This year I celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Kalen McGuire Birth Independence in Cape Town, South Africa.
In a township of the Western Cape called, Langa, 80+ minority students from UT had dinner in the home/restaurant of a matriarch of the Langa community. She made you feel at home. She fed you. And she greeted you not only in English but in iSixhosa, her native tongue! The atmosphere was perfect, that alone can make an African-American young man (me) cry tears of belonging!
Working in the townships such as Steinberg, Capricorn, Lavender Hills, and Green Pop was gratifying and humbling. From conducting a photography workshop that introduced a storytelling tool to 10 year olds who cannot afford primary school, to the serving of: warm shredded chicken, cut carrots, celery, lentils, rice all amalgamated in chicken stock, to the village of 37 families who were thrown out of their apartments to sleep outside in plastic tents on cold rainy nights, ranging in ages of 7th month year old babies to 50+ year old grandmothers. Like I said work was gratifying and humbling.
A filled auditorium of Sullivan Primary School students was at my attention. I had the privilege of uplifting and schooling them behind the importance of their own narrative + passion + education = to the reaching their big dreams!
Last but not least, it has been an honor study under VP Dr. Leonard Moore, and to study at the #1 University in Africa!
Every year A Glimmer of Hope Austin (AGOH) grants up to $20,000 each to local nonprofits. These grants are social seed capital for innovative programs that support our Austin communities.
The BLF Foundation is honored to be an awardee of the AGOH Austin grant, joining the AGOH family of grantees. We are thankful to Phillip, Donna, David, Salwa, and team for their investment in our mentorship program to help low-income, first generation students receive professional development to help them successfully graduate college and become leaders in communities and careers!
About A Glimmer of Hope Foundation
In 2000, husband and wife team Philip and Donna Berber founded A Glimmer of Hope Foundation to tackle issues of water sanitation, health care and education access in one of the world’s poorest countries, Ethiopia. Philip Berber had recently sold his online trading company CyBerCorp to Charles Schwab Corp. and the couple decided to set up an endowment for international development.
In 2003, while deeply devoted to their work in Ethiopia, the Berbers recognized the need within their own community of Austin, where nearly one in five residents live in poverty. In particular, they saw the potential of empowering innovative grassroots nonprofits that were already taking initiative and often using money from their own pockets to provide much needed services to the underserved in their communities. A Glimmer of Hope Austin (affectionately called Glimmer Austin) was born with a commitment to support these startup groups. Since then, Glimmer Austin has distributed over $5 million in grants. Our team has sourced, done the due diligence, mentored and groomed over 140 nonprofits and programs – benefiting nearly 100,000 Austin residents.
We are elated to announce an addition to our Board of Advisors, with the introduction of Derrick Lesnau. Derrick brings experience in the nonprofit sector, serving many years with the Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas as the Chief Operations Officer. We are excited and happy to have Derrick’s insight and guidance in our Foundation’s program development.
Derrick Lesnau's Bio
Derrick Lesnau is the Chief Operating Officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas (RMHC CTX) and moved to Austin in 1999 to attend The University of Texas. RMHC CTX provides lodging & support services to families of pediatric patients receiving treatment at Austin area medical centers.
With over 12 years of experience in the Austin non-profit community, Derrick has served organizations such as Young Men’s Business League, Austin Young Chamber, March of Dimes, Young Texans Against Cancer and others. Derrick holds a BS in Social Work and is a community advocate who strives to help those who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. Derrick is a graduate of the 2017 Essentials Class of Leadership Austin and currently serves on the Resource Management Commission for the City of Austin, representing District 1.
The Austin Mosaic Awards organizers announced the 20 finalists who have excelled in diversity and inclusion, with BLF Foundation being listed as a finalist!
The 20 companies were chosen from a pool of 37 and will be recognized for their efforts to make Austin’s business space more inclusive. Companies will be recognized in categories such as “Best Tech Company” and “Best Inclusive Workspace.”
Judges chose the finalists based on the work the companies do, their culture and business practices. Judges also considered the company’s internal and external support of diversity and inclusion, and the impact of their actions within the space.
With much excitement and pleasure, we are announcing a new Board of Advisor, Dr. Carolyn Lightfoot. With an extensive background in Education, we look forward to having Dr. Lightfoot help guide our Foundation to make further impacts for countless college students.
Dr. Carolyn Lightfoot's Bio
Mentor, visionary and native Houstonian, Dr. Carolyn Lightfoot most impressive quality is her personal passion for her work and desire to both meet and exceed a high standard for service to students and the community. Gary McCormack, Vice President, Planning and Technology and Special Assistant to the President at the University of St. Thomas said “that Dr. Lightfoot’s intelligence, personality and experience enable her to establish genuine connections with constituents and that she is a rare individual whose honesty and personal integrity are evident in all situations.” Dr. Lightfoot presently serves as Chief Information Officer for Lee College. She oversees an annual budget of more than $5 million for the operation of Information Technology. As Chief Information Officer, Dr. Lightfoot is responsible for working with faculty, students and staff in development and implementation of the technology strategic vision at Lee College. Dr. Lightfoot is also a University Lecturer having taught Database Design and Logistics Operations in the College of Technology at the University of Houston Main Campus. Dr. Lightfoot previously worked for Computer Sciences Corporation as a Computer Scientist and Oracle Database Administration (DBA) for NASA Johnson Space Center Houston. She performed duties as the database administrator for various projects at Computer Sciences Corporation and for the Research Institute for Computing and Information Systems (RICIS) in collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. RICIS addressed research areas in software support systems, medical imaging and mission and safety critical systems.
Dr. Lightfoot is a recipient of the EDUCAUSE Jane N. Ryland Fellowship. Dr. Lightfoot and Lee College Information Technology Division were awarded the Association for College and University Telecommunications Administrators (ACUTA) Institutional Excellence in Information Technology award, ACUTA’s most prestigious award for excellence and professionalism in Information Technology for the Chambers County Community Network (CCCnet). She received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni award from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a recipient of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Group Achievement Award for Ground Systems/Software Production Facility Support for Space Station Freedom-Johnson Space Center. She was an honoree for the 2015 Educators’ Ball from the Ivy League Foundation of Houston. Also in 2015, she was invited to speak at the College of the Mainland Distinguished Women in STEM fields. She was highlighted in 2012 by the President of Lee College in the Lee College Report to the Community as one of top ten employees that go “above and beyond to motivate students to excel.” She is the Founder and Conference Chair of the Lee College Innovation in Teaching and Learning Technology Conference that provides a forum for educators to share effective and innovative teaching and learning models. The annual Innovations conference showcases and awards excellence and innovation in instructional technology that positively impacts student academic success. She is a member of the governing body for the annual Texas Technology Summit in Houston at NRG Reliant Center. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the Texas A&M University-Central Texas (formerly University of Central Texas), Master’s degree at the University of Houston – Clear Lake, and Doctoral degree from the University of Houston – Main Campus.
In 2017, Dr. Lightfoot received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) award that promotes and celebrate excellence in teaching, learning and leadership at community and technical colleges. In her NISOD statement she said, “her passion is to create and sustain engaging learning spaces, where students and faculty can easily communicate, collaborate and celebrate their amazing success! Empowering students for lifelong learning beyond the classroom requires team excellence, smart innovations, and analytical agility to drive forward mission-critical student success initiatives.” Also in 2017, Lee College Information Technology received the Cloud Leadership Award from E&I Cooperative Services. Dr. Lightfoot currently serves as an Advisor for the Monica Boyd Literacy Foundation whose mission is to improve the writing and math skills of elementary school children who are struggling in those disciplines. Dr. Lightfoot worked with the Urban League and Barrett Station Riley Chambers Community Center in Crosby Texas several years ago to develop computer training curriculum for individuals on welfare so they could be integrated into the work force. She has served as Chairperson of the Houston Space Center Oracle Users Group (HSC-OUG), selected as a Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, served on several church committees at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and worked as a Sunday School youth teacher, Co-Founder Thespians, Career Day Founder/Chairperson, Chair of the Mt. Zion’s Women’s Day Conference in 2012 and currently serves as a board member of the Mount Zion Community Foundation. For the past several years, she has taught teen girls each summer during Vacation Bible School (VBS).
She was elected University of Houston Clear Lake Alumni President in 1996 and served in various capacities including Membership Chair and Chairperson of UHCL Art Festival that recognized exceptional Art faculty. During her time as UHCL Alumni President organization funds went over $100,000. Dr. Lightfoot is a Lifetime Member of University of Houston Clear Lake Alumni Association. In the community, she currently serves on the Community Crime Watch Committee, Community Women’s group and has previously served as a board member of Bay Area Women’s Shelter in Clear Lake and Baytown. In her spare time, Dr. Lightfoot interests are art, jazz, interior design, TEDTalks, gardening and architectural and nature photography.
Congratulations Davionne Needom on her acceptance to the Integrated Master’s of Public Accounting Program at UT
Congratulations to Davionne Needom, 2018 Susan Moore-Fontenot Honorary Scholarship Winner and Class of 2018 Developing Future Leaders Mentorship Program, on her recent acceptance into the iMPA program at UT. We are excited that she will be able to graduate with both her bachelors and masters degree across as 5 year time span while attending UT!
About The Integrated MPA Program
The integrated MPA (iMPA) is a 5-year program designed for current McCombs undergraduates. iMPA students earn a BBA degree in accounting and a Master in Professional Accounting degree. Students save both time and money by taking several graduate courses at undergraduate tuition rates.
Our Spring Fundraiser: Chef Martin “Heartburn” Eason of Desire Catering 1st Annual Kickback Charity Crawfish Boil Benefiting The BLF Foundation
Welcome to the Inaugural Crawfish Boil benefit, hosted by Desire Catering!
Each year Desire Catering will host a charity cooking event that will benefit a local nonprofit. This year Desire Catering has partnered with the BLF Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the retention, development, and graduation of minority college students in Central Texas. Come enjoy a taste of Chef Heartburn’s culinary skills.
Desire Catering aims to create an authentic experience that can’t be felt anywhere!
In addition to providing amazing food, we will also be taking donations to be entered in the raffle. Ticket purchases will also contribute to the overall donation to the BLF Foundation. The prize for the raffle will be dinner for 4 people at home catered by Desire Catering. Winner will have a choice of 1 of 3 planned menu ideas at their home.
We are excited for our students who are taking the opportunity to develop career experiences through internships. Many of our students will be learning new skills working for various employers across the county this summer. Here are a few of the students and internship opportunities they will be involved in this summer.
Class of 2017
Amie Jean, Management Consulting Fellowship – Strategy Team at Thelan Inc.
Camron Goodman, Finance Intern at Dimensional Fund Advisors
Class of 2018
Ethany Thomas, Advisory with the Internal Audit Risk Consulting Group at KPMG
Nkele Nkele, Legislative Intern at Texas House of Representatives
Amarachi Ngwakwe, Website Designer and Social Media Intern at Fund a Future
Adraint Bereal, Art Director Intern at Baker Agency
Azja Stanton, Finance Intern at Bank of America
Taylor Edwards, Legislative Intern for Congressman Bill Flores
Thianny Gonzalez, Launch Intern at Ernest Young
Davionne Needom, Assurance Launch Intern at Ernest Young
Joshua Nyangon, IT Audit and Assurance Summer Associate at KPMG US
Ore Tobun, Senior Student Assistant for Univeristy of Texas ITS
The BLF Foundation has joined BBVA Compass’ Compass for Cause Program, which enables you to help us support countless college students through our programs. With your every day spending through your checking account, proceeds will go back to the BLF Foundation. To join the program, the steps are as followed:
- Open a new BBVA Compass checking account* and tell your BBVA Compass Banker to apply our organization code listed below. BBVA Compass will pay the BLF Foundation a $50 royalty for opening your account.
- Opt for for a BBVA Compass Visa Debit Card tied to your account. BBVA Compass will pay us a royalty of 0.25% of the purchase amount of every signature-based purchase you make with your card.* You can even show your support every time you use your check card by customizing the card with our logo!
Already a customer at BBVA?
If you are already a BBVA Compass customer, simply tell your banker to update your account to include the BLF Foundation’s code. You can also do this by calling 1-800-COMPASS or at any BBVA Compass Banking Center. When you participate in the program you will also be eligible for the Compass Bonus BankingSM program which offers you opportunities to save more on all your banking needs. Make sure you ask your BBVA Compass representative about the program.