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Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Pledges $625,000

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has pledged $625,000 over the next three years to support Austin Partners in Education’s College Readiness, Classroom Coaching, and Step-Up programs.

We are profoundly grateful for the foundation’s support. In the first year, funding will aid the College Readiness program expansion to Anderson, Eastside Memorial, and Reagan high schools, College Readiness curriculum development, and the Middle School Reading Classroom Coaching expansion to Martin and Covington middle schools.

Capital One Grants APIE $10,000

Capital One has pledged a $10,000 grant to support APIE’s Adopt-a-School Partner Portal (APP). APIE introduced the APP in 2012 in response to the growing number of AISD school needs for supplies and other resources.

APP is an online vehicle that enables schools to communicate their needs to the public. Through the APP, the community is able to access and review schools’ Wish Lists and determine if they can help meet those needs. The APP uses technology to connect the community to all AISD schools, improving their chance of obtaining the resources they need.

Thanks to Capital One for helping AISD schools and students!

Interested in browsing schools’ needs? Visit our APP!

Giving Thanks

Our team held a Thanksgiving celebration this week. It was the usual feast of the office potluck, with requisite over-eating.  One thing I am thankful for is to work in a group with so many “foodies.” The spread was both healthy and delectable.

We noted the myriad transitions that APIE has weathered this year and honored the many reasons we are thankful. We said farewell to seven team members in 2011, including Kathrin Brewer, APIE’s founding Executive Director. We are thankful to Kathrin for her vision of a mobilized community for education and her gifts as a connector. These have been vital to the success that APIE enjoys today. We welcomed nine new team members, including myself and are grateful for the expanded skills and capacity that each person brings to the APIE mission. This year we expanded our programs to new schools and grades, we stepped up our game on college readiness and we leveraged technology solutions to gain efficiencies across all of our offerings. We extended the conversation with our stakeholders through social media outlets. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as this blog.

We are profoundly grateful to our donors, for without them this work would not be possible. We are thankful for the 859 volunteers who give over 1000 hours a week in classroom coaching. We honor, as well the 700 mentors and 1500+ other volunteers who are enriching the educational experience for Austin ISD students. The heart and spirit of these volunteers infuse the APIE universe each day. They inspire us and sustain us.

2011 has been a transformational year for APIE. Yet, many things remain constant: the support of our managing partners, The Austin Independent School District and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; the passion of our staff and volunteers for the work we do in high need schools; the collaboration with more than 70 teachers whose classrooms we support; the sense of triumph every time a student experiences an academic achievement. For these things we are thankful.

In gratitude,

Pat Abrams

Executive Director

Thank You Volunteers!

The past few weeks, Pat has been sharing ideas about how to make coaching a more successful experience for both the volunteer and the students. We’re taking a break from that this week to let you know where we are with regard to this year’s recruitment.

We are thrilled to report we have 955 volunteers registered for this school year, and we’re not done! To each and every one of you – THANK YOU for your commitment to our schools, our teachers, our children and our community. We strive to create world-class programs where our volunteers keep coming back. We’re happy to see about half of our volunteers are returning from last year, or years prior.

While our stated goal for this year is 1,000 coaches, we could easily place another 200 beyond that. Our greatest needs right now are at Burnet and Webb Middle Schools for Reading, and Mendez Middle School for Math. If you can give one hour a week to any of these locations, please sign up at or, better yet, just call us at 637-0900 and we’ll help you get registered in less than three minutes.

If you have signed up, we’ve started training and you should have received an email inviting you to select your training schedule. The two hour sessions afford you some great take-aways. You’ll get your curriculum binder that gives you step-by-step instructions on best practices for engaging with your students. You’ll get tips from experts, and chances to ask questions to program coordinators. And, you’ll get the chance to meet other wonderful, caring adults who also decided to give an hour a week to Austin schools.

All of us at APIE work hard to make your choice of volunteering a delightful, positive experience, from our initial ask to your last coaching session. If there’s something you need from us that we’ve not provided, please email us at or call 512-637-0900 and let us achieve our goal of providing the best volunteer support anywhere.

Join us as we open classroom doors and children’s lives to new potential and new knowledge. We are so grateful for your time, we promise to make the best use of it.


Reading Aloud

When was the last time you stopped to think about the discreet steps involved in reading? For most of us, we read like we breathe. We don’t consciously will ourselves to inhale and exhale. Nor do we notice our cognitive processing of letters, sounds and meanings. Yet there is a specific progression of skill building that must be negotiated when learning to read. First comes the association of sounds to letters. Then the child learns to string sounds together to sound out words; remember “Hooked on Phonics?” The next step is to connect the words together in a fluid progression; and then finally, comprehension — understanding the meaning and ideas behind the connected words.

Reading fluency –  the ability to read connected text smoothly, rapidly, effortlessly and with appropriate expression –  is an essential building block in the development of strong readers. But for many students, the progression from focusing on individual words to fluent reading is a giant leap indeed. Learning differences, English language acquisition, even a lack of reading role models at home can impact a child’s ability to effectively negotiate this developmental step.

One instructional strategy that supports the development of reading fluency is reading aloud. Hearing a text read with appropriate speed and expression, while the student follows the text, provides the student with a model for reading effectiveness. Reading aloud with your student, allows the student to practice and copy proper pacing, while minimizing their apprehension about making mistakes. Finally, having your student read aloud on his/her own, forces the brain to hear, as well as see the words on the page. And hearing where they falter motivates self-correction, builds confidence and strengthens reading fluency.

Last year I coached two sixth grade girls who struggled to master fluency. One started the year by telling me she hated to read out loud. Week after week we read together, sometimes in unison, sometimes having them echo me, and sometimes they read aloud solo. In the middle of the year, they set a goal for themselves to record a book on CD. They selected the story they wanted to record and we practiced hard for 4 weeks, working on pacing, expression and smooth delivery. Finally the day came to record. They were giddy with expectation. At the end of the recording session we played it back. They were amazed and proud of what they had accomplished.

This year, through the generous funding of IMPACT Austin, our “Reading Stars” program will be offered in middle school classrooms, providing 6th graders a chance to make their own books on CD. These recordings will be distributed to elementary schools to encourage a love of reading and a model of strong middle school readers. Next time you’re reading with a young child, encourage them to read aloud.

Impact Austin Names APIE a Community Partner with $108,000 Reading Grant

We are excited to announce that Impact Austin has named Austin Partners in Education as a 2011 Community Partner! The grant award of $108,400 will allow us to empower more than 500 6th grade students to become stronger, more independent readers.  We will continue to serve Webb Middle School and will expand the program to another middle school over the next two years. Students will perfect their reading in the new Reading Stars program, and will bolster their fluency and vocabulary by creating their own book- on-tape. The recorded stories will be shared with children at a partner elementary school.

APIE is profoundly grateful for the support from Impact Austin and we are proud to be counted as a partner with this outstanding organization of women. We also thank our friends at Webb Middle School, especially Principal Ray Garcia, Asst. Principal Valerie Torres-Solis and the wonderful children who shared their Classroom Coaching experiences with our Impact Austin guests.

Our call for volunteers for 6th Grade Reading Classroom Coaching begins in August. Plan to participate in this exciting new opportunity by helping a middle school child in your community become a Reading Star.

We thank our founders, Austin Independent School District and Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and our other Webb programs funders: Applied Materials Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, KDK-Harman Foundation, and  Intel Corporation for their support in serving our students.

JPMorgan Chase Foundation Supports College Readiness with $100,000 Grant

We are pleased to announce that JPMorgan Chase Foundation has awarded Austin Partners in Education a $100,000 grant to fund our College Readiness Program. The Foundation support boosts our efforts to prepare a highly-educated workforce, and to move closer to the goal of all high school students graduating College Ready.

College Readiness is an in-school program that identifies, informs, advises, and tutors high school seniors who have achieved high enough test scores to be considered graduation ready, but not high enough to be College Ready according to the Texas Success Initiative. The program teams Austin Partners in Education (APIE) staff with Austin ISD staff.

This grant is just one example of JPMorgan Chase Foundation’s community building across the U.S.

The Foundation has a history of funding projects in community development; youth education; and arts and culture. They are particularly interested in funding these initiatives in low-income areas. Austin Partners in Education programs serve an audience of more than 80 percent economically disadvantaged.

To learn more about JPMorgan Chase Foundation initiatives please see the Community Partnership page of the JPMorgan Chase website. To learn more about the program being funded see our new Donor News page.

From all of us and the students we serve, thank you JPMorgan Chase Foundation!