Austin’s Quality-of-Life Plan (QLP), called Austin Forward Together, is a set of goals created by and for the community designed to address 23 strategies with 84 total actions across 7 Issue Areas between 2019 and 2023: Community Narrative, Education, Housing, Youth Empowerment, Economic Development, Public Safety, and Civic Engagement.
Today, there are more than 40 dedicated volunteer members across seven Task Forces, one for each Issue Area. In partnership with ACT, these Task Forces have signed on over 50 unique organizations as Implementation Partners and have initiated more than 30% of the plan’s total actions so far!
In 2018, ACT’s ability to apply community-driven solutions to foster economic opportunity resulted in a $1 million Vital Communities grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Part of that investment is being utilized to support necessary infrastructure and the remainder is allocated to Core Members implementing activities in the plan. In 2019, $64,000 of those funds were distributed to Implementation Partners already working to accomplish some of the QLP Priority Actions.
We are proud to announce that eight organizations were selected during this last funding cycle, for which $181,848 total funds were distributed. Applicants were ACT Core Members who submitted the most thorough proposals for work that is primed and ready to happen now.
Our goal is to revitalize the image and spirit of Austin by promoting assets such as our historic housing, creating a healthy community and building a more robust environment for local arts and culture.
Funded Action: 3.4* Build a sense of community through activities such as creating and maintaining community gardens.
$21,848 will support the South Austin Neighborhood Association (SANA) in helping the recently created Austin Veterans Community Organization (AVCO) to engage with more Austin-area veterans and encouraging members of the community to take advantage of group therapy, peace circles, and meditation at the Veterans Peace Garden. Funding will also support members of the Austin Garden Collective who are working to maintain safe and beautiful spaces throughout Austin by volunteering in local gardens. Additionally, funds will assist with improvement and expansion of the physical structures in SANA’s Farm to Table Summer Community Garden, as well as support SANA in their efforts to create new educational programs around maximizing financial resources while maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle so residents can address food insecurity, financial strain, and worsening health.
Our goal is to collaborate and create programs that increase a sense of safety, community and quality of life to build a healthy and resilient neighborhood.
$20,000 will support the coordination and administration work of a project manager for BUILD Inc., as well as marketing and engagement efforts necessary to establish and launch Austin’s first Restorative Justice Community Court (RJCC). Restorative Justice is a philosophy that focuses on repairing the harm caused to people and relationships, aiming to humanize all those involved in a group or conflict. Value is placed on empathy, learning, collaboration, mediation, and the ability to have brave conversations.
Funded Action: 2.3* Expand outreach intervention programs that break the cycle of violence.
$25,000 will allow the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago (INVC) to take their pilot project, the Flip Forward Program, to the next level by focusing their attention on continuing to build relationships with their participants beyond the summer in order to connect and train them for more permanent work, all while providing therapy. Funds will also be used to support joint BUILD/INVC events and activities planned by peacemaker participants that will engage the community, promote peace, and bring resources to those who need them most. Collectively, these efforts will empower community residents who are involved with street organizations to use their influence to change the tide on specific neighborhood blocks.
Our goal is to create economic revitalization in Austin and by Austin. We will support new and existing local businesses, entrepreneurs, and the workforce; improve our commercial corridors; and attract new investment to build a stronger, more dynamic local economy.
Funded Action: 2.2* Expand and support local resources like bootcamps and apprenticeships in high demand economic sectors.
$20,000 will support West Side Forward’s efforts to implement their first 2020 Bootcamp. They will analyze what skills and supports Austin residents need, as well as what employers are seeking. Understanding the skills gaps of the Westside workforce will create a high-impact Bootcamp aimed at offering advanced training for those already employed. The Bootcamp will drive toward increasing West Side Forward’s capacity to serve 100 more Austin residents through individualized career guidance, leadership skill capability and short yet meaningful training experiences.
$20,000 will also be allocated to Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) for their pilot bootcamp that offers residents age 18-29 six weeks of technical training and youth development. Bootcamp participants will get exposure to basic mathematics, industrial safety, measurement and blueprint reading, maintenance, plant tours, and the Young Manufacturer’s Association Academy. The bootcamp provides the training necessary for Austin residents to earn a nationally recognized industry credential from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS). In addition, participants will be placed in a six-week paid internship at one of MR’s manufacturing company partners, the goal being to earn full-time permanent employment upon completion.
Funded Action: 2.3* Build a new Manufacturing Training Center in Austin.
$25,000 will aid Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) in the development and build-out of an intermediate training space at Freedman Seating. In fall 2019, JARC was unexpectedly asked to halt their manufacturing training and support services that had been operating at the Austin College & Career Academy since 2017. A temporary new facility for this important program means Austin residents will now have the chance to complete their training in welding and computer numerical control without leaving Austin while JARC lays the groundwork for their move into a state-of-the-art manufacturing center.
Our goal is for Austin to have healthier and more engaged youth who are able to reach their full potential.
Funded Action: 3.4* Create paths for youth interactions with mentors and role models.
$25,000 will provide staffing for St. Joseph Services’ Youth Mentoring Program, allowing them to increase the number of youth they serve. The program offers Austin’s young people a safe, mentoring environment that promotes education, peaceful conflict resolution, and positive behavior during times of increased violence. Funding will go towards two staff members who develop the curriculum, create lesson plans, maintain class schedules, and recruit youth into the Youth Mentoring Program at St. Angela’s Catholic School in Austin.
Our goal is for our local educational system and partners to provide the services, opportunities and support to help all our students stay on track, enrich their education and serve their needs, from early childhood through high school to job and career readiness.
$25,000 will be used for VOCEL’s Child Parent Academy which provides 20 participants with a leading expert-facilitated Parent/Caregiver discussion group, child-parent classes, and child-only classes every week to support the healthy development of Austin youth and families.