OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
We have learned alongside our Community Partners as they have faced challenges, overcome barriers, and achieved extraordinary successes. Find out more about each project and the outcomes below.
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
Nature Bus Program
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center (originally known as Westcave Preserve Corporation), established in 1976 to restore this spectacular Hill Country grotto, now encompasses a state-of-the-art Environmental Learning Center and an environmental education curriculum, which supports state-mandated learning objectives. Westcave is developing a Roadrunner Outdoor Adventure Bus program to eliminate one of the greatest barriers organizations face when taking kids on environmental outings: transportation.
The Impact Austin funds will go towards the purchase and refurbishment of a used school bus, staff to develop the program and coordinate transportation availability, licensed and trained bus drivers, and development of a cross-organizational registration system. The bus will be used by Westcave as well as schools and other nonprofit organizations. Transportation scholarships will be available for underserved communities.
With funds from Impact Austin, Westcave purchased a used, 2001 school bus and had it maintained and refurbished to provide safe transportation for children. It was named the “Roadrunner Outdoor Adventure Bus” and wrapped in nature-themed art produced by 11 Austin ISD student contest winners (the wrap was funded by 3M). In addition to purchasing and refurbishing the bus, Westcave set goals to hire a driver, procure insurance for the vehicle and the driver, and find a program manager to ensure that the bus is utilized to its full potential. The organization also planned to market the bus as a resource to the community.
Westcave met its goals with respect to finding an experienced bus driver and getting the bus and driver insured. The organization also appointed a Program Manager of the Roadrunner Outdoor Adventure Bus, with responsibility for maintaining travel logs and safety records and scheduling use of the bus for Westcave and its Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA) partners. The bus has served as a traveling billboard for the program and is used at special events, such as the Austin Kite Festival, to increase awareness of the program. The organization had hoped that the bus would serve 3,000 children within the program’s first year, however 2,000 children were served due to delays in the purchase of the vehicle.
Westcave expects the bus to meet the organization’s long- term goal of serving 12,000 children in the first three years of the program.
As a participant in CiNCA, Westcave has shared the Roadrunner bus with other partner organizations. Many are budgeting for the bus as a resource and writing its cost into their own grants. Sharing the bus across CiNCA groups provides revenue for Westcave to reinvest in its own programs, allowing the bus to expand the impact of not only Westcave but also other like-minded organizations in Central Texas.