Austin’s quality-of-life plan, called Austin Forward. Together (AFT), 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 2024: Community Narrative, Education, housing, Youth Empowerment, Economic Development, Public Safety, and Civic Engagement.

Today, there are more than 45 dedicated volunteer members across seven Task Forces, one for each Issue Area. In partnership with ACT, these Task Forces have signed on over 70 unique organizations as implementation partners and together have initiated more than 40% of the plan’s total actions so far!

One of the many ways ACT helps catalyze local development is by working to attract investments in the Austin community as a whole. To that end, ACT has secured funds from several sources that desire to support AFT.

In 2018, ACT’s ability to apply community-driven solutions to foster economic opportunity resulted in $1 million Vital Communities grant from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Part of that investment was utilized to support necessary infrastructure and the remainder was allocated to ACT Core Members implementing activities in the plan.

We are proud to announce these nine organizations were selected during this last funding cycle, for which $150,131 total funds will be distributed.


The goal of the Economic Development Task Force 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: Expand and support local resources like bootcamps and apprenticeships in high demand economic sectors.

Austin women make candles at Bright Endeavors, a workforce training program through New Moms. photo by Anjali Pinto

$12,500 will support New Moms‘ job training and job-readiness program that includes career planning and coaching on critical life and parenting topics for young, unemployed women ages 16-24 in Austin, many of whom face homelessness or have dropped out of school. The program has been in place since 1996, and over the past 5 years, has placed 378 young moms into permanent employment, of which 57% have retained employment for 12+ months, and 70% increased their educational levels while enrolled.

FUNDED ACTION: Expand and support local resources like bootcamps and apprenticeships in high demand economic sectors.

$16,891 will be allocated to Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) for their Young Manufacturers Association Career Pathway Services program that offers ten weeks of technical training and career development for Austin residents aged 18-29 to start a living-wage career in the high-demand manufacturing industry. Participants also receive professionalism training, job interview coordination and placement, job retention supports, and on-the-job coaching.

FUNDED ACTION: Build a new Manufacturing Training Center in Austin

$14,000 will help Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) continue their manufacturing training programming. JARC’s training in welding and computer numerical controls means more residents, many of whom are justice-involved or experiencing housing insecurity, can increase their capacity to provide for their families and invest in their community.


The goal of the Public Safety Task Force is to collaborate and create programs that increase a sense of safety, community and quality of life to build a healthy and resilient neighborhood.

FUNDED ACTION: Increase restorative justice activities in the community.

$22,500 will allow BUILD Inc. to make more Restorative Justice (RJ) activities available to Austin. Creating a greater sense of community among residents will mitigate conflict, address injustice and trauma, deter crime and violence, and generate resident buy-in for RJ, a philosophy that focuses on repairing harm with value placed on empathy, learning, collaboration, mediation, and the ability to have brave conversations. Funds will also help recruit and train youth, residents, and community partners as Restorative Justice Community Ambassadors/Advocates and Circle Keepers.

FUNDED ACTION: Engage and connect neighbors.

Austin community members build fellowship at nonviolence trainings and summits hosted by Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and Hope Community Church.]

$16,500 will allow the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and Hope Community Church to expand their public safety work. Funds will help train residents in Nonviolence Principles and Steps to better prepare them for peacekeeping activities and to build relationships with street outreach workers and high-risk individuals, encouraging greater inter-generational social cohesion and helping break the cycle of violence.


The goal of the Education Task Force is 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.

FUNDED ACTION: Improve the early learning environment in Austin by helping providers become accredited and more deeply prepared for child development.

$20,000 will help Austin Childcare Providers Network provide academic assistance for ten early care professionals as they pursue higher education to become eligible for child care credentials.


The goal of the Community Narrative Task Force 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: Build a sense of community through activities such as creating and maintaining community gardens.

$16,740 will fund South Austin Neighborhood Association (SANA)‘s Veterans Peace Garden; monthly meetings of the Austin Veterans Community Organization; the Farm-To-Table Summer program; and the Austin Garden Collective. SANA helps create and maintain environments that foster health and wellness through events that engage residents in safe green spaces.

FUNDED ACTION: Bridge the gap between residents’ experiences and how they reflected by media outlets.

$16,000 will support the expansion of the Austin Has the Mic (AHTM) training program, a collaboration between Westside Health Authority and BUILD. AHTM will teach 20 Austin youth the basics of broadcasting, videography, photography, and journalism in order to cultivate strong relationships and amplify resident voices through multiple mass media platforms. The program empowers youth to lead social media campaigns that include a weekly podcast to promote and discuss issues like social injustice in Austin.


Youth from St. Angela’s Catholic School in Austin enjoy painting as part of St. Joseph Services’ Youth Mentoring Program.

The goal of the Youth Empowerment Task Force is for Austin to have healthier and more engaged youth who are able to reach their full potential.

FUNDED ACTION: Create paths for youth interactions with mentors and role models.

$15,000 will support staffing for St. Joseph Services Youth Mentoring Program at St. Angela’s Catholic School which provides a safe mentoring environment to teach youth the crucial life, social, and emotional skills needed to cope with trauma, peacefully resolve conflicts and sustain positive behaviors. Plus, successful Austin professionals are brought in as guest speakers to inspire youth.