Blog

23 Nov
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Happy Thanksgiving from TRTA and TRTF!

Dear TRTA members and TRTF supporters,

At this time of year, we like to reflect on the great things we have accomplished together and show our appreciation to our members, friends, and supporters, all of whom are special to us!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Board of Directors and the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) Board of Trustees are so very thankful for the time you spend volunteering for TRTA and for donating to help fund TRTF’s many charitable programs.

November is Foundation Month and TRTF’s annual appeal for donations. So far, TRTF has raised $60,000 of its $100,000 fundraising goal! Donate online today!

Both 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years. However, our retirees have proven time and time again that they are resilient, dedicated, and motivated to keep the momentum going for our vital legislative advocacy efforts and much-needed charitable endeavors. Our members have big hearts and open arms. They truly care about each other. We hope you are as proud as we are to have achieved so much during the pandemic despite sometimes unusual circumstances.

As I sit back and read the third quarter issue of The VOICE that was published this month, I am impressed. How joyful it is to read about a teacher who used the pandemic as an opportunity to teach her students how to play the piano, virtually, something they had never experienced before! It is also wonderful to know that our members and supporters stepped up during the February winter storm and helped us provide $165,000 in assistance to those who suffered great losses during the disaster.

TRTA’s local units continue to renew members and encourage new ones to join. They keep working so TRTA can reach 100,000 members! Our units were pivotal during the special legislative sessions this year, using their grassroots advocacy to promote and win a supplemental payment for retirees.

TRTF Expands Tutor Program into Texas School Districts

TRTF has also expanded its newest endeavor, the TRTF Tutor Program! This program helps three groups of people: parents and students looking for affordable online tutoring services; retirees who want to earn supplemental income as online tutors; and public-school teachers and school districts that are seeking dependable tutoring help for their students.

TRTF established the Tutor Program in 2020 to help schools, students, and retirees recover from and forge through the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering a virtual education platform with www.JoinKnack.com, the program’s goal was to give retirees an option to work for schools without being physically present while also lending an extra hand to students’ learning recovery. A little over a year since inception, 250 retirees are registered tutors offering their services on the platform, and schools are noticing!

Recently, Kingwood Park High School in Humble ISD partnered with TRTF to pilot a communication to parents and teachers offering free tutoring hours through the platform. There are a limited number of no-cost hours currently available to any Texas student.

The response has been very positive with tutor requests doubling in just one week! Humble ISD is now considering adding more high schools to the pilot program, and TRTF is actively seeking more schools and districts to help us market our program to parents and students.

The TRTF Tutor Program needs your help. As schools continue to struggle with staffing shortages and learning recovery, we ask you to help spread the word. We need more students for our current tutors and more tutors to cover all subjects. Please let your teacher friends and campus PTOs and committees know about our free hours (TRTF is working to solicit more donations to supplement the free hours).

Please share this link (trtf.joinknack.com) with school administrators so they can check out our program and consider partnering with TRTF.

Please Donate Today

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, TRTF’s programs have become more important than ever. Our school children, teachers, and retirees need our help! As a 501(c)(3), we are in a unique position to raise donations and deploy them through our unique charitable programs. We are determined to help!

Please consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution to TRTF. You may donate online here or call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah. TRTF also included its annual appeal letter and donation card in the third quarter issue of The VOICE, in TRTA members’ mailboxes now! You may use the donation card found on page 12 and the enclosed envelope to mail your donation to TRTF today.

As 2021 draws to a close, TRTA and TRTF remain dedicated to helping Texas educators. Together, we have persevered through a pandemic and adjusted accordingly to ensure we are responding to the needs of our retirees, active educators, public schools, and students!

I believe educators are the foundation for everything good that happens in our great state. Educators make things happen! I believe in our members, and because of you, I believe we will succeed and find innovative ways to accomplish our goals. Together, TRTA and TRTF will work towards improving the lives of all educators in any and every way that we can. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director
Leroy DeHaven, TRTA Board President
Mary Nell Short, TRTF Board President

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19 Nov
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TRTF Scholarship and Grant Winners Share Their Classrooms

Thank you, members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) for joining us during Foundation Month, a time to honor the charitable work done by our partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF).

Today, we focus on two of TRTF’s longstanding programs, Beginning Teacher Scholarships (awarded to educators entering the field for the very first time) and Classroom Assistance Grants (awarded to current classroom teachers). With your support, TRTF continues to expand its programs to help more educators of the past, present, and future!

Beginning Teacher Scholarships provide funds to recent college graduates who will be teaching for the first time in the fall of 2022. The funds help reimburse the applicant for certifications and test results and purchase materials for his or her classroom during the first year of teaching. TRTF has awarded more than $124,500 in scholarships since 2008.

Classroom Assistance Grants help teachers improve the learning environment for students by giving $750 towards projects, learning platforms, software, and much more. TRTF will provide 30 $750 grants to public school teachers in Texas in 2022. Since 2008, TRTF has awarded more than $132,000 in grants to 264 recipients. Your donations help students develop real-world skills, and provides them with a caring, creative community to explore their future!

2021 Scholarship Recipient Madelyn Pipes

In 2021, Madelyn Pipes, who now teaches kindergarten at Liberty-Eylau Early Childhood Center in Texarkana, won a Beginning Teacher Scholarship after being referred by TRTA member Kerry James.

“My first year of teaching has been wonderful so far,” says Pipes. “I have been so thankful for the scholarship because as a first-year teacher and not having a bunch of much needed things, it was a huge help!”

Pipes used her funds from TRTF to purchase extra school supplies, new books and book bins, a colorful cart for her math centers, blocks for Fun Friday, and much more. 

Applications Now Available for Download!

Applications for the 2022-2023 Beginning Teacher Scholarship and Classroom Assistance Grant programs are available on the TRTF website at www.trtf.org for download.

The deadline to apply for either program is Friday, February 25, 2022, at 5:00 p.m.

Please Donate Today

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, TRTF’s programs have become more important than ever. Our school children, teachers, and retirees need our help! As a 501(c)(3), we are in a unique position to raise donations and deploy them through our unique charitable programs. We are determined to help!

Please consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution to TRTF. You may donate online here or call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah. TRTF also included its annual appeal letter and donation card in the third quarter issue of The VOICE, in TRTA members’ mailboxes now! You may use the donation card found on page 12 and the enclosed envelope to mail your donation to TRTF today.

Please stay tuned to the Inside Line throughout the month of November as we update you on TRTF’s programs and share stories from individual program recipients.

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14 Nov
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TRTF Helps Retirees Who Need “A Helping Hand”

Thank you, members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) for joining us during Foundation Month, a time to honor the charitable work done by our partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF). Today, we focus on two of TRTF’s most vital, emergency programs, “A Helping Hand” and the Disaster Relief Fund.

“A Helping Hand”

“A Helping Hand,” launched in 2010, provides public education retirees with charitable assistance for a one-time special need or other short-term hardship. Recipients include anyone who is receiving or is eligible to receive an annuity from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Since its inception, TRTF has awarded over $210,000 in aid to more than 210 recipients.

Disaster Relief

In February 2021, winter storm Uri struck Texas, causing serious damage to homes and other belongings throughout the state. 4.5 million homes and businesses were without power for days, and more than 100 Texans tragically lost their lives.

Thanks to generous donations from TRTA members, the TRTF Disaster Relief Fund raised more than $165,000 to help 660 retired school employees recover from this natural disaster. TRTF provided grants to help repair flood damage caused by broken pipes, replace food that was spoiled when the electricity went out, and pay for unexpected costs incurred when retirees were displaced from their homes.

To date, the Disaster Relief Fund has provided more than $375,000 in aid to over 1,100 active and retired school personnel. TRTF will be prepared should another disaster strike and be ready to offer aid at a moment’s notice with your help.

Disaster Relief recipient Renoka McCracken recently shared her story after suffering damages during the storm in February:

“As a retired teacher I was so blessed to receive a Disaster Relief Short Term grant from TRTF. I would have never dreamed in a million years that TRTA/TRTF could help me in a time of my greatest need, the winter storm of 2021. My home is on Lake Graham, and I use the lake for the watering of everything in my yard. Without power for 60 hours, I was unable to keep the pump house heated, resulting in the pump, PVC pipes, and storage tank all freezing solid. Of course, I also lost most of my food from the refrigerator and freezer. 

As most Texans in the winter nightmare, we felt helpless to take care of our basic necessities. And as a retired teacher on a fixed income, I was not going to be able to fix and replace all that would be needed for me to care for my trees, grass, and plants of 35 years. I remember the day when I read the email from TRTF offering the grants for those of us in need. I truly felt it was a message from heaven to facilitate my healing. What’s more, I received this gift within three days! From my teacher group, TRTA, the organization that I’ve spent many years as a member! 

I was astounded by the planning and care and foresight of people that protected teachers now by protecting my home and my personal needs. I am so honored to be a member of a group that proved to me they truly care about the members they represent. Thank you for the money but thank you more for understanding that many of your teachers needed something different this February!”

Do You, Or Does Someone You Know, Need Help? 

If you are a member of TRTA and you (or someone you know) need(s) assistance, please contact your local unit president or Foundation representative. For additional information, email or call 1.800.880.1650. A local unit directory can be found by clicking here.

All applications are reviewed independently and remain confidential. Recipients’ information will not be shared with the public unless the recipient provides permission to TRTF to share his or her story.

The Foundation provides financial assistance for a variety of needs, including but not limited to medical and dental bills, car and home repairs, energy bills, food, and more. For a complete application packet, including guidelines and instructions, please contact TRTF.

Please Donate

It is time to give big so that we may help our children, schools, teachers, and retirees. TRTF is determined to help. As a 501(c)(3), we are in a unique position to raise donations and deploy them through our unique charitable programs.

Please consider making your tax-deductible charitable contribution to TRTF. You may donate online here or call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah. TRTF also included its annual appeal letter and donation card in the third quarter issue of The VOICE, in TRTA members’ mailboxes now! You may use the donation card found on page 12 and the enclosed envelope to mail your donation to TRTF today.

Please stay tuned to the Inside Line throughout the month of November as we update you on TRTF’s programs and share stories from individual program recipients.

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