New Home and Community Services Provider Ready to Meet Regional Needs

Beautiful Abilities recently received Texas Home and Community Services (HCS), and Texas Home Living contracts for Central Texas. That means founder Phil Haas is now able to realize his dream of providing services and meaningful opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Phil is not new to HCS. He has been serving individuals with intellectual disabilities for more than 25 years. Phil helped major providers develop innovative programs and operations that enhanced the quality of care while maximizing the bottom line. He has served as the President of the Private Provider Association of Texas and as a State Representative for ANCOR, the national provider association. In short, Phil understands the business and he’s passionate about serving.

That’s why we’re so pleased to have Beautiful Abilities as a member of the Innovation Underground. Phil is working to develop innovative approaches to community based care. He’s developing partnerships and programs that will provide for meaningful day programming and unique home living services. And he’s doing all of it with a focus on financial sustainability.

As the name implies, Beautiful Abilities is focused on celebrating and maximizing the abilities of each individual served. The company will actively seek employment opportunities for those who want to work in their communities. They are also building entrepreneurial enterprises that will both focus on work best suited to their clients and add sustainability to the services.

In some senses, Beautiful Abilities is a start-up of start-up micro enterprises. Agriculture production, food services, hospitality and other businesses can offer ideal settings and meaningful work for adults with intellectual disabilities. So, in addition to providing quality home services, Beautiful Abilities is working to create community opportunities right here in central Texas. To learn more, visit Beautiful Abilities online.

Downtown Bryan Joins Growing List of Film Festivals in Texas

Film makers and fans gathered at the Innovation Underground this weekend to celebrate the newest addition to the growing list of film festivals in Texas. The inaugural Downtown Bryan Film Festival was produced by recent A&M Consolidated High School (AMCHS) alumni. The event featured the work of recent high school and university graduates.

Class of 2012 alumni Kent Juliff and Madeline Packard created the Downtown Bryan Film Festival, a new annual summer film event. They hope to showcase short-films by AMCHS audio video production alumni as they continue to advance in their careers. While film festivals in Texas are not uncommon, the students believe focusing on hometown filmmakers and those early in their careers will add to the growing film and arts activity in downtown Bryan.

Mustachio by Stephen Gamache was among the films featured at the festival.

This year the festival showcased 10 short films by alumni who have studied, or plan to study, film production at universities across the country. Founders hope to expand on the program next year and engage even more local film makers.

Downtown Bryan Film Festival is not the first film festival in the area. Red Wasp will celebrate its 10th year this October, making it among the longer standing events on the Governor’s list of more than 50 film festivals in Texas. Festivals and events are powerful tools for community and economic development. Film festivals in particular represent a great opportunity as they serve to bolster the states growing film industry, generating high quality jobs and economic activity associated with film production as well as subsequent tourism opportunities.

To learn more about film making in Texas, visit the Texas Film Commission web site.

The festival was sponsored by Advent GX, Buffalo Wild Wings, Copy Corner and Downtown Bryan Association. To learn more, visit the festival web site.

New Imani Video Gets to the Heart of the Mission

Faith-Hope-Love. That’s the meaning of the name Imani-Tumani-Upendo, the only non-profit member of the Innovation Underground here in Bryan, Texas. This is only the second summer Imani has coordinated mission teams serving organizations working on the ground in Africa, but the company has already expanded from one team in 2011 to four teams this year. Next year, Imani expects to send nine teams to Africa.

Jenny Jenkins (r) and Rachel Driskell (l) are the founders of Imani-Tumani-Upendo

Imani founders Jenny Jenkins and Rachel Driskell are especially proud that they are able to offer internships for credit to Texas A&M University students serving on the mission teams.

Imani trains team leaders and prepares participants for the summer in training sessions in downtown Bryan before they set out to Africa. Imani’s new video produced while on the ground in Jinja, Uganda provides insight into the impact these teams are having, and just as important, the impact the mission is having on each team member.

So far, Imani supports three mission organizations, including:

Real4Christ operating in Mombasa, Kenya

Healing Faith, Jinja, Uganda

The Cries of a Child, Burundi, Africa

Jenny and Rachel hope to expand by reaching out to additional mission organizations operating in Africa and enhancing their operations to provide support to more individuals and even organization seeking mission opportunities abroad.

Rachel in the mission field.

Watch the Imani video to learn more, and visit their website to get the full story about this rapidly growing start-up.

Meetings Uncover Programs to Support Entrepreneurs and Communities

This week, Advent GX leadership traveled to Austin to meet with government agencies and hosted distinguished guests here at the Innovation Underground, all with the aim of learning about programs available to support entrepreneurs and rural communities. We’re learning a lot. In meetings with the Economic Development Administration, Texas Department of Agriculture and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) we were met with overwhelming enthusiasm. All three agencies were eager to learn more about the Innovation Underground and the businesses our members are getting started in Bryan.

We learned about a wide variety of low interest loan programs for rural entrepreneurs through the USDA. State Director Paco Valentin toured the IU along with Daniel Torres, USDA business and cooperative programs director. The two provided insight into the wide ranging programs aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship and healthy communities.

Similarly, during meetings with Texas Department of Agriculture, we learned about a number of programs targeting communities and young farmers, all with the goal of economic development and job creation.

The insight gained will help us continue to serve our member companies and client communities as they do the hard work to grow and prosper.