By Riki Markowitz

It’s hard to believe that the Austin Board of REALTORS (ABoR) Foundation originated more than four decades ago in 1978. From day one, the organization’s primary focus was to connect Central Texas REALTORS to the community by supporting causes associated with education, housing and disaster relief. In fact, the scholarship fund is one of the Foundation’s most popular and longest-running programs. More than 300 scholarships have been awarded since the Foundation’s inception and more $300,000 in scholarships have been awarded in the last six years.

In 2014, ABoR’s board of directors introduced a key organizational change — they made the community relations committee part of the Foundation. “It provided a way to expand the Foundation’s scope of core activities,” says Theresa Brown, the 2019 chair of ABoR Foundation.

The Foundation partners with several community organizations and sponsors at least two major projects per year. To get an idea how members participated last year, here is a brief rundown:

  • Scholarships, valued at nearly $60,000, were awarded to 23 high school students enrolling in college in Texas, plus two alumni recipients.
  • Volunteers participated in a home repair day on a home occupied by an East Austin senior.
  • To help housebound seniors and adults with disabilities cope with Central Texas’ unrelenting summer temperatures, members donated money and fans. The Summer Fan Drive is an annual event for the community’s most at-risk individuals. The previous year, ABoR Foundation presented Family Eldercare with a $7,500 check and more than 100 fans.
  • More than 180 volunteers built a home for a deserving Austin resident, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Thanks to 2018’s Holiday Blitz Build, an art teacher was presented with the keys to her own brand new home.

Additional initiatives went toward ending homelessness in Austin and an annual awards presentation — “Most Worthy Citizen.” The yearly ceremony celebrates a Central Texas citizen who has made a meaningful impact on the community.

What’s in Store for 2019 and Beyond?

Foundation board members and volunteers continue to identify various community needs for which to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. The Foundation also sources programs for which to provide financial support. Cross says that one of the biggest goals she has is to “educate the public on our generous REALTOR community and all they ways they work to give back.”

One area in which Cross sees room for improvement is with the scholarship program. The Foundation receives hundreds of applications from students in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. This year’s match-for-match initiative will award even more students, says Cross. With a $1,000 donation, the Foundation will provide a 100 percent matching contribution. Plus, members and their agencies are encouraged to create an ABoR Foundation scholarship in honor of an individual, business or estate. A $1,500 donation will go toward the creation of a $2,500 scholarship (which includes the Foundation’s match) in the name of the member’s choosing.

How You Can Help

All ABoR members are encouraged to keep the $10 voluntary box checked during association billing, which occurs three times per year.
“We’re trying to get in front of our members in every way possible,” Cross says. And to that end, members are asked to learn more about the Foundation’s community outreach and charitable efforts at www.abor.org/foundation. There, individuals — and their agencies — can sign up for volunteer opportunities, donate and participate in fundraising raffles. For those who want to engage with the Foundation in planning activities, there are several committees that meet on an ongoing basis and invite the membership’s participation. RL