Our foundation has a long history as a non-profit organization serving the citizens of the state of Texas. Please read on to better understand how we came to be in our present form.
From 1980 until 2001, the foundation (known as Greater Texas Student Loan Corporation until 2001) was dedicated to the exclusive purpose of providing financial assistance to Texas students seeking a higher education by encouraging financial institutions to participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and providing information to schools and students regarding this program. It accomplished this mission primarily by raising funds in the tax-exempt financial markets and acquiring student loans originated by lenders participating in its programs.
In 2001, the organization made an election to expand its charitable purpose, and subsequently Greater Texas Foundation emerged in its current form. The loan corporation became known as LoanSTAR Systems, Inc. and was transformed into a for-profit subsidiary. In 2005, Greater Texas Foundation sold its stock in LoanSTAR adding to the foundation’s investable assets. Soon after the sale, the board began an intense study of how to best achieve its mission with the greater resources made available by the sale of its assets while continuing to grant within its existing funding principles. This study led the board to believe that in order for Texas and Texans to compete in the contemporary economy, a greater mastery of math, science, engineering, and other technological fields is necessary. The board concluded that Texas, like America as a whole, had begun to especially fall behind in those areas of education and added improving math and science education as a funding principle.
2005 to 2008:
From 2005 to 2008, Greater Texas Foundation grew substantially in terms of personnel, IT infrastructure, and general capacity. In 2007, the foundation welcomed seven new employees, including its first executive director and its first grants manager. Additionally, the foundation introduced a Web-interface grants database, which allows the entire grant process to be handled electronically, and a completely redesigned and user-friendly Website (which was again updated in 2009).
As the foundation ramped up its capacity as a grant making organization, it had the opportunity to support a diverse spectrum of education-related programs and initiatives. From books for local school children to robotics competitions for high school students to induction and training support for aspiring teachers, the foundation’s work impacted students of all ages and circumstances throughout the state.
From 2005 through 2008, the foundation awarded 237 grants totaling $21.2 Million. High priority areas included scholarships for underserved students and initiatives which resulted in improved teaching and/or improved curricula for students, with a particular focus on math and science. To search the online database of all the foundation’s grants, see the sidebar on our homepage. The following examples illustrate the scope of the foundation’s grantmaking during this period.
Removing Educational Barriers. Providing financial assistance through scholarships for underserved and first generation students has been a long-term focus of the foundation. Significantly, 2008 was the final year for the foundation’s Removing Educational Barriers endowed scholarship matching program. As a result of this multi-year program, 33 out of the 34 institutions of higher education in Texas endowed need-based scholarships, with 22 institutions fully matching the foundation’s $100,000 challenge, resulting in 5.7 Million in endowments around the state.
Greater Texas Teachers. Based on the data-supported links between teacher effectiveness and student success, in 2008 the foundation released its Greater Texas Teachers RFP to solicit proposals for the development of a program that would increase the number of highly qualified middle school math and science teachers with deep subject matter knowledge. Through this initiative, the foundation awarded $3,000,000 to Texas Tech University for the Middle School Math and Science (MS)2: Understanding by Design master’s degree program and $3,000,000 to University of Houston (in 2009) for the Integrated Science, Math and Reflective Thinking (iSMART) master’s degree program.
Advanced Mathematical Decision Making. Aware of the importance of adequate math preparation for students’ post-secondary success, during this period the foundation awarded $410,000 to the Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin for the development of Advance Mathematical Decision Making (AMDM), a rigorous and engaging high school mathematics capstone course designed to follow Algebra II. (In 2009, the foundation awarded an additional $250,000 for the development of the teacher professional development and support program for the AMDM course.)
The growth and overall increase in internal capacity of the previous years provided an opportunity for staff and directors to think more strategically about the initiatives and programs the foundation supported. In order to have an even greater impact on the tough and persistent challenges facing education in Texas, in 2009 the foundation engaged FSG Social Impact Advisors in a six-month process to examine its mission, vision, funding principles and internal operations, and to develop a strategic plan for the five-year period from 2010 to 2014.
Through the strategic planning process, the foundation laid extensive groundwork to be more focused in its funding as it moves into 2010 and beyond. Importantly, this included the following revisions to the foundation’s vision and mission statements:
Vision. The foundation’s vision is for all Texas students to have equal opportunity to access and succeed in post-secondary education.
Mission. Greater Texas Foundation supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete post-secondary education. We pursue our mission by forming partnerships, supporting research, sharing knowledge, and making grants, and we put particular focus on helping underserved and disadvantaged populations.
Through this process, the foundation learned a great deal about the challenges that Texas students face on the road to post-secondary completion and how efforts can be focused to help students overcome these challenges. In 2010 and beyond, the foundation will implement this knowledge to achieve its new vision and thereby continue its extensive history of improving educational outcomes for Texas students.
This is a very exciting time, and everyone at Greater Texas Foundation looks forward to what the future holds. Please visit the strategic planning section of our site to learn more about the process, the rationale, and the results, and continue to visit this site regularly for periodic updates and changes.