The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF), the charitable arm of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), has been busy this spring delivering grants to classroom teachers all across Texas and scholarships to future educators.

As our members know, TRTF also supports a grant program that aids public education retirees experiencing critical emergencies. “A Helping Hand” was introduced in 2010 and has provided help to retirees for a variety of needs, including home and car repairs, food, eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental care, air conditioners, heaters and much more. To date, more than $84,000 has been given to 88 retirees through the program.

With recent storms and flooding in Texas causing damage to homes and other property and displacing families, we would like to remind our members that help is available.

If you or a fellow retiree or active educator you know are experiencing financial struggles due to the recent storms, please contact TRTF at 1.800.880.1650 or help@trtf.org to request an application for assistance. All applications are kept confidential.

Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund Established to Support “A Helping Hand”

During the 63rd Annual TRTA Convention, TRTF introduced the new Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund. The fund is being created to establish long-term earnings that will be dedicated to “A Helping Hand.”

Members donated more than $10,000 during the Foundation’s annual luncheon to the endowment fund. The goal of the endowment fund is to reach $2 million in donations by December 31, 2019. TRTF is asking all members of TRTA to consider making a one-time donation of $30 to help the fund reach its $2,000,000 goal. Donations may be made online here or via snail mail by sending a check to TRTF, Attn: Endowment Fund, 313 E. 12th Street Suite 220, Austin, TX 78701.

Donations made to the endowment fund will create a long-term account from which interest can be earned. All earnings from the fund will benefit “A Helping Hand.”

The fund is being created during the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Consumer Price Index Catch-Up Plan (CPI Catch-Up) that was passed by the Texas Legislature in the 1990s.

The CPI Catch-Up was a significant legislative change that enabled Texas public education retirees to receive permanent benefit increases to make up for losses due to the high inflation rates of the 1980s. The CPI Catch-Up was passed in 1993, and phased in over several years through 2001.

Although the CPI Catch-up strategy was the collective brainchild of the TRTA leadership at that time, former TRTA Executive Director Mike Lehr is recognized as the driving force behind the implementation of this strategy. This initiative was a huge success. By 1999, retiree benefits had been fully adjusted for inflation and were ahead of inflation by 10 percent. By 2001, adjusted benefits exceeded inflation by 15 percent!

The total value to all current and future retirees for the CPI Catch-Up initiative equaled $14.8 billion. All current and future retirees on average are receiving an additional $300 per month as a result of Mike Lehr and TRTA’s work.

Established at the behest of longtime trustee and TRTA Past President Tom Pritchard, “A Helping Hand” provides assistance to retirees who are struggling with unexpected financial emergencies.

Today, TRS retirees live on an average fixed income of $1900, and approximately 80 percent do not receive federal Social Security benefits. The likelihood for significant benefit increases for retirees going forward is very low. Over time, the number of retirees needing assistance will increase as the purchasing power of fixed annuities is eaten away by inflation.

Annual donations from TRTA members to the current “A Helping Hand” program to assist fellow retirees in need have been generous, but will not be enough to fund the increase in the number of retirees needing assistance.

To ensure that adequate resources are available in the future to fund “A Helping Hand,” TRTF is creating the “Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund,” with earnings from the endowment being dedicated to the program.

We appreciate your consideration in making a one-time $30 donation to the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund to establish a permanent funding source for the Foundation’s most vital program.

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650 or sign up online.

Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.