Easy way to help an Austin kid go to college

College tuition varies—from $7,000 per year at a public, four-year college to $27,000 per year at a private four-year college—but no matter what type of college you choose, that amount adds up quickly. For many Austin students, it’s completely unaffordable.

Imagine working hard enough to be accepted for college only to realize you can’t actually afford college. This doesn’t have to happen. You can help!

Volunteers are needed to help families complete financial aid applications at Financial Aid Saturdays, here in Austin.

Volunteers at Financial Aid Saturday events provide personal assistance with filling out the FAFSA. Students and families can also bring other financial aid applications they need help with, including the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) and scholarship applications. It is our mission to help students secure the financial aid they need to go to college.

Events take place Saturdays (Feb 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5, 26) from 8:30 am – 12:30 p.m. at schools across Austin. They could sure use your help.

Just think: You could be the final push an Austin kid needs toward his college degree. Wow.


New data reports status of Austin community conditions

This is not good news.

From an email sent by the Community Action Network:

(BTW, CAN’s marking Poverty Awareness Month, y’all! Which begs the question, Do poor people really need to raise their awareness of poverty… and for a whole month? I think they’re painfully aware, thank you.)

Travis County Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs has released its 2009 Community Impact Report on Community Conditions. The report provides a general overview of how our community is doing with regard to basic needs, housing, workforce development, education, behavioral health and other areas in which Travis County invests funds for services.

A few highlights…
•    Since the beginning of 2009,  Austin Energy has received 75% more requests for utility assistance than for all of 2008.
•    In November 2009, 107,288 Travis County residents received food stamps, up 68% from January 2008.
•    Foreclosure postings in Travis County rose 110% from 3,482 postings in 2007 to 7,309 postings in 2009.
•    There was a 28% increase in visits to local emergency rooms by individuals presenting primarily with mental health issues between 2006 and 2008.
•    Between 2003 and 2008, the Austin MLS median home price rose by 22% and the average home price rose by 24%, but median family income increased only by 3%.

Austin Under 40 Awards

Do you know someone who has not yet turned 40, who has succeeded in their career and given back to the community by serving in extraordinary ways? If so, consider nominating that person for the Austin Under 40 Awards, an annual ceremony that benefits two very worthy causes, the Austin Sunshine Camps and the Young Women’s Alliance Foundation. You have until January 16, 2009, to nominate candidates for one of the eleven awards. Sponsors and donors also have an opportunity to be recognized for their contributions to the community. Get involved by visiting the Austin Under 40 website.

Announcing our YouTube channel…

I’m such a follower. But we have a few videos related to the next issue, and uploading to the ‘Tube is so much easier than uploading to WordPress. Plus, I need the self-gratification that comes with mastering a Web application and gaining new “friends” and “subscribers.” (I wish I were joking.) Please check out the channel, subscribe, befriend me, etc.

Last night I posted this video about Nicki Swann. She was on a couple of local TV newscasts lately because she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Nicki isn’t your average breast cancer patient, though (and if that’s insensitive to say, I apologize – forgive my clumsiness with words at the end of a long day).

Nicki is one of those women who do everything right – she exercises like a fiend, she eats organic and vegetarian, she steers clear of anything remotely unhealthy (save the occasional cupcake with sprinkles) and she is vigilant about seeing a doctor when something seems wrong. Her health is her calling card, so to say. And yet, this 24-year-old neuroscience grad student was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer earlier this year.

Not your usual breast cancer story, if there is such a thing. In talking to Nicki for a while and especially in reading her blog, I learned a lot about her and her approach to the disease. More than that, I learned a lot about how some of the small things about the disease can affect a young woman in a big way.

I asked what I always ask for GivingCity: “How can we help?” I think you’ll be surprised by her response.