Community Engagement

Community Engagement Strategic Goal: Cultivate mutually beneficial community-university partnerships that further the mission of the university to serve Texas and beyond with an emphasis on historically and currently underserved communities.

On this page, you will find updated information and current activities within the Community Engagement goal. For more information about the goal and specific objectives, click here.

By Jennifer Arriaga 

The Community Leadership Awards, held November 17, 2014 at the Mexican American Culture Center, was a part of series of events hosted by DDCE in honor of organizations and individuals for their service to the greater Austin area.

Community Partnership Awards were presented to the Community Advancement Network (CAN) for their extensive work towards enriching the social, health, educational, economic wellbeing of the Austin and Travis County, and the Hispanic Alliance for the Performing Arts for their work to empower Austin’s historically underserved youth, particularly its Hispanic population, to participate in the performing arts today and for generations to come.

The Community Leadership Circle Award was presented to Rosie Mendoza for her illustrious board service to a number of importance causes in the Austin community. The Joe R. Long and Teresa Lozano Long Legacy Award was presented to Jesus Garza for his longstanding record of service, and the leadership he has provided to the Austin community. Special recognition was also given to Vincent Torres for his distinctive career with the Austin Independent School District and UT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Resources.

The Community Leadership Awards is a great opportunity to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of these remarkable community leaders. Through their leadership and dedication, these leaders and organizations have transformed and continue to transform Austin.

com lead awards 2014 Left: Vanessa Sarría, executive director of the Community Advancement Network (CAN), accepts the Community Partnership Award. Right: Rosie Mendoza, Community Leadership Circle Award honoree; Vincent Torres, Special Recognition honoree; Jesús Garza, Joe R. and Teresa Long Legacy Award honoree, and Monica Peraza, Community Partnership Award for Hispanic Alliance

The second installment of the Community Leadership Awards was held on December 11, 2014 at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center in East Austin. At the event, Community Partnership Awards were presented to the Austin Chapter of The Links, Incorporated President and Judge Brenda Kennedy and to the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Natalie Madeira Cofield.

The Austin Chapter of The Links has been primarily working to enrich, sustain and ensure the identities, culture and economic survival of African-Americans and persons of African descent. They have done so by working in five programming areas: National Trends and Services, the Arts, Services to Youth, International Trends, and Health and Human Services. The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce has placed their focus on promoting the development of African-American businesses and the expansion of the Greater Austin business community. Also honored that night were William “Teddy” McDaniel, president and CEO of the Austin Area Urban League. He was the recipient of the Dr. James L. Hill Leadership Circle Award. He was recognized for being such an influential leader and community service advocate. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Austin Revitalization Authority, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and UT’s DDCE Austin Community Advisory Council.

The final award of the night was the Dr. June Brewer Legacy Award and it was presented to Dr. Larry L. Earvin, president of Hustson-Tillotson University. Dr. Earvin implemented accelerated programs in criminal justice and business administration for working students currently enrolled in the university. During his tenure, science laboratories were upgraded and residence halls were renovated.

Com Lead Awards 12.14 Teddie McDaniel III, CEO of the Austin Area Urban League, and Dr. Larry Earvin, president of Huston-Tillotson University, celebrate their awards with fellow members of the Gamma Gamma Boulé, including Dr. Gregory J. Vincent (far right) and Rev. Freddie Dixon (far left), who is a member of the DDCE team.



The 87th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, which attracted top high school, collegiate and professional track and field athletes in the nation, was held at the Mike A. Myers Stadium on March 26-29.

In order to honor the achievements of the Texas Relays and its participants, DDCE and the City of Austin hosted the Texas Relays Celebration Reception and Awards Ceremony at Austin City Hall. Sheryl Cole, Mayor Pro Tem, expressed her gratitude for the event: “As a community we have progressed over the last few years in our efforts to embrace diversity and create a welcoming environment for all of our visitors. I was proud to again host a joint reception with the University of Texas on Relay Weekend that honored student athletes, Longhorn Leaders and outgoing Athletic Director, DeLoss Dodds.”


From left to right: Austin City Manager, Marc Ott; UT Athletics Director, Steve Patterson; Mayor Pro Tem, Sheryl Cole; Former UT Athletics Director, DeLoss Dodds; and Vice President for DDCE, Dr. Gregory Vincent


I Live Here, I Give Here is a local non-profit organization with a mission of increasing philanthropic efforts in Central Texas by connecting people with important issues and non-profit organizations that support various causes.  In 2013, I Live Here, I Give Here launched Amplify Austin, a 24-hour “festival of giving” and community-wide day of online philanthropy to raise money for non-profits in Central Texas.  Now in its second year, Amplify Austin giving day kicked off on Thursday March 20th at 6pm and ended on Friday, March 21st at 6pm. Almost 400 non-profits within Travis County and surrounding counties participated and $5,705,808 was raised!

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagements counts I Live Here, I Give Here as an important collaborative community partner. Erica Saenz, DDCE’s Assistant Vice President for Community and External Relations, has been involved with the organization since 2011 and began I Live Here, I Give Here board service in 2012.



The 15th anniversary of Explore UT: The Biggest Open House in Texas took place on March 1st of this year.  Explore UT attracts over 40,000 attendees each year to a day of free performances, exhibits, lectures, and activities for the entire family.  Like most open houses, it offers an opportunity to come “inside” — to see the University’s literary and art collections, learn about its cutting-edge research, experience its history and traditions, and interact with faculty, staff, and, students.

Explore UT seeks to broaden the horizons of schoolchildren and motivate them to aspire to higher education.  It is also an opportunity to help parents and teachers instill the excitement and wonder of learning in children.  In addition, Explore UT welcomes alumni to re-connect with the institution that prepared them for their careers.  With more than 400 programs across the campus, there is something for everyone at UT’s open house.


Photo by Marsha Miller


The Hispanic Scholarship Consortium, founded in 2004, works to increase the number of Central Texas Hispanic students accessing higher education by providing scholarships and networks of support to empower the students to graduate from higher education as workforce ready leaders engaged with the community.

Charles Schwab and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement hosted the annual Hispanic Scholarship Consortium Winter Summit on January 2014.  The reception and dinner were held at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The Winter Summit included a day of learning and reflection as well as information on career and graduate school readiness. This year marked the third occasion of DDCE’s involvement and support for the Hispanic Scholarship Consortium’s Winter Summit.