Impressing the Impressive

It’s not an easy task to impress a room full of C-suite executives.

But the British American Foundation of Texas achieved this last week at its Awards Ceremony.

When we ask our donors, who are CEOs, COOs, CFOs, Presidents and Directors, to introduce our scholars and present scholarship awards to these #globalleadersoftomorrow, they find themselves talking about young people who are All-State Champions, non-profit founders, coaches and tutors, club and school government Presidents, volunteers, fundraisers, interns, webmasters and Lead Quartermasters, on top of being A grade students.

The British American Foundation of Texas Class of 2019

The British American Foundation of Texas Class of 2019

And this is apart from mentioning that they are actively involved in organizations such as National Honors Society, Math National Honors Society, Science National Honors Society, Women in STEM, Honors College Student Organization, eNABLE, SPHEtina, Girls Engineering the Future, Association of Black Computer Scientists, Q++, All-State Band, Corps of Cadets, STEM Scholars of America, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Health Occupations Students of America and Breakthrough Houston to name a few…..

It’s a privilege to watch our benefactors meet with the next generation of their industry, our future STEM leaders, entrepreneurs, technologists, engineers, innovators and, even more so, to be a part of enabling these fiercely intelligent and ambitious young people to finish their education and graduate.

But scholarships are not just about the academic funding.

True, they play an essential role in our students completing their studies, but the acknowledgement from industry that our students are on the path to success and the faith that we place in them by supporting them, spurs them on to work harder, to aim higher and to achieve more.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity. It means a lot to me that others are willing to invest in my education. It is my full intent to pass on this act.”

Ariana Morris – Undergraduate Award – Mathematics, Texas A&M

And we also help form a generation of compassionate, philanthropic future leaders with a “pay it forward” mindset, confident in the knowledge that they will be in a position to return the favor one day.

“This award will impact my future by helping me be the first in my family to attend college and by inspiring me to graduate and give back to my community.”

Ashley Sessums – Undergraduate Award – Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston

The “giving back” theme is not only in financial terms, but many of our scholars hope to inspire those who follow them too.

“Ultimately this award will aid me in inspiring young women to step out of their own comfort zone through the work I will do.”

Stephanie Zuniga – Undergraduate Award – Software Engineering, Texas State University

It is thanks to our benefactors that we are able to award these scholarships, that we can provide the support to allow these young people to graduate, that they are inspired, believed in and energized.

And we look forward to impressing another “tough crowd” of C-suite executives in 2020.


Photos from the BAFTX 2019 Awards Ceremony are available here.


"I’m going to Brown University"

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Diana OLMOS

BAFTX Junior Achiever 2018

I’m going to Brown University.

That’s how BAFTX Junior Achiever Diana Olmos closed her speech at the Wine, Women and Song luncheon. A celebratory afternoon filled with laughter, wine and dancing to the Fab 5 Beatles cover band, the most memorable part for me were those words:

I’m going to Brown University.

The benefits of BAFTX’s traditional scholarships that end with a college degree are tangible. After four years you see the success of these bright young minds as they move into jobs and start to make their mark on the world.

You have to look closer to appreciate the impact of the BAFTX Junior Achievers grant, which awards students with a two-week summer program in the UK. Some have never left the US, or even Houston. But as they get their first passports and get on their first plane, this experience is actually helping them take the first tentative step into a world of what’s possible.

As Diana began her trip last summer, she was homesick and filled with doubt -- reluctant to join in or speak up. But as she was exposed to history, politics, art and new friends, over the course of the two-week trip something happened. She began to join in and change her perspective on what her future could hold. She gained the confidence to speak up. 

And months later in front of room full of 200 people at a celebratory lunch, as she thanked BAFTX supporters for her experience she did just that:

I’m going to Brown University. 

Post written by Kathy Sauvé, BAFTX Board Member and Wine Women and Song 2019 Sponsor

Back to School!

The British American Foundation of Texas spends a great deal of time fundraising. This is our oxygen, for without it, we cannot function. Without donations or event attendance, there is no scholarship program.

However, once we receive donations from our generous and loyal benefactors, we have a duty to ensure that those funds are distributed according to our mission and in such a way that they have maximum impact. Our benefactors, both personal and corporate, expect their donation to be redistributed to those who need it the most and who can benefit from it the most.

This is where our program kicks in. We need to make students in Texas aware of our scholarships, to inspire, excite and encourage them. Amid of sea of deadlines, assessments, family commitments, extra curriculars, coursework, community service, friendships, part time jobs, social media and a slew of other time-consuming teenage factors, we need to stand out. And this means getting in front of students. We visit high schools to talk about the transformative aspect of our UK program and middle schools to introduce the concept of college nest egg scholarships. We stand with microphones or loud voices in auditoriums, we flyer lunchrooms and corridors, we present slides in college counsellor offices and classrooms, we hold booths at college nights and present to advisors during ISD training days. Our teen-audience elevator pitches are perfected, speaking fast to fill attention spans, walking alongside those late for class.

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Questions arise, disbelief that we 100% fund our UK program, that it’s aimed at the underserved, that this opportunity is available to them. Intrigue about a packed educational program that will expose to them British culture, history, politics and art in such a way that cannot be taught in school. Excitement about the prospect of returning with a Downton Abbey accent. Trepidation about a first airplane flight. Trusting in their own abilities and hoping that some untapped source of inner confidence will carry them through. Strategizing about how to convince parents that they should go.

And yet, many students figure this out and make the leap, hit the submit button on the application form and cross their fingers.

This year we received an unprecedented 98 applications for the BAFTX Junior Achiever Award, a 2 week fully-funded summer program in the UK for high school juniors from very low income families.

We are excited because, although our chosen 6 may not be aware, they have just stepped on a springboard that can change their lives. To travel, to experience, to step outside of their comfort zone, to build awareness of what else is available to them …. this is something that our gifted scholars cannot be taught. But they learn so fast that the sky is the limit. They return with supersized ambitions, start applying to Ivy Leagues (and attend them!) and build an incredible future for themselves.

We are so proud to raise funds for our programs, we are honored to work with the most wonderful benefactors, and we are privileged to deliver our program to the #globalleadersoftomorrow.



BAFTX at the polo.....

The British American Foundation of Texas was invited to host a booth at the 2018 Women’s Polo Championship in Houston Texas on November 10th. Despite a last minute change of venue to Brookshire due to lots of Texas weather in the week preceding the event, BAFTX set up its stall (including a very British cocktail, a raffle for ladies lunch tickets and many packets of Polo mints to give away - yes, really!) at the beautiful Brookshire Polo Club.

The polo was fast and furious, the guests were interesting and charming and BAFTX hopes to participate in other (maybe warmer) polo events in Houston in the future.

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Junior Achievers 2018 - they're back!

Our 6 intrepid Junior Achievers spent two weeks in the UK this July and had the most incredible time.  They visited Portsmouth, Windsor, Oxford, Brighton and Stonehenge .... as well as Althorp Estate, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Tate Modern, the Globe Theater (to see Hamlet), Eton College, Imperial War Museum, Southbank Center, the London Eye and finally the British American Business Council for a talk on Brexit.  Not bad for 12 days....

Our student attend a British Studies Summer program hosted by ACS International Schools.  This program is in its 20th year and welcomes 20 students a year from across the USA. BAFTX is the only Texas-based organization that participates in this program.

Thanks to our donors, we are able to ensure that no student has any financial outlay for this scholarship.  BAFTX funds travel, transfers, accommodation, entry fees, passport fees etc.  Our scholars come from very low income households and it's important that this program is accessible to those who deserve it the most.

For anyone with the slightest doubt as to the incredible value of this program, read what our Junior Achievers say here.  

Ngoc, one of this year's Junior Achievers told us "the biggest takeaway was certainly that I can excel at being independent. This trip has been life-changing not only that I was seeing pretty sights around me but it was more confidence in myself and my abilities to rise above my insecurities and self-consciousness. My future feels brighter and I feel brighter."

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That's how you celebrate a Royal Wedding in style!

The British American Foundation of Texas certainly pulled out all the stops for a Royal Wedding Watch Party on May 19 as Prince Harry married Meghan Markle.

200 guests attended the festivities at the Royal Oaks Country Club.  They enjoyed brunch and mimosas while they watched the wedding on big screens, followed by a toast to the newlyweds from Her Majesty's Consul Karen Bell, a round of royal bingo, royal trivia, a hat competition and raffle prizes.  The photobooth was a hit (especially the cardboard royals in attendance and inflatable corgis) and guests took home their own branded mugs.

Guests were delighted with the event and Fox26 was present to show the rest of the USA what it was missing out on!

Photos from the event are here.

 

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BAFTX Awards 2018

On April 24 the British American Foundation of Texas held its annual Awards Ceremony at the Federal Reserve in Houston.

Benefactors flew in from as far afield as Baltimore and the UK to present awards to our 2018 scholars.

Her Majesty's Consul General, Karen Bell, welcomed guests and gave a brief outline of the work carried out by BAFTX and why it is so vital for the future of our communities.  Lizi Xiong, BAFTX Award Winner 2016 spoke about her experience of the Junior Achiever program and how it completely changed her perspectives and ambitions.  Jesús Terrones, Product and Service Delivery Manager at Cameron, military veteran, West Point graduate and Harvard MBA graduate gave a very personal and inspiring speech that made a great impact on both scholars and benefactors alike.

Benefactors from British Airways, British American Business Council, Bracewell LLP, ConocoPhillips, Crestwood Equity Partners, Direct Energy, Enterprise Products Partners, ExxonMobil, Hakluyt, King and Spalding, Phillips 66, TD Securities, Vepica, and Wood Mackenzie presented awards to students from Texas A&M, University of Houston, University of Texas, Houston Community College, Houton Baptist University, Texas Women's University, South Plains College, KIPP Generations Collegiate, Eastwood Academy, Westside High School, De Bakey High School, Bellaire High School and Renaissance Academy

As one recipient of a college scholarship noted: "The generosity of the benefactors of this amazing opportunity has granted me with the possibility to grow and share what I have learned with my community. I amsure that this experience will prepare me to become a useful asset to society and in the future to be abelt to return the generosity bestowed on me to future generations."

More photos of the evening may be viewed here.

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Wine Women and Song 2018

BAFTX held its annual Wine Women and Song event on February 24th at the Junior League of Houston.  We and our guests had a fantastic time, enjoying champagne, delicious food, fantastic tombola and raffle prizes, great speeches and the awesome entertainment provided by the Fab Five.  Even Prince Harry made an appearance for photos and ended up leading the conga at one point.....

Most importantly however, it raised funds for the Foundation, providing college scholarships for gifted and underprivileged students in Texas.

Photos are available here.

Starry Knight Gala

The British American Business Council of Houston held its Starry Knight Gala benefiting the British American Foundation of Texas on November 11 at the Westin Oaks Hotel.  440 guests enjoyed an evening of "feasting and merriment" including a cocktail reception, dinner, speeches, live and silent auctions, raffles, wine pull, live music and a couple of surprises including confetti and pipers.  The event had a real "New Year's Eve" feel to it and raised $247 000 for the education of gifted and talented students from underprivileged households in Texas.