Culture of Giving
Supporting Austin's future: How local organizations are empowering area youth
Austin suffers from a modern case of “A Tale of Two Cities,” says Karen Frost, Consulting Director of I Live Here, I Give Here.
On one side, there’s the hip, cool, music-centric city that garners much national attention. And on the other, we have a city where, according to 2010 stats, over 18 percent of the population is living in poverty.
Austin youth don't escape unscathed by these statistics, but the adversity they face doesn’t end with poverty. Everything from low income to genetic disorders to unstable home lives affect area youth.
How can the “hip, cool” side of Austin, make a difference for local at-risk youth? To answer this question, I Live Here, I Give Here joined forces with CultureMap for a new series, Culture of Giving Night, which kicked off Wednesday night. Aimed at shining a light on the social issues impacting Austin, the inaugural event highlighted ten area non-profits tackling the problems facing Austin’s youth.
As it was poignantly stated by an event attendee, Austin youth “just need to know that somebody is going to be there to stick it out with them.”
The event began with a performance by Changing Lives Youth Theatre, an organization sponsored by Safe Place and Theatre Action Project, where three ensemble members performed monologues centered around the struggles that often surround young adults as they enter into dating relationships.
After the presentation, participating non-profits shared their missions, successes and needs to support Austin’s youth. While the organizations differ in approach and immediate focus, the overall goal is harmonious. In unique ways, each organization works to uplift the youth of Austin and answer “Will someone notice me?” with an emphatic “Yes!”
For Foster Angels, this comes in the form of supplying youth in foster care with things they immediately need — like new bedding and school supplies. For Explore Austin, Kids in a New Groove and Spirit Reigns, it’s empowering kids through positive extracurricular activities, like weekend outings, music mentorships and unconventional trauma-informed equine-assisted therapy.
Some of Austin’s well-known youth-focused organizations, like CASA of Travis County, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas and Special Olympics were also on hand to share new programs and community-fostering events.
To start, CASA’s annual Superhero Run returns to Mueller Lake on September 30, offering a chance to dress yourself — and maybe your dog — as a favorite super hero, in the name of supporting Austin youth.
The 13th annual Buddy Walk takes place on October 21 in Georgetown and will once again promote acceptance and awareness of people with Down syndrome. Special Olympics highlighted its new Project Unify initiative, an in-school program that uses sports-related activities to break down the barriers that exist between peers of different abilities.
All of the programs that participated in Culture Of Giving require assistance to continue making a difference in our community. As Karen Frost pointed out during the program, donations as little as $25 a month can make a substantial difference to an organization’s success. For Explore Austin, that’s a weekend excursion for a deserving child; for CASA, it's a birthday gift for a child in transition.
As it was poignantly stated by one of the event attendees, Austin youth “just need to know that somebody is going to be there to stick it out with them.”
Hopefully the efforts of these community-minded organizations, and greater public involvement, will continue to bridge the gap in Austin’s own “Tale of Two Cities.”
For more information on how you can get involved with local nonprofits, visit the I Live Here, I Give Here website. Stay tuned for more information on the next Culture of Giving event.