Posted in Announcements on July 18, 2012 by Mary Verhaeghe
The Importance of Grantee Site Visits
KDK-Harman is nearing completion of their 2012-grantee site visits, which will end this month. Since STEM is our main focus, we of course, were interested in seeing how the organizations we fund are using their grants to educate our communities’ children in STEM focused programs. All the organizations that we have visited had the same goal in teaching STEM, but not all the programs had the same ideas in their educational/curricular activities.
We have seen under-privileged children ages 5 to 14 that would have not had this opportunity of summer learning, if not for grants given to these organizations, the programs that we witnessed educated these children in the following:
- flying airplanes in flight simulators, enhancing their critical thinking, effective communication skills and decision-making skills,
- how to build different types of bridges, through drawings, creating models and testing their bridge’s strengths, field-trip to different bridges in the Austin area,
- building rockets out of milk cartons,
- creating 3D models from their computers that hook up to 3D Styrofoam printers and seeing/touching what they’ve created,
- building robots and testing them with programs they have written,
- learning about ultra-sound and performing ultra-sounds on their classmates,
- learning about the tools used in surgical procedures and what some of the instruments are used for during a procedure,
- what a paralegal does for an attorney
The above is just a short list of what our organization witnessed through our site visits. These programs are the building blocks or the seeds planted into the students’ minds that engage all these children into science, math, technology and math in the context of the education program that they signed up for and will hopefully peak their interest in learning more about future careers in their communities that might be available to them if they decided to further their education in a trade or college.
The importance of conducting site visits is a very important part to the grantor’s process because it gives them a sense of how the grant is helping the organizations; it is also confirming that the grant fits with the goals of their organization mission. The grant comes full circle at the end of the site visits when we can then look back to our vision to make sure that our foundation is doing as promised, which is the following:
Our vision is to inspire educational success and life-long learning. We focus on:
- serving economically disadvantaged Central Texas students and their families to help them achieve educational success;
- transforming their lives from poverty to financial independence and enabling a better life for future generations;
- providing financial and capacity building resources to education focused nonprofits, schools and collaborations; and
- creating a culture of giving excellence in our community through leadership, high-engagement, advocacy and innovation
Please visit our Facebook page to see our latest site visit news and photos at www.facebook.com/KDKHarman.
Posted in Announcements on May 29, 2012 by Mary Verhaeghe
Written by Amy Madore:
What an inspiring and energizing first week I had with KDK-Harman Foundation! It was fast-paced and packed with a wide variety of opportunities to learn more about the Foundation’s activities and relationships with the diverse community of public education providers, advocates, and funders in Texas.
My start date, May 21, coincided perfectly with the arrival of staff members from Children At Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit organization that uses research and education to influence public policy affecting the lives of children across the state. Part of KDK-Harman’s own advocacy strategy is to generate objective data on the impact of the 2011 budget cuts to Texas public education. So, it’s not surprising that the Foundation jumped at the chance to support Children At Risk’s Texas Public Education Cuts: Impact Assessment study. In fact, one of my main projects this summer is to assist Children At Risk with their data collection and analysis.
When I arrived at the office last Monday morning we immediately launched into the week’s activities. Barely thirty minutes after firing up my laptop, we were out the door headed to grantee partner Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders for a press conference. The purpose of the press conference was to announce Children At Risk’s 2012 Texas school rankings. Among the many attendees were students, who applauded and cheered excitedly when they were named the #2 middle school in the state!
The press conference set the pace for the rest of the week.
- Monday: press conference followed by lunch with Janet and the rest of the fabulous KDK team
- Tuesday: met with the Children At Risk research team and attended a crash course in TX public school finance at the Equity Center (Many thanks for sharing your time and expertise, John Hubbard!)
- Wednesday: attended a public education stakeholders’ roundtable, followed by a luncheon with legislative staff at the Capitol to hear from various superintendents how the budget cuts have impacted their schools
- Thursday: joined Children At Risk for a site visit at John B. Connally High School—the first time I’ve been in a high school in almost a decade!
- Friday: social media training 101—finally learning how to use Twitter!
As I dive into my second week at the KDK-Harman Foundation, I’m keen to learn more about how grantee partners are working to close the achievement gap for low-income students in Central Texas. I’m also interested in better understanding how the foundation community works. Excited by the idea that foundations can engage in advocacy, I’m looking forward to seeing how KDK-Harman and other grantmakers make it happen. And last but certainly not least, I can’t wait to dig into the qualitative component of Children At Risk’s budget cut impact assessment. Bring on the data.
I have much learning and work ahead of me this summer! I hope to meet many of you, our friends in the blogosphere, during my time at the Foundation. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or ideas to share.
Posted in Announcements on May 14, 2012 by Mary Verhaeghe
In keeping with the Foundation's collaborative learning culture, we are pleased to announce a new addition to our Online Toolkit - Nonprofit Advocacy module. In this module, you'll find resources and publications dedicated to support philanthropy in thinking strategically and effectively in engaging in public policy.
We've found all of these resources (and more!) to be helpful in both the design and implementation our own Advocacy Plan. You'll find a collection of templates, facilitation guides, case studies and evaluation tools that lay the groundwork for best practices to employ in building an advocacy plan that supports your philanthropic mission. In the spirit of continuous learning, we hope to inspire, learn and grow from others interested in nonprofit advocacy.
As always, we welcome any feedback and insight on other resources that help promote philanthropy involvement in advocacy!