HC4A-PEER Collaboration: A Joint Venture of Austin Nonprofits

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

HC4A recently brought together like-minded organizations dedicated to education, empowerment, and community engagement for the first Quarterly Volunteer Connect.

Three nonprofit organizations in Austin, Texas – the Indian American Coalition of Central Texas (IACCT), The Dream Come True Foundation (DCTF), and Mentor-Connect – participated in this gathering. A collaborative journey started with the four nonprofits working together to make an even larger difference in the Central Texas area.

Through education, scholarships, mentoring, financial assistance, providing resources, and much more, these organizations are changing the lives of thousands of people stuck in poverty in Austin and surrounding communities in Texas.

The Power of United Efforts

The Volunteer Connect meeting was an inspiring occasion, where representatives from various nonprofits in Texas got an opportunity to share their missions, celebrate achievements, and lay out collaborative visions for the future.

Gulshan Singh, Vice President of Communications at HC4A, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the participating organizations, stating, “At HC4A, we believe in the power of collaboration and mutual support among nonprofits. This amplifies our impact within the communities we serve.

The attendees couldn’t agree more with her words as interconnectedness is essential to the work of nonprofits – to achieve far more than each can ever could alone.

Indian American Coalition of Central Texas (IACCT)

Indian American Coalition of Central Texas (IACCT) played a significant part in the Volunteer Connect gathering. Shweta Padmanabha, the President of IACCT, shared that the organization’s core mission is to create civic engagement that encourages community members to create a voice for themselves and work for the betterment of the community.

As a result, IACCT works to ensure that the community is educated about the issues it faces. They also ensure that the community is engaged in activities and actions that result in its empowerment.

Through their efforts, they educate and empower the Indian American community to understand the value of political and civic participation. By creating a sense of belonging and promoting active participation in local and national issues, IACCT aims to ensure that their concerns and views are included in the decision-making processes that shape their lives.

Shweta highlighted the importance of this collaboration between IACCT and HC4A.

She said, “Both of our organizations are doing a tremendous job in our Austin community here. IACCT is creating awareness, educating, and empowering our Indian American community about political power and civic engagements, which is critical in establishing ourselves here in this chosen home country now. HC4A is highlighting how we as Indians are such an integral part of this bigger community, and not only are we flourishing and improving the local economy, but also giving back to the community through these selfless charities.”

During the HC4A Gala, IACCT connected us with the elected officials, raised awareness about our work, and felicitated and recognized us at the Austin City Mayor level. 

Shweta said, “HC4A, especially Harishji, helps us reach out to its members about messages such as election issues, etc. HC4A can help in promoting membership to IACCT and vice versa, we can collaborate and grow together.

The Dream Come True Foundation (DCTF)

The Dream Come True Foundation (DCTF) was another nonprofit organization that joined the Volunteer Connect gathering. Rebecca Farrell Ewing, Ph.D., the Interim Executive Director at DCTF, shared that the organization’s mission is “partnering with individuals and their families to move them out of poverty to sustainable independence.”

They use a holistic approach in their programs.  They provide financial support, mentorship, and access to vital community resources. This powerful combination of practical help and personalized guidance has proven to be effective in bringing about positive change.

In 2023 alone, three Dream Achievers graduated—two as nurses and one as a registered dental hygienist. These graduates, who once faced huge challenges, have now achieved their dreams of pursuing rewarding careers that give them a sense of security but also allow them to have a positive impact on other’s lives.

Additionally, many other Dream Achievers have achieved educational success and displayed DCTF’s dedication to empowering people through education.

Speaking about the importance of collaboration, Rebecca Farrell emphasized the unique contribution that DCTF would like to make:

DCTF will add value through mentorship, which assists students in accomplishing their goals. We have a 95% success rate because our mentors are champions for the students and empower them to build skills, address challenges, and remain committed and steadfast in their educational pursuits.

Mentor-Connect

Another dedicated organization present at the Volunteer Connect gathering was Mentor-Connect, a nonprofit that works to offer opportunities to underserved individuals by connecting them to mentors who inspire and guide them through career paths.

Priya Girinathan, from Mentor Connect, shared, “While our focus is on mentoring individuals from Central Texas, we also support schools in India and Brazil through their classroom initiatives.

Mentor-Connect has recently collaborated with organizations like Dress for Success and Ladders for Leaders in their Career Exploration Pathways programs. During these collaborations, their mentors reviewed resumes, participated in panel discussions on leadership and communication, and provided internship guidance.

One of the highlights of this partnership was the participation of student leaders of Mentor-Connect, who spearheaded a panel discussion and made it a resounding success.

Their Classroom Connect initiative has supported over 1,000 students in more than a dozen middle schools in India. With this initiative, the organization aimed to help students become more proficient in conversational English and comprehension, which would improve their chances of getting into college and finding employment in the future.

Students from Mentor-Connect created audio recordings of various English curriculum texts to give these students access to free resources.

Speaking on the value of collaboration, Priya emphasized:

One of our core values is effective partnerships that help amplify outreach. We strongly believe that collaboration with like-minded organizations, such as yours, will benefit our local communities. Our synergies are anchored on maximizing impact for our local student communities with zero or minimal overhead.

Further, she added, “We believe collaboration between our organizations will enable us to share ideas, resources, and networks for the common good.

If you know schools in India that need free classroom resources, you can contact Mentor-Connect and share the information.

Website links and contact details of the organizations:

IACCT:

DCTF:

Mentor-Connect:

The Collaborative Impact on Community Empowerment

The collaboration between HC4A and these PEER nonprofits shows how collaboration can promote community engagement, education, and empowerment. By combining resources, expertise, and outreach, we can create a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and families in the Austin community.

Shweta, the president of IACCT, praised the Volunteer Connect meeting, appreciating the passion of HC4A’s team:

A few things that stood out for me were the immense dedication your team puts in to help the local community (not just the Indian community here), which is truly commendable. Reading those letters touched my heart to know what an impact these activities have on future generations around us.

She appreciated the opportunity to connect with organizations like DCTF and even volunteered as a mentor for the foundation.  

She expressed her admiration for HC4A’s work, “Seeing how HC4 helps all these different organizations just raised my respect by many folds.”  She also shared that Volunteer Connect was a great opportunity to meet the new board members and witness the dedication of the HC4A team.

Rebecca Farrell, Interim Executive Director at DCTF, said what deeply touched her during the Volunteer Connect meeting was “the strong desire by those present to improve the health and strength of our communities by bridging income disparities through education.

She felt that everyone present there had talents and skills to offer in many ways. She expressed her belief that we are all interconnected through the work we do, adding, “Determining and then establishing how all the parts will work together in symbiotic partnerships appears to be the next step.”

Priya from Mentor-Connect shared that the Volunteer Connect meeting resonated deeply with Mentor-Connect’s ethos. She further said, “Serve where you live is something that resonated with us and the work we do. We enjoyed meeting several organizations and hearing their missions and stories. It was a great way to connect with other volunteers in the community who are passionate about serving.”

This incredible meeting brought together 4 nonprofits that wholeheartedly care about the community.

How Is Education Helping with Poverty?

At this point, some might wonder how education helps bridge the income disparities in Texas.

In 2022, the U.S. Census released data estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS), which stated that Texas had the 10th worst poverty rate in the country.

Education Helping with Poverty

(Source)

In the same year, the 2022 Texas Kids Count report stated that in Texas, 20% of children lived in poverty. And IDRA research in 2022 found that Texas public schools were losing 1 out of 5 of their students.

IDRA research

(Source)

Another July 2022 report states that more than half of the state’s jobs require a qualification higher than a high school diploma but lower than a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, 30% of the jobs needed a four-year degree.

But with just 45% of Texans having the right training for these middle-skilled jobs, it was hard for them to find a reliable source of income.

Texans

(Source)

All these studies and reports point toward the need for students to complete their education to get out of the cruel cycle of poverty. And this is exactly what HC4A and the PEER nonprofit organizations are working to achieve.

Paving the Way Towards an Inclusive, Educated, and Empowered Future

Through continued partnerships, resource sharing, and a shared vision of creating a better future for all, HC4A and its partner organizations are paving the way for a more inclusive, educated, and empowered community in Austin and beyond. Together, we are addressing the urgent needs and building the foundation for long-term progress that will benefit future generations.

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