Pounding the Pavement

Sue Chapman, the president of the Frisco nonprofit organization Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, needed seed money — literally. Last year, the organization decided to plant hay on its 200-acre property, located at State Highway 121 between Independence Parkway and Coit Road, to feed the dozens of abused and neglected horses it rescues and rehabilitates there. The organization also planned to sell a portion of the crop to help cover veterinary expenses for the animals and implement equine therapy and similar programs aimed at helping children and military veterans, among others. Before the organization could get growing, however, it had to secure funds to purchase hundreds of pounds of hayseed. On behalf of the 20-year-old organization, Ms. Chapman applied for a grant from the Frisco-based North Texas Community Giving Foundation, which supports the efforts of area nonprofit organizations by awarding them dollars to continue their work. Late last year, its board members voted to give the rescue a $1,400 grant, which enabled the facility to buy hayseed and spread it over about 60 acres. The first harvest was baled earlier this year. Ms. Chapman called the foundation “an incredible asset.” She says, “They offer nonprofits like us a hand up instead of a hand out, and I think that is really important. What they allowed us to do was use that money and be able to keep using it year after year to propagate more fields.” 

Established in 2014, the North Texas Community Giving Foundation is probably best-known for hosting Frisco’s annual Texas Big Star Half Marathon and 5K, its biggest annual fundraiser. First held last year, the event brought in about $150,000, the bulk of which has been given to numerous area nonprofit organizations, including Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue, Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County, Frisco Family Services and the Cornerstone Ranch group home for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. This year’s race in April drew about 2,000 runners and hundreds of volunteers to Collin College’s Preston Ridge Campus. Plans are underway for the third annual race, scheduled for April 14, 2018, which will feature a new one-mile Fun Run event. 

The foundation, which also assists local students by funding scholarships awarded annually through the Frisco Education Foundation, was the brainchild of several members of the Leadership Frisco Class XVII, an installment of an ongoing annual program sponsored by the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. Participants must apply for and be accepted to the program that promotes leadership skills and civic responsibility. Longtime Frisco resident Mike Barber was in the 2013-2014 class. As a certified public accountant and one of the founding partners of the BKM Sowan Horan firm in Addison, he says he and several of his classmates “came out of the program feeling like we wanted to do something to give back to the community.” 

There are many area charities “that have really good programs that need help with funding. We realized that we did not need to create the programs, but we wanted to help fund some of these programs,” explains Mr. Barber, who is also a member of the Frisco Community Development Corporation and treasurer of the Rotary Club of Frisco. “We wanted to create a foundation where we could set up ourselves as a nonprofit, but then raise funds to be able to select charities we felt had good programs. We take a lot of pride in the organizations we select and the fact that we have so many different charities looking to us for funding,” he says, adding that the organization received more than 40 grant applications this year. “We want to give to as many as possible, but you also do not want to spread the money too thin. There are just so many programs you want to be able to give to because they seem so impactful.” 

Several former Leadership Frisco XVII classmates continue to serve on the North Texas Community Giving Foundation’s board of trustees, which is chaired by Mr. Barber. Among them are executives from various industries, philanthropists, physicians and attorneys, including the founding trustee, Paul Simon, of Simon Paschal PLLC. He serves as the foundation’s general counsel. Meanwhile, his wife, Julie Simon, is also a founding trustee. “It is an opportunity to do something bigger than yourself,” he says. “We have a lot of people who have a lot of compassion for our community. We all volunteer on the board, we all have day jobs, so this takes away from our work and family, but it is because we can see the impact it has on the community.”

Mr. Simon is also the director of the Texas Big Star race. Reflecting on its beginnings, he shares, “The foundation really wanted to do something that promoted a healthy lifestyle. The race allows us to do that and just bring the community together.” The event draws weekend warriors and elite runners who compete for cash prizes and finisher medals. It also features a “Finisher Fest” that boasts food trucks, live music and vendor booths. “We have a fairly sizeable committee that works hard to put together a high-class run that benefits the community.” The goal, he says, is for it to eventually become “a destination race that continues to grow. The more runners we get, the more sponsors we get, which means we will raise more money to give back to the community.” Which is, after all, the foundation’s goal, reminds a fellow founding trustee, Ann Harris. “We advertise this race to raise money to help the community around us.” That is something Mrs. Harris knows a lot about. She and her husband, former college and NBA coach and current Texas Legends vice president Del Harris, have for decades given back by assisting various charitable organizations. For many years, the couple, who have lived in Frisco since 2000, ran the Del and Ann Harris Foundation for Christian Principles, which provided scholarships to students attending Christian universities, assisted with funding for church-based missions and helped homeless populations, as well as other charitable nonprofit organizations.  

Mrs. Harris is also the co-founder of Frisco Giving Tree, an organization that helps fulfill the immediate needs of Frisco residents and students who are struggling. She says it is not difficult to imagine a day when the North Texas Community Giving Foundation will be able to assist a hundred or more nonprofit organizations annually. “I think we are going to get bigger and bigger every year.” With that growth, Mr. Barber says the foundation will require more assistance from volunteers. He encourages members of the public who wish to become involved with the foundation start by lending a hand with the Texas Big Star event. “Ultimately, we want to be known as a foundation that has raised money to give back to the community,” he shares.

If you are interested in learning more about the organization or volunteering with the North Texas Community Giving Foundation, call 844.330.6833 or go to ntxgivingfoundation.org. Frisco can make a great impact on local nonprofit organizations to improve the health, education and welfare of the community. It all starts with the help of local leaders!