November 23, 2015 - Event Recap

Impact Austin Discovery Day - Event Recap

Impact Austin Discovery Day 2015

Philanthropy education is an important service that we offer our members and at Impact Austin Discovery Day, we ask subject matter experts to share their Saturday morning with us and our invited guests to learn about the needs of Central Texas.

2015 Impact Discovery Day was November 14, and we thank the members of the Discovery Day Committee, led by Jane Nolden, for an informative and exciting morning. See a full album of pictures HERE!

2015 Impact Austin Discovery Day Speakers

The morning opened with a great presentation by Richard Froeschle, speaking about demographics from an economist’s point of view in “Where the Jobs Are: How They’re Changing and Why Skills Matter.” One major take away was that technical skills are no longer an employment category; they have become an underlying skill set to most jobs out there, and those who lack them are clearly at a disadvantage.

Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife presented “The Call of the Wild; Is Anyone Listening?” and spoke passionately about the need for Texans to stay connected to their wild areas of nature and how to support our natural resources and green spaces.

Margaret Bassett, Director, Expert Witness Programs Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, The University of Texas at Austin, spoke about the myths and facts of domestic violence. After debunking many myths, including “Domestic Violence is rare.” – fact: 3-4 million women beaten last year.

She ended her presentation with a list of things you can do that truly help.

  • Educate yourself about domestic violence
  • Support service agencies helping abused women- directly or indirectly
  • Change the way family courts handle cases involving domestic violence
  • Hold batterers accountable for their behavior

Paul Cruz, Ph.D., Superintendent of Austin Independent School District covered the Education topic with a presentation on “Reinventing the Urban School District.” He focused on Social and Emotional Learning which has been introduced into all AISD schools and is in the continuing process of training and usage in the classrooms. SEL teaches the following core competencies: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Skills, and Social Awareness through classroom techniques and reinforcement.

Success metrics included:

Student referrals for disciplinary issues dropped at schools that implemented SEL along with additional indicators of success: 

  • 1.17% decrease in referrals in elementary
  • 4.69% decrease in referrals in middle and high school
  • Increase in students reporting “My classmates show respect for each other” in yearly student surveys
  • District Dropout rates decreased 1.47%
  • District Graduation rates increased 6.3%
  • Research shows SEL returns an average of $11 per $1 spent.

William Kelly, Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Texas at Austin, gave us an unusual perspective in the Culture Topic by focusing on what American Culture has done in the area of “The Future of Crime and Punishment.”

It was a sobering account of what the “war on drugs” and punishment mentality has accomplished in the last few decades. As costs of warehousing prisoners has risen, the country is finally exploring some options to reduce imprisonment. 

Professor Kelly’s suggestions included:

Balancing Risk Management and Behavioral Change:

  • Supervision and Control, and Evidence Based Interventions Can Reduce Recidivism by 30% to 40%
  • Based on Diversion but Includes Swift and Certain Sanctions for Compliance and Accountability
  • Probation as it was Intended; Diversion Courts
  • Prison for Those We Truly Fear

Betsy BlairOur morning concluded with a short presentation by Betsy Blair, Chair of the Impact Austin Grants Innovation Committee as she shared the changes in the 2016 grants and how Impact Austin is responding to the stated needs of our area’s nonprofit organizations. Betsy reviewed the strategic planning and vision that went into changing Impact Austin's grant structure and process and she explained the rationale and criteria for the Catalyst Grant, which piloted last year and will continue to be offered this year.

Our thanks to the women of Impact Austin, who came out in force, listened intently, and will take this information forward into their communities and focus area work.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Assets Strategies Group, LLC (Sara Pantin, Managing Partner); By You – For Me (Lorene Phillips, Principal); Gjerset & Lorenz (Shauna Lorenz, Managing Partner), M. Clare Design (Marisa Bushee, Principal); Region 13 Education Service Center, Maudie’s Café, and the amazing members of the Discovery Day Committee!

  • Jane Nolden, Chair
  • Pam Bratton
  • Bridgette Beinecke
  • Christine Egli
  • Eileen Reed
  • Randeen Torvik Ragan
  • Linda Welsh

Well done, everyone!


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