McKenna Foundation awards $200,000 in funding to strengthen local family relationship programs

Oct. 26, 2023

The McKenna Foundation awarded $200,000 in grant funding to eight nonprofit organizations in Comal County in this year’s third and final round of grantmaking.

The Foundation awarded family relationship program grants to first-time recipients 1HOPE for Kids and Project 10:27 Inc.

1HOPE for Kids, a licensing foster and adoption agency, received funding for its Providing Hope and a Home for Kids in Crisis program, which offers a multifaceted approach to foster family assistance, recruiting, training and verifying families, as well as working alongside biological families to make necessary changes toward restoration. The agency also provides adoption services and partners with churches to establish and foster adoption ministries while developing support for foster families within their home churches.

Assisting Project 10:27 Inc. in its commitment to alleviating loneliness and social isolation experienced by senior adults, the Foundation granted funds for the agency’s planned expansion of engagement and outreach efforts with Comal County seniors, which includes its Caring Connections Card program and support of home and nursing home visits.

The Foundation also awarded grants to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, Bulverde Spring Branch Activity Center, CASA of Central Texas, Chosen Care Inc., Hope Hospice Foundation and New Braunfels Angels for its family relationship programs.

“The McKenna Foundation values families and funds programs that support all generations – kids, adults, and seniors,” said CEO Alice Jewell. “Ultimately, children thrive when their parents do. People’s needs change over time based on internal and external conditions, and Comal County is fortunate to have nonprofits with strong programs that meet needs for a lifetime.”

Foundation board members approved the grant requests during their October meeting.

McKenna’s family relationships portfolio is designed to fund nonprofit organizations providing skills and support to strengthen the family bond.

Funding areas for family relationship grants include youth development, parenting support, abuse/neglect prevention and recovery and senior services.

This year, the Foundation gifted nearly $2.1 million in grants to 42 nonprofit organizations in Comal County.

The Foundation accepts applications from verified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving New Braunfels and Comal County residents. In addition, the Foundation maintains a geographic limitation that requires grant funds to be used for residents in Comal County.

McKenna began making grants to community nonprofits in 2009 and has since awarded nearly $30 million in grants to nonprofit organizations serving New Braunfels and Comal County residents.

Contact McKenna’s grant team at 830-606-9500 or email for more information. Visit the Foundation’s website at

Big Brothers Big Sisters recruiting volunteer mentors in Comal, Guadalupe counties

September 27, 2023

Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children realize their potential and build their futures. And they need your help.

With 20 children in Comal and Guadalupe counties awaiting a match, volunteer mentors are needed more than ever.

Some kids today are growing up without the support and guidance they need to be successful. Without access to positive role models, they often fall prey to the dysfunctional cycles of poverty, delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, failure and incarceration.

The Comal & Guadalupe counties branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas is inviting potential mentors to find out more about the program during a mixer with free bowling and food on Oct. 4 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Downtown Social, located at 386 West San Antonio St. in New Braunfels.

“We have expanded our staff to accommodate the increased need for services over the last year,” said Rianne Sykes-Wenske, director of the Comal & Guadalupe counties branch. “Even more families are reaching out, and we are committed to supporting them – which requires more volunteers. This event will help us get the word out and share more about the magic that happens when a child gets matched with their mentor. Come out and have some fun with us.”

The program in Comal and Guadalupe counties has seen remarkable success in the last two years. According to Sykes-Wenske, 100% of the matches are still together after one year. Additionally, 100% of students in the program saw promotion to the next school grade level in the last year.

The movement started in 1904 when Ernest Coulter, a New York City juvenile court clerk, observed how many fatherless boys came through his courtroom and recognized they needed a positive adult role model to help them stay out of trouble. He recruited the first 50 volunteers, marking the beginning of the Big Brothers movement.

The Comal & Guadalupe counties branch started in 2001 to change the lives of children for the better, forever.

For more information and to RSVP for the Oct. 4 event, visit or email

RecoveryWerks! readies for National Recovery Month; Sept. 15 Open House

Sept. 6, 2023

September is National Recovery Month, an observance promoting and supporting new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery possible. The 2023 theme is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”

Comal County is home to several organizations that promote, encourage and celebrate recovery daily. RecoveryWerks!, a local nonprofit, is one such organization.

RecoveryWerks! provides recovery support services for teenagers and young adults experiencing problems with substance use. Through state-certified peer recovery support specialists, they provide counseling, peer coaching, support group meetings, sober social activities, role modeling and accountability to help young people discover the freedom of life without the effects of mind-changing chemicals.

“We know that to young people, their peer group means everything,” said Zach Saunders, a licensed chemical dependency counselor and RecoveryWerks! youth services program director. “Nowadays, when a kid tries to become sober, it’s very different. It’s virtually impossible to avoid contact with other kids experiencing substance abuse problems. Ultimately, when we identify a young person with a substance abuse issue, they need a different set of friends. They need a different place to be. That’s what we try to provide.”

In addition to working with teens and young adults, RecoveryWerks! provides similar support to family members, ages nine and above, who have a loved one struggling with substance use disorder.

“Family members come here because their teen is in trouble, and they want to get them help,” said RecoveryWerks! Executive Director Debi Dickensheets. “The parents are concerned with their teenager dying or going down a path that is not recoverable. We work with the family members on how to enable recovery versus enabling addiction. We have a 12-step support group meeting for parents and grandparents, while other counselors are having a 12-step support meeting for the teens. We also have a 12-step support group meeting for brothers and sisters who are not using between the ages of nine and 17. Everybody in the group gets tools on how to help enable recovery.”

The Comal County Commissioners Court recently proclaimed September as National Recovery Month in Comal County, recognizing that while mental health and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide, many within the community have embarked on a journey of improved health and overall wellness.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, launched National Recovery Month in 1989 to increase public awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery.

On Sept. 15, RecoveryWerks! is hosting a fun night for the entire family to celebrate the outpouring of community support for persons in recovery and the many lives changed through the recovery process.

The free event will be held at 790 Landa St. in New Braunfels from 6 – 10 p.m., featuring music, games, prizes, food trucks, community resources tables and an outdoor family movie that begins at sunset. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs, bring the family, and help celebrate National Recovery Month in the community.

Child’s Advocacy Center plans new building to expand agency’s family counseling and investigator training programs

July 17, 2023

Helpers sometimes need help.

Plans for a proposed building expansion project are in the works that would allow the Children’s Advocacy Center of Comal County (CACCC) to offer specialized training and group support for multidisciplinary team members who work on child abuse cases.

CACCC got the okay from the New Braunfels City Council in February for $136,626 for the Counseling and Training Expansion Center project from an allocation the city received from the U.S. Department of the Treasury Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The program provides funds to state, local and tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The organization is pursuing funding for the balance of the $341,565 needed for the project from other sources. The agency will provide a construction timeline once funding is secured.

CACCC provides a child-friendly facility with a multidisciplinary approach to prevent, detect, investigate and treat child abuse. The organization offers a place to minimize the number of interviews a child can experience. Investigators observe the interview via camera conducted by a professional, objective forensic interviewer, with the interview recorded for possible use in court.

But studies have shown that individuals who work on child abuse cases can suffer secondary trauma and empathetic strain, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to research by internationally recognized resilience and trauma prevention expert Olga Phoenix, about 70% of social workers suffer from secondary traumatic stress, and 65% of sexual assault therapists exhibit at least one symptom of secondary traumatic stress.

In addition, her studies indicated that 33% of law enforcement members showed high levels of emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment. The research also revealed that 37% of child protection service workers reported clinical levels of emotional distress associated with secondary traumatic stress, and 34% of female forensic interviewers experienced symptoms of secondary traumatic stress.

“They have faster burnout,” said Stacy Dufur, CACCC director of programs. “They have issues with mental health, physical health and relationships – just about anything that someone with first-hand trauma would be dealing with. Part of the reason we want to have the building constructed is to address some of those things in our community and keep the helpers we have.”

That’s where the additional building would come in. The space would allow the agency to provide training and support to alleviate this impact. Services would include research-backed seminars, support groups, yoga classes, art classes, celebration lunches, debriefing areas and counseling for these professionals.

CACCC’s multidisciplinary team encompasses 16 interagency partners and includes about 50 individuals in Comal County. During fiscal year 2022, the team reviewed 2,177 cases of potential child abuse through statewide intakes.

Plans call for constructing a metal building adjacent to the existing facility in the Gruene district of New Braunfels. The concept includes an open plan on the first floor with concrete floors sufficient to weather art projects. The plan provides seating for 300 people, restrooms and an audio/visual system set up for training.

The building will serve a dual purpose, fulfilling the agency’s primary mission by providing for an expansion of essential services and counseling to families experiencing trauma. Plans call for providing classes where parents can learn more about trauma, how to help their child cope, how to model positive behaviors for their children and how to connect with them.

Plans also call for the new space to host group-based therapy sessions that would allow parents to learn from other parents and increase healthy social connections between parents.

“We want to be able to offer different types of services – maybe to offer parenting to some of our families, different types of support and groups for our families,” said Natalie Lopez, the agency’s clinical director. “A lot of times these kids come in, and their family members are also struggling with what has happened, and so it gives them the opportunity to meet other people that are going through similar things and to have them as support.”

According to Trendy Sharp, the agency’s executive director, the space would also host groups for specific populations of children where they could practice the skills learned in therapy. The agency provided 1,235 hours of direct service counseling services in fiscal year 2022.

“A nurturing attachment with a parent is going to help a child be successful,” Sharp said. “If a child knows they can go to their parent and tell them something is happening to them, the child is going to be safer and do better in the long run. But sometimes, adults need help learning how to do that because it doesn’t come naturally. We all parent the same way we were parented and sometimes, that might not be the best or healthiest way.”

The expanded services also plan includes therapeutic art activities, reading circles, drumming circles, and yoga classes, according to Lopez. The space needed for those programs is currently unavailable in the agency’s current digs.

“The new space would be more inviting, warm, and more therapeutic,” she said. “Eventually, the idea is to help families continue to protect their children, to keep them safe and help them be successful.”

Since the creation of the CACCC in 2005, the organization has provided thousands of children with forensic interviews, counseling sessions, medical examinations and case coordination services. During the 2022 fiscal year, the organization conducted 336 forensic interviews, with 68% involving sexual abuse and 32% related to physical and other abuse or risk.

For more information or to make a donation, visit Donors can designate funds go toward the building project.

The CACCC is a partner organization with the McKenna Foundation.

Point-in-Time 2023 count identifies more homeless individuals in Comal County compared to previous counts

July 5, 2023

A homelessness survey conducted during a cold January morning indicates more people in Comal County may not have a permanent roof over their heads this year compared to 2022.

Local agencies and organizations annually conduct a Point-in-Time count as a snapshot of the number of homeless persons on a single day. The survey is conducted throughout the state and the country. However, the count does not capture the total number of people who experience homelessness in the community on any given day or even over the course of a year, likely missing unsheltered individuals.

The count helps non-profit agencies and organizations understand how homelessness changes over time across numerous variables such as economic conditions, societal factors and policy advancement. It also allows organizations to spread awareness, engage and build relationships with unhoused neighbors and collaboratively address gaps in community resources.

The results of the 2023 annual snapshot count identified more individuals in Comal County self-reporting as experiencing homelessness compared to prior counts and more people experiencing chronic homelessness.

This year’s Point-in-Time count, conducted by the Comal County Homeless Coalition to determine the extent of homelessness in the community, identified 98 people experiencing homelessness, compared to 89 in the 2022 count. In the 2020 count, 46 homeless individuals were identified. Additionally, the survey identified 82 youth experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

The Point-in-Time count follows the federal definition of homeless: People living in a place not meant for human habitation, in an emergency shelter, in transitional housing or exiting an institution where they temporarily resided.

Of those self-identifying as experiencing homelessness, 45 were unsheltered, meaning they were sleeping on the street or sidewalk, in an outdoor encampment, under a bridge or overpass or in a vehicle.

“There was a 113% increase in the number surveyed between 2020 and 2023 and a 10.1% increase from 2022 to 2023,” said Kellie Stallings, executive director of NB Housing Partners, citing the survey results. “This shows that we are improving on our outreach and ensuring we survey all who are residing in a shelter. At the same time, it also indicates that homelessness is growing in our community.”

The count showed that 59% of those surveyed were experiencing homelessness for the first time. Even more concerning, the survey indicated that 32% had experienced homelessness more than once. The most considerable portion of those individuals, about 40.6%, have experienced homelessness four or more times.

“Homelessness creates or exacerbates health problems, substance addictions, and mental illness,” Stallings said. “It increases exposure to physical violence, police involvement, and the need for emergency care services, straining community resources.”

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, people who are homeless have higher rates of illness and die on average 12 years sooner than the general U.S. population.

Two-person volunteer teams conducted surveys of people experiencing homelessness in selected areas in Comal County during the morning hours of Jan. 26. In addition, volunteers passed out supplies to individuals, regardless of whether they chose to participate in the survey or not.

Most surveyed were between the ages of 25 to 54. However, the most considerable increase of those surveyed was for individuals ages 18 to 24, with a significant increase also seen in youth younger than 18. Currently, 8% surveyed were younger than 18, and 8% were over 65.

The survey also indicated that 22% of those surveyed reported chronic homelessness, defined as individuals living in an emergency shelter, other safe haven or on the streets for six months or longer, compared to 15 during the 2022 count.

Additionally, the count showed a 250% increase in those who have experienced homelessness longer than three years compared to the 2020 survey to 2023 and a 16.7% increase from 2022 to 2023.

“The concern about the growth in those who have experienced homelessness more than once or for longer than six months is the negative impact on the person’s ability to obtain and maintain housing or employment, as well as the negative impact on their health and life trajectory,” Stallings said.

Also, six children under age 18 and five young adults ages 18 to 24 were experiencing homelessness in January. Of those children, two were five to 12 years old.
Of those participating in the count, 5% were veterans, 25% reported a serious mental illness, 9% reported a substance use disorder, and 9% were domestic violence survivors.

“Expanding affordable housing options in the community and increasing comprehensive care is vital, requiring both a healing and a housing focus, to resolve the emotional and physical cost of homelessness for both consumers and the community,” Stallings said.

A separate survey conducted in conjunction with the New Braunfels and Comal school districts identified 82 students experiencing homelessness. The survey found 75% of those individuals reported a history of family violence, 42% reported a history of child abuse, and 36% reported a history of sexual assault.

The National Runaway Safeline reports that family dynamics, abuse or neglect, mental health, and peer issues are the top four reasons a youth might run away or experience homelessness.

“Think about it this way,” the organization’s website states. In a classroom of 30 students, at least one of them will experience homelessness this year, without a safe living environment to call home and forced to couch surf, bounce among relatives and friends, live in shelters or stay on the streets.”

“These types of risk factors really impact future housing and high needs that contribute to long-term housing insecurity if these youth do not receive intervention that changes their current trajectory,” Stallings said.

To learn more, visit

NBTX Young Life celebrates 30 years supporting New Braunfels area teens

June 30, 2023

NBTX Young Life is celebrating 30 years of supporting New Braunfels area teens in their journey searching for hope, meaning and belonging.

Brought to New Braunfels by Tom Bluntzer and Anna Lisa Bluntzer-Tamez in 1993 as a program tasked with introducing youth to Jesus Christ with about 30 New Braunfels area teenagers, NBTX Young Life has since grown to a ministry of around 600 middle and high school-aged-adolescents meeting weekly to share their Christian journey.

“We heard about Young Life through a relative who had attended a Young Life family camp in Buena Vista (Colorado), and we asked at the last minute if we could sign up and had room for us,” Anna Lisa said. “We had a fabulous time but knew nothing about Young Life then. We had a wonderful week, and my husband (Tom) decided we should bring this to New Braunfels.”

Cancer took Tom’s life shortly after founding the organization in New Braunfels. Anna Lisa is now married to Dr. Danny Tamez, who has also been involved in Young Life activities.

Ken White, who now operates a drug and alcohol treatment facility in the Bryan/College Station area, was the first hired NBTX Young Life staff member. He credits the efforts of Tom and a committee of individuals who worked to get the program to a successful starting point and fostered its growth.

“When you do good relational, incarnational ministry, it’s going to grow,” White said. “That’s just what it is. If you do Young Life right, it will grow because that’s the Gospel in action. I always taught my teens – you always love them the way you find them – there is no preconceived idea that this person may or may not make a fate decision with us, but people want to be loved. They want to be known and loved for who they are. I think that’s the strength of Young Life across the board.”

NBTX Young Life currently offers ministries for middle school and high school students and teen moms and hopes to continue adding staff and volunteers to continue the organization’s growth.

The staff and volunteers of the organization have become an active presence in the everyday lives of students at New Braunfels High School, New Braunfels Ninth Grade Center, Canyon High School, Davenport High School, New Braunfels Middle School, Oak Run Middle School, Church Hill Middle School and many other surrounding area schools.

Kids want to belong, and Young Life accepts them as they are and invites them to experience life at events such as:
• Club: Everyone is welcome at what is often called “a party with a purpose.” It’s a time of fun and talking about what matters in life.
• Camp: The “best week of your life” is a time of extravagant adventure when kids get to be real, sit at the table and learn that God loves them more than they imagined.
• Campaigners: Kids and leaders open the Bible together and discuss what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

J. W. Harle, metro director of Comal County Young Life, said the organization continues to grow.

“Some organizations may sputter out or reach a plateau, then just hope to maintain course, but I can tell you with both confidence and excitement that NBTX Young Life is growing and growing fast,” Harle said. “But this should come as no surprise as our community is growing. I suspect many people moving into the area have been impacted by Young Life at some point in their teen or early adult years, and we want them to know Young Life is happening right here in New Braunfels in the high schools and middle schools.”

The organization is planning a huge celebration inviting anyone and everyone touched by NBTX Young Life over the last 30 years on Oct. 21 at 444, an event venue at 444 E. San Antonio St.

“We’ve been here 30 years, and we plan to be here another 30 and beyond, positively impacting teenagers with the good news about Jesus through caring relationships,” Harle said.

Young Life was originally started in 1941 by Jim Rayburn in Gainesville, Texas, as a ministry designed to target unchurched high school-aged students. Today, Young Life is a global organization with a local focus in more than 100 countries worldwide, with ministries reaching more than 2.6 million middle school, high school and college students, as well as teen moms and kids with special needs.

For more information, visit or on Instagram and Facebook @nbtxyounglife, @nbtxwyldlife and @nbtxyounglives.

Comal County IDD Center, Rock Haus Foundation campus expansion underway

June 19, 2023

The building at the corner of Veramendi Avenue and North Street in New Braunfels, which houses the Comal IDD Center, represents a fair share of the history of a city that’s been around for more than 175 years.

In 1934, the school served segregated Hispanic students as the Stephen F. Austin School, according to Bill Barry, administrative coordinator for the Rock Haus Foundation, in remarks to attendees of a recent NB IDEA Forum meeting. The facility was renamed Booker T. Washington School in 1951 when the city’s African-American students were relocated there.

Integration began to take hold as some students were relocated in 1955. By 1960, the district had completed the integration and Booker T. Washington closed­. New Braunfels ISD used the facility as a central kitchen until the 1970s when what was then called Hill Country MHMR started operating programs from the building.

Now, almost a quarter through the 21st century, the building will continue to hold its place in the history of New Braunfels and serve as the foundation of a proposed development and expansion project to assist more adults diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Representatives from Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center and the Rock Haus Foundation discussed their continuing efforts to help their clients and revealed plans to develop the 5.2-acre Comal IDD Center site into a campus-like setting.

The Foundation, founded in 2017 to support and provide opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Comal County, acquired the North Street property after a New Braunfels ISD donation last year.

The Foundation’s primary role is fundraising through events and grants for repairs and improvements to the property and research grants to provide various specialized programs to bring to the IDD Center to help improve the quality of life for those enrolled. Such programs include music, art and dance.

Rock Haus works with Hill Country MHDD in their efforts. Twelve Hill Country MHDD staff members tend to the around 30 adults who regularly receive services at the IDD Center.

According to Barry, the first development phase, which is underway, consists of renovating an existing building on the property for students in the NBISD Gateway Transition Program. The program is for students aged 18-22 with special needs who have completed the campus-based portion of their education. The program prepares students and their families for life after attending school, including employment, volunteerism, recreation, transportation and social events.

Renovation of the building has begun, with an expected move-in by Gateway during the 2023-24 school year. NBISD will continue to operate the program, according to Barry.

The plan’s second phase includes developing and constructing a community center to house area service providers, medical services, case managers and navigators, and a multi-purpose facility for recreation, education, meetings, conferences, plays and concerts. A capital campaign to fund community center construction will begin soon.

“Our hope is that we can develop this property into a campus-like setting that will include a number of different buildings,” Barry said. “It wouldn’t just be this one, it would be two or three, but we can envision a number of buildings that are on this campus that are going to serve adults, are going to serve those individuals and provide our community what that need is. Through meetings with our providers and our parents, we’ve learned that there is an incredible need.”

The McKenna Foundation recently awarded a $300,000 grant to the Rock Haus Foundation to assist with the improvements, renovations and construction project.

Intellectual disability is a term used when there are limits to a person’s ability to learn at an expected level and function in daily life.

Developmental disabilities affect an individual’s growth and cognition and include disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Six to seven million Americans are said to have developmental disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as one in six children in the U.S. — about 17% — can be living with developmental disabilities.

Donna Brown, director of the Comal IDD Center and who has been employed with Hill Country MHDD for more than 30 years, shared information and educated meeting attendees on the services performed and activities at the center, which includes dance and movement, creative crafting, art empowerment, music enrichment, Rock-the-Haus Dance Parties and tending the vegetable garden center at Cemex.

Activities also include a creative writing class, she said. Brown said she was a true believer that every one of the people she serves has an imagination.

“There’s so many things that we try to offer here, so we open up the world to them,” Brown said. “We don’t want to close the world, and we want the world out there to know that they are productive citizens. They’re part of us. They live here in New Braunfels. Some of them have been here all of their lives. This is their town, too.”

Brown and Berry emphasized in their remarks that plans for the development and construction effort do not call for tearing down the historic school building.

Learn more at Additional information on the IDEA Forum and future events can be found by visiting or emailing

McKenna Foundation awards more than $1 million in grants to Comal County non-profit organizations

June 8, 2023

The McKenna Foundation awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to 12 organizations in Comal County in the first round of grantmaking the organization will undertake this year.

The Foundation awarded $300,000 to the Rock Haus Foundation to assist with improvements, renovations and construction for a planned multi-phase expansion project at the Comal County IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) Center on North Street in New Braunfels.

Plans are underway on renovating an existing building that will house the New Braunfels Independent School District’s transition program for special needs students ages 18-22. A second phase will include developing and constructing a community center to house area service providers, medical care, case managers and navigators, and a multi-purpose facility for recreation, education, meetings, conferences, plays and concerts.

Continuing its investment in housing initiatives as part of its basic living needs grant portfolio, the Foundation awarded $200,000 to NB Housing Partners as it transitions from a motel-based model to long-term space for its First Footing program. Renovations are underway at the former fire station on Loop 337 in New Braunfels for use as a permanent facility to house the city’s population experiencing homelessness.

The Salvation Army of New Braunfels was awarded $100,000 for its Home Sweet Home program, which provides services to assist people to move from homelessness to transitional and stable housing. They were also provided funds to help with a mission planning study to assess how best the agency can serve the community.

The Foundation also awarded basic living needs grants to Comal County Habitat for Humanity, Comal County Senior Citizens Foundation, Connections Individual and Family Services, Family Life Center of New Braunfels, Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels, Helping Hands Food Pantry, Provisions Outreach – the Bulverde Food Pantry, New Braunfels Food Bank and STEPS.

“During this grant cycle, we were fortunate to fund impactful work being done for our community through nonprofits in three of McKenna’s strategic initiative areas: hunger, housing and services for people with IDD,” said McKenna Foundation CEO Alice Jewell. “Our nonprofit community is growing and strengthening alongside our community through the development of infrastructure that provides for residents’ needs. We envision a community that cares for everyone in all ways and makes investments in people through partnership with these nonprofits.”

The Foundation’s board approved the grants during its June meeting.

McKenna’s basic living needs grant portfolio is designed to award funding to nonprofit organizations that assist individuals and families in crises with prevention, intervention and services that lead to decreased dependence and improved stability.

Funding areas include programs that provide financial assistance, workforce/employability, food assistance, housing instability/assistance and transportation.

Grant application windows for organizations seeking funding in the areas of health, education, family relationships and community development are upcoming. New and returning applicants are welcome to apply.

The Foundation accepts applications from verified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving New Braunfels and Comal County residents. In addition, the Foundation maintains a geographic limitation that requires grant funds to be used in Comal County.

The application window for grants in health (physical health, mental health, healthcare support services and access to care) and education (school readiness, education access and support, after-school programs and literacy programs) opens June 12, with applications due July 5.

The application window for grants in family relationships (child and youth development, parenting support, abuse/neglect prevention and senior services) and community development (arts programs, parks and recreation and development of public spaces and services) opens August 15, with applications due Sept. 9.

McKenna began making grants to community nonprofits in 2009 and has since awarded over 500 grants to 85 nonprofit organizations serving New Braunfels and Comal County residents.

Last year, the Foundation surpassed the $25 million mark in grant funding to nonprofits, awarding 36 grants totaling nearly $2 million.

Contact McKenna’s grant team at 830-606-9500 or email for more information. Visit the Foundation’s website at