The two issues that have been the major focus areas of Panhandle Twenty/20 are:
- Improving educational attainment, and
- Reducing poverty.
Education and poverty are interconnected, both in our region, in Texas, and beyond. When discussing one, the other issue is close behind, and are woven together very tightly. Our community has realized this for some time, and works to bring that intersection to the forefront, so we can address it head on and realistically.
We launched our first community study on the Economic Implications of Educational Attainment in 2006, and released our first report, The Panhandle Imperative, in 2007. Out of that study came a number of new initiatives, the first of which were highlighted in A Community in Action, released in 2008.
In 2010, understanding that one of the biggest barriers to educational attainment was the issue of poverty, we began a focus on poverty as well. We learned of the work of Dr. Donna Beegle, and held our first Opportunity Conference in the fall of 2010. Our community has now held three Opportunity Conferences. We do poverty training for a variety of groups, churches, institutions, and more. The Navigator Neighbor work we began in our community was embraced by Cal Farley's, and now serves over 1000 families.
During this time, our community was fortunate to receive a Bill and Melinda Gates Partners for Postsecondary Success grant, with the Amarillo Area Foundation being the lead organization for the grant. This work built heavily on the previous work of Panhandle Twenty/20, and has incorporated a number of our initiatives into its work that is now the No Limits No Excuses initiative. Panhandle Twenty/20 is proud to be a partner in this work.
We continue to work with nonprofits, educational institutions, faith-based organizations, civic groups, individuals, and businesses to try and grow our educational levels, while we work to reduce our growing poverty numbers. Our 2012 report, Our Community, Our Canvas, gives a good overview of some our partners in this effort. We need all hands on deck to make a difference.