November Nonprofit of the Month: Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center
Founded just outside of Austin, Texas, in 1976, as Westcave Preserve, the mission of Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is to inspire people to develop a lifelong practice of enjoying and protecting nature.
They accomplish this through educational programs, collaborative alliances, and conservation of the beautiful 76-acre preserve.
The team at Westcave is thrilled to continue the history of successful collaboration with Austin ISD through a new Outdoor Learning Family Champion program. Read a little bit more about their new pilot program below!
The Outdoor Learning Parent Champion program builds a new pathway of engagement with Austin ISD and meets Westcave’s mission of inspiring people to a lifetime enjoying and protecting nature by connecting parents of Austin ISD students with professional and community building skills through experiences in nature led by Westcave’s team of expert naturalists and educators.
The Families as Partners: Outdoor Learning Parent Champion program extends Austin ISD’s successful “Families as Partners” program. This program is designed to break patterns of intergenerational poverty by building authentic, trusting relationships between school staff and new-to-the-US parents to more effectively support the success of students. The two-generation/dual-capacity framework for family-school partnerships enhances the capabilities, connections, cognition, and confidence of parents (Mapp & Kuttner, 2013).
Westcave’s program expands the scope of specialized training historically provided to parents at 10-15 of the 21 participating Title I schools in and around Austin, TX, in categories such as literacy, technology, volunteerism, and English as a second language to include our specialized training and support related to building community, wellness, and literacy through time outdoors and in nature at their child’s home campus.
The OLPC program is underway and Raul Vallejo, Westcave’s Community Coordinator and program creator, has already met with parents, campus staff, and community members at the 10 Title I schools selected for the pilot – and he already has a waiting list of 5 more schools interested! Additional funding opens the possibility for immediate expansion to reach more families and improve the opportunity for more students to connect and succeed on the path to a brighter, more informed tomorrow for all.