By Edwin Vega
For the Fort Bend Star
Honorary Chair of the 34th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards, Texas first lady Cecilia Abbott, announced the Fort Bend Education Foundation as a 2017 recipient of the Partners in Education Award (PIE).
As part of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards, administered by OneStar Foundation, the PIE award recognizes an individual or group that demonstrates measurable impact on a recognized need within a public, charter or parochial school. Nominees have implemented innovative and state-of-the-art solutions to further educational goals for students. They are committed to long-term results and employ an evaluation component for continual learning and improvement of the program or intervention.
Through her Texanthropy Initiative, Mrs. Abbott has made promoting volunteerism and services to others her primary focus as first lady of Texas.
“It is no secret that Texas is filled with generous individuals and organizations, but these 11 awardees are truly extraordinary,” Abbott said. “I am touched by all of the amazing things they are each doing to help their fellow Texans. Their example is truly inspiring.”
Founded in 1992 by Fort Bend County business and community leaders, the Fort Bend Education Foundation, throughout its 25-year history, has provided support to the 75 campuses that house the more than 74,500 students and approximately 5,000 teachers in Fort Bend ISD. They work collaboratively with the school district, and have given $32 million in grant funding to provide an exceptional learning experience, helping enhance educational outcomes by implementing programs that support teachers and equip students for a brighter future.
The 44-member FBEF board includes local business, industry and community leaders who volunteer their time and resources to help Fort Bend ISD achieve its mission to “inspire and equip all students to pursue futures beyond what they can imagine.”
Through this dynamic partnership, more than 800 FBEF volunteers work on a variety of projects to allow the FBEF to serve as a powerful catalyst for extraordinary student achievement.
Endorsed by FBISD leaders, including Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre, the foundation offers the following opportunities for support: Grants for teachers programs, founders grants program, school site programs, new teacher gifts, professional development grants, urgent need grants, tribute funds, employee giving, investment funds and angels of education auxiliary, which supports the foundation by providing volunteers and creating community awareness. Auxiliary volunteers are instrumental in helping with events such as golf tournaments, annual galas and community bike rides.
In 2013, FBEF partnered to assist Computer Science II students in STEM Labs. Included in the agreement were 25 licenses for Petrel Software to support the study of petroleum, earth science and technology, as well as 25 licenses for Ocean Kit Software geared toward STEM learning. Fort Bend ISD is one of only two K-12 districts in the state using this software, because typically it is used at the college level.
“I think it is imperative that we provide opportunities to enrich and enhance the quality of education by making learning fun and hands on,” said Brenna Cosby, executive director of the FBEF. “Creating an opening for our students to enjoy new experiences that will equip and inspire them to a future beyond their imagination.”
“The foundation is extremely proud of our volunteers and the diversity within our volunteer ranks,” she said. “We are grateful and blessed to have so many wonderful parents, students, staff and businesses volunteer for our organization. We wish to extend our sincere thanks to everyone, as they truly are the ones who have made the foundation the success it is today.”
Other recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards are: David Godwin, receiving the Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, Micah Pinson; receiving the First Lady’s Rising Star Award, Tony Smith’ receiving the Service to Veterans Award, the University of Houston Sure Program; receiving the Higher Education Community Impact Award, USAA; receiving the Corporate Community Impact Award, Small Business Granite Properties Inc.; receiving the Corporate Community Impact Award, Haven for Hope; receiving the Community Leadership Award, AmeriCorps Member Erin Moody and AmeriCorps Vista member Shelby Thomas will both receive the National Service “Make a Difference” Award; and Senior Corps Volunteers Arlen and Mary Beth Lohse will also receive the National “Make a Difference” Award.
Recipients will be honored in the fall at an evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.