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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
0

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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08 Nov 2018
0

November is Foundation Month! Read About TRTF’s Classroom Assistance Grants

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, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (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 make a donation by phone, please call 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Sarah.

Bryan Teacher and Students Create “Texan Brews” Coffee Cart

One of this year’s classroom assistance grant recipients was Dena Favors, a middle school teacher in Bryan, Texas. She put her $500 towards starting a coffee delivery service for students in her SAILS class. SAILS stands for social academic independent living skills. The class is for scholars who have mild to moderate disabilities.

Favors’ students go door-to-door between classrooms delivering coffee to teachers. They charge $1 per cup of coffee, and each student is assigned a role. One student will knock on the door and greet the teacher. Another student will collect the money, and the other students help prepare the coffee, hand it over and check the teachers’ punch card. Teachers are ordering the coffee via a Google Form, and each Tuesday and Thursday, the students deliver the orders.

The students are working on basic living skills, according to Favors.

“Some of our students are learning to communicate. They have low verbal skills,” Favors said. “They’re getting to learn social skills.”

Since the program has started Favors has seen progression in those communication skills. One of her students has started to lift his head more when speaking. Others have become more confident in their ability to communicate with adults.

“I love watching them come in and asking about coffee cart,” Favors said. “That gives me joy to watch them grow.”

Favors was ecstatic when she found out that TRTF had selected her application for a grant.

“It was such a huge help. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to start it. I’m really grateful that we were able to get the money,” Favors said.

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.

Read More