HC4A’s Accomplishments and Impact

From tackling poverty to empowering financially disadvantaged youth through education, HC4A’s accomplishments and impact are about making a real difference in the community. But their commitment doesn’t stop there – they also stepped up during crises like the Bastrop fires, Hurricane Harvey floods, and COVID-19.

In Austin, Texas, the poverty rate stands at 12.4%, as per the latest findings from the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau study. However, a decade ago, the situation was more challenging. In 2009, the poverty rate in Austin was recorded at 18.4%.


The 2009 study stated that nearly 1 out of every 5 people in Austin, Texas, lived in poverty. The most unfortunate part was that the most noticeable increase in poverty rates was among Austin’s children.

These numbers were enough to highlight the struggles of children and youth in the Central Texas area.

In response, Harish Kotecha established HC4A in 2010 to make a difference in the lives of these children.

Table of Contents

An Overview of HC4A

HC4A is a nonprofit, non-religious, and non-political organization headquartered in Austin, Texas. It was founded with a mission to “Bridge Income Disparities through Education” and the motto ‘Serve Where You Live.’ Kotecha targeted the root cause of people getting trapped in poverty – lack of education. Over the last 14 years, hundreds of committed HC4A volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide better educational opportunities and support for students from underprivileged backgrounds. The organization’s work revolves around school-age children and youth facing homelessness, near homelessness, poverty, or low-income circumstances, all sharing the dream of affordable education. HC4A has its presence across five cities – Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles – ensuring their programs reach different communities across multiple states. The unconditional work of HC4A and its partner organizations in Central Texas made its own small contribution to the state’s overall progress. HC4A, alongside several nonprofit organizations, strives to slow down this poverty rate. In their constant efforts, they have achieved several milestones.

Educational Initiatives – Promoting Socioeconomic Change

1. Vocational Scholarship Program

HC4A recognizes that thousands of students in various cities struggle with low-income status and juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet. Unexpected life events like medical emergencies, job losses, or furloughs can push these individuals below the poverty line.

To combat this scenario, HC4A provides vocational scholarships to ambitious and deserving individuals who dream of careers that can transform their and their families’ futures.

HC4A understands the immense societal and taxpayer benefits of investing in education.

This number shows that supporting vocational scholarships is a fantastic way to improve lives and communities.

a) Skill-Based Vocational Courses

HC4A offers vocational scholarships to dedicated students, so they can land high-demand jobs with starting salaries of $40,000 or more. These vocational courses are helpful because:

  • Fields like nursing, plumbing, auto mechanics, and others remain relatively unaffected by changing market conditions.
  • They provide stability and job security for the students.

The organization’s goal is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for self-sufficiency and a high standard of living without adding to their debts.

b) Gala Event in Austin: Funding Vocational Scholarships

HC4A’s annual gala fundraiser during the fall supports the vocational scholarship program. In the 2022 Gala event:

  • Over $120,000 was raised.
  • More than 120 students were awarded scholarships.

These students pursued education and training to enter high-demanding fields like healthcare, technology, and business.

2. Schooling Needs Program

HC4A conducts comprehensive community needs assessments and partners with schools to determine the educational requirements of school-going students from underprivileged backgrounds.

To date, HC4A has successfully met 100% of the requested needs for school supplies and ensured that no child is left behind due to a lack of resources.

Since 2010, HC4A has supported Independent School Districts (ISDs) in:

  • Austin
  • Manor
  • Bastrop
  • Del Valle
  • Houston

Besides, HC4A has also partnered with and supported the following organizations:

  • African American Youth Harvest Foundation
  • Veterans through Share the Will and Hero’s Night Out
  • Asian Family Support Service
  • Dove Springs Proud
  • Refugee Services of Texas
  • Greater Love Baptist Church
  • Libraries with books

a) BMBB Event in Austin: Funding School Supplies

The BMBB fundraiser is a unique cultural event that blends food, music, and performances from various ethnicities, fostering a spirit of unity and giving among HC4A and the Jewish community.

Since its launch in 2013, this family-friendly event in Austin has raised essential funds to provide school supplies, empowering thousands of homeless children in Austin and surrounding communities to start the academic year with confidence.

The BMBB fundraiser in April 2024 aims to:

  • Raise $50,000.
  • Provide over 1,500 homeless children with school supplies.

b) Backpacking Event: Distributing School Supplies

Every year, HC4A organizes a backpacking event after wrapping up the BMBB event. This event in Austin involves gathering volunteers of every age (including kids) to assemble and distribute backpacks filled with school supplies for the students.

3. Launch of a Cybersecurity Certification Training Program

In June 2023, HC4A announced the launch of a new pilot program aimed at providing cybersecurity certification training to students. This program enhances their current vocational scholarship program and adds to their effort to expand educational opportunities.

They initiated this program in collaboration with the African American Youth Harvest Foundation (AAYHF) to empower the students.

As part of the certification program, three promising students were selected to participate in Cybersecurity Training.

These individuals were enrolled at UT Austin, where they benefited from live tutoring and mentorship provided by dedicated HC4A volunteers.

This innovative program holds great promise in providing students with vital skills in the Cybersecurity field, which is a rapidly growing industry with increasing demand for qualified professionals.

By providing access to this specialized training, HC4A and AAYHF are working together to bridge the educational gap and empower students who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.

The Cybersecurity Certificate Program is a transformative opportunity that equips students with specialized skills in protecting digital infrastructure and data. The hands-on, industry-relevant curriculum provides students with essential skills like network administration, threat analysis, and incident response.

This certificate is a great career path for those looking to launch a fulfilling profession in this crucial and high-demand sector.

Humanitarian Aid During Crises

While education remains our primary focus, our commitment to aiding communities during times of crisis is equally important. Below are a few examples of how HC4A has stepped up beyond its call of duty during emergencies.

1. Bastrop, TX, Fires in 2012

During the Bastrop, Texas, fires in 2012, HC4A provided library books to those affected, recognizing the importance of literacy and access to resources in the aftermath of disasters.

2. Hurricane Harvey Floods in 2017

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floods in 2017, we swiftly responded by partnering with Educational Products USA. We distributed essential supplies to Hillard Elementary School in Houston, supporting the educational needs of 800 students impacted by the natural disaster.

3. HC4O2 Campaign & COVID-19 Emergency Response

a) Breath of life

HC4A’s humanitarian efforts extended globally during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Through the HC4O2 campaign, in collaboration with NAVYA, we provided $50,000 worth of high-quality oxygen concentrators to the Tata Memorial Hospital network in Mumbai, India, helping the fight against respiratory illnesses.

Additionally, we contributed $50,000 toward the installation of a permanent on-site oxygen plant at the Tata Memorial Center facility in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. This ensured a sustainable supply of medical-grade oxygen for patients.

b) Connectivity Hubs

In Austin, we ensured continuity of education for Manor ISD students during the pandemic. As schools pivoted to virtual learning, homeless children needed one thing over school supplies: internet connectivity. We pivoted from our traditional school backpack program too and provided Internet connectivity to over 100 families, enabling remote learning access and ensuring students did not fall behind academically due to the disruptions caused by the health crisis.

Establishment of HC4A’s Endowment Fund

In 2014, the late Dr. Ishwar Thakar, a dedicated donor, suggested forming a Foundation Board where supporters donate a minimum of $2,500 annually. Board members actively participate in various ways, such as increasing membership, expanding the donor network, and attending HC4A events with their networks to raise awareness and support.

Kotecha took this initiative a step further by proposing the establishment of an irrevocable HC4A Endowment Fund. As the fund grows to over $500,000, we plan to allocate 80% of the fund towards financing scholarships to ensure a reliable source of funding for HC4A’s educational efforts.

The endowment fund represents HC4A’s forward-thinking approach and commitment to securing long-term financial resources. It enables the organization to continue its vital work of bridging income disparities through education.

As of February 2024, the fund balance stands at $257,000, steadily progressing towards its goal through the generosity of donors and supporters.

Support HC4A – Education for Change

To support HC4A’s initiatives, you can donate , start your own fundraisers, or spread awareness about HC4A’s work through your personal and professional networks.

Together, we can pave the way for a future where educational opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status, creating a more equitable and prosperous society.

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