August 28, 2018 | Events, News

Weiss Institute Joins Texas Convening

Austin Convening Explores Ways Texas Communities Can Build Capacity to Help Schools Ensure Student Success

The Texas Education Agency has joined forces with the United Ways of Texas; Texas PBS; Say Yes to Education and its new Weiss Institute initiative to ensure that all Texas children advance along the pathway from birth to adult success.  These organizations have partnered to host a summit: Building Pathways to Thriving Communities: Early Childhood to Adult Success on Sept 18-19 that will bring national leaders such as the College Promise Campaign, along with the National League of Cities and Prosperity Now together with cross-sector collaboration teams from 15 communities in Texas.

The goal of the Austin convening is to explore ways that communities can leverage and make available the resources, infrastructure and local systems of support to help all children achieve key developmental milestones on the pathway to college or other postsecondary degree completion – and, onward from there, to meaningful work, productive citizenship and personal achievement.

“By focusing in particular on the first two decades of a young person’s life, beginning with early childhood, we can help support children and their families in their quest to realize their hopes and dreams – and, in the process, help communities harness the collective impact to drive social vitality and economic expansion,” said Adrianna Cuellar Rojas, CEO of the United Ways of Texas.

This collaboration draws on more than four decades of expertise, lessons learned, and deep field-based work. It galvanizes a powerful coalition committed to help all children succeed, and to work collaboratively with cities to build youth-centered communities and college-going cultures.

“It’s critical that school leaders know that they are not alone in making every child reach critical education milestones,” said TEA Commissioner Michael Morath. “The community around a school can play a critical role. That includes parents, grandparents, teachers, doctors, police officers, business leaders, neighbors, local foundations and many others.”

Millions of young people each year fail to meet critical milestones along the developmental pathway from preschool to graduating high school ready for college or other postsecondary education, never to recover the ground lost. Reading and math proficiency by third grade are critical predictors of high school graduation and career success.

Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter that students encounter in fourth grade and beyond.  In Texas, 58 percent of 4th grade students are reading at grade-level.

“This convening is about the power of communities coming together to ensure that all children can achieve college or other postsecondary education and adult success.,” said Felice Nudelman, Executive Vice President of the Weiss Institute.  “ Attendees will have the opportunity to collaborate with subject matter experts and like-minded peers to  explore how to build the pathway for student success and create thriving communities.”

The two-day convening will take place in Austin from September 18 to 19. Fifteen Texas cities are sending a delegation of 3-5 team members. The sessions will provide access to state and national experts, provide team time, as well as interactions across cities and within stakeholder groups to identify the core issues each city faces, provide technical and advisory assistance, and introduce models for ongoing sustainable work.

About Start Smart Texas
Parents and others who want to get involved can visit to view a number of fun videos, articles by experts, and other tips designed to help communities build strategies to support schools.  The site also connects parents and caregivers to state and local resources on child development milestones. The campaign’s Facebook page (StartSmartTexas) shares fun and helpful ideas and resources for families.

About United Ways of Texas


About Say Yes to Education/The Weiss Institute

Say Yes to Education, a leading national nonprofit organization founded in 1987, launched the Weiss Institute in Spring 2017 to help communities expand their capacity to support young people along the developmental pathway from early childhood to college or other postsecondary completion – and on from there to adult success. The Institute partners with communities to address inequities and boost economic development. It does so by marshaling the field’s best thinking, best practices and latest research, as well as by drawing on 30 years of our own experience, lessons learned, and expertise.

About Texas PBS

The mission of Texas PBS is to build a vibrant public broadcasting platform throughout Texas by:

  • Cultivating financial resources for local affiliates,
    • Spearheading collaborations among stations,
    • Illuminating public issues through relevant program content, and
    • Advocating for policies that support robust public media.


For more information about Texas PBS go to: