Wednesday, November 11, 2020 / by Jenny Carroll
If you've driven through Austin you've likely seen a Foundation Communities (FC) property. Created in 1990, they have helped Central Texans experiencing homelessness as well as teachers, veterans, service industry employees, and elderly or disabled persons or those experiencing other hardships into housing opportunities in beautiful, well-constructed communities throughout Austin and north Texas. Through grants and charitable donations, they've built 23 thoughtfully designed properties that have their over 7,000 resident's best lives at heart. There are thousands of people on the waiting list to be residents at a FC property so they are constantly looking at opportunities to build more housing for those who need it. There are 5 new properties planned for 2021 and hopefully more to come in the future.
Not only are these properties well thought out but they also are built using the most up-to-date green standards and many are constructed with LEED and Energy Star designations. Having safe and healthy properties means that the residents are not only healthier themselves but they are truly able to live fuller lives.
Foundation Communities offers permanent housing opportunities to over 800 formally homeless persons, some with children, providing them with the stability of their own roof over their heads, their own bed to sleep in at night, and their own kitchen to provide meals for themselves and their families. This kind of investment in our cities and our citizens has returns that will absolutely be felt for generations.
The staff and volunteers at Foundation Communities properties care for their residents and go above and beyond basic property management. A common complaint for many residents prior to their moving to FC was loneliness and the feeling of abandonment. They now receive weekly care calls from volunteers who check on their physical and mental well being. These calls provide so much more than a sterile check-in. They feel their call givers have become friends and look forward each week to their conversations. It's a truly beautiful thing.
Life Lessons That Really Matter
Living at a Foundations Community property offers the residents an array of benefits that give back to the families and to the community at large. Many people aren't taught even basic financial responsibility in school and are lucky to learn those lessons at home. Most Americans learn fiscal responsibility on the fly the hard way. Volunteer tax specialists and financial coaches help FC residents balance their budgets and make smart decisions to grow their futures and most importantly, how to teach their children to do the same. They've helped 1,513 residents with tax prep this year alone.
The Learning Centers at many of these communities have a vast array of programs designed to continuously educate, inform, and excite their residents. It's not just financial education opportunities being taught here either. The adults and children both have available an abundance of enrichment classes year-round, right around the corner from their front doors.
Education That Stimulates and Cultivates
Foundation Communities offers child care, after school programs, and continuing education to the many children brought up on the comprehensive premises on top of the adult continuing education programs. However, this year has been an especially challenging one with the COVID pandemic decimating many jobs in our area. They have been able, through grants and generous donations from over 1,000 people just like you to raise over $800,000 to offer 452 students with technology and books, prepare 331 students for higher learning via their College HUB program, offer 650 residents with rent assistance while providing 3,491 households with pantry assistance via the on-property food banks at many of the locations.
The Learning Centers have demonstrable results, too. The average GPA of the over 1,000 Learning Center children is 3.4 and they teach not just traditional curriculum but social-emotional learning (SEL) support as well. This last and incredibly important topic is yet another example of a skill not traditionally taught in many households in our country. SEL is now being taught more widely than ever before and can be attributed to more logical and peaceful resolutions to many conflicts, both interpersonal and managerial.
Healthier Communities Mean Healthier Economies
The continuing education programs for children and adults include many diverse topics. From computer training, college prep, to fitness and cooking classes, residents have boundless opportunities to enrich their lives and give back to the communities. If we look at pure numbers, the return on investment for Foundation Communities is immediately clear and obvious. We all want to give our children and families every opportunity to succeed and that same consideration needs to be given to those of us who need assistance. Educating all our citizens ought to be of the highest priority in our Capitol city, home to numerous institutions of higher learning, trade schools, and the seat of the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
How Can You Get Involved?
Great Question! You can sign up as a volunteer in many ways or donate to their programs via the Foundation Communities website. Do you have a skill you can teach like cooking or fitness? Can you help with tax preparation or financial education? Are you available to make a few care calls each week and make some new friends? You can make your donations monthly to ensure our area's affordable housing initiatives are genuinely working for the people they serve. If you have a few extra dollars available, consider giving to Foundation Communities. It's an investment in our area and an investment in our collective futures. It's worth it.