Daily Archives: 04/03/2009

College Forward

(Community Matters) I’d been hearing about College Forward for a couple of years but had never been introduced to the organization or its founder, Lisa Fielder. They provide college preparatory services to motivated, economically-disadvantaged students, in order to facilitate their transition to college and make the process exciting and rewarding.

College Forward Manager Renato Ramaciotti giving a tour

Met many on the College Forward team at Lehman High School in Kyle, Tx yesterday. We were hosted by Principal Elsa Hinojosa.

They hire AmeriCorp members (young adults not too far from high school age) to mentor low and moderate income students toward college. We toured a class of juniors and a class of seniors, only one student’s parents had attended college. The mentors greatly increase the knowledge and perspectives of these overwhelmingly first-generation, prospective college applicants. They teach them about the ACT/SAT, providing practice sessions and even organizing test days. Provide counseling on colleges, majors and financial aid – extraordinary services, especially for kids coming from families ill-equipped to advise. I met seniors going to Stanford, Holyke, Texas State, UT and other campuses. Most received multiple offers.

I was struck by how helpful this kind of assistance would have been to me when I was growing up. I didn’t know not to go out partying (homecoming) the night before my SAT. Nor was I equipped to weigh college acceptance offers. It’s harder on first generation students than many suspect; we simply try to put on a good face. Too many of my contemporaries never even tried for college, never imagined it was even an option. College Forward has good track record working with this population. They even provide college retention support. I am impressed with what I saw of the organization.

Miracle Foundation

(Community Matters) Congratulations to Elizabeth Davis who’s been named the new COO for the Miracle Foundation – one of my favorite women, one of my favorite nonprofit organizations. What a tremendous match – Elizabeth and Caroline Boudreaux.

hmm, need to learn more about Laptop program which is providing inexpensive laptops to children all over the world. This is just a side note but Enspire’s Bjorn Billhardt mentioned it at breakfast yesterday with me and Elizabeth Davis.

Austin Partners in Education

(Community Matters) Wow – not your mom’s Partners in Education. I had no idea. Their mission now is: creating and fostering effective community and school partnerships that provide all AISD students preparation for college and career.

Had a site visit with APIE yesterday at Webb Middle School to observe their 8th grade Mentoring/Coaching program in math. Fortuitously, had read my packet prior to running into Seton’s Charles Barnett at Headliners over lunch. I had no idea Charles now chaired APIE. With a board that includes Charles, Pat Forgoine, Diana Resnik, Mark Curry, Charles Roeckle, Doyle Valdez and Drew Scheberle, you know something great is going on.

And there is – lots. APIE CEO, Katherin Brewer briefed me on their logic model and programs. Very metric and success driven. Leveraging the most precious resources, teacher time into small group learning experiences with trained volunteers. Have to say, I’m rather blown away with how far this organization has come.

a Webb middle school math classroom with students
organized in small groups, being led by volunteer coaches

APIE programs include Partners in Math, College Readiness, Reading/Companeros en Lectura, Literature and Technology. The KDK Harman Foundation is considering a grant request to help them take their Partner in Math program from 12 to 35 classrooms.

Leonard Cohen

(Community Matters) Wednesday night, joined Michael & Rachel Feferman at the Long Center for the Leonard Cohen concert – extraodinary, really.

Ok, embarrassed to admit I didn’t recognize the name when Kevin Keim first mentioned his tour. Of course, I thought a Cohen must be related to John Cohen and Pete Seeger. Then I listened to his music and of course knew his work.

He’s, obviously, foremost a poet – his songs perfectly frame his poetry.

At least 3 encores, we had to leave after the 3, though could have stayed all night. (I believe I heard 5 yesterday). He has the stride of a much younger man. We can only wish for his gait at the age of 75. A once in a lifetime experience.


(Community Matters) Good gosh, what a disruption to productivity and state of mind to lose access to technology. Thanks to a true knight (our friend Nick at Thinkwell), my data has been restored (had lost 2 – 3 weeks of documents, pictures & emails). Thanks to our tendency to keep up with technology, we have extra laptops and desktops at home, so was able to hop on another platform. However, I use one laptop which I transport everywhere to manage work, projects and for all my communication. That tool is still hobbling, though on the path to being repaired.

Of course, this involves relaunching blackberry platform. I’ve tried to do this myself but evidently imperfectly. RIM is sending several thousand emails to my device every few hours and they instruct me not to delete them,

This message is used to carry data between the BlackBerry handheld and an associated server. Please do not delete, move or respond to this message – it will be processed by the server – then a bunch of gobbledeegook.

This disruption in communication has thrown me completely in a loop. I find it difficult to be present in meetings, to accomplish my work most efficiently and start projects while still needing to fix things – not to mention transferring backups, relaunching outlook accounts, scrolling through thousands of RIM emails to find legitimate emails (if I haven’t replied to you, try resending), etc

Ok, so this is just me. If I think of large companies and the probability of multiple mishaps regularly, what’s the cost of these failures, what slips through the cracks? How much should we be willing to spend to avoid this?