Powering nonprofit
collaborations. For better.

The Austin Together Fund was created from the idea that nonprofit organizations in Central Texas could reach more people in need with stronger services and increased efficiency.

Efficiency of Resources

The ATF is a collaboration of private funders working to increase impact for individuals and families who get services from the city’s nonprofit sector. Nonprofit organizations in Austin can apply for funding to create collaborative partnerships and build meaningful improvements in services.

Cross-Sector Collaborations

By collaborating strategically with government, the private sector, and with each other, our nonprofit community can expand impact by focusing on the strength of the collective. Our goal is to create a stronger Austin – together.

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Support from Advisors

Our advisors are experts in nonprofit management, business, and investing. We will work to match you with the right advisor and support team. Together, we can find the right way forward for your collaboration.

COVID-19

ATF + COVID-19

Austin’s nonprofit community is collectively battling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community. We know this impact is disproportionately affecting some organizations and the populations that they serve. We continue to look for proactive exploration of formal, long-term collaboration to preserve or expand mission for the organizations involved. At the same time, we are open to learning about how your organization is exploring collaboration to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in your sector. Please contact us with your ideas for collaboration and addressing the effects of COVID-19.

Project Spotlight 

Andy Roddick Foundation (“ARF”) approached ATF in September 2019 for support in pursuing a long-term, multi-stage collaboration aimed at increasing support for high quality afterschool programming in the state of Texas.

Less than 880,000 Texas students participate in out-of-school time (“OST”) learning programs. There are 1.5 million children waiting to enroll in OST, over 7 million children in Texas and over 5 million attending public schools. Nearly half of Texas children are Hispanic or Latino and 32% are Black. One in five Texas children live in poverty. No state funding has been appropriated for OST in Texas.

ARF aims to establish partnerships by 2025 that lead to sound policy, programming and investment in high quality OST capacity across the state through a public-private investment approach. Their ambitious plan is a phased approach with clear steps, goals and metrics.

The initial step involves improved coordination and metrics for quality OST programs in Central Texas. ATF quickly approved Readiness and Feasibility grants that helped ARF continue its planning efforts with Mission Capital aimed at investigating whether the existing Learn All The Time (“LATT”) organization could become a stronger convening organization for the many OST providers in Central Texas. In January 2020, LATT became part of ARF and the membership was introduced to the Quality For All initiative.

Later in the first quarter of 2020, ARF received a Planning grant from ATF to continue its work with LATT and OST providers aimed at clarifying metrics for success and core elements of high-quality OST programming. ATF’s counterpart in Dallas, the Better Together Fund, also approved a Planning grant to ARF for similar collaborative work in North Texas.

While COVID-19 has complicated operations for everyone in education and OST, ARF continues to pursue the Quality For All initiative with the goal of demonstrating progress and securing public and private support for expanding high-quality OST in Texas.

Phases of Work

Readiness

Confidential conversations to explore a potential collaboration that includes an application and interview to assess if the opportunity is ready to proceed.

Feasibility

Intensive testing of the concept including fit, budget, impact, etc to ascertain if it is viable and fits funding model – signed LOI to proceed.

Planning

Support activities to assess, negotiate, and design a formal implementation plan, timeline, and business model for the collaboration. 

Implementation

Implementation of the collaboration, including legal, accounting, IT, back-office, culture integration, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Austin Together Fund do?

The Austin Together Fund (ATF) launched in 2019 as a pilot program to support nonprofit organizations as they explore and commit to formal collaborations that aim to maximize their impact in the Central Texas community.

Who will qualify for funding from ATF?

ATF will work with nonprofit organizations as they consider strategic alliances, restructuring, and cross-sector collaborations to serve more people in the Austin community with high-quality services and resources. ATF also encourages collaboration across the nonprofit, private, and public sectors that supports expansion of scope, growth and/or refinement of programs, and greater efficiency.
ATF manages a competitive application process and not all requests for funding will be awarded. Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  1. Meets the definition of formal collaboration and has potential to meaningfully preserve, expand or improve efficiency or services to constituents and/or improve financial health of the nonprofit(s) involved
  2. Alignment of purpose among the partners
  3. Demonstrated commitment to the success of the collaborative venture among the partners at ED/ Board Chair level
  4. The degree to which ATF funds can play a catalytic role in the process
  5. Thoughtful pre-planning among partners as demonstrated in well-conceived responses, with clearly articulated costs, goals, timeline and benchmarks as appropriate

ATF does not consider any transaction involving only one organization (e.g., internal reorganization/repositioning), or any short-term activity (e.g., organizing a conference in partnership, co­-branding a one-time advocacy campaign). ATF also does not support program-level only collaborations that do not involve a fundamental shift in the organizations’ business models (e.g., a nonprofit providing afterschool programming is not eligible for a grant because it “works” with a school).

What type of funding is available from ATF?

READINESS ASSESSMENT AND FEASIBILITY GRANT to evaluate high-level feasibility of a collaboration and high-level initial analysis on fit, budgets, impact etc. by convening key parties and retaining outside experts as needed. The Readiness Assessment can help nonprofits learn about various partnership options, clarify what they want from (and can bring to) a collaboration, and examine their readiness to engage in a strategic restructuring exploration. A Readiness Assessment is an important part of preparing for a successful collaboration.

Feasibility Grants may be used to pay for external facilitators, consultants and/or staff time Feasibility grants may be made anonymously upon request, but require support of the Executive Directors and Board Chairs of participating organizations.

PLANNING GRANT to support one-time costs associated with activities to assess, negotiate, and design a formal implementation plan, timeline, and business model for the collaboration. Planning Grants may be used to pay for external facilitators, consultants and/or staff time.

IMPLEMENTATION GRANT to support one-time costs associated with a repositioning activity between two or more organizations. May be used to pay for third-party costs of lawyers, accountants, consultants, other one-time costs necessary to complete the transaction and/or staff time. Prerequisites for Implementation Grants include:

  1. Formal board approval
  2. A formal implementation plan detailing scope, timeline, and business model
  3. Agreed upon set of metrics to measure the success of the collaboration

How exciting! Can my organization apply?

ATF is accepting applications for funding on a case-by-case basis. Please complete the initial interest form, and we will contact you with more information.

Who is part of ATF?

The ATF pilot is helmed by a Steering Committee of founders who serve as decision makers for the pilot phase and as key contacts to current and prospective grantees. 

The ATF ensures that every collaboration project has a lead advisor who provides guidance and counsel to the nonprofits while working with the team to keep the project on course, on budget, and operating within an effective framework. If you are interested in becoming an advisor, please contact us at austintogetherfund@gmail.com

The ATF Steering Committee has also engaged the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin as an independent evaluator.

How does ATF obtain funding?

The ATF pilot was launched with private funding from its founders as well as a generous contribution from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. ATF continues to seek other sources of funding to support strategic collaborations in Central Texas. If you are interested in supporting ATF, please write to austintogetherfund@gmail.com.

I'm a funder and want to be involved in this effort. What can I do?

Join us! The Austin Together Fund is actively seeking new funding partners to increase the pool of capital in our community dedicated to creating and fostering smart collaborations. Please share your ideas by writing to austintogetherfund@gmail.com.

I have an idea for a collaboration. How do I share my idea with ATF?

We are always on the lookout for new and exciting ideas for collaboration in the Austin area. Please share your ideas by writing to austintogetherfund@gmail.com.

How to Apply

ATF is accepting applications for funding on a case-by-case basis. Please complete the initial interest form, and we will contact you with more information.

Our Values

As a member of the Sustained Collaboration Network, the ATF uses these key values as guideposts in our work:

NONPROFIT-CENTERED – Network members put the nonprofit at the center of their work; collaborations must be requested by the nonprofits engaging in them

IMPACT FIRST – Sustained collaborations should increase impact in a community, rather than just solving a financial issue

DIVERSITY AND EQUITY LENS – The Initiatives commit to centering equity in the work, and being accountable to improving their practices with transparency

CONFIDENTIALITY – Neutrality and confidentiality are crucial to allow honest explorations of issues

RESOURCING EFFORTS – Initiatives support the costs of exploration and implementation as well as provide technical expertise and strategic thinking

LEARNING ORIENTATION – Initiatives acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers and are learning from the experience as much as the nonprofits they support

Meet Our Team

The ATF Steering Committee members serve as decision-makers for the pilot phase

Ray Brimble

Ray Brimble

Founder and Managing Partner, Lynxs Group LLC

Ray founded his first company at age 22 and has gone on to establish more than 50 companies on four continents with activities ranging from the oilfield, to technology, to logistics and aviation related real estate.

Dennis Cavner

Dennis Cavner

President, Cavner Social Enterprises LLC and Co-founder and Chief Mission Officer, Design Run Group LLC

An entrepreneur and community activist, Dennis believes that many of our most intractable community problems can be solved by matching human and financial capital with the brightest people and the best ideas.
Virginia Potter

Virginia Potter

Portfolio Director, Pathways to Prosperity, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

Virginia manages local efforts to improve children’s ability to engage and perform effectively at school, to increase access to quality healthcare services for families, and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of abused or neglected children.

Rich Smalling

Rich Smalling

Managing Director, Rolling8 LLC

Rich is a servant leader, advisor, and philanthropist with a passion for positive business practices that create thriving organizations.
Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson

Managing Partner, Lucas and Ryan LLC

Ryan is an operator and active investor in Search Fund entrepreneurs and the companies they acquire.

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