Good Causes: BISD philanthropy program names grant winners - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Good Causes: BISD philanthropy program names grant winners

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Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 9:15 pm

Brownsville Independent School District high school students put their understanding of philanthropy on display at an awards ceremony and celebratory luncheon Tuesday at the Brownsville Events Center.

Youth in Philanthropy students at each of BISD’s six comprehensive high schools presented $2,500 grants to a Brownsville nonprofit organization based on a semester’s worth of research. Each school studied four nonprofits to choose their grant winner. All 24 nonprofits were present at the luncheon and the students made presentations about what each organization does.

Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott, who has made philanthropy her signature initiative and who is the state’s first Hispanic first lady, was the keynote speaker.

“She is just like many of us in this room. Her signature issue is philanthropy,” Diane Garza, executive director of the Brownsville Community Foundation, said in introducing Abbott, the granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico who was raised in San Antonio by parents who were both educators. She is a former teacher and Catholic high school principal and active in many philanthropic groups.

“No force in nature is more powerful than Texans helping Texans,” she said, noting that smart phones have made people more connected than ever before but that the real challenge is to not become isolated and instead live a truly connected life.

In 2015 the Brownsville Community Foundation provided the impetus to launch the BISD Youth in Philanthropy program. It is an effort to teach the youth of the community about philanthropy through involvement with the city’s various nonprofit organizations and to promote the well-being of others.

The flyer for the event noted that “there are now college degrees offered in many areas of philanthropy by thousands of universities across the nation. The YIP program puts philanthropy forward for consideration as a career.

Alma Herrera, the executive director of Tip of Texas Family Outreach, said the program offers an excellent opportunity for young people to see the great work done by nonprofits. Her organization helps parents improve communication skills in order to have more effective families and raise better children.

Tip of Texas was the grant winner for Hanna Early College High School.

Martha M. Gonzalez, the founder of Big Heroes, a learning community for adults with disabilities, said this year was her first experience with Youth in Philanthropy.

“The students were eager and ready and had questions,” she said. “A lot of them already have that service mind.” Big Heroes operates in a converted home on Boca Chica Boulevard. Gonzalez said some of the students from Lopez were already ready to volunteer.

Betty Olivarez, a YIP student from Lopez, said the program taught her “what other people go through” and how to find a way to help.

The flyer quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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