Thursday, December 14, 2006

Crystal Award!

I just received notification that we have been recognized as 2007 Partnership Winners by the Texas Association of Partners in Education! We have been recognized with the Crystal Award, which is the highest award, in the category of Collegiate Partnerships. For more information check out All the districts we work with were included in the nomination, but the committee awarded us in particular for our work in a small district, Snyder ISD. The award itself will be presented in late January at an awards dinner. I'll make sure to post a picture.

Meanwhile, congratulations to our 1,700 children and their parents, as well as the 72 home visitors, 18 coordinators and the Texas HIPPY Staff here at UNT!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Texas Parent Child Initiative

(l-r) Lynn Goldstein, Mary Greene, Carla Weir, Frances Guzman

Friday was a milestone day for HIPPY in the Lone Star State! The Texas Parent Child Initiative was established to support and seek funding for HIPPY in Texas. After an 18 year presence, Texas HIPPY has grown into its own non-profit organization. This does not change our wonderful relationship with the University of North Texas or the Texas HIPPY Advisory Council. It does however allow the Board of Trustees of the newly established Texas Parent Child Initiative to fundraise, seek foundation grants and otherwise promote HIPPY and other parent child initiatives in Texas.

Founding Board Members are Frances Guzman (Board President, and staff member at the Intercultural Development Research Association); Lynn Goldstein (Board Treasurer and member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Dallas Section); and Mary Greene (Board Secretary, and KERA Director of Outreach). They named me, Carla Marie Weir as the Executive Director.

Thank you to Frances, Lynn and Mary for making the idea a reality, and to Janet Wright, attorney at Dell, Inc. for providing pro-bono legal services to establish the Texas Parent Child Initiative.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Doing some reading

A few months ago I attended a Resources Now! Conference and got a lot out of it (it was put on by: It really revved up my thinking in terms of sustainability and diversification of funding. One of the benefits of the conference was that each participant received a subscription to the Chronicle of Philanthropy--it has been impossible to keep up with reading it, but the ones I have read have given me a lot of great information and ideas. That's where I read reviews of two books I've since purchased, and am now reading "Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes", by Katya Andresen, and another book "Fundraising Basics". I'm not quite finished with the Robin Hood book, but so far it is EXCELLENT! Here's a good summary on another blog:

As a result of all this input over the past months, these are some of the ideas to follow up on:

  • Developing a donor base of small and larger donations
  • Putting on one or more "doable" fundraisers, such as events
  • Developing one or more corporate partnerships
  • Writing corporate or foundation grants
I'm in the incubation phase still, lots of thinking and planning, but I'm going to have to break out of this or else I'll just get stuck here. Also, time is an issue, if we don't get our AmeriCorps funding, the state office will not be funded for next year. So, with the leadership of the Advisory Council, as well as the newly forming "Texas Parent Child Initiative" non-profit, we can begin to move forward with some of these plans.
I'm always amazed that after 18 years working in HIPPY, this job can still be new to me. I'm always learning, always being challenged. This new venture is truly making me step out of my comfort zone. It's very exciting, a little scary, and definitely a move in the right direction. That's what "doing some reading" can do to you...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Going backwards and forwards

In the past few weeks we've been closing out financial and programmatic reports from as far back as 2003! We have also been reporting on our evaluation and outcome objectives from 05-06. And most recently, before, during and after the audit of 04-05 and 05-06, we've been preparing information for the 2007-2010 grant application! Yikes, we are truly bending time, going backwards and forwards simultanously...

Well, the grant is due as a hard copy in Austin on Monday, December 4, and then in e-grants about 10 days later. After that, we can refocus on the present, and cross our fingers for the future...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

3 Day Audit

(from the left - Joe and Marsela from Irving HIPPY, and Ariel from OneStar Foundation)

Ariel of the OneStar Foundation conducted a 3 day fiscal audit that ended today! Whew! It's always a little nerve-wracking to be audited, but it's part of what you expect when you receive government funding. We learned a lot, mostly little things that we need to do in the future to keep our documentation sparkling!!!! It was nice to have the opportunity to take Ariel on-site to a program so she could see some of HIPPY in action. Thanks so much Marsela and Joe in Irving for sharing your program with Ariel.

Now it's time to get back to the work of submitting our grant for the next 3 years, recruiting and training new members, planning the HIPPYCorps Rally in February, the Regional Conference in April, etc.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


(Lilly, always smiling and ready to help out the Texas HIPPY Center!)

Good things happen to us at Texas HIPPY. This past year one of the great things that happened to us was that we partnered with AARP. This resulted in Lilly being placed in our office for 20 hours per week, paid for by AARP! This meant we had an extra set of hands and the opportunity to take advantage of Lilly's lifetime of skills as an administrative assistant. Lilly recently moved onto another position and we'd like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge all her help, positive attitude and support! We'll miss you Lilly!

Carla, David and Susan at the Texas HIPPY Center, UNT

Saturday, October 28, 2006

One step closer

(The Texas HIPPY Team, August 2006 Coordinator Retreat)

This week I learned that our concept paper for 3 more years of AmeriCorps funding was approved and we have been invited to submit a full proposal. I'm not sure how many people were turned down, but it's a good feeling to know we have a chance. Next week we'll receive the full instructions and application and begin working on it.

It's always a busy time to add this monumental task, but this is as good a time as any. Most of the begining of the year training has already happened and the year is well underway. We'll also be applying for money to other funding sources because if we don't we'll have to close our doors!

In all my years in education, going on 20, I've always operated on "soft monies" ie. specific grants that could and do disappear. When the grant is over, your services are no longer needed, you don't have a job, the program is over!! That's never happened to me, there have always been other sources of funding that came in, but nevertheless there's always a scary moment when you are very unsure about your future and the future of everything you have built. I'm there right now.

I think the important thing is not to let that immobilize you. My focus is not only to get the AmeriCorps funding but other, additional money so that we can grow and expand. That's why having the new program in Laredo is so exciting and affirming. Knowing that we can continue to grow and to make an ever increasing difference. So, with the end of our 3 year grant cycle, I'm focusing on being one step closer to growth, not closure.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Changes at HIPPY USA

Today I learned that the Board of Trustees at HIPPY USA has decided to move the national office from New York City to Little Rock Arkansas! Elisabet's resignation, taking effect in September, was the begining of major changes. I am relieved that a decision has been made and we can move forward. The sad thing is that there are many staff members who will probably decide to not make the move because of their ties to NY.

I have no doubt that in the long run the national network will greatly benefit from the resources and support available from Arkansas Children's Hospital where HIPPY USA will be located. I'm sure we will all have to be flexible and creative in the interim as the transition happens. There are so many things that are always in process that will be affected: new program development, national conference planning, support to local programs, contracts, MIS questions, etc.

My hope is that this move will bring a new era of revitalization, growth and success to HIPPY.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How much more convincing do we have to be?

I've been working on the Case Statement today, that means reading through reams of studies, cost-benefit analyses, research summaries. It's so overwhelmingly clear that involving parents of young children in specific and intense school readiness activities makes a huge difference. A difference that lasts and that saves society money and heartache. I feel happy and sad, vindicated and defeated, optimistic and exhausted...The good thing is that the evidence is so clear and compelling. I am having no problem whatsoever finding research and data to support HIPPY.

For example:

  • Poverty in Texas increased from 42% in 2000 to 56% in 2005
  • Preschool services for 3 year olds in Texas went down by 24% last year, with only 4.1% of children served, and only 46% of 4 year olds served
  • Cost of Pre-K in Texas is $2,707 per child
  • Cost of HIPPY in Texas is $1,050 per child
  • 66% of children were deemed "ready for school" according to Kindergarten Teachers
  • 93% of HIPPY children were rated "Ready for School" in terms of Classroom Behavior, by their Kindergarten Teachers
  • 90% of HIPPY children were rated "Ready for School" in terms of their Classroom Adaptability, by their Kindergarten Teachers
What's exhausting is that even though the evidence is there, the support still needs to be built. Oh well, making a difference, however I can....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Trainer's Retreat

I just finished attending 3 days of meeting and training with the State Directors and HIPPY USA National Trainers. Wow! It's always so much fun to reconnect with this group of wonderful, wild and wise women (and one man, don't think I forgot you Dabaram!) who have and continue to make a difference! Change is inevitable and there are lots of them coming up! We have an interim Executive Director, Sandee Bennett, and the board is looking for a permanent executive director and mapping out the future of our organization. More than ever there are lots of questions, lots of unknowns, and many ideas of what could/should be done!

We got a lot done, although we didn't reach consensus (how could we with so many opinionated and strong personalities, myself included!). We did ALL AGREE that the only way the new process for the SAVI and Adaptations will work is if we respect each other's committment and professional judgement, go in with an open mind and communicate with each other about visits. (At least, that's what I came away with...) I really like how the three days ended, with many of us giving testimonials on our committment to HIPPY, to the national office, and wanting to do more to help and support HIPPY become stronger than ever.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cauliflower Ear

Today I was on the phone all day. I had three long conference calls, one at 10am, one at 12:00 and the last at 3:00. ear started to feel flat and I wondered what kind of effect it has on your brain to just listen to a tiny and tinny voice all day....The thing is, all three of the calls were so absorbing that I didn't have the time to multi task and work on the computer or check email at the same time.

Having three conference calls in one day is another reminder to me of how important technology has become in our jobs, and in education it's probably less prevalent than in the corporate world. I remember when I first started working at DISD as the parent involvement coordinator and then HIPPY coordinator, back in 1988...It took a while for me to even get a phone assigned to me, any contacts I made were done in PERSON! Wow...and after more than a year I got a computer!!! woo-hoo...the thing is, we were WAY ahead of the curve, compared to many other departments...My first computer was mac desktop and I used it to basically make fliers and write letters.

I know we are a lot more productive now, we generate more documents, share more information with more people, etc. When I do go out though, when I make a site visit, shake someone's hand, give someone a hug, look them in the eye and talk one on one...THAT's when I feel like I'm really making a difference. I hope that never changes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dog and Kitty City

I've had time to reflect a wee bit on a great experience we had yesterday! We did a collaborative service project and swearing in together with YMCA MAAP AmeriCorps, Habitat AmeriCorps and Red Cross AmeriCorps. It was so much fun to get a hands on project done together and to see 70 people put their hands to work for such a wonderful cause. Within the chaos of working in 12 teams we started or completed sheetrocking a water damaged room, repainting the hallway, scraping doors for repainting, replacing two corners of the water damaged mansard roof, landscaping maintenance of the front yard, and had a lot of fun walking dogs, petting cats and enjoying pizza and camraderie.

We heard from Felisha, the volunteer coordinator there today, and she says "I am still physically (and emotionally) recovering from yesterday's big event, but did not want this day to end without sending you all my
heartfelt thank you. We're so grateful for your efforts to get us started on this renovation project. A great big Bow WOW and Meow WOW from the furry friends." Her closing remarks yesterday were so moving and reminded us that there is so much good to be done in the world!

Check out the link below and see our swearing in ceremony:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Multi-tasking away...

There are so many things going on right now, overlapping and competing with each other. We're closing down 05-06, starting up 06-07, and in planning mode for 07 through 10! It's exhilirating and overwhelming. Most exciting right now are the expansions we're working on, Laredo and Fort Worth. It's always energizes me to see a program start up or grow. It's such a feeling of hope, knowing that you can help a new program "start right".

Another thing in the mix right now is that tomorrow is our collaborative Swearing In and Service Project. We're going to be working on the renovation of the Humane Society, as a collaborative effort with Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross and YMCA.

We're excited! It will be our second year of doing a shared swearing in and it's really fun for our members and so rewarding for us to get something visibly done in one day! I'll let you know tomorrow!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Something New

It's a good time to start a blog! It's been 3 years and we're up for competitive again. This means that we are competing with everyone else who wants AmeriCorps funding. I am hoping that I made the right decision to recompete this year and not take the carrot last year when it was offered. The way I saw it, this allowed me another year of funding, last year and the three next years. The ones who competed last year shorted themselves one year of their three year cycle. It's complicated...

I just came back from Laredo last week and it's up and running. Two years ago we were approached by a private donor who wanted to provide funds for starting up HIPPY in Laredo. He's a native Laredoan who has lived in Israel his adult life and wants to give back to his community! Two years and many emails, phone calls and visits later it's a reality!!!! The picture above is of Jesse and Esther, the Laredo team implementing the program, Mendel who has donated funds to start HIPPY, and Richard who works at Texas A&M International University and was closely involved with all the logistics of starting up!

That's all for now--I need to work on the grant application!