COMMUNITY IN ACTION
A group is discussion relaunching a new version of this organization, still focused on building a stronger community!
Our board continues to work on issues related to educational attainment and reducing the number of families in poverty.
This year Panhandle Twenty/20 has spent largely in helping create the No Limits No Excuses Initiative with the Partners for Postsecondary Success. The second community Opportunity Conference was held in April, centered primarily on low-income families within the three target NLNE neighborhoods, helping create support to move into education and out of poverty for these families.
We were honored to be selected to present at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, at which we were then recruited to present at both Summer Leadership Institutes of the Texas Association of School Boards. We also presented at TASB‘s Annual Conference in September, and received this great post from Joe Smith.
The board is working on possible focus areas which include an increased focus on getting families out of poverty, on the issue of “brain drain” in our area, financial literacy and saving, and economic development through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism. We continue to provide poverty and Navigator trainings for our community. Wherever we focus our efforts, we try to work with all interested community organizations, institutions, businesses, and volunteers.
The work that Panhandle Twenty/20 has been doing for years finally got a name this year, with the release of the paper Collective Impact by John Kania and Mark Kramer. Collective Impact is the concept that large-scale social change comes from better cross-sector coordination rather than from the isolated interventions of individual organizations. We have always worked in collaboration with others to create needed change in our community.
With a continued focus on improving educational attainment through our work with the Partners for Postsecondary Success grant to the Amarillo Area Foundation, Panhandle Twenty/20 played an active partnership role. Continuing our work with helping families escape poverty, we worked with churches, community groups, nonprofits and volunteers to grow the Navigator/Neighbor work, hosting post-Opportunity Conference events and conducting multiple poverty trainings as well.
Cal Farley’s embraced the Navigator/Neighbor work, and hired Elia Moreno to continue her Community Engagement Coordinating under their umbrella, continuing to meet the needs of low-income families, helping them overcome barriers to success.
Panhandle Twenty/20 partnered with KACV and Amarillo ISD on The American Graduate Project, which included a community forum surrounding the drop-out issue, videos of Dr. Donna Beegle and Damen Lopez, and student-designed and generated video messages to fellow students.
Panhandle Twenty/20 hosted a visit from Opportunity Texas which led to a community project focused on increasing savings.
Our moving video, Navigators and Neighbors, was released midyear 2011.
Rising poverty levels in our area persuaded Panhandle Twenty/20 to add the State of the Family to its focus, with a particular emphasis on helping low-income families get out of poverty. In the same year P2020 hosted its first–and very inspiring and successful–Opportunity Conference, led by Dr. Donna Beegle of PovertyBridge, Amarillo was chosed as one of two Texas cities for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant. Under the leadership of the Amarillo Area Foundation, community partners continue to work together to improve levels of educational attainment.
Panhandle Twenty/20 continues to find ways to be a catalyst for positive change in the community. It also continues its efforts to help improve educational attainment levels in the region.
The Panhandle Twenty/20 board studied several topics throughout the year, including The State of the Family and environment issues including recycling and future water availability in the region. They also hosted a seminar in conjunction with DEMOS, entitled Making the Case for Government: A workshop on re-framing how we talk about government, taxes and public programs in Texas, inviting local officials to participate.
Panhandle Twenty/20, Amarillo College, Celebrate Education and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce host Developing the Workforce of the Future conference, with speakers Dr. Karl Eschbach, Texas State Demographer, and Tom Pauken, Chair of the Texas Workforce Commission, who discussed current and future workforce and demographic trends for the Panhandle and Texas. At this event, Panhandle Twenty/20 released its report, A Community in Action, highlighting some of the implementation activities related to improving educational attainment in the region.
The Amarillo Globe News and partners launch Celebrate Education, a program focused on raising awareness and developing solutions to help improve regional levels of educational attainment. Celebrate Education is continuing through 2009!
Panhandle Twenty/20 releases its first report, The Panhandle Imperative: Economic Implications of Educational Attainment in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. Dr. Mike Moses is the keynote speaker at a community release at the Globe News Center for the Performing Arts.
October 2006—April 2007
Russell Lowery-Hart facilitates numerous community meetings chaired by Alice O’Brien and Roy Bara, focused on studying issues related to educational attainment; recommendations are formed by the committee. Over 300 dedicated community volunteers participated in the study.
Dr. Hallmark takes over as Board Chair so Ms. Carlisle can coordinate Panhandle Twenty/20′s first in-depth community study on the economic implications of educational attainment, sponsored by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, AC, AISD, and WTAMU.
The Panhandle Twenty/20 Board hosted Ben Warner from the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc., to learn about their very successful civic engagement and community problem-solving process. Each year JCCI identifies one or two problems facing their city and undertake an in-depth study to identify solutions. JCCI also developed the Community Indicators process to look at trends over time in their area. The Panhandle Twenty/20 Board liked the JCCI model, and decided to undertake a similar approach to solving our communities’ problems.
Panhandle Twenty/20 board member and Amarillo City Commissioner Paul Harpole brought together the leadership of local government and educational entities in order to share plans and information–a first for our area.
Panhandle Twenty/20 and the Amarillo Area Foundation sponsored Dr. Suzanne Morse, Executive Director of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, for a Smart Communities workshop, attended by several hundred at the Amarillo Civic Center.
Panhandle Twenty/20 received a much-needed boost when the Amarillo Area Foundation committed to provide some staffing support for the fledgling initiative. Charlotte Rhodes was brought in as the Vice-President for Regional Planning, and part of her charge was to assist Panhandle Twenty/20. With Charlotte’s help, a new expanded Board of Directors was put into place in October 2005, complete with by-laws and regular meetings. Anette Carlisle was Chair, and James Hallmark was Vice-Chair. Education, economy, health, livability, and civic engagement/government responsiveness were the categories of community issues they decided to explore.
Several small groups were formed to look at collaboration, livability, and inclusiveness, but though much discussion occurred, there was little traction to move Twenty/20 forward to action. The Steering Committee continued to have many discussions behind the scenes.
The Steering Committee organized and presented a day-long community event called: Panhandle Twenty/20…Focusing on the Future with presenters Dr. Steven Murdock, State Demographer, Kirk Humphreys, Oklahoma City Mayor, and John Stevens, Texas Business and Education Coalition CEO. Several hundred community members came together, listened and learned, and then participated in break-out groups generating issues for further study. The word “demographics” was heard regularly in the community in the ensuing months.
The question began to be asked, “Who is trying to understand and plan for our future?” The next question was, “Whose job is it, to plan for our future?” The answer was, “Everyone, and no one.” It seemed that the organizations really thinking long term in a more comprehensive manner than most were probably the educational institutions. A steering committee informally came together to explore this question. (The steering committee had representatives from the Amarillo Area Foundation, the Bivins Foundation, West Texas A&M University, Amarillo College, Amarillo ISD, the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, and Amarillo National Bank, among others.)
We look forward to working with all who are interested in making our community a better place!
~compiled by Gary Pitner and Anette Carlisle