Austin Nonprofit Page

Featured Monthly Nonprofits

Real Austin Texas is a proud supporter of worthy Austin nonprofit organizations (and sometimes those outside of Austin as well).

In fact, one of the most fulfilling aspects of owning and operating an Austin-based website is getting the opportunity of directly giving back to the community that the site celebrates in the first place.

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Why Give? A Short History of Real Austin Texas

This site began in earnest in the spring of 2009. In September 2009, I committed to making a nominal (and modest) contribution each month to a different Austin nonprofit organization (trust me, we're not talking about major corporate underwriting here).

But I do believe in giving back and contributing when possible to those organizations that make your world, and in this case, my own community, a better place.

I also decided to share the list of Austin nonprofit organizations this site has supported in order to encourage others - whether you operate a commercial website or not - to do something similar.

So I challenge you to create your own list of worthy organizations whose values you share and whose work you can commit to supporting.

My own list follows, and for a whole host of other ideas, resources, and information, I recommend GivingCity Austin.

Austin Featured Nonprofit of the Month:
Capital Area Food Bank

capital area food bank

January 2012 - Capital Area Food Bank.

The Capital Area Food Bank was first formed in 1981 and has grown into an enormous organization that provides food and grocery products (directly and indirectly through 300+ partner agencies) to 48,000 individuals a week, 20,000 of them children.

In its 2010-2011 fiscal year, the Capital Area Food Bank distributed more than 24 million pounds of food througout 21 Central Texas counties.

Previous Featured Nonprofits - 2009-2011

December 2011 - Local Schools

If you've been following this calendar or the site's Austin Nonprofit page for very long, you know I often take significant liberties with the selection process. I even contributed to a Canadian Celtic rock band earlier in the summer after they had their van and $20,000 of equipment stolen from them (if you scroll down to August 2011, you can watch The Town Pants' live performance of "Mr. Valentine's Dead.")

I have featured some incredible nonprofits and some very important fundraisers since beginning this process, but not every contribution I've made over the last 27 or so months has been tax deductible or devoid of self-interest or even whimsy (one month I just handed out the cash to 3 homeless individuals who resembled celebrities and/or certain former middle eastern dictators).

So this month, my choice to contribute directly to the school where my son attends kindergarten (which, due to the following paragraph, will remain anonymous) should probably not be viewed with too much admiration since the real reason I've selected the school as the recipient is so I won't feel guilty about us not participating in the chocolate bar selling fundraiser for November.

(I'm trying to instill my son with a healthy capitalistic mindset that's predicated upon the idea - whether you're an employee or an entrepreneur - that the more value you can create for others, the better position you're in to be more amply compensated - and I just don't see how trying to sell a 50 cent candy bar to someone for a dollar sends a financially realistic message to young children.)

November 2011 - Austin Partners in Education

Austin Partners in Education (APIE) delivers innovative reading and math programs that raise student academic performance.

And with all the budget cuts hitting AISD recently, APIE's work is only that more essential.

By recruiting, training, and deploying a diverse cadre of volunteers serving as tutor-mentors in small group (1 - 3 students per adult) tutoring sessions, students receive the individualized support that can help them achieve and build future success.

APIE programs serve students and teachers in elementary reading (Spanish and English), middle school reading and math, and college readiness. In addition, struggling middle school learners are supported through APIE’s Step-Up program, a data-driven, high-frequency tutoring model.

Volunteering is really easy and takes very little time. For more information, check out the APIE Volunteer Center page.

October 2011 - Austin Firefighters Outreach Fund

This month's selection is the Austin Firefighters Outreach Fund.

The Austin Firefighters Outreach Fund is a nonprofit entity that "provides immediate financial assistance to firefighters and their families impacted by an unexpected injury, illness, or death. Additionally the 'Fund; provides assistance to citizens of Travis and surrounding counties who experience a major catastrophe involving fire, flood, tornado and other natural disasters."

Obviously, this month's selection is in response to Central Texas wildfires that has especially decimated Bastrop County. The outpouring of support has been incredible so far, but if you're still looking for ways to help out, The Austin Firefighters Outreach Fund is a terrific organization. In addition, KVUE has set up a comprensive page of nonprofits you can also support in order to help those affected by the fires begin to rebuild their lives.

September 2011 - Hearts and Hooves

I first learned about Hearts and Hooves while watching Quita Culpepper's recent KVUE report on Camp Brave Heart, a summer camp organized by Hospice Austin (Real Austin Texas featured nonprofit for March 2010) to help kids who have recently lost a loved one.

Hearts and Hooves is a fantastic organization that uses miniature ponies and guardian therapy dogs to help facilitate healing among a wide variety of grieving and hurting people - they've worked in "classrooms, hospice, elder care communities, hospitals, special schools" and more.

August 2011 - The Town Pants Fundraiser

OK - I'm stretching it a bit with this selection. The Town Pants are this really awesome Celtic rock band. But they aren't an Austin band. In fact, they're not even an American band - they're from Vancouver, BC.

But last month their touring van was stolen along with $20,000 worth of equipment. The van was eventually recovered, but not the equipment.

As you may recall, something similar happened to Austin's Quiet Company last September just ahead of a big tour. Fortunately, the Austin community rallied together very quickly to loan equipment and raise money.

I'm jumping the gun a little for August with this selection, but the fundraising concert to raise money for the band is being held on June 18th, 2011.

Obviously, with the concert taking place in Vancouver, I don't imagine too many Austinites are going to be able to attend.

But there is a PayPal Donate button (PayPal can also securely process credit card transactions) on the band's official site for anyone interested in helping out which is how I made this month's donation from Real Austin Texas.

And if you're not familiar with their music, definitely check them out. Here they are playing the Celtic Fling in Mount Hope, PA in 2010:

June/July 2011 - "Donate for Roel"

I selected "Donate for Roel" for both June and July (and doubled the amount of my small monthly contribution) for a couple of reasons.

First, I dropped the ball and didn't get all the information in time to make an informative entry into the electronic June 2011 RAT Calendar or to post it in a timely manner here.

And second, it's such a moving situation, it deserves to some extended exposure.

Roel Vargas is a 2 year old in Kyle who has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and who is now facing 3 long years of chemotherapy and all the medical expense that goes along with that.

Part of the reason I highlight a different nonprofit each month is as a subtle challenge to RAT Calendar subscribers to do something similar, but this month I'm going to make an exception and directly challenge everyone to either attend the fundraising event or consider making a direct financial contribution.

As a parent of a five year old, I simply don't know of anything more heinous than a child with a serious disease or condition.


There will be a fundraising event in Kyle @ Wallace Middle School and Greg Clarke Park on Saturday, June 25, 2011. The event includes a 5K Fun Run in the morning and barbecue and other events to follow.

For those who prefer to make a direct financial contribution, you can make/send a check to:

KPEA (Kyle Police Employee Association)
PO Box 2261
Kyle, TX 78640

And be sure to designate "Donate for Roel" on your check . . .

Finally, for more info, you can email Donate4Roel at

May 2011 - 3 Homeless Individuals

This month, I've done something a little different. Instead of donating to and featuring an Austin area nonprofit, I've taken the amount I normally contribute each month and divided it among three long term homeless individuals I've seen working various intersections for years.

I don't know any of their names or stories, although two are a middle aged couple that have always reminded me of Saddam Hussein and Bonnie Raitt.

And the third individual is this big, happy, crazy guy with insanely unkempt hair and beard and an entire portfolio of humorous cardboard signs. He's a natural entertainer and a smart marketer. In my house, we've affectionately nicknamed him Captain Caveman (from the late 1970s cartoon "Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics").

I understand the argument that the donation would've been more effective if it had gone to an actual nonprofit providing services to the homeless (and, in fact, the organization Front Steps was the featured nonprofit for February 2011).

But, you know what? I think everyone deserves a litte windfall every now and then (and again, we're not talking about a huge amount here).

April 2011 - Max's Ride ALS

Max's Ride is an annual biking and concert fundraiser that raises money for research and treatment of ALS through the ALS Association - South Texas Chapter.

Max Harrison, a Desert Storm Veteran, died from ALS in 2006 at the age of 36, dedicating the last years of his life to helping others who also suffered from the disease. He is remembered for both his generosity and his courage.

The annual event features a motorcycle ride beginning at Cowboy Harley Davidson, proceeding through the Texas Hill Country, and then culminating at Scholz Garten for a benefit concert.

March 2011 - KOOP Radio

KOOP Radio was actually the very first Austin nonprofit that I featured on Real Austin Texas nearly a year and a half ago.

And I still love and respect the organization just as much today. The programming is completely volunteer based and covers an incredible array of subjects and musical genres. At last count, there were around 60 individual shows.

This is important programming, too. There's nothing wrong with commercial radio, of course, but there are some important distinctions between between commercial radio and community radio.

KOOP's community focus allows the station to address its twin purposes - addressing important local issues and serving under represented segments of the local population.

February 2011 - Front Steps

Official Description: Front Steps is a nonprofit organization contracted by the City of Austin to manage the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). Front Steps offers not only a variety of basic needs services for homeless adults, but also offers longer term programs focused on transitioning clients into housing.

This is an Austin nonprofit doing vital work that I've been wanting to spotlight for a while now. And given some recent developments, this really was a timely selection.

In early January, Fox 7 reported that the ARCH had been forced to discard 200 blankets because of a bed bug infestion. In this case, the infestation was the result of a donation of infected blankets that wasn't detected in time.

The ARCH has since changed their donation policy so that they only accept new blankets. The best donation, of course, is cash as it allows them the flexibility of purchasing what they need when they need it.

January 2011 - Girlstart

How can you not love the mission of Girlstart?

Official Description: Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, Girlstart has quickly established itself as a best-case practices leader in empowering, educating, and motivating girls to enjoy and become more proficient in math, science and technology.

Girlstart offers a variety of educational formats designed for girls, adults, and families through after-school programs, workshop series, summer camps, Expanding Your Horizons, and free community events. All Girlstart programs share a common theme of hands-on exploration of science, math, and technology in a fun and girl-friendly environment. These programs are held at the Girlstart Tech Center and in Austin-area schools.

December 2010 - Meals on Wheels and More

Meals on Wheels and More was the Real Austin Texas featured nonprofit back in September 2010. I've gone ahead and re-selected the organization for December in order to highlight their Holiday Meals fundraising drive.

It's bad enough to be hungry during the holidays, but many of our elderly are also alone and feeling especially isolated at this time of the year. A small donation of even $26 will provide a meal and a friendly visit for four elderly Austinites in need.

November 2010 - Out Youth

I've long been an admirer of the important role Out Youth plays in the lives of local GLBTQ youth.

Official Description: Out Youth is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and provide services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth ages 12 to 19 in Austin and Central Texas. We offer peer support groups, counseling, educational programs, social activities and community outreach.

Out Youth is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010, and remains the only organization in Central Texas to provide programs and services specifically designed for LGBTQ youth and their allies. Thank you to our champions at all levels, national, state and local. Thank you to all our Out Youth sponsors and monthly donors for your continued support and investment in the lives, safety and promise of our LGBTQ youth and allies.

October 2010 - Austin Jazz Society

The Austin Jazz Society has a couple of worthy and important goals -

Official Description: The purpose of Austin Jazz Society is to memorialize professional jazz musicians who, at some point in their career, performed in Austin and the surrounding areas. It is also our aim to celebrate current performing jazz artists and encourage and educate future jazz musicians. Our purpose is achieved through concerts, educational workshops, and performance opportunities.

The organization puts together numerous jazz events throughout the year, including the free Austin Jazz Festival at the Zilker Hillside Theater in the fall.

September 2010 - Meals on Wheels and More
Meals on Wheels and More is an Austin Nonprofit that does incredible work and has been serving the local community for more than 35 years.

Mission Statement: Meals on Wheels and More seeks to nourish and enrich the lives of the homebound and other people in need through programs that promote dignity and independent living.

Official Description: This year, MOWAM celebrates 37 years of service in the Greater Austin area. What began as a program of eight volunteers serving 29 seniors has now expanded into a multi-service organization of 5,000 volunteers serving almost 2,500 elderly and disabled persons each day.

Aside from preparing an average of 936,009 meals in 2008 year, MOWAM also offers many other programs designed to keep people healthy and living in their own homes.

MOWAM is a 501 c 3 organization and is independent and locally-run. We are a member of the Meals on Wheels Association of America, but receive no funds from it.

August 2010 - Austin Children's Museum
The Austin Children's Museum in downtown Austin has been fostering discovery and invention in children, in one form or another, and in one location or another, since 1983.

To see in greater detail why this is such a worthy Austin nonprofit, be sure to check out the full review of the Austin Children's Museum.

July 2010 - Hope Alliance
This month's featured Austin nonprofit actually operates in Williamson County to our north.

Originally established as a rape crisis center in 1984, Hope Alliance soon expanded and began providing free and confidential services for domestic violence victims. Hope Alliance has operated a 24 hour shelter since 1990.

From their website: "Hope Alliance operates under the belief that physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse of one human being by another is unacceptable. We believe that all abuse diminishes or prohibits the full expression of life and growth that is every person’s right."

June 2010 - Austin Children's Shelter
Established in 1984, the Austin Children's Shelter, per their website, "is an emergency shelter offering a safe haven for children who are removed from their homes due to life-threatening abuse or neglect. The children who come through our doors are traumatized, hurt, angry and despondent. Since 1984, ACS has provided the high quality care and critical services they need to begin the healing process including individual and group therapy, medical and dental care, and educational assistance. The individual attention given to the needs of each child helps them to feel safe while re-building their self-esteem. Our goal is to reduce the emotional trauma suffered by child victims of abuse and neglect and to lay a foundation of hope for a better future."

May 2010 - The Austin Young Men Business League's Sunshine Camps
Sunshine Camps has been the longstanding beneficiary of the popular annual Schlotzsky's Bun Run SK. The Sunshine Camps organization was formed in 1928 and provides year round programs (including a real summer camp experience) for low income and at risk youth.

This month's contribution (like last month) is via registration for the underlying fundraising event: the 28th annual Schlotzsky's Bun Run benefiting Austin Sunshine Camps.

April 2010 - Texas Service and Hearing Dogs
This month is the 12th annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk, a fun and barking event that raises funds for this month's nonprofit of the month - Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. THSD "trains dogs to assist Texans living with hearing or mobility challenges." The dogs and (humane) dog training are provided for free to qualifying individuals.

This month's contribution is in the form of registration for the 12th annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk.

March 2010 - SafePlace and Hospice Austin
This month I'm selecting two worthy nonprofits since February went by a little too fast for me and I failed to make an official selection.

SafePlace is committed to, according to their mission statement, "ending sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing and prevention for individuals, families and our community." The organization provides shelter, counseling, and other resources for those who have experienced and been impacted by forms of violence that no one should ever be exposed to. Additionally, each April, SafePlace organizes a SafePlace Field Day and Festival fundraiser at Fiesta Gardens.

Hospice Austin has been serving Austin and Central Texas with compassion and dignity since 1979. In addition to cash donations, the hospice also maintains a wish list of items on their website for their pantry, patients' homes, and for Hospice Austin's Christopher House.

February 2010 - No Featured Austin Nonprofit?!?
Although I'd like to blame it on the short month, the real culprit here was my faulty time management skills. In short, I dropped the ball and failed to select a featured Austin nonprofit or make a donation this month. But I "caught up" in March by featuring and donating to two Austin nonprofits. See above.

January 2010 - KMFA - 89.5 FM
KMFA - 89.5 FM ("Classically Austin") is this month's featured nonprofit. KMFA celebrated its 43rd birthday in January not only as Austin's classical radio station, but also as one of the best classical radio stations in the country. Click on the link above to see why I love it. I am pleased to wish KMFA, which is almost entirely dependent upon listener support, a Happy Birthday by naming it the Real Austin Texas featured nonprofit for January 2010.

December 2009 - M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The Children's Art Project which benefits the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is one of my personal favorite nonprofit fundraising programs. The program sells Christmas cards, gifts, and other artwork created by pediatric cancer patients at M.D. Anderson in Houston. The money is used to fund various patient programs including: educational programs, scholarships, week long camping trips, ski trips, writing and music therapy, and several others.

Christmas cards are typically available seasonally in Austin at HEB, Central Market, and Randalls grocery stores as well as CVS pharmacies. You can also view the entire (and extensive) product line at the link above or view/request the free catalog.

November 2009 - The Fisher House at Fort Hood, Texas
Most of the time, it's fun to give. This month's contribution, however, is in response to a terrible tragedy - the mass shooting on November 5th at nearby Fort Hood that left 13 dead.

From the Darnell Army Medical Center website: The Fisher House is a "home away from home" for military personnel (both active and retired) and their families during a medical crisis. The house has a warm, compassionate environment where families and caring friends can nurture one another in times of need. It offers families a clean, safe, low-cost respite from the stress of worrying about loved ones. The house was a gift to the Fort Hood community from Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher of New York.

October 2009 - Room to Read
Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. The Real Austin Texas selection of and contribution to the Room to Read's Austin Chapter was done in a sort of back door manner via participation in the very cool Austin Makes a Book Project coordinated by Austin's Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.

September 2009 - KOOP Radio
KOOP Radio - KOOP radio (pronounced "co-op") is a community radio station, operated and broadcast entirely by volunteers. The mission of KOOP (per its Mission Statement) is "to provide high quality, innovative, and diverse community-oriented programming to Austin with an emphasis on those communities that are ignored or underserved by mainstream media..."