The Unexpected Perks of Community Partnership
half Helen Foundation Executive Director Chelsea Elliott was thrilled when her nonprofit was chosen as Impact Austin’s 2019 Health & Wellness Community Partner. She knew that the $100,000 grant would allow her organization to buy the equipment needed to offer vision screenings, make lenses, and provide eyeglasses for thousands more low-income students in Central Texas.
But what she didn’t realize until a few months later, was that the connections created as a Community Partner would help her meet - and exceed - her organization’s goals sooner than she expected.
Networking With Prospective Members Pays Off
The first valuable connection was made at an Impact Austin member recruitment event last fall. “At the second recruitment event I attended, I learned that one of the prospective members was a good friend of the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for Bastrop ISD. One of half Helen’s goals for 2020-2021 was to collaborate with a traditional school district,” Chelsea said.
Through that prospective member, Chelsea met the Bastrop’s CAO. They have begun negotiations for a formal partnership to deliver vision and hearing screenings, as well as eye exams and glasses, to 5,500 Bastrop ISD students in the upcoming school year.
Another Community Partner Opens Corporate Doors
Austin Bat Cave (ABC), our 2019 Education Community Partner, provided another valuable connection for Chelsea and half Helen. ABC has an eight-year partnership with Warby Parker, a company Chelsea had repeatedly tried to access for potential partnership. The connection between the two nonprofits paid off. “I had coffee with Ali [Syed Ali Haider, Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave] after the Impact Austin Check Presentation Ceremony, and he sent a connecting email to Warby Parker’s Creative Director. That connection then introduced me to Warby Parker’s Department of Innovation. Now, I’m flying up to New York to finalize our agreement to provide Warby Parker glasses on our new mobile vision-care vehicle!” Chelsea said. The partnership will also give students access to 20 new types of frames they can choose among, in addition to the 100 they already had. “And they get the ‘cool’ factor of Warby Parker glasses!” Chelsea explained.
Additional Credibility Strengthens Other Grant Requests
In addition to the valuable connections she found as our Community Partner, Chelsea saw firsthand how favorably other Central Texas funding organizations view Impact Austin Community Partnership. For example, she requested a capital grant from St. David’s Foundation for a new mobile vision-care vehicle last year. “St. David’s saw the investment that Impact Austin made, and it added a new degree of credibility to half Helen Foundation’s grant request,” Chelsea said. The new mobile vision-care vehicle will allow half Helen to hire two optometrists and expand their work to include adults as well as children.
As you can see from Chelsea’s experience, the value of becoming an Impact Austin Community Partner goes way beyond the $100,000 grant!