McKenna Foundation seeking input from local childcare providers

The Mckenna Foundation is seeking support and participation from local early childcare providers to push forward in creating an ambitious yet practical future for our youngest learners.

The McKenna Foundation is organizing a series of collaborative sessions to address the challenges faced by local childcare providers and parents. These sessions aim to create a pathway toward affordable and high-quality early childhood care while simultaneously running a successful business.

To accomplish this, the Foundation is seeking the unique insights and experiences of local childcare providers to help shape a promising future for our children.

Local childcare providers are invited to join us and participate in the first Path Forward for Early Learning and Care meeting on August 24, from 10 am to 1 pm at the McKenna Events Center. Local providers who participate in all three sessions will be entered to win a complimentary field trip to the McKenna Children’s Museum for up to 50 children currently enrolled at their center.

If you are a local childcare provider and would like to participate in the Path Forward for Early Learning and Care sessions, RSVP by emailing Kristen Fain at

The McKenna Foundation recognizes that the challenges in early childhood care are significant and multifaceted, with a few of the key issues including:

HIGH COSTS: Childcare often costs more than in-state college tuition, making it a significant financial burden for families.

LOW WAGES: Childcare workers earn significantly less than workers in other sectors, such as retail.

LEGISLATION: Changes in licensure and business models are causing many childcare centers in Texas to close.

FUNDING GAPS: There is insufficient funding and support for early childhood education compared to K-12 education.

STAFFING: There is a high turnover rate and a shortage of trained teachers in the field.


These challenges highlight the need for increased investment and support for early childhood education to ensure that children, families, and childcare workers can thrive in our community.

For more information on early childhood care and education, click here.

Seniors are struggling in Comal County: Donate to Meals on Wheels today

Donate here.

Residents of New Braunfels and Comal County, especially our elderly and homebound neighbors, are facing significant challenges in meeting their basic needs.

The Meals on Wheels program, operated by the Comal County Senior Citizens Foundation (CCSCF), steps up to support these vulnerable seniors by providing them with hot, nutritious meals delivered directly to their homes each day.

CCSCF needs help today to continue to provide this lifeline for our seniors. You can make a meaningful impact in their lives through donations to keep our local Meals on Wheels program on course and continuing its mission. Donate today by clicking here.

Local data suggests that in just the last year, our neighbors accessing food resources and who are food insecure have increased over 40%. In Comal County, approximately 22,720 individuals, representing nearly 14% of the population, are struggling with food insecurity, with a significant portion being homebound seniors.

Given the program’s importance, CCSCF has experienced a surge in demand for home-delivered meals. This, coupled with a decline in funding and an increase in food costs over the past few years, has put a strain on available resources. Although the Meals on Wheels program receives partial funding from state and federal partners, the organization is still responsible for the unfunded meal costs; a gap which with recent trends, has continued to widen.

This financial strain underscores the urgent need for support from the community to help CCSCF continue to provide crucial assistance to those in need.

Currently, over 370 dedicated local volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that our seniors receive the nutrition and support they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Every year, the Meals on Wheels program delivers approximately 76,281 meals and serves 570 local seniors.

Rally with us as a community to support the Meals on Wheels program, the CCSCF, and our aging neighbors!

Donate here.

New Braunfels Youth Collaborative over halfway to $15 million initiative

The New Braunfels Youth Collaborative (NBYC) has raised 65% of the funds needed for a $15 million renovation to the historic New Braunfels High School, located at the intersection of Mill Street and Academy Ave.

Studies indicate that 18% of middle school-aged students and 35% of high school students are unsupervised after school hours. 43% of local students are facing economic challenges, with 21% unable to afford participation in afterschool activities. With this in mind, the NBYC is dedicated to providing out-of-school support for youth to foster their personal and educational growth.

To determine the necessity for a new communal space conducive to socializing, learning, and growth, the NBYC surveyed local youth. The findings revealed that 70% of students would utilize a local youth center.

Upon completion, the Mill Street Youth Center located at 430 W. Mill Street will boast study rooms, a recording studio, a culinary teaching kitchen, a renovated gym, and an esports gaming area. Furthermore, the center will offer SAT preparation, homework assistance, and a variety of other youth-oriented programs. This renovation will ensure the preservation of the building, which is over 100 years old and a registered historic landmark.

The youth center will be accessible to all students, grades 6th through 12th. Afterschool meals and snacks will also be provided to youth.

Additionally, the building will house offices for partners Communities in Schools and NBISD School of Choice.

The NBYC has secured a 50-year lease agreement with NBISD, intending to foster proactive values, social skills, and a positive learning outlook. They have raised $9.8 million through fundraising efforts toward the $15 million target. Various entities, including the Moody Foundation, Kronkosky Foundation, Communities in Schools, the New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation, American Rescue Plan Funding, United Way, and the McKenna Foundation, have contributed to the fundraising efforts.

Anticipating the completion of renovations by Fall 2025, the New Braunfels Youth Collaborative continues to welcome contributions and donations. To support youth in our community and contribute to the Mill Street Youth Center project, please visit Checks may also be sent to 801 W. San Antonio St., New Braunfels, TX 78130.

Meals in Comal County cost more than SNAP benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assists over 42 million people in the United States annually. In Texas, approximately one in nine individuals benefited from SNAP in 2022, as reported by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Data from the United States Census Bureau indicates that in Comal County, 4.4%, or about 8,000 households, received SNAP benefits that same year. However, data from 2023 suggests that SNAP benefits do not cover the cost of a modestly priced meal, resulting in widespread food insecurity among many families both nationally and locally.



While SNAP benefits assist thousands in Comal County, the cost of a modestly priced meal often exceeds what these households can afford, leading to persistent food hardship and increasingly tight budgets.

Nationally, in 2023, the maximum benefit only covered the cost of meals in 36 of the 3,144 counties, as reported by the Urban Institute. In Comal County, the difference between SNAP benefits and the cost of meals is approximately $0.24, rendering a modestly priced meal 8% more expensive than the maximum SNAP benefit.

Additionally, data from Feeding America and Texas Health and Human Services in 2022 indicate that 62% of the food-insecure population in Comal County have incomes above the SNAP threshold, with earnings over $4,125 monthly for a family of four. In other words, 62% of our neighbors who struggle with grocery costs earn too much to qualify for assistance. This often forces them to choose between food and medication, rent, or clothing. Reports also suggest that an annual investment of $15.8 million is required to eradicate hunger in Comal County.



Previously known as the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is the nation’s most valuable anti-hunger initiative, aiding low-income individuals in obtaining a nutritionally sufficient diet. It supports low-income working families, individuals with disabilities on fixed incomes, older adults (60 years and older) with low income, and other low-income households. The CBPP states that about two-thirds of SNAP recipients are families with children, and one-third are individuals with disabilities or older adults.  

In Texas, the maximum monthly income an individual can earn is $2,005 and still qualify for the program, as per the Texas Health and Human Services. The threshold for a family of two is $2,712, and for a family of four, that threshold is $4,125. 

A single eligible Texan can receive a maximum of $291 monthly from SNAP. For each additional household member, up to $219 per month is added. For example, a family of two may get $535, while a family of four may receive a maximum of $973.



The demand for food security programs continues to increase in our community. Several local organizations, however, continue to step in to fill the gap caused by insufficient benefits. The following organizations are dedicated to providing assistance and support to those in need:

New Braunfels Food Bank: 

  • Located at 1620 S Seguine Ave. in New Braunfels
  • Open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday
  • Request an appointment here.


The Hope Center Food Pantry:

  • Located at 6260 US Hwy 281 N in Spring Branch
  • Open from 9 am to 12 pm, Tuesday through Friday


Community Resource and Recreation Center: 

  • Located at 1917 FM 2673 in Canyon Lake
  • Open from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday (last shopper at 3:30 pm)


Helping Hands Food Pantry: 

  • Located at 11755 Hwy 281 N in Spring Branch
  • Click here for 2024 hours


For more information on hunger in our community, please click here

For more local resources dedicated to ending hunger, please visit our Non-profit Resource Directory.

Mckenna Foundation awards rural partners in first grants of 2024

The McKenna Foundation’s Board of Trustees has approved $130,000 of grant funding for rural community support to four partner organizations.

In the first grantmaking session of the year, trustees voted to distribute a total of $575,000 in funding to 12 nonprofit organizations. A portion of this funding, amounting to $130,000, will be allocated specifically to assist rural partners.

The Community Resource and Recreation Center (CCRC) of Canyon Lake is set to receive $65,000. CCRC offers a range of life-enhancing opportunities, support, and social services to the broader Canyon Lake community. With a 48% increase in visitation and over $700,000 worth of food supplies distributed in 2023 alone, the funding is expected to provide rural community support and address the pressing challenges faced by local residents.

The Foundation also approved a $10,000 grant for Bulverde-area food pantry, Provisions Outreach. Provisions reports that since the start of the year, their pantry has served up to 80 clients a day. The client-choice pantry will utilize the funds to purchase essential food and supplies needed in their community and plan to distribute 32,000 pounds of food each month.

Helping Hands Food Pantry was approved for a $40,000 grant by the McKenna Board. Serving the greater Spring Branch area, Helping Hands assists over 4,000 family members in Northwest Comal County annually and anticipates providing an average of 10,000 pounds of food each month. Half of the grant is allocated for pantry operations, while the remaining $20,000 will finance a box truck crucial for weekly food collections.

Also serving the Spring Branch area, the Hope Center was approved for a $15,000 grant towards their Feed My Sheep initiative. The Hope Center has seen a 93% increase in service demand in the first three months of 2024 compared to the previous year. They provide for an underserved population in far Western Comal County seeing on average over 9,000 clients each year and plan to distribute over 100,000 pounds of food this year. The awarded $15,000 will be used to enhance the variety and nutritional value of food provided and will support spiritual nourishment in collaboration with local faith communities.

These McKenna Foundation partners are dedicated to providing beneficial services to our rural neighbors and continue to grow and collaborate as the needs of our community increase.

The approved grants fall under the McKenna Foundation’s Basic Needs Portfolio, which is designed to fund nonprofit organizations that provide accessible resources for food assistance, housing, financial assistance, workforce and employability, and transportation.

The application window for portfolios Health and Education is now open, with applications due by July 8. The Family Relationships application window will open on Aug. 12.

The Foundation accepts applications from verified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving Comal County residents. New and returning applicants are welcome to apply. For more information please contact us at 830-606-9500, email, or visit our apply for a grant page.

New at McKenna Children’s Museum: Water table and mural

The Mckenna Children’s Museum outdoor area just got an upgrade, and it’s a sight to behold.

Featuring the McKenna Foundation’s hands logo and incorporating several key attractions, the museum now boasts a mural that captures the essence of fun at the museum.

Local artist, Johnny Duncan, known for his citywide murals including one at Scoop Street Craft Ice Cream downtown, completed the vibrant piece in early June. It was unveiled just in time to coincide with the introduction of our second latest feature, a brand-new water table.


The museum recently introduced the interactive water table, complete with a Gruene water tower, a tube shoot, and a spot to go fishing. Needless to say, the addition has quickly become a favorite among visitors.

Whether it’s a field trip, family outing, or just an escape from the sun, join us for fun and come explore our new attractions!

The Children’s Museum welcomes visitors  Monday to Saturday, 9 am – 4 pm. 

Tickets are available for walk-ins or online.



Upcoming Events: 

  • July 2-6: Create firework rings in the Wondershop
  • July 3 (5-7 pm): Members only night
  • July 4: Closed for Independence Day
  • July 8-13: Paint your own Slurpee at the Wondershop
  • July 12 (5:30 pm): Family movie night


For more information, visit the McKenna Children’s Museum website.

NB Housing Partners seeking professional design services

NB Housing Partners advocates for and provides supportive housing in the New Braunfels area for people experiencing housing instability. The organization acts as a catalyst to create sustainable solutions across the affordable housing spectrum. NB Housing Partners requests the submission of qualifications statements, which will lead to the possible award of a contract to provide professional design services for a project involving the 1465 Churchill Project as a multifamily or dense single family development. 

Download PDF here.

Scope of Work:

The services to be obtained for the design professional require: Planning, coordination, design and construction administration for the project at 1465 Churchill Drive. 

Guidelines for Content of Qualification Statements: 

Detailed instructions on preparation of the qualification statement must be obtained from the agency. For more information on preparing and submitting the qualification statement, contact Kellie Stallings, Executive Director, at This information should be requested as soon as possible in order to allow time to prepare the document and comply with the procedures. 

Submittal Deadline: 

Three copies and one PDF copy on flashdrive of the qualifications statement must be filed with the agency by: July 5, 2024 at 2:00 PM. Late submittals and electronic submittals will not be accepted. 

Minimum Qualifications and Selection Criteria: 

The Agency will evaluate the proposals to determine which firm has the best qualifications and offers the best value to complete our project. 

Contract Terms and Negotiation Schedule: 

The consultant is expected to negotiate an agreement for services that is acceptable to the Agency. If an acceptable contract cannot be negotiated, the District may formally end negotiations and begin negotiating with the next highest qualified person or firm. RFQ’s are issued in accordance with Section 2254 of the Texas Government Code (Professional Services Act). 

NB Housing Partners is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Small, minority, and women-owned business enterprises are encouraged to submit proposals.

Download PDF here.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2024: Get involved

With Mental Health Awareness Month underway, now is a great time to get involved and spread the word that mental illness is something everyone should care and talk about.

Throughout New Braunfels and surrounding areas, there are several ways to get involved. Whether it’s attending an event, spreading the word, volunteering, or seeking help, we can all play a part in bringing mental illness awareness to the forefront.

Mental Health Awareness Events:


Hill Country MHDDC will host virtual LIVE Youth Mental Health First Aid (for adults assisting youth) meetings on the following days:

  • Friday, May 10 at 8 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 11 at 8 a.m.
  • Wednesday, May 15 at 9 a.m.
  • Friday, May 17 at noon.


Your Best Life Festival hosted by the National Alliance of Mental Illness Guadalupe County:

  • Saturday, May 11, located at Seguin Events Complex from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Where to Volunteer:


CACCC provides a child-friendly environment to the community that assists in the detection, investigation, prevention, and treatment of child abuse. You can fill out a form to volunteer here.

Communities in Schools South Central Texas empowers K-12 students through the support of basic life needs, mental health, tutoring, and college preparation. You can find volunteering information through their website here.

Aiming to provide exceptional compassionate care, Hope Hospice offers personalized end-of-life care and help through the grief and loss process. For more information and how to volunteer click here.

Dedicated to creating a caring community that embraces well-being and mental health, you can find out more information or fill out a form to volunteer for River City Advocacy, Inc. here.