University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Visualize Graduation Society Members Help UT Elementary Fulfill Its Mission

April 24, 2012

As anyone familiar with UT Elementary School knows, the 34 Visualize Graduation Society (VGS) members are more than just donors to the school—they are partners in providing a quality education to East Austin students and in creating a caring community to support those students. VGS members may be seen mentoring students, reading to classrooms, and serving on the school’s boards and committees.

VGS is a multi-year giving society for those who have pledged to invest at least $1,000 per year for a period of five years or more. “Their pledges provide the necessary unrestricted resources each year that ensure the health of the school and directly improve the quality of public education,” explained Executive Director Melissa Chavez. “Our Visualize Graduation Society members play a critical role in the school’s ability to fulfill its mission, especially since 19% of the school’s budget must come from generous individuals, corporations and foundations in the community.”

Penny Burck and her husband Dan have been VGS members since the society began. She also serves as the chair of the school’s Annual Giving committee. Penny says belonging to VGS is rewarding in so many ways. “I believe in a firm foundation through education,” said Burck. “These young students are our future citizens and leaders; we must give them the best education possible so they can make society better for all of us. When I watch them walk across the stage at fifth-grade graduation and announce what they would like to be and where they plan to go to college, it feels great to know that our gift has benefited these children so much.”

Lisa Henken-Ramirez and her husband Randy Ramirez became members of VGS at the school’s annual fundraising luncheon last May. “At lunch we were both blown away by what we heard about the school and the impact it makes on the lives the children who go there,” said Henken-Ramirez. “We immediately signed up for the Visualize Graduation Society because we wanted to be part of that magic.”

Ramirez is now on the management board and Annual Giving committee for the school and Henken-Ramirez volunteers on the Marketing and Communications committee. She said she takes every opportunity possible to spend time at the school. “Most recently I was delighted to read ‘If I Ran the Circus’ to Ms. Williams’ third graders on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.”

“For us, UT Elementary School is a family affair. My sister Rebecca mentors a kindergarten student. We love the school’s mission and we love that they accomplish that mission every day,” said Henken-Ramirez.

Members of the Visualize Graduation Society include:
o A friend
o Dr. Jennifer and Sam Adair
o Anonymous
o Laura and Steve Beuerlein
o Brook Anne Broesche
o Mack and Sally Brown
o Dr. Diane Bryant
o Buena Vista Foundation
o Dan and Penny Burck
o Prof. Norma Cantu
o Dr. Ruy and Dionne Carrasco
o Robiaun and Preston Charles
o Melissa Chavez and Charles Soto
o Chancellor Francisco and Graciela Cigarroa
o Sandy and Lisa Gottesman
o Vaughn Gross
o Randy and Julia Howry
o Bill and Suzon Kemp
o Michael and Jeanne Klein
o Chris Mattsson and John McHale
o Kris and Bryce Miller
o Karen Nelson
o Howard and Amy W. Nirken
o Pat and Julie Oles
o Greg and Tess Peters
o Randy and Lisa Henken Ramirez
o Don and Gina Reese
o Drs. Paul and Virginia Resta
o Mallory and James Shaddix
o Dan Sharp and Maura Brady
o Dr. Ed and Molly Sharpe
o Stahl Family Foundation
o Dr. Gregory J. Vincent
o Barbara Wallace

Previous post:

Next post: