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

Member Spotlight: Elaine Krift

Elaine Krift 1.jpgElaine Krift

Social and Video Media Specialist/Staff Writer

Del Mar College | 6 months

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

My job never has a dull moment. I get to meet new faces every day and share information about Del Mar College’s great programs, students, faculty and staff!

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve tackled in the past year?

Many of the videos I have worked on within the past year at Del Mar College are some of the most rewarding projects because I have challenged myself and pushed myself to highlight the College in creative, fun ways.

Last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (and I am still reading it so no spoilers)

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor, and why?

Tina Fey. I love her delivery of humor and seriousness at the same time. She has been named a top communicator worldwide, and I think having a dash of humor in the mix can go a long way in the right situations.

You hit shuffle on your music collection. What song pops up?

Pop songs may pop up. My music collection has a mix of just about everything. Since I like running, I usually have upbeat music fill my playlists.

What’s something other TACCM members probably don’t know about you?

I am a graduate of Del Mar College’s Clown School. I like to make others smile and share laughter with others where I can.

What’s your superpower?

I am personable, and I feel strongly that being personable can go a long way.

Member Spotlight: Adam Linden


Adam Linden

Marketing Specialist for Victoria College for 3 years

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Getting to work creatively with creative people.

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve tackled in the past year?

A marketing video for the grand opening of our Emerging Technology Complex.

Last book you read that you just couldn’t put down?

“The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor, and why?

John Lennon – Because his music always spoke a sort of truth to me and that kind of insight deserves more digging.

You hit shuffle on your music collection. What song pops up?

Paint it Black -Rolling Stones

What’s something other TACCM members probably don’t know about you?

Previous to this job, I climbed cellular towers for a living.

What’s your superpower?

I have none, but if I could wish for one, it would be to save my life at any point in the same way one would save in a video game. Then I could try things and see how they work out for me, if I don’t like the outcome, I could just reload and try again or change everything entirely!

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).

IMG_1863  IMG_1949  IMG_1960

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!

IMG_1969  IMG_1880

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