When the Topfer family set out to start a foundation, they had two goals in mind—to help their neighbors and leave a legacy of giving for their family. “The family has a heart for people, and they genuinely care about the health and well-being of Austin,” said Melanie Cazier, Topfer Family Foundation (TFF) Program Officer in Austin, TX. “They want to leave it better than it was when they started.” Through their compassionate act of giving, the Topfers have helped transform the lives of countless individuals in their communities.
The Topfer Family Foundation was created in 2000 to help connect people to the tools and resources needed to build self-sufficient and fulfilling lives. They carefully select organizations that focus their energies on one of five key program areas– child abuse prevention and treatment, youth enrichment, job training, and support services, children’s health, and aging in place. As of December 2021, TFF has given nearly 78 million dollars in donations to organizations in the Austin and Chicago areas. “The growth in Austin is immense, and the needs for people are growing too. That’s why we stand by those organizations that are providing those core services as Austin continues to grow,” said Melanie.
Capital IDEA is one such organization. The partnership between Capital IDEA and the TFF started with a story, Melanie recalls, of a young woman who was living in a shelter. After connecting with Capital IDEA, she moved to transitional housing, got her degree in nursing, and changed her life. “Years later, she had a child that went to college and became a nurse as well, so it really transformed that family forever. It wasn’t just the mom; the daughter was influenced as well. Stories like that were really compelling for us.”
More than 20 years past their initial introduction, TFF continues its faithful support of Capital IDEA, with their lifetime giving now totaling well over a million dollars. Both the level and consistency of their support have had a huge impact on Capital IDEA’s ability to deliver on its mission, a fact that is not lost on Capital IDEA’s Executive Director, Alyssia Palacios-Woods. “At $85 per credit hour, 1 million dollars is a serious investment in the college attainment of our low-income neighbors. In the non-profit world, this steady and reliable giving allows us to plan ahead, commit to new students, and support them for the time it will take for them to graduate and enter employment.”
The way Capital IDEA supports students produces results TFF is interested in. “The people that Capital IDEA supports go on to graduate and live successful lives for themselves and their families. Just the fact that this organization is helping people go on and live self-sustainable lives is wonderful,” said Melanie. This type of impact is what the TFF believes will help transform communities. “Folks who graduate from Capital IDEA’s program are able to go out and live self-sufficient lives and make an impact in the community they live in through their work and their support of the community.” When asked why Capital IDEA would make a good investment for anyone, her reply was clear, “Capital IDEA is one of the few organizations in town that is truly lifting families out of poverty.”
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