege will ensure that legislators/legislative aides will see the messaging.

And if you’re inspired by any of the #TXsuccess messaging, we hope you’ll take it a step further by writing additional media releases, creating videos, scheduling media events, purchasing ad space—whatever works best in your area. If you do, please use the #TXsuccess hashtag and share your successes with us!

Materials for September are available on the resource center right now.

Want an overview of the resource center and the #TXsuccess campaign? You can watch a recording of last week’s #TXsuccess webinar here.

Let’s show everybody in Texas the amazing work we’re doing in Texas community colleges.


Traci Pitman
TACCM Web & Social Media Director
Design & Creative Services Coordinator for Texarkana College

College is What’s Next: Victoria College and the GenTX Movement

IMG_1822Does your college participate in the Generation TX movement? If not, you should! Generation TX, or GenTX, is a statewide initiative started by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to encourage an entire generation of Texans to pursue education or training after high school.

Victoria-area GenTX partners have been hosting GenTX Decision Day celebrations in May for the last three years. But this year, we’ve decided to step up our efforts by offering activities throughout the year.

The week before Thanksgiving was GenTX College Application Week. Area students participated in fun activities all week long (such as face painting, mascot appearances, and wearing college T-shirts).

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High school students were given the task of decorating their classroom door with career information (salary, educational requirements, interesting facts). The winning class won a pizza party!

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GenTX volunteers helped more than 500 high school seniors complete the ApplyTexas application during GenTX Week, while Captain Vic, Victoria College’s mascot, paid a visit to several elementary and middle schools.

We’re now planning a FAFSA Super Saturday for February, where we’ll offer students and families free assistance with financial aid and scholarship applications. Then in May, we’ll be hosting our fourth GenTX Decision Day celebrating graduating seniors and their postsecondary plans while reminding all our youth that “college is what’s next.”

If your college isn’t a part of the GenTX movement, I encourage you to bring key community partners (school districts, institutions of higher education, businesses, media, youth organizations, etc.) together to start brainstorming ideas. It’s a great outreach initiative, and the THECB provides some awesome planning guides and resources for local GenTX organizers (www.GenTX.org).

If you’re already participating, I’d love to hear what’s working well in your community.

Darin Kazmir, TACCM President
Director of Marketing & Communications
Victoria College