One way the Amarillo Area Foundation strives to increase quality of life in the Texas Panhandle is through its programs. The generosity of area donors and the efforts of many partners make this important work possible.

Program highlights from 2015 include:

Katharyn Wiegand

Katharyn Wiegand
Vice President of Community Investment


In 2015, the Amarillo Area Foundation Nonprofit Service Center (NSC) provided 12 educational workshops and webinars, four of which were free of charge, attended by 171 unique individuals representing 85 nonprofits across the Panhandle.

The NSC also hosts the Executive Director Leader Circle. The purpose of the Executive Director Leader Circle is to provide a confidential environment where nonprofit leaders can learn from and interact with their peers. Leader Circle members meet monthly to discuss management and communications issues, board relations, fundraising, collaboration, and other topics.

As a member of the Foundation Center Information Network the NSC offers free access to Foundation Directory Online (FDO) – a web based grant research tool that provides comprehensive and accurate information on grantmakers and their funding activities. The FDO computer is available to the general public from 8:30am-5:00pm Monday through Friday (except for holidays). Helpful navigational tutorials are provided free of charge by appointment.

During 2015, the Nonprofit Service Center provided consulting services to the following organizations:

Organizational Assessment
The Hope and Healing Place  
Board/Staff Training
Acts Community Hope and Healing Place
Amarillo Opera Martha's Home
Armstrong County Museum Panhandle-Plains Histroical Museum
Big Brothers Big Sisters Texas Panhandle Builders Association
Don Harrington Discovery Center Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
Strategic Planning
Amarillo Affiliate of Susan G. Komen St. Andrew's Episcopal School
Hope and Healing Place Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
Moore County Health Foundation  
Development Planning
Acts Community Resources Center Texas Panhandle War Memorial Foundation
CASA of the Rolling Plains Wildcat Bluff Nature Center
Driskill House Capital Campaign Feasibility Study
Frank Phillips Amarillo Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Executive Search
Meals on Wheels of Amarillo  


The Achievement through Commitment to Education (ACE) Scholarship Program was established in 1994 at Palo Duro High School. The program expanded to include Caprock High School in 2002 and Tascosa High School in 2012. ACE is open to all students who sign up as freshman at Palo Duro and Caprock and to freshmen enrollees at Tascosa who attended Bivins, Margaret Wills or San Jacinto elementary schools. ACE is funded through an $8 million endowment raised from individuals, families, businesses and foundations.

Goals of the ACE program include improved high school graduation rates, improved academic performance, and enhanced desire of students to achieve postsecondary education.

ACE pays tuition, fees and books at Amarillo College or West Texas A&M University for qualifying students. High school students must be U.S. citizens and complete high school in four years, maintain an 85 GPA and 95% attendance with no disciplinary issues to maintain eligibility. College ACE students must earn a 2.50 GPA on a minimum of 12 hours each semester and apply for financial aid each year.

Since 1998, 4,814 high school students have graduated with eligibility for the ACE Scholarship Program.

1,029 ACE students have been awarded 1,340 certificates and degrees from Amarillo College, West Texas A&M University or other institutions. During the Fall 2015 semester, 410 students were attending Amarillo College and 190 students were attending West Texas A&M University on ACE scholarships.


During the five years since NLNE was established, the partners have worked to define barriers to postsecondary education while collaborating on methods to develop and keep students on pathways to living wage employment. As the program matured, a new emphasis on student engagement emerged in 2015.

NLNE partnered with Panhandle Workforce Solutions and Amarillo ISD to host a career fair for AISD high school juniors and seniors. Over 900 students participated in the career fair. Exit survey data shows that 20% of the students learned something that changed their current career path and 90% of students learned something to help further define their career path.

NLNE also hosted luncheons with business leaders, pastors and other community members to enhance their understanding of the program. Attendees were encouraged to become Community Success Partners, committing to encourage employees and their families to pursue postsecondary education.

Innovative ways to improve student and community engagement will continue to be a focus for NLNE during 2016.


The Women’s Philanthropy Fund was established in 2008 to transform the lives of women and children in the Texas Panhandle through fundraising, grantmaking, and advocacy.

Membership in the Women’s Philanthropy Fund is available to women across the area for a $1,000 annual fee. Members who are 40 years old and under pay an annual membership fee of $500. These funds are pooled together to award grants each year to area nonprofits who serve the needs of women and children.

Women’s Philanthropy Fund members review grant requests and then hear presentations from the nonprofits that receive the highest initial rankings. After the presentations, members vote to determine which nonprofits will receive grant funding.

The Women’s Philanthropy Fund reached a significant milestone in 2015 when the total amount of grant awards disbursed from the Fund since inception reached $250,000.

2015 Impact Awards
Acts Community Resources Center $10,000
Buckner Children & Family Services $10,000
The Salvation Army of Amarillo $10,000
2015 Innovate Awards
Tralee Crisis Center for Women (Pampa) $8,000
2015 Empower Awards
Safe Place (Dumas) $5,000

This is the first year for the High Plains Coalition for Marriage and Family Advise and Consult Fund to partner with the Women’s Philanthropy Fund in its award cycle.

The following are this year's recipients:
Family Support Services $9,375
The Hope & Healing Place $4,680
Women's Philanthropy Fund Advisors
Mary Kay Dammier Jena Taylor
Stephanie Friemel Sarah Tregellas
Lizzie Mason Carolina Walden
Jayme Rittenberry  
Amarillo Area Foundation Advisors
Nicki Crump Charlotte Rhodes
Sharon Oeschger Katharyn Wiegand


Scholarships were added as a program of the Foundation in 1971. The Foundation administers 121 scholarship funds to benefit area college students. A majority of the scholarship funds utilize the Foundation’s eight-member Scholarship Committee to select recipients. Foundation staff members facilitate the application process which features an online application and review portal.

During 2015, more than $348,281 was distributed in scholarship awards to students attending a variety of colleges and universities.

Regional Institutions
ACE Scholarships to AC & WTAMU $764,116
Other Scholarships (AC, Clarendon College, Frank Phillips, & WTAMU) $162,250
Out of Area Institutions
Total Scholarships $1,112,397


The Community Development Philanthropy (CDP) project was established in 2013 to help facilitate endowment building and enhanced grant programs in existing community funds held at the Foundation.


Each Affiliate Fund is led by a group of local advisors who promote the long-term benefit of a community endowment. The advisors work to raise additional funds for the endowment and also award grants to local nonprofit organizations.

The Foundation utilizes three individuals with significant community leadership experience (Lesly Annen, Scott Caldwell and Christina Williams) to serve as coaches for these communities. Additional guidance is provided by the Foundation’s leadership team and two external consultants - Janet Topolsky with the Aspen Institute and Don Macke with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.

These efforts to increase community endowments will help improve quality of life for many generations to come.


Initiated in 2012, the overarching goal of the Panhandle Prosperity Initiative (PPI) is to strengthen individual and community wealth and economic vitality across the 26 county region. The initiative encompasses a broad focus on education, workforce development and economic/community development.

2015 featured the release of the Texas Panhandle Community Assets Report that will foster the application of wealth building principles for community and economic development. Work continues on development of the Community Platform, with focus on how the platform can benefit the Foundation’s Affiliate Funds in 2016.

PPI staff is currently researching the possibility of creating a Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI) for the benefit of Texas Panhandle residents.