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40 x 40

Forty stories for forty years

Austin Community Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017. Over the year we will share 40 stories of giving. Out of our history emerge themes of Innovation, Opportunity, Collaboration and Legacy--four values that continue to inform our work. Join us to learn about our city's history of giving or follow us on Facebook or Twitter

Redneck Meets Tech

Forty years ago, about 300,000 people called Austin home. You could hear Willie Nelson play “redneck rock” at Armadillo World Headquarters, buy a home for $16,500 and with your radio tuned to KLBJ drive across town in just a couple of songs. Austin Aquafest was the biggest annual party in town, held at Festival Beach in the swelter of August. 

Austin was just emerging as a center for new technologies, thanks to University of Texas research programs and the recent arrival of IBM and Texas Instruments. Three young engineers were running from their garage the microcomputer company that became National Instruments. 

A Divided City

Yet, the quality of life in Austin was largely determined by where you lived. The 1928 city plan that segregated the city--Central and West Austin for whites, East Austin for African-Americans and "Mexicans"--had been illegal for a dozen years. Yet, the demolition of pedestrian-friendly East Avenue to make way for IH-35  had created a physical divide that limited opportunities of all kinds--educational, economic and even health and life expectancy. In this environment, African Americans and Hispanics had organized to advocate for themselves and had recently won city council seats for the first time.

Our Story Begins

In this rich mix of cultures, creativity and ideas, Austin Community Foundation was created. In 1977 Austin followed the example of hundreds of cities across the country that had community foundations. The goal in creating the Foundation was to meet community needs by creating a permanent endowment fund to generate earnings and distribute grants. 

--Robin Bradford




Most recent story

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Creative Learning that Pops

In 2009, a group of dedicated Austin educators, philanthropists, parents and civic leaders came together for a collective “mindpop.” They found they all shared the belief that when creativity and the arts are integrated into school lessons, students are more engaged and learning improves. Yet research showed that there was great inequity in students’ access to creative learning.