Nonprofit organizations have the unique ability to move between public and private sectors to build trust in innovative and meaningful ways. Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) embodies this unique element in its conservation work across the state of Texas. With 142 million acres of privately-owned working land, agriculture makes up the second largest industry in Texas. However, rising property taxes and increased demand for development have created what TALT refers to as a land-loss crisis. Each year, Texas loses approximately 200,000 acres of agricultural land.
Just an hour outside of Houston lies the rural town of Wharton, Texas. Tucked in the heart of Wharton’s Westend is Just Do It Now (JDIN). This small, faith-based nonprofit serves as a true cornerstone of the community, providing robust youth programming, and much more, for the town’s most disenfranchised residents. There are 460 houses in the Westend, most of which are home to Wharton’s minority residents. Unlike the Eastside of Wharton, the Westend flooded four times from 2012 to 2017.
Casa Marianella is a small nonprofit homeless shelter located in East Austin. Since 1986, it has served as a home, a refuge, and a waypoint — connecting newly immigrating families to invaluable resources to promote long-term stability. Jennifer Long, Executive Director of Casa Marianella, describes Casa clients as young, productive, and highly motivated. Most Casa residents flee their home countries because of political violence based on their race, religion, sexual identity, or social group. They come to the United States seeking asylum and a better life.
Cal Farley's strives to provide a safe and stable environment for many of the children failed by the Texas child welfare system. The community was built with health, social, educational, and emotional wellbeing of the children in mind; it has its own special purpose school district and medical facility. For the hundreds of girls and boys between 5 and 18 who live there, Cal Farley's represents an opportunity to fight the challenges they face and thrive.
Despite refining $11 million of oil daily, the "Golden Triangle" region of Texas experiences some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. In an effort to match individual work aspirations with industry needs, DWA provides disenfranchised members of the community with quality training relevant to the area's industries. Over time, they've been able to build a relationship with underserved people to act as a bridge to further professional training and a living wage.
Dallas nonprofit Unlocking Doors® works to connect individuals reentering their community from the criminal justice system to meaningful work, secure housing, healthcare, and reliable transportation. Often the services offered to people are scattered throughout a city, making access complicated and frustrating for many. Through evidence-based practices, the organization works to prevent recidivism and uplift the community as a whole as a result of their support.
Spurred by efforts to build stronger ties with residents, the Austin Byrne Criminal Justice Initiative team revitalized large open spaces that had fostered crime, increased local resources to engage and support youth, and created an empathetic and effective way to address homelessness.
The two organizations had evolved from different premises, and had developed different cultures and methods to meet a common challenge of engaging citizens in civic volunteering. Each of these national initiatives was making a difference in promoting volunteerism and supporting citizen service. Both had become more concerned about financial sustainability and impact in recent months. For five years the two groups had been competing in some areas, and collaborating in others, and the idea of consolidation was present.
Habitat for Humanity International describes its mission: “to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.” Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.