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Austin Ed Fund, Austin ISD’s nonprofit public education foundation, will celebrate Austin ISD students and educators at Inspire the Future. At this year’s luncheon, guests will be able to hear from those directly impacted by the Austin Ed Fund. Austin residents are encouraged to attend the event and learn how they can invest in the 72,000 students and more than 5,000 teachers in the area.

Photo courtesy of Girlstart

Support girls in STEM at this game-changing Austin luncheon

Girl Power

Ready to make a difference? For 25 years, Girlstart has been inspiring girls to change the world with STEM, and you can be a part of the legacy at the Game Changers luncheon on November 4.

Luncheon guests will be immersed in Girlstart’s work firsthand, hearing from the new executive director Shane Woods and networking with others who share a passion for girls in STEM.

Through innovative, nationally recognized informal STEM education programs, K-12 girls gain an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems while developing an interest in STEM electives, majors, and careers.

The Game Changers Luncheon raises crucial funding to support after school, summer camp, and community STEM programs, which serve thousands of girls in Texas and across the country.

Your generous donations fund direct expenses, such as STEM supplies and in-depth curriculum journals; equitable pay for STEM CREW program leaders; training for STEM CREW and school partner campus coordinators; travel and shipping costs between Girlstart locations; and other needs that ensure the implementation, success, and quality of all of Girlstart’s core programs.

There are a number of ways you can participate and support Girlstart:

  • Corporate sponsorship packages are a great way for companies to show their support of the STEM community while also receiving special event access, brand recognition, and other perks. Click here to learn more about sponsorship levels.
  • VIP tickets for individuals ($175) and groups ($725 for a 5-ticket bundle)
  • General Admission tickets ($125 each)

Guests will also have the chance to purchase the popular Mystery Boxes, which include donated items ranging from gift cards for Austin’s best restaurants to beauty products to special experiences and more. Click here to view a list of current Mystery Box donors.

The Game Changers luncheon is November 4 at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Austin. For event updates, join the email list and follow Girlstart on social media.

Further questions? Please contact grace@girlstart.org about this special event.

Photo courtesy of Girlstart

Girlstart encourages girls in STEM.

Courtesy of Wine & Food Foundation

World-renowned winemaker joins lineup of rare Austin event

Going Once

There’s no faster way to infuse luxury into a dinner or at-home hang than uncorking a bottle of rare wine. Even being able to name one is a major power move. Austinites who wish to pursue either of these goals might make time for the Wine & Food Foundation’s biggest and best-known fundraiser of the year, The Rare & Fine Wine Auction and Gala, this November 5.

Guests are invited to the JW Marriott Austin for a three-course meal, wine pairings, and a keynote speech by winemaker Paul Hobbs, of the eponymous winery. Hobbs combined his experience growing up on a family farm in upstate New York with degrees in chemistry and vermiculture (farming with worms) to refine winemaking down to science and intuition, his bio says.

Hobbs launched his career with Robert Mondavi Winery, and after just one year was invited to join the first team launching the now world-famous Opus One Winery. After working in Argentina and helping to popularize Malbec, he has maintained an international career as owner and winemaker with several wineries, most recently Hillick & Hobbs.

“I am honored to be the Featured Winemaker for this legendary Austin event,” said Hobbs in a press release. “It’s a privilege to be included among the elite winemakers of the world who have been in this position in years past, and I look forward to meeting many of Wine & Food Foundation’s long-time supporters and wine-lovers.”

With a wide range of ticketing tiers, this gala is a three-day affair including a barbecue on November 3 and a luncheon with Hobbs on November 4. All tiers (tables from $3,500 and individual tickets for $375) support the foundation’s goal to foster general interest in wine, while providing industry “grants, scholarships, education and industry support.”

Tickets will be released on a rolling basis, starting with “epicurean” members June 15, and opening to the public at a reduced rate June 29. More information and registry at winefoodfoundation.org.

These Austin education charities earn an A-plus in giving back

Charity Guide

Austin may have a burgeoning technology sector and renowned food scene, but at its heart, it will always be a college town. Empowerment through education is one of Austin's core values (just look at our Austin Central Library or the annual Texas Book Festival) and these local nonprofits are working hard to keep it a core value.

Ranging from after-school programs to mentorships, Austin's education nonprofits are empowering local youth in a variety of ways. Read on to learn how to get involved, give back, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way.

Andy Roddick Foundation
Mission:
The Andy Roddick Foundation, founded by the Austin-based tennis star, takes the time kids spend outside the classroom and turns it into growth opportunities through enriching experiences after school and during the summer. ARF creates high-quality after-school activities — developed in cooperation with the Austin Independent School District — and hosts an acclaimed six-week summer program to help kids o grow in literacy, STEM, art, and sports.
Membership: Donate here or join the Opportunity Matters Circle. OMC members commit a minimum donation of $1,500 per year for three years.
Get involved: A portion of proceeds from merchandise sales at the Andy Roddick Foundation online store directly supports the work of the foundation.
Big event: ARF Luncheon hosted by Brooklyn Decker

Capital Idea
Mission:
Since 1998, Capital Idea has provided financial support and extensive professional guidance to motivated, non-traditional students who want to earn more and move up in a great career. With community partners like Austin Community College, the group stands committed to providing individuals with the opportunity and support they need to earn a degree and get started in a promising career.
Get involved: Donate here.

Caring for Cambodia
Mission:
Caring for Cambodia believes that when knowledge cannot be handed down, it must be handed out. The organization, which has an office in Austin, works to educate one child at a time today, to make a difference for Cambodia's tomorrow. They create and sustain safe, modern, technologically equipped schools; mentor and professionally train teachers; and fund supplies and other tools needed to teach those who want to learn. CFC provides educational opportunities for Cambodian children so they may reach their highest potential and make valuable contributions to their communities.
Get involved: Volunteer here or donate here.
Big event: Caring for Cambodia's 15th Anniversary Luncheon

Communities In Schools of Central Texas
Mission:
Communities In Schools of Central Texas surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through campus-based programs and special projects, Communities In Schools creates a network of volunteers, social services, businesses, and community resources that work together to break down barriers and help students succeed.
Get involved: Volunteer here or donate here.
Big event: Food for Thought

HealthStart
Mission:
HealthStart provides the blueprints for creating healthier communities through children's science-based health education. The nonprofit believes that by captivating children, engaging teachers, and involving parents in early health educaxtion, we will build a healthier future for all communities.
Get involved: Donate here or volunteer here.
Big event: I <3 HealthStart Gala

Inside Books Project
Mission: Inside Books Project is an Austin-based community service volunteer organization that sends free books and educational materials to prisoners in Texas. Inside Books is the only books-to-prisoners program in Texas, a state where over 140,000 people are incarcerated. Inside Books Project works to promote reading, literacy, and education among incarcerated individuals and to educate the general public on issues of incarceration.
Get involved: Donate books or magazines to the organization. Learn how to volunteer (there are twice weekly events) here or email insidebooksproject@gmail.com.

Seedling
Mission:
Seedling's mission is to support children challenged by parental incarceration with innovative, research-driven, school-based mentoring.
Get involved: Seedling is in need of volunteer mentors to spend lunch with a deserving child one day per week during the school year on their school campus. They are seeking to match 667 mentors during the 2018-19 school year. Mentoring benefits the child and is equally rewarding for the mentor. Head here to watch a video about mentoring for Seedling. Donate here.
Big event: Austin's Fab Five

Texas Can Academies
Mission: Texas Can Academies provides the highest quality education for all students, especially those who have struggled in a traditional high school setting, in order to ensure their economic independence.
Get involved: Donate here or volunteer here.
Big event: Countdown to Class Uniform Drive, an annual event that raises funds to benefit students at 14 campuses across Texas.

Photo by Tyler Schmitt

TV stars and tennis pros bring their A-game to Andy Roddick Foundation affair

Love-Love

What: Andy Roddick Foundation Luncheon

Where: Hilton Austin

The lowdown: It was an action-packed weekend for Andy Roddick. Beginning on Friday, April 20, Roddick joined friend and fellow tennis star Amer Delic in a Supermarket Sweep-esque shopping spree through Sam's Club in support of the Andy Roddick Foundation. In two minutes, the tennis pros were able to grab more than $10,000 in supplies to support ARF summer programs.

"This annual shopping spree helps us collect necessities the Foundation needs to operate from books and toys for the children to office supplies,” said Roddick, who partnered with Austin-based Retail Me Not for the event.

On Saturday, April 21, Roddick joined his wife, Brooklyn Decker, and Anna Dukes Delic for a festive luncheon at downtown's Hilton Austin. The affair, now in its third year, featured a silent auction; VIP reception; and inspirational panel hosted by Decker and featuring luminaries such as Colette Pierce Burnette, the first female president of Huston-Tillotson University. After remarks from ARF CEO Richard Tagle, guests enjoyed a sit-down lunch before mingling throughout the afternoon.

Who: Andy Roddick, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Dukes Delic, Amer Delic, Colette Pierce Burnette, Gay Gaddis, Marcie Brown, Sid Jawahar, Richard Tagle, Carolyn Long, Angela De La Cruz, Latrice Roberts, Anfernee Young, Nick Smith, Jackie Miller, Armando Zambreno, Sherri West, Jeremy and Brittany Driscoll, Karl Hemmelgarn, Jen Hodge, Meggie Hodge, and Sean Farmer.

Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker.

Photo by Tyler Schmitt
Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker.
Photo by Jay Godwin

Leading Austin ladies discuss road to the top at powerful luncheon

Women in Leadership

What: Women in Leadership Conversation and Lunch

Where: LBJ Library and Museum

The details: Leading ladies gathered on May 4 for an empowering luncheon presented by the LBJ Future Forum and the Seton Forum. Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Emily Ramshaw led an inspiring discussion on the road to the top: the obstacles women face as they rise to leadership roles — and how to overcome them.

The open conversation featured acclaimed panelists Christi Craddick (Texas Railroad Commissioner), Jessica Honegger (Noonday Collection founder), and Michelle L. Robertson (Seton Family of Hospitals president and CEO and Ascension's Texas Ministry COO).

Who: Addie Broyles, Jill Angelo, Lemuel Williams, Scott McAfee, Leslie Wingo, Toya Bell, Linda Neavel Dickens, Jamie Lipp, Danielle Kasling, Eunice Duong, Omar Hossain, Carolyn Wright, Mary-Ellen Thomas, Susan Palombo, Ellen Arnold, Aerin Pfaffenberger, Meghan Kempf, Emma Garrett, Mark Garrett, Marilyn Talkington, Joanne Richards, Ana Jordan, Jane Scroggs, and Dr. Ken Gladish.

Emily Ramshaw, Jessica Honegger, Christi Craddick, and Michelle L. Robertson.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Comedy heavyweights can't find the funny in racially-charged You People

Movie review

While the idea of systemic racism is a generally accepted fact in American society, a more indefinable concept is the cultural biases that people hold. It can be easy to spot someone who wears their racism on their sleeves, but sometimes a prejudice only reveals itself when someone is confronted with a world that is not their own.

This idea is attempted to be played for laughs in the new Netflix comedy You People. Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a 35-year-old stockbroker/aspiring podcaster who has yet to meet the right woman, much to the chagrin of his mother, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He has a meet-cute with Amira (Lauren London), a graphic designer, when he mistakes her car for an Uber.

While Ezra and Amira bond quickly over a number of shared likes, it’s the ingrained beliefs of their parents that threaten to stand in their way. Shelley and dad Arnold (David Duchovny) are a Jewish couple who either rely on Black stereotypes or go overboard in their attempts to relate to Amira. Meanwhile, Amira’s parents, Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long), want her to stay true to her Black Muslim roots, and do all they can to discourage the relationship.

Directed by Kenya Barris and written by Barris and Hill, the goal of the film – to shed a funny light on how awkward it can be when people of different races spend time in each other’s spaces – is clear, but the execution is sorely lacking.

The first mistake they make is that the film is almost exclusively focused on Ezra; while Amira gets a small introduction prior to meeting Ezra, there’s never a true exploration of who she is or what she wants outside of her relationship with him. Consequently, their bond is never believable; there appears to be little chemistry existing between the two, and any moments that might endear them to the audience are yada-yadaed for the sake of expediency.

The second is the strange way in which the film’s biggest star – Murphy – is withheld until 20-30 minutes into the movie, introduced in a lackadaisical way, and then given precious few opportunities to showcase his comic skills. Barris and Hill can never seem to find a great way to use the legendary comedian, giving him tepid scenarios that don’t come close to eliciting the big laughs for which he is known.

Ultimately, the film feels more like a series of barely-connected situations than a cohesive story. Any incisiveness that might come from putting the two racially- and religiously-disparate families together is lost because the filmmakers constantly jump from scene to scene in search of laughs. You’d think that Barris, who knows the value of establishing characters from sitcoms like Black-ish, would have figured out how to do that by now, but the film flails its way through its nearly two-hour running time.

Hill, as star, co-writer, and co-producer, is obviously the driving force behind the film, and he is given plenty of time to dole out his brand of comedy. London is likable enough, but we never get to know her character well enough to fully judge her performance. The wealth of talent on the supporting side – including Murphy, Louis-Dreyfus, Long, Duchovny, Sam Jay, Rhea Perlman, Molly Gordon, Deon Cole, Andrea Savage, Elliott Gould, and Mike Epps – is mostly wasted.

Finding comedy in race relations has been done many times in movies and on TV, and can be a winner if done properly. The story of You People can never find its footing, opting for a haphazard approach that doesn’t make good use of its greatest assets.

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You People debuts on Netflix on January 27.

Photo by Tyler Adams/Netflix

Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy in You People.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Upscale bowling alley rolls into Cedar Park

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Sometimes it feels like Austinites always have to be doing something, and that's what makes this town beautiful. In the spirit of not taking drinks sitting down, Spare Birdie Public House is rolling into Cedar Park (1400 Discovery Blvd) for a soft opening on February 1, and a grand opening on February 20. A bit like an upscale Top Golf or neighborhood bowling alley with an incredibly chic interior, the bar and restaurant serves its "chef-driven" food among bowling lanes, augmented reality and indoor golf setups, billiard tables, yard games, and more. The team that started Goodfolks in Georgetown are bowling over alley cliches like hotdogs and fries with lamb meatballs, grilled oysters, and Wagyu sliders.

The Belterra Plaza out in Dripping Springs is collecting new restaurants left and right, making itself a fast burger destination. Mighty Fine Burgers opened its seventh location — the first that is freestanding — in a huge 4,000-square-foot space at 165 Hargraves Drive, Suite T100. The simple menu sticks to the tried-and-true with The Classic Texas Burger, crinkle fries, onion rings, and Blue Bell milkshakes. In January, monthly specials shake up those base elements: a pimento cheese burger and a coconut cream pie shake. The new location is the first in Dripping Springs.

Theres been some buzz about burgers at the Buzz Mill recently, with the very recent departure of the vegan food truck Plow Burger. The buns were barely cold before the Buzz Mill opened its own burger truck, some vegan and some not. The grand opening coincided with the bar and coffee venue's tenth anniversary, on January 20. These are not beefy burgers; the thin patties leave plenty of room for toppings, and there are lots of other snacks to fill up on, like loaded fries, meatless chicken nuggets, and extra patties. The truck is open daily from 11 am to midnight.

Other News and Notes

Chefs Michael Fojtasek and Amanda Turner, of Austin's celebrated Southern restaurant Olamaie, are throwing a new chef series in the fryer on January 31, emphasizing Southern cooking styles while utilizing Texan ingredients. "Southern Exposure" is scheduled for the last Tuesday of every month, and there are three on the calendar already. Chef Turner, a James Beard semi-finalist and CultureMap's reigning rising star chef of the year, is taking the lead while collaborating with Fojtasek. Tickets ($100) available at olamaieaustin.com, benefitting the Jeremiah Program.

Nothing gold can stay, and unfortunately that means Loro's golden ramen noodles are ephemeral on the menu. For the month of February, the "Asian smokehouse" is offering two types of ramen. Both serve up a unique Balinese curry broth, one with brisket and one with grilled prawns. These winter items pair also include ajitama egg, green onion, and sesame, as the more traditional elements. Loro does not accept reservations.

If you can't afford rent in Austin, have you tried, like, not buying coffee? That might work if you were used to Proud Mary Coffee Roasters, an Australian company with an Austin cafe offering just 22 super-luxe cups of $150 joe here and Portland, Oregon. It seems like it's worth the price, given its award-winning flavor and very expensive source beans, but in case that's still not in your budget, a golden ticket giveaway may cover it. Purchase a Hartmann presale tin ($48) online on January 26 to enter.

The Bloody Mary Festival is now almost two weeks away, so people who love drinking their tomatoes should consider snatching up a ticket soon (although ticket sales will technically be open until the day of the event, if they last). On February 11 from 10:30 am to 6 pm, bartenders are pulling out all the stops, or at least all the toppings. Attendees will vote for participating local bars to choose the best cocktail. Tickets (starting at $49.50) available at thebloodymaryfest.com.

Round Rock flips the first page on a brand-new public library

BOOK IT TO THE LIBRARY

After closing its Main Street location in December, Round Rock Public Library is opening a brand-new building on East Liberty Avenue with a celebration on January 28.

Located a block north from the original, 43,000-square-foot facility, the new library building is three stories tall and spans about 66,000 square feet. It was designed by international architecture firm PGAL, Inc. One of the goals with the new library was to expand its services to people of all ages. The first floor will have classrooms, the second floor will have study rooms, and the third floor will have areas for quiet working or studying. There will be additional space for activities and crafts, dedicated story time rooms, early learning areas, and spaces for programs and collections.

“This is truly a library for the community, intended to serve people from all walks of life,” said Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan. “This building, and the programming that will happen in it, will help shape the future of Round Rock.”

Significant thought was also put into the outdoor areas of the new state-of-the-art facility. The first-floor public courtyard will feature a flexible artificial turf lawn with fun lighting and outdoor furniture sets for all visitors to enjoy. The rooftop will spotlight a wood-decked discovery garden and artificial turf labyrinth, perfect for children. The library’s parking garage will have a screen for movie nights or community gatherings.

The grand opening comes a decade after the 2013 bond election where voters first approved funding for the project. Construction company Hensel Phelps spearheaded the project after breaking ground in June 2021. Round Rock’s General Self Finance Construction fund also helped pay for the new building, with Type B sales tax revenues funding the cost of the 289-stall parking garage. In all, the entire cost of the new library was $34.7 million, while the parking garage cost $13.4 million.

The general public can join the grand opening of the new Round Rock Public Library building, located at 200 East Liberty Avenue, from 2-6 pm on Saturday, January 28. Rain or shine, the outdoor ceremony will start at 2 pm, followed by the grand opening at 2:30 pm. Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about the new facility and to participate in family-friendly activities. More information about the Round Rock Public Library system is available at roundrocktexas.gov.