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20 Nov 2018
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Happy Thanksgiving from TRTA and TRTF!

Dear TRTA Members and Supporters,

This is the time of year to reflect and be appreciative of those who have been a special part of our lives!

The 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 the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and the donations you have made to help fund TRTF’s many charitable programs.

Your work and endeavors have made this a successful organization that gives a voice to retired educators as well as active educators still working in the school systems and helps us provide assistance to retired educators in need, current classroom teachers, and tomorrow’s educators! Your unwavering support has also meant that more than 500 educators—retired and active—could begin the recovery process after Hurricane Harvey through grants provided by TRTF’s Disaster Relief Fund. Since 2008, your donations have enabled TRTF to provide more than $480,000 in aid to educators across the state.

Educators are the foundation for everything good that happens in our state. We know that educators make things happen. Your patience, love, knowledge, dedication and generous spirit make Texas great!

However, we also know that for all the good we do, the appreciation and salary is not commensurate. We know that the future holds many questions about the pension fund and health insurance for our retirees, as well as concerns about making ends meet.

Fortunately, that does not hinder what we have and want to give to others. Your Texas Retired Teachers Foundation does what its name implies. We are the base, the underlying structure that supports our members and future members too!

How the Foundation Can Help

If you or a retiree you know is in need of financial assistance this holiday season, please email the Foundation’s “A Helping Hand” program at help@trtf.org. TRTF has assisted many retirees with home repairs, dental work, hearing aids, medical bills, space heaters and much more!

If you know of a classroom teacher who is hoping to fund a great project for his or her students and is wondering where to find the money to accomplish this goal, have them apply for one of our thirty available Classroom Assistance Grants. Download the application here.

If you have a grandchild or other family member who is about to graduate from college and plans to teach for the very first time in the fall of 2019, let them know about our Beginning Teacher Scholarship program. We may be able to assist them in paying for certification tests or supplies for their first classroom. TRTF has twenty-one scholarships to give in 2018. Download the application here.

Donate Today

If you believe in the legacy of public education in Texas and want to show your support through a tax-deductible donation to any of our Foundation’s amazing programs, you may donate online today! You may also call and donate over the phone with a credit card at 1.800.880.1650. Please ask for Sarah.

The third quarter issue of The VOICE also featured a special article about the Foundation, along with TRTF’s annual appeal letter and donation card. You can mail in your donation using the pre-paid envelope included with your issue.

There are more than 88,000 members of TRTA. If we all give a little, we could do a lot! Foundation Month is your opportunity to make a difference for a colleague that could use help, create an opportunity for classroom teachers and students, or help open the door for a new teacher brimming with youthful enthusiasm to teach young minds.

Thank you for the opportunity you have given all of us to serve as your TRTA representatives. We are all deeply grateful to our members for everything that they do to support this great organization.

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

Tim Lee

TRTA Executive Director

 

Jamie Larson

TRTF Board President

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16 Nov 2018
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TRTF Grants in Action: How A High School Band is Excelling with the Help of TRTF

November has been designated by the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Board of Directors as a time to raise funds for and honor the charitable endeavors of our partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF).

TRTF just launched its annual appeal to raise funds for its four primary charitable programs and its endowment fund: “A Helping Hand,” Classroom Assistance Grants, Beginning Teacher Scholarships, the Disaster Relief Fund and the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund. TRTF hopes to raise $100,000 in donations to support its programs to help educators of the past, present, and future!

Each year, TRTF distributes thirty $500 classroom assistance grants to educators all across Texas. The grants are awarded to public school teachers who demonstrate commitment to the education of Texas children through the creation of programs, events, learning platforms, or other innovative classroom projects.

Since 2008, TRTF has provided more than $480,000 to educators of the past, present, and future, including $78,000 in grants to public school teachers.

We challenge our members to watch the video below and really see how donations are changing lives! You can also read more about all of TRTF’s charitable endeavors in the third quarter issue of The VOICE.

Please consider making your year-end, tax-deductible donation to TRTF this November. To donate online, please click here. To donate by phone, please call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah.

Jesus Torres, a band director at East View High School, has won this grant three times, and he puts it to great use. This year, his grant went towards purchasing a hardware storage closet. The hardware his marching band utilizes builds and repairs the props.

“I think this year we have the most amount of stuff on the field that we’ve ever had,” Torres said. “And I know that a lot of that is because it’s just really easy to repair it.”

Torres has been the director at East View in Georgetown, Texas for four years. He derives his greatest satisfaction from the success and growth of his students.

“Here at East View we find success by trying to involve as many kids as we can. I think we create as diverse as experience as possible,” he said. “It’s the relationships with the kids that’s the most fun. Just getting to find out more about them as people and figure makes them tick.”

East View’s marching band performs modern hits accentuated by a dynamic series of patterns and movements. The band flies across the football field with precision and an eye for detail while filling the stadium with its melodies.

Torres was particularly grateful for the grants that TRTF has provided to assist his band.

“It means the world. It really does. It’s a huge support. I know that $500 may not seem like a lot of money to some band programs… but if we’re really strategic about what we’re going to do with that money, then we’re able to keep $500 in a pot that will do something bigger for the kids,” Torres said.

TRTF’s grants are truly making a difference in many schools across Texas. In 2019, TRTF will be distributing 30 Classroom Assistance Grants.

Applications Now Available!

TRTF is now accepting applications for Classroom Assistance Grants and will award thirty $500 grants to public school teachers in Texas for the 2019-2020 school year. To download an application, please click here. Applications are due to the TRTF office no later than 5:00 p.m. on February 28, 2019.

Donate Online Today!

Help make a difference in your schools by donating to TRTF today!

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08 Nov 2018
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Thank You TRTA Members for Voting! We are Ready with Robust Legislative Agenda

Now that the 2018 midterm elections are over, we want to extend a sincere “Thank You!” to our TRTA members and supporters who voted and helped get the vote out in this critical election cycle. Voter turnout in Texas soared, and we know many educators—retirees and pre-retirees—participated.

Texas Educators Vote, a non-partisan group that promotes a culture of voting among educators and students, provided the following voter statistics:

Percentage of eligible Texas voters registered to vote:
2014 – 74.15%                    2018 – 79.40%

Increase of 5.25% in voter registration!

Percentage of registered Texas voters who turned out to vote:
2014 – 33%                          2018 – 53%

That is an increase of 20% in voter turnout! The last time voter turnout in Texas was this high was in 1970!

Many of you may have heard that the number one issue in this election around the country was health care. The need to improve access and cost for health care dominated the national and state narratives on why many people voted this election cycle. Health care ranked higher than the economy as the major issue driving this election.

TRTA members know all too well that if your health care costs are outpacing your ability to meet those expenses, you really have no financial or retirement security. Many retirees also know that higher health care costs create financial pressure when living on a fixed income with no COLA. Some financial relief is needed now if retired school employees expect to have a chance to meet the rising costs of living.

Now, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is busy preparing for the 86th Legislative Session that begins on January 8, 2019. Newly elected legislators and those returning to office in January already can begin to pre-file bills for the upcoming session starting as early as Monday, November 12!

Many legislators have not served in the Texas Legislature before and will want to know more about the issues that affect retired educators. Now is the time for TRTA members to begin reaching out to their state Senators and Representatives and begin the education process!

Who Represents Me?

You may use this app available through the Texas Tribune to determine who will be representing you in the Texas Legislature in 2019. Just enter your address where indicated and the page will auto-populate with information about the elected officials serving your district.

Specifically, look to Texas Senate and Texas House results to determine your state legislature officials. The Texas Legislature is the entity that governs the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

For returning officials, you can find contact information for district and Capitol offices on the Texas Legislature website (please bear in mind this website has not yet been updated with newly elected officials).

House

Senate

Newly elected, first-time Senators and Representatives may have a website or Facebook page where you can find current contact information.

TRTA’s Legislative Agenda

Retired educators will have much at stake when lawmakers come to Austin. TRTA is prepared to go to the Legislature. We are going to fight for more pension funding, benefit enhancements for TRS retirees and improved TRS-Care funding.

We are hearing from many of our friends in the Legislature, as well as those who ran for office this year, that the issues related to TRS are important and require resolution.

As a TRTA member or supporter, we know you are already doing your part to help us achieve our policy agenda next session.
If you are new to TRTA, or perhaps you are not yet a member, we want you to know our member advocacy effort is effective, efficient and inclusive. As one TRTA member recently said to me, “We need to get everyone off the sidelines and in the game. I want to tell all TRS retirees to stop messing around, let’s get tough and get active with TRTA!”

We agree! There are more than 440,000 TRS retirees or beneficiaries. TRTA membership is growing fast, but we still to get everyone on the team, suited up and ready to win.

Over the past several weeks, TRTA has provided a series of informative videos detailing the items included in our legislative agenda for the coming session. This series, entitled Retirees Deserve Better, outlines the major issues affecting retirees and TRS.

Retirees Deserve Better Video Series

Now is a great time to read and review the blog posts we created and watch the brief but educational videos again.

  1. Series Overview: TRTA Releases New Video Series: “TRS Retirees Deserve Better!”
  2. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Rate of Return
  3. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Defined Benefits
  4. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Cost-of-Living Adjustment
  5. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: TRS-Care

Next Steps

Thank you to all of our members for voting and being engaged in the legislative process. Please stay tuned to the Inside Line and also our next issue of The VOICE to learn more about how you can get involved!

TRTA is ready to meet with all elected officials to discuss TRS-Care and all other items on our legislative agenda. We will work with them to establish the best policy possible to support our dedicated educational workforce and retiree population!

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