Donation News

NY Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Helps Raise $5 Million For Texas

During the week of February 15, nearly half of Texas lost access to electricity, clean water, or both. Thousands of un-heatable homes were damaged by the unseasonably cold winter storm bursting pipes, and tens of thousands of people evacuated. Natural gas pipelines and wind turbines that were not winter-proofed froze, and the demand for power vastly exceeded the supply on Texas’s landlocked grid.

For the thousands who used wholesale power companies, that meant they came back home to astronomical power bills, some as high as $16,000 for a week when they might not even have been home. It will be months before the financial impact of the storm is clear, or the resultant loss of life. So far, the latter is at least 80, including an 11-year-old boy who died of hypothermia wrapped around his three-year-old brother in their bed in a mobile home.

“It’s one thing to read about what’s going on,” said New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday, February 20. “But it’s another thing entirely to see the damage for ourselves. The message in Washington is let’s not let people get caught up in a bunch of red tape. Let’s try to get this assistance out the door as much as people need and as quickly as we can.”

By then, Ocasio-Cortez had already raised over $2 million for Texas through a fundraiser that she launched through Act Blue, a Democratic fundraising tool. By Tuesday, it was $4.7 million, raised mostly through small grassroots donors.

Her fundraising efforts were helped to go viral by the coverage of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who responded to the disastrous storm by taking his family and friends on a flight to Cancún. Ocasio-Cortez held nothing back in criticizing Cruz for his egregious negligence on Twitter, though she took a long break Sunday to work in a Houston food bank distributing donated supplies to Cruz’s displaced constituents.

Image editorial credit: a katz /


Allstate Donates Books to Schools Hit by Hurricane Harvey

Before Hurricane Harvey, it had been 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States, the last of which being Katrina and Wilma in 2005. Within a four-day span, Hurricane Harvey pounded eastern Texas with as much as 40 inches of rain, which caused major flooding before it dissipated on September 2, 2017. Thousands of homes and businesses and dozens of schools were destroyed by the elements.

Nearly a year later, some of those schools are being rebuilt. In the Houston Independent School District (HISD), which is the largest school district in Texas, four elementary schools were hit the hardest: Braeburn, Hilliard, Mitchell, and Scarborough. They lost everything, including their entire library collections.

The Allstate Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the insurance giant by the same name, announced commitments immediately after Harvey to help Houston rebuild its schools. On July 3, 2018, the foundation donated $400,000 to help replenish those school libraries, as part of their “Rebuilding Our Readers” campaign.

Friday, July 6, Allstate leaders will bring the donation in-person to the new building of Scarborough Elementary School, which was relocated.

“We’re committed to helping Texas communities recover from this disaster, which is why we’re honored to be a part of this effort to replenish Houston ISD libraries with new books to replace those lost during Harvey,” said Larry Sedillo during a tour of the school. Sedillo is the Field Senior Vice President of Allstate in Texas.

Since the hurricane, companies across the nation have donated over $72 million to relief efforts for Houston and other areas in need of restoration. Estimates for the total economic losses amount to between $81 and $125 billion, the higher of which puts Harvey on par with Katrina. In response to the outstanding nature of the damage, the name Harvey has been retired from the list of names for rotating storms.


As Houston Recovers from Harvey, Don’t Forget About Rockport

The whole world is hearing about Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but Rockport, Texas, the city where the eye of the storm actually struck shore, tends to be referred to as a footnote. And that has only intensified after Irma’s damaging sweep across Florida.

But Rockport’s need is no less. A small city of about 10,000 people, Rockport lost its high school, several hotels, and whole neighborhoods, not to mention all of the local marinas. Recovery is expected to take years, and the town will never be the same.

Bill Thomas isn’t a local. He describes himself as a “frequent visitor.” But he saw a need in Rockport, and traveled there immediately after the storm.

Thomas is in distribution, and he put that career-gained knowledge to work immediately. A local business owner lent him an empty warehouse that was still standing, and he immediately launched a donation center.

Many of the donations coming into Rockport from across the country had no place to go, and it broke his heart to see pallets of baby food and paper goods that had to be thrown out from being left out in the elements. His warehouse gave everybody a place to bring those donations, a place he called Aransas County Harvey Donaton Center.

In less than a week, community members and strangers alike had donated nearly $10,000 to cover the center’s costs. A local business donated nearly 200 mattresses and pillows. Bayer Motor Company ran a fundraising drive among its employees.

“That’s what Texas is about,” said Bayer’s CEO Lucy Larose. “You just come together and you put aside your differences and you put aside what might be bothering you and you feel in your heart just that need to help out.”

Everything in Thomas’s Donation center is being given away free to anyone who needs it, and nearly everyone who has come for supplies has stopped a while to volunteer themselves.

Organizations Profiles

Philanthropic People: Rich and Nancy Kinder

Rich and Nancy Kinder
Rich and Nancy Kinder at the BBP Gala.
IMG: via The Kinder Foundation

Rich and Nancy Kinder have spent the last two decades applying the values instilled by their small-town roots toward remarkable philanthropic efforts. Both originally hailing from quiet American towns, the Kinders have called Houston home for much of their adult lives, and have also spent that time generously giving back to their city.

The husband and wife team established the Kinder Foundation in 1997 as a means to provide major gifts to public causes in their area. A family-oriented foundation, Rich and Nancy have been able to donate to worthy Houston causes with a focus on three major areas: urban green space, education, and overall quality of life. The broad vision the Kinder Foundation promotes is to help every Houston resident achieve a healthy and rewarding life.

The foundation’s mission is to:

Support Greater Houston as a model city for economic opportunity and quality of life by providing transformational grants to promote preservation and accessibility of parks and green space for healthy recreation, encouraging and improving learning opportunities for those who strive to achieve, and supporting those Community, Arts and Medical Science organizations that can be shown to favorably impact the quality of life of Houstonians.”

In short, the Kinder Foundation is focused on improving the quality of life in Houston by supporting education, the development of parks and urban green spaces, and by donating funds to health, cultural, and humanities groups. To date, the Kinder Foundation has granted more than $230 million in gifts and pledges to Houston-based organizations and worthy causes.

Some of Rich and Nancy’s most prominent donations include the funding of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, which promotes overall quality of life as well as higher education. The Kinders also funded the brand new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum as part of their commitment to supporting local education. Another example of their philanthropy is in the formation of the Kinder Emergency Center, donations to public school programs, the Texas Heart Institute, and the Houston Food Bank. Rich also serves as a life trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which has benefited from the foundation’s generous donations.

Most recently, the Kinder Foundation promised to donate $50 million to the non-profit Houston Parks Board for the Bayou Greenways Project, scheduled to be completed in 2020. This donation is part of the couple’s ongoing pledge to improve the city’s green spaces.

The Kinder Foundation’s extensive history of giving spans the areas of education, public health, the arts, and more. Rich and Nancy Kinder are models of philanthropy in their home city of Houston. For more information about the foundation and the Kinders, visit the Kinder Foundation’s official website.