Author Archives: Douglas Ray


Philanthropitch Finalist, Goodwill, Amplifies Impact in Central Texas

Three months ago, Matt Williams, Vice President of Education at Goodwill of Central Texas, stood on stage at the Zach Theater and shared the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy’s (GCTA) vision for a new approach to workforce development.  An approach designed to bridge the gap between employers with good jobs and the un-and underemployed eager to fill those positions.

It was Austin’s fourth annual Philanthropitch, and GCTA was granted $25,000 that night, including the 2nd place Audience award. The audience proved to be more valuable to Matt than he could have known leaving the Zach that night. From her seat in the audience, Virginia Potter heard Matt’s pitch. When it came time to text in her vote for the Audience Choice Award, she texted GCTA. She also heard Matt explain that to truly launch GCTA would need a total of $125,000 in initial capital. Lucky for Matt, Virginia is Portfolio Director of Central Texas with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and knows how to make GCTA’s vision a reality.

“I am really excited about this partnership with GCTA,” said Virginia Potter. “They have an incredible vision of how to bridge the workforce gap in Austin which aligns with the foundation’s desire to close the poverty gap in Central Texas.”

In his pitch, Matt described two Austins: One with low-wage workers seeking employment opportunities and another with employers hard-pressed to find qualified workers. In partnership with industry, GCTA pitched an initiative to bridge this gap with trainings that put people to work in higher paying roles quickly. Virginia saw a connection point with her work at the foundation in K-12 education by providing high school seniors job training as well.  

With the money received at Philanthropitch and the extra funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, GCTA has surpassed their initial goal reaching $150,000!  

And it’s not just about the money.  Virginia envisions a truly collaborative process to develop a strong program to measure impact. “The great thing about the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is that they’re in it with us and they understand it’s total innovation,” said Matt. Instead of relying on traditional industry benchmarks, their joint goals are focused on long-term success in the workforce development sector.

GCTA will continue to fundraise to ensure the sustainability of the program. They are also participating in the Mission Capital Accelerator program – a spot awarded to them by the Social Venture Partners at Philanthropitch. According to Matt, the Accelerator has already been helpful in developing the model and their network.

Matt and GCTA appreciate the value of participating in Philanthropitch. “This network is really valuable and the most important piece is to truly understand who is in the room at the event,” said Matt.


Philanthropitch Alum: Amplify Austin Giving Guide

Amplify Austin is Austin’s annual community-wide day of giving. On March 8, Central Texans will come together for 24 hours with a goal of raising $9 million for local nonprofits! Check out some of Philanthropitch’s alum to learn more about their impact and how you can support their amazing work:


  • Colin’s HopeDid you know that just $25 can purchase a life jacket for a loaner board at the lake or $75 can provide swim lessons and water safety education for a four-year-old in their Pre-K Swim Safety Program? Help Colin’s Hope amplify water safety and drowning prevention to save lives!
  • Easter Seals – Help Easter Seals raise $12,000 and support children and adults with disabilities.
  • EGBIA donation of $25 to EGBI will help provide high-quality entrepreneurship training accessible to underserved communities in Greater Austin.
  • Habitat for HumanityHelp fund the construction of a home for Whitney & Aaden and change a family’s life forever.
  • Multicultural Refugee CoalitionHelp refugees resettle in Austin and support programs such as Open Arms, a social enterprise that provides living wage work for refugee women through textile manufacturing, or New Leaf Agriculture Program, which provides growing opportunities for refugees at 3 area community gardens and a weekly community resource center.


Amplify Austin Events

March 8

    • Amplify Austin Assembly Event – a FREE kick-off event for Amplify Austin along with 40+ other local nonprofit organizations on March 8th from 6pm to 9pm at Austin Public (1143 Northwest Ave., Austin, Texas 78702) – EVERYONE IS INVITED TO ATTEND. RSVP:
    • Habitat for Humanity Kick-off Party –  Festivities begin 6pm at Radio Coffee & Beer. All attendees 21+ will receive 3 drink tickets.
    • WeViva Amplify Austin Party – Amp up the giving for WeViva! Join for free appetizers and watch as the donations roll in. 6pm at Gloria’s Downtown (300 W. 6th St. Unit 100).
    • Lake Travis Amplify Austin Event – Get to know 8+ nonprofits working in Lake Travis (including Colin’s Hope). Enjoy complimentary appetizers, a full bar, and live music! (

March 9

  • MRC Amplify Austin Open HouseCome learn more about MRC and its social enterprise- Open Arms (12pm at 200 East 8th Street on the 3rd floor of Central Presbyterian Church).
  • Going Away Party for St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store – From 9:30am-12pm, breakfast tacos, coffee, and mimosas will be served (1327 S. South Congress).  As part of Amplify Austin, Society staff will be on hand to help donors make a gift to launch the Vincentian Family Center or to help any nonprofit of their choice. During the event, shoppers will be treated to 30% off all items in the store. Shoppers will also receive coupons for the new thrift store, and donors to SVDP and other local nonprofits through the Amplify portal will receive an additional 10% off coupon to use at the new store.

To make a donation, you can visit the Amplify Austin site ( either before or during the 24 hour blitz!



Judge Interviews: Leon Chen of Tiff’s Treats

Co-founder and CEO of Tiff’s Treats, Leon started Tiff’s Treats in 1999 in partnership with his wife Tiffany while sophomores at The University of Texas.  Since then, the company has grown to over 350 employees and 20+ locations in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, with national expansion plans in the works.  In addition to running Tiff’s Treats, Leon was a former Director at Epic Brands, which sold to General Mills in January 2016.  He has also been involved in SKU, an Austin based consumer packaged goods incubator.  His volunteer work includes being the past Chair of the Small Business Council, on the Board of Directors at The Austin Chamber of Commerce, Past Chair of The Fifty and being on the board at the Foster Angels of Central Texas.


This will be Leon’s third year serving as a Philanthropitch Austin judge and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on the panel! We asked Leon a few questions about his involvement with Philanthropitch and his passion for giving back:


Why is it important to you/your company to support local nonprofit organizations? Which organizations are you/your company involved with?

It’s so very important to Tiff and I to support the local community.  On of the reasons is that we believe that the only reason there is even a Tiff’s Treats today is because of the support we received from the local community when we first started out.  That kind of support meant the world to us and we feel it is our duty to pay it forward the best we can.  In addition, there are so many great causes out there and it is motivating to us and to our entire company to be able to make a small difference in the lives of people that are in this community.  We have worked with many charities in the past, Austin Dog Rescue, Easter Seals, Safeplace, Make-A-Wish of Central Texas and many more.  Currently we work closely with Foster Angels of Central Texas, a wonderful organization that I am on the board of that provides daily needs and special needs requests for foster children in Central Texas.

Leon Chen at Philanthropitch

What is your favorite part about serving as a Philanthropitch judge?

I love the giving part!  It really is true that it is better to give than to receive.  We love to see that our donation is going to great causes, local causes that can make a difference.  

Have you learned anything about community challenges or gotten involved with any of the finalists after Philanthropitch?

We have definitely learned that there is so much need out there for many wonderful causes.  Some of the big name charities get a lot of the attention, but there are many new and fledgling charities that are doing amazing work that need help and support as well.  

Tiffany Chen, Leon Chen, and Clayton Christopher

L to R: Clayton Christopher, Tiffany Chen, & Leon Chen Photo credit: TriD Photography

Why should people attend Philanthropitch on May 2nd?

It’s a wonderful event for great causes and because Clayton Christopher is a very handsome man, and he’ll be there as a judge I am assuming. [ed note: Clayton will be there!]


Thanks, Leon!

Philanthropitch Austin Applications Open Now!

Eight nonprofits from greater Austin will come together on May 2 to pitch their innovative and scalable program in front of a panel of business leaders and an audience of more than 400 individuals. The fourth annual Philanthropitch Austin will be held at ZACH Theatre where nonprofits will have the chance to receive more than $100,000 in cash grants and entrance into the Mission Accelerator, a five month program designed to fast-track the growth and impact of nonprofits in Greater Austin.

Does your nonprofit have an innovative program, product or service that you’re ready to grow? Do you need an infusion of financial and human capital to bring your vision to life? Then apply now.

We encourage all organizations interesting in applying to attend our Q&A Session or webinar to learn more.

Here are some helpful tips from previous Philanthropitch participants:

  • Apply if you have a growth strategy in place for a specific program and need help scaling to the next level.
  • Familiarize your leadership and board with the opportunity prior to applying. It will be necessary to receive their support before beginning the process.
  • Understand that some organizations walk away with seed funding, some walk away with entrance into the Mission Accelerator, and some walk away with both.

Philanthropitch alum Alissa Magrum, Executive Director of Colin’s Hope, said it best: “This opportunity forces you to get super distilled and focused to look at your program and see how much of an impact you can really make. It can really refresh organizations.”

For more information on eligibility, check out our program overview.