By Susan Grant Palombo
So maybe you are new to Mueller (like my husband and I are) and are looking to put that Austin state of mind to work, which is about neighbors helping neighbors.
Here are five ways to get plugged into the larger community with a focus on Mueller and our nearby East Austin neighborhoods, learn about the city’s key issues, and meet amazing new people.
1) Enroll in one of Leadership Austin’s programs to learn about the community, meet other community leaders, and develop your leadership skills. I am an alumnae of Leadership Minneapolis from when I lived there, so I was able to join the alumni group at Leadership Austin. So, if you did a similar Leadership program in another city, check out doing it here too or participating in Experience Austin or the Engage series.
- Their Essential Program for experienced leaders begins with a September retreat and continues for nine one day per month sessions during the school year. There is an application process and a fee of $3500. Some financial assistance may be available.
- The Emerge Program for emerging leaders begins with a September retreat and continues for seven one day per month sessions during the school year. There is an application process and a fee of $1,000. Some financial assistance may be available.
- The Engage Program provides thought-provoking conversations about the health and well-being of the community. The discussions are held monthly from September-June. In non-pandemic life, there are live breakfast discussions; right now access is free via Facebook Live, taped video, or in podcast format.
- The Experience Austin Program provide participants with an understanding of the issues and systems that impact our quality of life. This program begins with a full day program followed by four evening events. The fee is $525 and is open to the public.
- The Courageous Conversations Beyond Diversity Seminar, conducted by Pacific Education Group, is a way, whether you are liberal or conservative, to think about living and working in this progressive city. This program aligns with the Mayor’s task force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. The seminar goal is to have business and community leaders from across our region have a common learning experience and shared language as we continue to wrestle with diminishing the impact of institutional racism and systemic inequities across our community. These sessions are held often, are 1.5 days long, and cost $375.
2) Join Impact Austin, an Austin-based women’s collective giving organization, funding Central Texas nonprofits that provide services in Bastrop, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. The membership and leadership proudly reflect the many faces, cultures, and walks of life that make up our society. Members contribute $1,250 each year, $1,000 of which is pooled with other members and granted out for programs and capacity building for organizations in the four county area. The remaining $250 stays with Impact Austin to fund member educational programming (live and virtual) and organizational operations. As a volunteer-powered organization, there are many one time, periodic, seasonal or regular roles that enable community engagement. New members often serve on grant review committees to quickly get up to speed on community issues and learn what organizational solutions are seeking funding. Impact Austin, founded in 2003, has awarded $7.44 million in 94 high-impact grants to 69 Central Texas nonprofits and their clients. Over the years, Impact Austin has funded several non-profits in and around Mueller including SAFE, Jeremiah Program, Measure Austin, Lifeworks, Bookspring, Austin Child Guidance Center and Family Eldercare among others.
3) Invest in the Austin Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund. Founded in 2004, this fund has awarded $2 million to 60 Austin non-profits through a giving network that focuses on improving the lives of women and their children. Investors can contribute varying amounts with tiered benefits and privileges. A few of the neighborhood organizations they have funded include SAFE, RISE School, Jeremiah Program, and People’s Clinic. They produce periodic whitepaper reports on the issues in the community. austincf.org/community-impact/womens-fund/
4) Locate two good online connection resources with Austin’s Charities:
- Connect with Austin’s charities can be found at CultureMap Austin. There is a current charity events calendar, listings of charities by category, and links to these non-profits. There is also a lot of other information on this site.
- When we get out of the pandemic and there are many more live events, Do512 is a great place to get lists of great things to do in ATX. Included on their lists are non-profit galas, educational and issues-focused forums and seminars on community issues, and more.
5) Follow I Live Here. I Give Here. This organization has great local non-profit information, events and programs, and may be best known for their Amplify Austin Campaign which raised $12.3 million for 760 Central Texas non-profits in 2020. Their Austin Involved Board Internship Program is another good place to start. Produced in partnership with Austin Community College Center for Nonprofit Studies, Austin Young Chamber, Impact Austin, Mission Capital, and the New Philanthropists, this program creates civic leaders who are immediately prepared to serve our community by connecting local professionals with Austin area nonprofits in of well-prepared board members. Many of these nonprofits are located in East Austin.
So, enjoy your connections into terrific organizations with a focus on East Austin and the amazing people who work and volunteer with them. Engaging with these organizations will bring you up to speed on current issues in ATX and you will make lots of terrific new friends in the process. And if I can help you get connected into our fabulous community, please reach out to [email protected].