As we approach the year’s end, we are looking back at achievements and challenges overcome in 2021. Here are 10 highlights that made an impact on our work in the past year:
No. 10: Responding to Winter Storm Uri
In February, Texans collectively endured the deep freeze of Winter Storm Uri, which left millions without basic utilities and resulted in the devastating loss of life and property. But amidst the turmoil and lack of infrastructure, grassroots efforts of neighbors helping neighbors emerged throughout the state that truly demonstrated the resilience and generosity of Texans. Recognizing the power of hyperlocal efforts, we made it our goal to amplify these organizations and groups and direct attention and funding to those on the front lines who were best attuned to community needs.
No. 9: Launching the new OneStar website
OneStar launched a new website in March to reflect our revitalized purpose and programs. Intended as a hub for taking action and securing resources, the platform is mobile-responsive and reflects the many ways that Texans can engage in their communities by joining AmeriCorps, volunteering, advocating for the nonprofit sector, donating to vulnerable communities, and more. We were also able to more prominently feature the work of our partners with grantee directories and encourage storytelling and insight sharing on our blog.
No. 8: Launching VolunteerTX
In commemoration of National Volunteer Month in April, we launched VolunteerTX, an online volunteer connector platform that aggregates service opportunities statewide. This digital hub relies on the partnership of volunteer centers around the state to create infrastructure on a regional scale and gives Texans an accessible starting point to take action. VolunteerTX provides an interactive foundation upon which we can build future campaigns to promote volunteerism statewide in the months ahead.
No. 7: Expanding AmeriCorps in Texas
In June, AmeriCorps announced that it would be directing $1 billion American Rescue Plan resources to address the ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this exciting expansion, OneStar opened two notices of funding this fall to give Texas nonprofits and organizations access to these valuable national service resources and encourage the development of AmeriCorps programs as an effective solution to the complex issues facing our communities.
No. 6: Reaching Rebuild Texas Fund milestones
Throughout the summer and fall, we distributed the remaining funds from the Rebuild Texas Fund to support recovery efforts addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Harvey. We recognize that these disasters have persistent effects well beyond the immediate relief response, and communities need sustainable funding for long-term projects to truly build resilience. In total, OneStar granted nearly $1 million raised via community donations to address the consequences of COVID-19 and collaborated with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to distribute $100 million over four years for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
No. 5: Evolving the Governor’s Volunteer Awards
In October, we celebrated the 38th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations that have made an impact on Texas communities through exemplary service & volunteering. This year, we restructured and added new categories一including Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism, Innovation in Volunteerism, and Volunteer Family of the Year一to reflect the new trends and realities in volunteer service. Following public health recommendations, we honored our winners via an online awards reception and got to virtually meet all of the distinguished award recipients.
No. 4: Promoting volunteerism with Volunteer Generation Fund grant
This summer, OneStar was awarded more than a quarter million dollars through AmeriCorps’ Volunteer Generation Fund to strengthen the volunteer infrastructure in Texas and make volunteerism more accessible statewide. These resources are being put to work to create pathways for engaging all those who answer the call to serve. Over the coming months, we will be creating opportunities to convene volunteer leaders in Texas, offer training and support to organizations that work with volunteers, and promote volunteer postings statewide.
No. 3: Announcing new appointees on the Texas Nonprofit Council
In October, Texas Governor appointed 11 new members to the Texas Nonprofit Council, which was created to strengthen relationships between state government and the nonprofit sector. In the years ahead, these leaders will work to develop recommendations & best practices for collaboration between government and faith-based & community organizations and will identify and address gaps or duplication in services to the community. This group is an important partner to the Interagency Coordinating Group and will provide front-line insight and perspective to participating state agencies.
No. 2: Advancing AmeriCorps with the National Service Challenge Grant
OneStar was awarded a National Service Challenge grant from the Schultz Family Foundation to promote national service as a pathway of opportunity for young people. This million-dollar initiative recognizes AmeriCorps as an effective solution to building resilient & thriving communities and invests in ways to engage even more individuals in service. With this grant, OneStar will be partnering with AmeriCorps Central Texas to scale effective member recruitment practices across Texas while continuing to support their innovative approaches to place-based recruitment. In addition, OneStar will be investing in professional development resources and training for AmeriCorps members statewide focused on supporting their post-service career path.
No. 1: Growing the OneStar team
A lot of new faces joined OneStar this year as we ramped up capacity to support the growing AmeriCorps Texas portfolio and dedicated staff resources to our Volunteer Texas, Disaster Resilience, and Nonprofit Strong programs. We welcomed the fresh perspectives and very impressive skillsets that these staff additions bring to our mission. and we are excited to have the expertise and experience on our team to better support Texas nonprofits and communities. We invite you to meet the team and to reach out to learn more about how you can partner with OneStar in the year ahead!