Austin is an amazing city for many reasons: the abundance of sunny days, the live music history and artful culture, the friendly vibes from the locals, the plethora of breakfast taco choices … the list goes on and on. One of these reasons that especially stands out to us at HMG is the empathy that Austin residents have for others and the dedication to causes they’re passionate about. This city is a mecca for nonprofit organizations founded on selfless missions that benefit society in a large variety of ways. These entities play a strong role in shaping the culture of our city, and we believe they deserve a little extra recognition.
We’ve compiled a list of 15 of these organizations that were founded here in Austin and are doing some great things for our city and beyond.
The Inside Books Project collects donations of books and educational materials to send free-of-charge to inmates in the state of Texas. This one-of-a-kind program receives over 1,200 letters each month with requests for reading material from inmates, which IBP volunteers fulfill to the best of their ability. The IBP was founded upon research showing the benefits of literacy to inmates in their lives after serving time, and their mission is to “promote reading, literacy, and education” among incarcerated individuals.
The Trail Foundation works closely with the Austin Parks and Rec Department to maintain and constantly enhance the hike and bike trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake (or Lake Austin, if you will). Realizing the large impact these trails have in the lives of many Austinites, TTF gathers input and inspiration from these daily users to steer the focus of their projects. Using info gathered from their “Trail Memories” installment, the most recent improvements we can thank TTF for include the brand new Boardwalk opening June 7th, and the Heron Creek Restroom facilities.
It’s no secret that kids are prone to incentives, and this program does an excellent job of putting that trend to positive use. Marathon Kids works with parents and schools to help children set and achieve healthy lifestyle goals that inevitably allow them to live happier, healthier lives. Through their implementation of the 26.2 Mile Challenge, promotion of good nutrition habits, and supply of resources for motivation to families and schools, Marathon Kids has created an award-winning system that has quickly grown beyond Austin to other cities in Texas as well as Los Angeles.
Catering to Austin’s large population of musicians, this organization understands the reality of what it means to be a “struggling musician” or “starving artist” and works hard to help ease some of the pains and obstacles that come along with the lifestyle. By providing access to affordable healthcare to low-income, uninsured, working musicians, HAAM improves the lives of many while ultimately supporting the city’s economy in which the music industry plays a huge role.
Urban Roots encourages teens to get their hands dirty by offering paid internships that include work on their 3.5 acre farm in East Austin as well as educational programs and workshops that cover a variety of life-enhancing topics. This organization’s twofold mission creates young leaders in our community while increasing access to healthy food in Austin – 40% of their harvest gets donated to soup kitchens and food pantries. Sounds like a win/win.
An award-winning and nationally recognized organization, Austin Pets Alive! is one of the city’s most well-known nonprofits. It may have something to do with the thousands of cute animals they save each year or it may be something else, but all we know is that this group does an amazing job of not only helping a cause locally, but being a voice for others and setting an example that has caught on around the U.S. APA! is one of the nation’s leaders in the No-Kill movement, and one of my favorite places to donate some volunteer hours in my spare time.
Combining efforts of awareness, education, and aid, PBKTC seeks to build a mutually beneficial respect between drivers and cyclists on the road. This organization founded in Austin has a large-scale vision to motivate “global change in behavior” of both motorists and cyclists. We’ve recently had the pleasure of working with this great nonprofit on their latest public awareness campaign and website redesign, and can’t wait to reveal the finished product – stay tuned!
Austin Clubhouse is a program that supports the rehabilitation of adults living with mental health issues by providing work and volunteer opportunities as well as a place to develop meaningful relationships with others. By encouraging members to maintain a valuable role in their workplace and community at Austin Clubhouse, the nonprofit hopes that the acceptance and empowerment gained by their members will allow them to pursue personal goals and succeed in all other aspects of their lives as well.
Bet you didn’t know one of our city’s most sought-after photo ops was created as the jumping off point for a major local nonprofit. The Hope Outdoor Gallery (aka Castle Hill) is just one of many projects that the HOPE Campaign coordinates in their mission of “Connecting Creatives with Causes.” This organization helps producers, artist, musicians, and designers get involved with beneficial projects and other organizations worldwide.
In today’s digital age, technology is a driving force behind so many opportunities and daily functions of our lives. The team at Knowbility is dedicated to ensuring youth and adults with disabilities receive the same access to these beneficial resources as others. Focusing largely on IT accessibility education, Knowbility provides online and in-person resources for web designers and business owners to adopt these practices into their online offerings.
Clean, Beautify, Recycle, Educate and Recognize are the five outlets in which this nonprofit focuses their efforts toward making Austin the cleanest, most beautiful community it can be. This organization takes pride in the city they live in, and encourage others to do the same. For example, KAB offers a community tool lending library, The Tool Shack, where locals can rent the supplies they need to help Keep Austin Beautiful. KAB also has a strong volunteer force who just last year collected 65 tons of trash from Austin’s public spaces (that’s 65 elephants worth!). Pick up your trash y’all!
Recognized as the statewide voice for the nonprofit sector, the OneStar Foundation is a connector of nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and businesses. In their mission to build a “stronger nonprofit sector for a better Texas,” this group recognizes the benefit of linking the thousands of nonprofits that exist within this great state, and the potential impact that can be made by doing so. We were fortunate to work with OneStar on their latest website redesign, so we can tell you firsthand that their site is full of great resources – definitely worth a look!
The Thinkery is Austin’s Children’s Museum – revamped. Offering children and their families a fun and interactive environment for learning and creativity, this a community that “celebrates questions and discovery.” The Thinkery boasts rotating exhibits, workshops, summer camps, and community outreach programs to ensure every young learner has the opportunity to discover and grow.
Space12’s mission to bring Austinites together is achieved by providing a collaborative, co-working space that can be utilized by almost any cause that needs it (like The Inside Books Project). Located in East Austin, this multifunctional venue offers itself to pretty much anything you could need a space for: from a documentary screening to a wedding reception to a craft space, and everything in between. In addition to rentals for personal use, Space12 also curates an art gallery, hosts yoga classes, and was just voted “Best New Collaborative Art and Volunteer Space” by The Austin Chronicle.
This group shines a spotlight on Central Texas nonprofits and charities by featuring specific needs and connecting Texans with local causes they care about. I Live Here, I Give Here plays a huge role in the nonprofit sector by hosting the annual fundraiser, Amplify Austin, a community-wide day of giving with the goal of raising $4 million for local nonprofits in 24 hours. With the event just having passed in March, many of the above-mentioned organizations were able to benefit from the wildly successful campaign, and ILHIGH continues to pursue their mission to “make Central Texas a place where philanthropy lives.”
We know that there are hundreds upon hundreds of great nonprofits around the city making huge impacts in our community and beyond. This list is nowhere near exhaustive, and HMG wants to say big THANK YOU to each and every one of these organizations for everything they do. If you have a favorite local nonprofit you think we should know about, feel free to leave a comment below!