The National Science Foundation says that American businesses spent $602 billion in research and development in 2021 to develop new products and competitive advantages.

Innovation is just as important in the field of education, yet with tight budgets and limited resources, schools and community organizations don’t often have the luxury of an R&D budget. But that doesn’t mean those educators and leaders don’t develop creative new ways to help young people and change lives.

At Greater Texas Foundation, we walk alongside those changemakers. And we strive to be their partner in creating innovations that can be shared, scaled, and sustained to benefit students across the state. That’s why our strategic plan includes a goal to specifically support innovative projects as part of the foundation’s grantmaking strategy. But you can also find strong examples of innovative work across our entire portfolio of partners and projects. We commit to being both a funder and a collaborator that gives our partners the resources to create bold, impactful change for Texas students.

Over the course of our strategic plan, we have supported a host of strong, innovative projects. In this report, we share the work of two grantees who have nurtured powerful ideas into effective solutions that benefit many Texas students and youth. We’re proud to provide the support that helps our grantees take smart risks and grow their impact.

Philanthropy is often said to be America’s greatest risk capital, and I believe that GTF and other funders like us allow for nonprofits and schools to take chances on things to try. Things may work, or may not work, but it allows for the ability to take those chances and then scale the programs that work really well.

Sue McMillin, President and CEO

Ripples of Impact Across Texas

Our vision is for all Texas students to have equal opportunity to access and succeed in postsecondary education. That’s a bold goal that requires focus and persistence. Is it possible to remain centered on our priorities while still being open to new, untested ideas with great potential? We think so.
Greater Texas Foundation’s current strategic plan defines four funding goal areas and provides for a flexible and forward-thinking structure to take advantage of emerging opportunities and invest in new, original projects that seem promising.

Our definition of innovation:

An approach to increasing the number of Texas students completing credentials that is original or new to the user, context or application.

Nurturing a Culture of Learning

Learning from trial and error is an essential part of the innovation process that can generate new ideas and lead to breakthroughs. With this in mind, we foster a culture that encourages grantees to report failures and lessons learned. Maintaining strong and open channels of communication ensures grantees feel comfortable reporting both successes and failures.

In the case studies that follow, we highlight the work of two grantees whose innovations have matured to become scalable and sustainable, creating reverberations across Texas .

E3 Alliance - Math means momentum

E3 Alliance’s commitment to systems change is grounded in data and analysis. And a decade ago the data told a clear story of how to help more Texas students succeed in school by strengthening math education. The passage of HB 5 legislation in 2013 drastically lowered the requirements for student course-taking in math, and many district, higher ed, and foundation leaders were very concerned about the implications of this policy change, so GTF funded E3 Alliance to do ground-breaking research on the connection between math course completion and later education outcomes. Informed by this data, Greater Texas Foundation began funding E3 Alliance’s Pathways of Promise work in Central Texas in 2014.

The data revealed the opportunity

Research revealed a powerful link between math course-taking and postsecondary opportunities.
  • Students who take advanced math in middle and high school significantly increase their post-high school success and wages in the workforce.
  • Students taking math all four years in high school double their likelihood of attaining a postsecondary credential.
  • Students who enroll in a college-aligned course in high school are six times more likely to complete a postsecondary credential.

Texas students begin their advanced math journey in middle school based on 5th grade outcomes. Research found that enrolling in advanced math in middle school is not often based on any objective measure of demonstrated math aptitude. The missed opportunity was particularly pronounced among historically underserved populations. Of all 5th-grade 2014 STAAR test math takers in Texas, fewer than 33% of Black and 46% of Hispanic students with scores in the top 20% completed Algebra I by 8th grade.

The districts proved the case

On the heels of this analysis, E3 Alliance facilitated a collaboration among school districts in Central Texas to identify school district policies and practices that were impeding high-performing math students from advanced math opportunities and a wide range of subsequent high school coursework.

One example of a limiting factor was the practice of having middle school students opt into Algebra I. As a result, too few students took this critically-important course. So, participating districts set shared goals for enhancing equitable outcomes for students across their campuses and they saw marked change for the entire region.

For example, Hays CISD reversed tactics in 2020. Rather than opting into advanced math, they automatically enrolled qualifying students, creating an opt-out policy.

“Since making this shift, our enrollment in middle school advanced mathematics courses and 8th-grade Algebra grew by 29%, allowing over 200 additional students to thrive with a more appropriate, rigorous, and challenging curriculum,” explained Derek McDaniel, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Hays CISD

About the Partner

E3 Alliance is a data-driven education collaborative based in Central Texas and working across the state to transform education systems through data and collective action so all students succeed. Founded in 2006, E3 Alliance collaborates with 15 Central Texas school districts, eight institutions of higher education, and more than 200 businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and policy leaders.

A long-term partnership

10 years | 7 grants | $2.6M

Districts across Central Texas collectively adopted this opt-out policy and the results were striking. The policy significantly increased the rate of Algebra I completion across the board and significantly decreased equity gaps for low-income students and students of color. These changes to regional practices decreased the gap between high-performing Black and White students being enrolled into advanced middle school math pathways by 91%!

E3 Alliance shared the evidence from this Central Texas collaboration with state agencies and the Texas legislature. The outcomes of these pilot projects and the backing of E3 Alliance led to the creation of 2023 legislation that set a statewide policy for students scoring in the top 40% to be automatically enrolled in Algebra I in the 8th grade.

Hear how three Central Texas school districts embraced math for all

Systems change ensured sustainable impact

On May 25, 2023, Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 2124 into law. By changing policies around advanced math placement, districts are narrowing the disparities between high-performing students taking Algebra I in 8th grade. And the law provides impetus to scale the success across the state.
Along this ten-year journey, Greater Texas Foundation served on E3 Alliance’s Pathways of Promise steering committee and supported them with seven grants that helped them complete a highly-successful cycle of innovation, moving from data, to piloting, to scaling, to systems change that ensures sustainability of a significant improvement in math education for Texas students.
“Policy change takes time. For ten years, E3 Alliance has been spreading the word about math education. This last legislative session saw the passage of Senate Bill 2124, focused on enrolling rising sixth graders in advanced math. We know that having rigor in math is a precursor to Algebra 1, which is a precursor to success in college.”

– Sue McMillin

Aspen Institute: Sourcing Sustainable Funding

In 2018, an estimated 462,300 Texans aged 16-24 were not in school and not working. They are known as opportunity youth. Beyond the lost human potential of such disconnection, the state loses $20,000-40,000 per year with each opportunity youth, according to Dr. Hannah Gourgey, Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Forum. Many communities across the state often have strong programming to aid opportunity youth, largely serving small numbers through private philanthropy. But these communities can benefit from learning ways to scale their programs and find sustainable funding.

A 2021 research report by Jobs for the Future (JFF) began to point the way for communities to source public funding and leverage Texas policies that support pathways for opportunity youth to attain high school and postsecondary credentials. (See related box below.)

Connecting communities to sustainable resources

With seed funding from Greater Texas Foundation, Texas Opportunity Youth Network (TOYN) launched an Innovation Fund to support existing regional opportunity youth collaboratives. The Aspen Opportunity Youth Forum is leading the effort to increase community and program expertise, leverage state policy and public/private funding partnerships, and build sustainable and scalable opportunity youth pathways statewide.

Since GTF’s initial seed funding, the community of partner funders has grown – more than doubling the original $1 million investment. This funding covers planning, piloting a revenue model, and launch.

The Innovation Fund was born from this initial question: “How much money are we leaving on the table that could help us serve opportunity youth?” The Fund now has three goals:

  • Build the capacity to draw down public funding and leverage existing policies to expand and sustain their opportunity youth programs.
  • Receive coaching to overcome regulatory or precedent barriers to getting these funds.
  • Form a community of practice that shares learning.

About the Partner

The Aspen Institute has earned a reputation for gathering diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders, creatives, scholars and members of the public to address some of the world’s most complex problems. But the goal of these convenings is to have an impact beyond the conference room. They are designed to provoke, further and improve actions taken in the real world. Education is one of their nine areas of strategic focus.

Our investment: $1M

With more than $2 million pooled from 5 funders, the Aspen Institute awarded 11 planning grants to community organizations serving as regional backbones. Organizations that received funds for planning work emerged well-positioned and strategically prepared to pilot new initiatives. Eight communities have now received funding for pilot programs. Here are two examples of teams that have creatively sourced resources for their programs:

Corpus Christi

Education to Employment Partners has received funding from the City of Corpus Christi, the National League of Cities, Corpus Christi ISD, and the Innovation Fund to open a youth re-engagement center that will assist opportunity youth in resuming their education and/or training to become career ready.


Prosper Waco and Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network are building a new community-wide approach to serving opportunity youth. They have secured funding from Medicaid and the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) Program to help them serve youth with disabilities and behavioral health issues.

Big picture benefits

Guided by experienced coaches provided through TOYN, these projects are intended to innovate the way opportunity youth support programs are funded to make them more sustainable. The eight pilot programs are expected to involve almost 500 youth across Texas in intensive, relationship-based work to re-engage them with education and work. 

What is the benefit of this work? “The State of Texas will gain $26 billion by re-engaging its opportunity youth,” says Dr. Hannah Gourgey of the Aspen Institute. That includes restoring lost wage income, savings in health and social services, and avoidance of justice system involvement. And that is a powerful wave of change.

Convening Report:

In 2021, we brought together more than 80 people to answer the question, “What would it take to reconnect opportunity youth to education and work equitably and at scale across Texas?”

Funding opportunities for opportunity youth

From the JFF report, here are examples of how schools and organizations can access funding that will benefit disconnected youth:

  • Texas is unique in that, through House Bill 1137, it allocates per-pupil funding based on average daily attendance for school districts to re-engage young people up to age 25 who left high school without graduating so they can earn a diploma. School districts can draw down this average daily attendance funding to support opportunity youth.
  • Independent school districts (ISDs) can apply for District of Innovation status, and have charter school-like flexibility in their curricula, instruction, budgets, and governance, among other measures; this status could be leveraged for schools serving opportunity youth.
  • Among the provisions passed in House Bill 3 are college, career, and military readiness bonuses for school districts that prepare students for those paths.
  • Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) administers federal funding for adult education and literacy (AEL). Through a competitive process, TWC awards multi-year grants to eligible AEL providers.
Read more in the full report from JFF.

GTF Scholars Are The Future

The innovative GTF Scholars program offers holistic support services to help Early College High School graduates transition to college and be successful in that environment. As a result, GTF Scholars have significantly better persistence and graduation rates, and lower loan debt, than other ECHS graduates.
Here, meet two of our scholars and hear their hopes for the future.

Natalia Murguia

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
Majoring in English with a Minor in Education
Graduating Spring 2025
Attended Montwood High School in El Paso

Why is a college education important to you?

My parents instilled the importance of education in me at a young age. My mom didn’t go to college and my dad began college after they learned they were having me. I attended his graduation from UTEP when I was seven years old and eleven years later he watched me earn my associates degree. I saw that a college degree made it easier for my dad to get a higher paying job. My mom has to work harder for less money. 

Can you share some successes you’ve had in college so far

I’m really proud of having a 4.0 GPA and having no debt. In addition to being a GTF Scholar, I was awarded an Academic Excellence Scholarship from UTEP, a Stars Scholarship, the El Paso McDonald’s Scholarship, and the Senior Airman Danny Ray Sanchez Foundation Scholarship. It is a huge relief to only focus on school. It would be so hard to focus if I had to work to afford school.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in navigating the transition to college?

Early College High School prepared me for the workload, the lecture style, and using Blackboard. But it was a challenge to move to an independent learning environment and I had to learn to manage my time between academics and social life. The GTF Scholars office helped make it a smoother transition.

How has being a GTF Scholar impacted your college experience?

I definitely feel the support from the GTF Scholars.Their intent is behind their words. Initially, I had a hard time dealing with the college’s Financial Aid Office, but the GTF program coordinator helped me settle my issues. 

They have hosted lots of amazing workshops. In a LInkedIn workshop we learned to write our bios and follow things that interest us. And they took professional headshots of us in work attire. There were also workshops on resume building and a fun one about personality types (StrengthsFinder) And a workshop with Student Affairs introduced us to resources on campus like IT, the writing center, academic advising, and I learned how to navigate the Education program application.

What do you plan to do after you finish your degree?

I am currently student-teaching at Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy and I’d love to teach there after graduation. Instruction there is so different from other schools–they interrupt each other productively, help each other–it’s a collaborative place. I want to teach there while getting a master’s degree in library science. I love El Paso but am open to going elsewhere. 

Tell us about an influential figure in your life.

In my junior year of high school I took English Composition from Mr. Hemling. He also sponsored the literary anthology club and was coach for the High Q club. I saw how “unapologetically himself” he was. The way he organized all those activities made me want to do that in life!

What do you do to relax and have fun?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had my head in a book. I also play the cello. It helps me relax and convey my feelings. The tone of the cello is as close to the human voice as an instrument can get. I also play volleyball and enjoy mountain biking. (As if we need proof, she points to a bandage on her chin from a recent ride.)

What book are you recommending right now?

My favorite book now is The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s resonating right now for me as the main character is constantly changing his identity. 

Alan Ramirez Treja

University of Houston – Downtown
Majoring in Chemistry
Graduating Spring 2025
Attended Attended Alief Early College High School

Why is a college education important to you?

I want a college degree for myself and for my parents. They want a different life for me than they had. I really enjoy school. I like to take on challenges and try my best in everything. The moment I took chemistry in high school it really made me realize I loved that field and wanted to major in it. I earned my associates degree in science through my Early College High School. 

What do you plan to do after you finish your degree?

For a long time, I wanted to be in the field of medicine but patient contact and surgery is not for me. In pharmacy, I can help without having to see blood! I plan to attend pharmacy school after college and maybe get a doctorate.

What has been your favorite course or activity in college?

I loved my service learning project in organic chemistry. Over a semester we had to do research, conduct surveys, create essays and posters, and make a presentation to convince local high school students not to take drugs. Our team worked on fentanyl and I learned how easily the drug can be accessed. When the students came to our campus for the presentation, we talked about groups and organizations that could help them with avoidance, support, or treatment.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in navigating the transition to college? How did you get help?

At the start, I was confident I knew how it was going to go. I didn’t realize that in high school I had free periods to study but in college I have to make time to study within my full schedule. I learned from a GTF Scholars workshop to make an agenda for the day and create my to-do list (not just a sticky note). 

How else has being a GTF Scholar impacted your college experience?

We have a GTF Scholars lounge and it’s useful to have a study room close by. People are quiet there and I can pop in between classes. Our campus coordinator is Thalina Sabido and she is great for any questions I have or to share opinions or contacts. 

Another workshop on using LinkedIn was helpful. We learned how to present ourselves, how to apply for internships, what makes a good, credible internship, etc. I would like an internship in a pharmacy or hospital. 

What do you do to relax and have fun?

I play video games, watch series, and read mangas. I also enjoy dancing. I was in a folkloric group in middle school and we won awards. Mostly I dance to popular music now.

What’s next for you?

I will attempt to earn a pharmacy certification this summer to make sure I really like the field. I plan to work at a local pharmacy. After 500 hours of work, I can apply to take the certification test.

More Scholar Stories

Hear other GTF Scholars reflect on their progress from ECHS to college in this video.

Grant Activity

In 2023, Greater Texas Foundation’s board of directors approved 39 grants for a total of $5,896,191 in new funding to improve postsecondary outcomes for Texas students
Learn more about out grantmaking process.

Grants Approved in 2023

Student Supports

Latino Student Success Funders Group 2023 ($5,000)

To support the Latino Student Success (LSS) Funders Group which brings together funders interested in supporting the success of Latino students. Participation in this network allows GTF to stay up to date with current trends and topics in the field. (Excelencia in Education, Inc.)

Enhanced Data for Comprehensive Higher Education Reporting ($250,000)

To support a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to increase data-informed reporting and coverage of higher education issues in Texas. This will include a redesign of the Tribune’s Schools Explorer database to improve functionality for Texans looking for critical statewide education data and information. (Texas Tribune, Inc.) 

2023 Texas Male Student Leadership Summit ($5,000)
To support the 2023 Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color which brings 300+ young men of color and professionals representing school districts, community colleges, and universities from across the state to the UT-Austin campus for a two-day event, which educates and engages students on a variety of topics related to college and career readiness, identity, brotherhood, health wellness, and leadership. (The University of Texas at Austin) 
E3 Alliance: Preparing English Learners for the Texas Economy Initiative ($365,035)
To support the E3 Alliance: Preparing English Learners for the Texas Economy Initiative action research to increase the number of Texas English Learner students enrolling in and successfully completing Advanced Placement, dual credit, advanced math, and Career & Technical Education, thereby preparing them to fill high-demand bilingual jobs in Texas and become strong contributors to the state’s economic prosperity. (E3 Alliance) 
Increasing Postsecondary Attainment Rates in Rural West Texas – A Place Based Approach ($420,000)
To support degree attainment among rural West Texas’ underserved and underrepresented students, while contributing toward a developing body of evidence to inform and advance research on rural adult student success. (WGU Corporation) 
UTSA Cost of Experience ($299,870)
To support UTSA’s Cost of Experience (COE) Project which will provide peer mentoring, faculty coaching, and career mentoring/development and experiential learning opportunities to 100 first-generation and Pell eligible juniors, with the goal to improve retention rates and graduation rates and increase marketable skill and career-readiness development for these students. (The University of Texas at San Antonio) 
Minding College Minds ($700,000)
To support a partnership between the Meadows Institute and the Texas Success Center (TSC) to develop an innovative and first-of-its-kind postsecondary mental health and student success framework and curriculum to meet the unique needs of community colleges, with a focus on rural-serving community colleges. (Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas)
Texas A&M Summer Academic Camp Sponsorship for Local Students ($10,000)
To support low-income, first-generation middle and high school youth from the Brazos Valley to participate in academic summer camps at Texas A&M University. (Texas A&M Foundation)
NLC 2024 Cohort Initiative ($142,630)
To support curricular innovation and advising practices to meet the needs of low-income students at Northeast Lakeview College (NLC). The initiative embeds holistic case management services to assist students in identifying and removing structural barriers at and beyond the campus and facilitating access to wraparound services that address social, emotional, and academic obstacles. (Alamo Colleges Foundation, Inc.) 
National Conference for Higher Education in Prison – Financial Aid ($2,500)
To support two scholarships for formally incarcerated students to attend the 2023 National Conference for Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP), hosted by the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison in Atlanta GA. (Community Partners) 
Telling the Right Stories: How Narratives Can Shift Apprenticeship in Texas ($200,000)
To support a research project aimed at providing employers, workforce development organizations, community colleges, other educational institutions, and community-based organizations with new messages and narrative frameworks to develop targeted messaging and outreach practices to bring more young people into an earn-while-you-learn pathway. (Young Invincibles) 
Delivering a Talent Strong Texas ($95,000)
To support the engagement of a highly experienced contractor to help develop implementation plans and build internal staff capacity to further align the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) strategic architecture with the goals of the state strategic plan for higher education, Building a Talent Strong Texas. (Texas Higher Education Foundation) 
Transfer, Transition, and Advising
Rural Learning Track at 2023 National Conference ($34,000)
To support a rural learning track at NCAN’s annual conference “Uniting for Equity: Shaping the Future of Postsecondary Attainment” held in Dallas, TX. (National College Attainment Network)
Equitable Enrollment Collaborative ($1,185,766)
To support UP Partnership’s community of practice, the Equitable Enrollment Collaborative (EEC), in implementing its next phase of work which will support leaders from five independent school districts, 10 higher education institutions, and two community based organizations to: 1) create and adopt a unified framework and cross-sector curriculum for college-bound advising, based on a shared definition of “college ready,” 2) develop and distribute a landscape map that layers college readiness initiatives with postsecondary offerings and career placement opportunities, and 3) support the rollout of the cross-sector advising curriculum, with clear links to shared metrics and a shared data tracking system to ensure data informed implementation. (P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County Foundation, Inc.)
Growing Towards Your Future 2024 ($8,000)
To support the Texas A&M Chapter of Advise TX College Advising Corps’ community event for Brazos Valley students and families featuring: FAFSA and TAFSA workshops, college and career fair, application/financial aid workshops, advising sessions, and family engagement opportunities. (Texas A&M Foundation)
Rural Collaborations
Dollars for College Savings Program ($10,000)
To support the Henderson County United Way (HCUW) Dollars For College Savings Program, a partnership between area schools, community organizations and philanthropic funders to provide access and opportunities for students and families in rural Henderson County, Texas to build long-term savings through a trustworthy my529 college savings plan with the shared expectation that postsecondary education is necessary and an accessible path for all students. (Henderson County United Way) 
2023 Brazos Valley Gives – Matching Funds for Participating ISDs ($40,000)
To support education foundations from eight Brazos Valley independent school districts participating in the annual Brazos Valley Gives Day: College Station ISD, Bryan ISD, Caldwell ISD, Brenham ISD, Burton ISD, Navasota ISD, Centerville ISD, and Somerville ISD. (Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley) 
UpSkill Coastal Bend Partnership ($400,415)
To support continued expansion of the UpSkill Coastal Bend Partnership into six targeted counties of the Coastal Bend – Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, and San Patricio – to provide rural residents with greater access to education and career opportunities. (Citizens for Educational Excellence, Inc.) 
Rural Regional Talent Network (R-RTN) Cohort 2 Implementation ($1,004,270)
To support the expansion of Rural Regional Talent Networks by implementing a second cohort in three rural Texas communities. (Economic Mobility Systems) 
Math for Success
2023 Blueprint Summit Support ($2,500)

To support E3 Alliance’s Blueprint Summit on September 13, 2023, where E3 Alliance will release the Blueprint for Educational Change, which outlines Central Texas’ strategic plan to build a strong, equitable education-to-workforce pipeline. (E3 Alliance) 

Expanding Rural Participation of Texas Colleges ($3,600)
To support attendance for two teams from rural community colleges in Texas in Bellwether College Consortium’s 2024 Community College Futures Assembly where they will gain knowledge of proven solutions to critical issues affecting all community colleges. (Alamo Colleges Foundation, Inc.)
Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education ($496,155)

To support the personal growth and academic achievement of people impacted by the justice system through participation in Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education. (Lee College Foundation, Inc.)

2023 Texas Higher Education Leadership Conference ($5,000)
To support the 2023 Texas Higher Education Leadership Conference hosted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The event, Higher Edge 2023: Leading Texas’ Future, brings together a dynamic and diverse group of policymakers and leaders in higher education, business, and other stakeholders to collaborate, explore new trends, and inspire innovative ideas. (Texas Higher Education Foundation) 

2023 Membership ($3,700)

To support the foundation’s 2023 membership to Grantmakers for Education. (Grantmakers for Education) 

2024 Membership ($2,250)
PEAK Grantmaking is a member-led community of philanthropy professionals dedicated to advancing effective grantmaking practices. This grant supports the foundation’s 2024 membership. (PEAK Grantmaking, Inc.) 
2024 Membership ($14,000)
The Council on Foundations fosters an environment where philanthropy can thrive and cultivates a community of diverse and skilled philanthropic professionals and organizations who lead with integrity, serve as ethical stewards, and advocate for progress. This grant supports the foundation’s 2024 membership. (Council on Foundations, Inc.) 
GTF Educational Matching Grant Program
GTF Educational Matching Grant Program 2023 ($91,500)
This program is meant to encourage giving by Greater Texas Foundation officers, board members, external committee members, managers, and employees to educational institutions or organizations supporting education through scholarships or programs related to any of GTF’s strategic goals. The foundation will match contributions up to $5,000 on a 3:1 basis. 
  • Baylor University
  • Howard Payne University
  • Southwestern University (2)
  • Stephen F. Austin State University (2)
  • Texas A&M Foundation (2)
  • Texas State University Development Foundation
  • The Texas A&M University Commerce Foundation (2)
  • Tyler Junior College Foundation

Dr. John Moss – Honorary Endowed Scholarship ($100,000)

To contribute to the John & Peggy Moss Endowed Scholarship which supports education majors with a concentration in mathematics at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. 

Reaching the Next Shore
Even as we complete the implementation of our current strategic plan we are building a new plan to guide our future. The creative spirit, risk-taking, and lesson-sharing of our grantees and partners inspires us to reach farther and think bolder in our planning. In the fall of 2024, we will unveil a new strategic plan and you can be assured that it will be imbued with a spirit of innovation and lofty goals for addressing today’s challenges and solving problems we haven’t yet imagined.
Working in partnership with our grantees, schools, other funders, and state leaders, we will continue our commitment to empowering change and creating more postsecondary opportunities for students across Texas.
About Greater Texas Foundation


Greater Texas Foundation’s vision is for all Texas students to have equal opportunity to access and succeed in postsecondary education.
Greater Texas Foundation supports efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete postsecondary education. We put particular focus on helping underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. We pursue our mission by forming partnerships, supporting research, sharing knowledge, and making grants.
Greater Texas Foundation is built on a long history of service to the students of Texas.
The organization from which Greater Texas Foundation evolved was founded in 1981 as the Greater East Texas Higher Education Authority. At the time, students borrowed from private lenders to pay for their higher education under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). Greater East Texas incentivized this practice by serving as a nonprofit secondary buyer for loans in southeast Texas and by providing information to schools and students about the FFELP. Over time, the organization grew, adding a loan servicing arm and acquiring a loan portfolio.
In 2001, the board elected to expand the organization’s charitable purpose by splitting it into two entities. Greater Texas Foundation would function as a public charity, while LoanSTAR Funding Group would hold the organization’s loan-related assets. In 2005, the foundation sold its stock in LoanSTAR and invested the proceeds to create an endowment. Over the next several years, the foundation awarded millions of dollars in grants to educational programs, particularly those focused on math and science. Over time, the mission and strategy of Greater Texas Foundation evolved with an improved understanding of Texas students. Today, we function as a private foundation with a vision for all Texas students to have equal opportunity to access and succeed in postsecondary education. The foundation’s mission is to support efforts to ensure all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete postsecondary education. The foundation is guided by a five-year plan focused on specific goals and strategies to optimize our impact on students. To learn more, please visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org/priorities.
Board of Directors
  • Ralph Rushing, Chair
  • Dr. Samuel Gillespie, Vice Chair, Finance & Investment Committee Chair
  • Bill Youngkin, Secretary, Audit & Accountability Committee Chair
  • Dr. John Moss, Charitable Activities Committee Co-Chair
  • Dr. Alonzo Sosa, Charitable Activities Committee Co-Chair
  • Dr. Donald Thompson, Strategy & Learning Committee Chair
  • Judy Holt, Director
  • A.D. James, Jr., Director
  • Dr. Terry Jones, Director
  • Tina Gridiron, Advisor to the Strategy & Learning Committee
  • Janet Handley, Advisor to the Finance & Investment Committee
  • Dr. Mary Hendrix, Advisor to the Charitable Activities Committee
  • Jodi Jones, Advisor to the Audit & Accountability Committee
  • Sue McMillin, President & CEO
  • Nancy Mader, Office Manager
  • Erin Arnold, Senior Accountant
  • Amber Bass, Chief Financial Officer
  • Leslie Gurrola, Director of Programs & Strategy
  • Carol Miller, Director of Grants Management
  • Tessa Pennington, Programs & Strategy Associate
  • Dr. Andrea Robledo, Programs & Strategy Officer
  • Chris Woodruff, Senior Grants Management Associate
  • Emma Reed, Graduate Intern
Student Assistants
  • Rylie Bridgford
  • Kaci Herman
  • Alexandria Christian
  • Jen Jernigan
  • Paige Hubert

When you visit this website we may track your data to analyze and improve site performance.


* indicates required