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Press Release | Upbring

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Head Start and Early Head Start Services to Continue in Bee, Goliad, Live Oak and Refugio Counties in Texas Through Upbring

Head Start and Early Head Start Services to Continue in Bee, Goliad, Live Oak and Refugio Counties in Texas Through Upbring

Austin, TX May 28, 2020 – Upbring has been awarded a grant through The Office of Head Start, through the Designation Renewal System (DRS), to provide services within Bee, Goliad, Live Oak and Refugio Counties in Texas effective June 1, 2020.

“Upbring will work with the prior provider to ensure a seamless transition and continuity of services,” said Dr. Andrew Benscoter, Chief Education and Growth Officer at Upbring.  “We’re excited about this opportunity to serve the children and families in Bee, Goliad, Live Oak, and Refugio counties, and we assure the community that Head Start/Early Head Start services will continue for all 394 children served throughout the four counties.”

Upbring Head Start Expansion

Upbring has been providing Head Start services in Texas since 2015. The nonprofit will offer programs to both Early Head Start and Head Start throughout the Bee, Goliad, Live Oak, and Refugio Counties while adding some additional Early Head Start slots within these communities.

“We will provide engaging educational programs in both a stand-alone center and with partnerships with the local Independent School Districts in order to provide our students and parents with a high-quality education and community resources,” Benscoter said.

Within the next two weeks, Upbring will notify all current Head Start families throughout the Bee, Goliad, Live Oak, and Refugio Counties, as well as the community regarding the next steps in this transition. For more information about Upbring Head Start Preschool, please visit Upbring.org/headstart.

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Upbring Announces Senior Leadership Changes

The Austin-based nonprofit promoted Andrew Benscoter and Krystale Bezio to Chief Officers

Upbring, a faith-inspired nonprofit working to break the cycle of child abuse, announces two changes to its Senior Leadership Team – the appointments of Andrew Benscoter, Ed.D., as Chief Education & Growth Officer and Krystale Bezio, MSW, LCPAA, as Chief Program Officer effective January 1, 2020. The two promotions are in part of a new leadership structure designed to further the organization’s important mission.

“During their tenures at Upbring, both Andrew and Krystale have been integral parts of advancing our mission,” said Upbring’s newly appointed President and CEO Michael Loo. “I am confident that as they take on their new Chief roles, they will continue to lead by example as we continue to provide much-needed resources and care to children and families through the programs they oversee.”

As Chief Education & Growth Officer, Benscoter leads all Upbring education services and works to assess and develop additional growth opportunities. In 2015, he joined the organization as Vice President of Education and Innovation and was promoted to Vice President of Education & Residential Programs and Chief Executive Officer of Trinity Charter Schools in 2017. In those roles, he helped lead strategic program growth that resulted in a $28 million increase in Upbring’s operating revenue. Benscoter has helped open 20 Upbring Head Start preschools, two private preschools, 11 Trinity Charter School locations and provided oversight, implementation and leadership for three Office of Refugee and Resettlement facilities and two Residential Treatment facilities.

In her role as Chief Program Officer, Bezio ensures quality care, supervision and program direction for all foster care, adoption, supervised independent living, residential treatment centers and the Office of Refugee and Resettlement programs. During her fifteen-year tenure with Upbring, she has risen through the ranks, holding seven different positions increasing in responsibility. In her most recent position as Senior Vice President of Program Operations and Development, she supervised all Regional Directors, the Statewide Treatment Director and the Evolv System Administrator as well as support staff within Upbring’s Foster Care and Adoption programs. She also developed and implemented a Quality Management program to meet the demographic and epidemiological needs of the children and families in Upbring’s care.

The 2020 Upbring Senior Leadership Team consists of four Chief Officers and eight Executives. To view Senior Leadership biographies—including previous roles and experience, as well as current job descriptions and headshots—visit Upbring.org.

About Upbring
Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s wellbeing: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

Upbring Innovation Labs - Calculator
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Upbring Announces Innovation Evaluation Calculator

Upbring Innovation Labs is empowering nonprofits to innovate with the addition of its latest tool, the Innovation Evaluation Calculator. Launching this month, the Innovation Evaluation Calculator will empower and enable creative thinkers to advance innovation within their respective industries. The tool was created as a solution to the lack of resources often available to evaluate and conceptualize ideas in the nonprofit space. An important step in the innovation process is the evaluation of an idea’s business merit and impact; Upbring hopes that the accessibility of the Innovation Evaluation Calculator will streamline that process for those looking to take their idea to the next level.

“Innovative ideas themselves are not enough. We aim to empower social entrepreneurs, nonprofits and business leaders to take their ideas and run with them—this begins with quantifying value so that anyone can communicate their innovation’s impact to decision-makers,” shared Ryan Park, Senior Director of Innovation at Upbring. “While project evaluation is a small step in the innovation process, Upbring recognizes that many nonprofits simply don’t have the human capital or expertise to evaluate creative ideas on an ongoing basis, and therein lies their ability to innovate. We hope the Innovation Evaluation Calculator will help address this issue.”

Park also noted that the creation of the tool wouldn’t have been possible without the lab’s generous volunteers at the Unicorn Agency, a web development group, and UX Designer Kai Ho, who helped build the application.

The Innovation Evaluation Calculator assesses four kinds of ideas, including products and services, processes, organizational structures and marketing. Users can select their idea type, then work through the form to input information such as impact, stakeholders, timeframe, budget, etc. At the end of the form, users will be provided with a risk analysis on their idea evaluating its Social Return on Investment (SROI), scalability, outcome measurability, ease of implementation and strategic alignment.

Those interested in putting their innovative ideas to the test can access the calculator at http://innovate.upbring.org/innovation-evaluation-calculator. To learn more about Upbring Innovation Labs and the work being done to provide innovative solutions to various problems facing the child welfare space, visit innovate.upbring.org.

About Upbring Innovation Labs

Upbring Innovation Labs unites the brightest minds with the boldest ideas to shape better childhoods. Through partnerships with entrepreneurs, business leaders, startups and universities, we are turning ideas into real outcomes that will ultimately break the cycle of child abuse.

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s wellbeing: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

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Announcement of New CEO

Upbring CEO, Dr. Kurt Senske, announces plan to step down in 2020 after nearly 25 years with the organization

The Austin-based nonprofit names current President and COO Michael Loo as Senske’s successor.

AUSTIN, TX – May 8, 2019 – Dr. Kurt Senske announced that he will step down as chief executive officer of Upbring, effective December 31, 2019.  Senske has served the organization for almost 25 years, 22 of those as chief executive officer. Michael Loo, currently the agency’s president and chief operating officer will succeed Senske and hold the title of president and CEO.

“On behalf of the Upbring Board of Directors, I want to thank Kurt for his remarkable leadership as CEO,” said Upbring Chairman of the Board Sig Cornelius. “Kurt oversaw the evolution of the organization’s rebranding from Lutheran Social Services of the South, refocusing on its origins in child welfare. Kurt’s passion for Upbring’s mission to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities is evident to all who know him, and he has served the organization exceptionally well.”

During Senske’s two-plus decades of service, he helmed the organization while it more than tripled in size. Upbring’s significant growth has made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children and families each year throughout the state of Texas as well as in parts of Louisiana.

An innovative trailblazer inside the child welfare and education arenas, Loo joined Upbring in 2013 as chief financial officer before his promotion to the role of president and COO in 2015. Loo has broad experience in areas ranging from strategic planning and operations to technology and finance. Under his operational direction, Upbring programs have experienced exponential growth with the current trajectory showing great promise to lead to systemic change in child welfare and social services.

“While Michael’s professional skills and talents led him into the business and industry sector, his passion for helping families, inspired by his love and dedication for his wife and three children, called him to his current role in the nonprofit sector,” Cornelius said. “We are profoundly grateful for the leadership Michael has already brought to the organization through his innovative strategies and growth of operations. We are fortunate to have an exceptional visionary in Michael to take the organization into the next decade and beyond.”

Prior to joining Upbring, Loo spent more than 25 years in business operations roles, 20 years of which were in higher executive management positions such as executive vice president and chief financial officer. He has held these positions in complex organizations that range from start-ups to large corporations. He formerly served as vice president of finance and administration of Kamehameha Schools, a private, multibillion-dollar endowed trust that was the largest private commercial, residential and agricultural real estate landholder and private school system in the State of Hawaii. He also spearheaded the initial public offering efforts of Sopogy, Inc., a technology provider in the micro concentrated solar power sector and was vice president – controller and treasurer in the restructuring of Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Senske and Loo will continue to work closely together and with Upbring’s senior leadership team to provide for a seamless transition and ensure the organization’s strong momentum continues.

 

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s wellbeing: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

Upbring Innovation Labs
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Upbring Launches Innovation Lab Dedicated to Breaking Cycle of Child Abuse

Today, Upbring Innovation Labs rolled out its first product, an online marketplace to help make an immediate impact on the lives of children and families that need extra support

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Upbring, one of Texas’ leading nonprofits in the child wellbeing sector, constantly explores innovative strategies for achieving its mission to break the cycle of child abuse. With that in mind, the agency today announced Upbring Innovation Labs, which is believed to be the first innovation lab at a Texas-based organization that operates a private foster care agency. The lab partners with entrepreneurs, business leaders, startups and universities to explore and build solutions for at-risk children, families and communities.

“As Texans, we live in an exciting time and place where new technologies, bold ideas and creative talent should be united to serve those most in need,” Upbring President and COO Michael Loo said. “Texas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem is shaping the way nonprofits innovate, design and approach important issues. We invite the community to partner with us to help give all children the bright futures they deserve.”

Based at the organization’s Austin headquarters, Upbring Innovation Labs, overseen by Upbring Director of Innovation, Ryan Park, maintains a presence at Capital Factory, an accelerator and co-working space known as the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas.

Through collaboration, Upbring Innovation Labs has begun exploring augmented and virtual reality, blockchain technology, community-based programs, corporate social responsibility partnerships and other innovations that have the potential to help break the cycle of child abuse.

Last year alone, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed more than 63,657 cases of child abuse and neglect. Research suggests that approximately 30 percent of the children who have been abused are likely to repeat the cycle of abuse.

The lab is already making progress and today launched its first product – Upbring Marketplace – an online wish list of urgently needed items for the children in its care.

“It is not unusual for children to enter the child welfare system with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing,” Park said. “Yet across the great state of Texas, foster care agencies often have to rely on slow and outdated systems to fulfill critical-needs items for children—think diapers and car seats, for example. We’ve created the technology solution to streamline this process. Upbring Marketplace leverages retailer application programming interfaces (APIs) to automate the in-kind donation process and empower donors to help Texas children by giving where it’s needed most. In an era where everyone uses Uber and Instacart, why can’t nonprofits provide a similar experience to donors?”

Those passionate about helping children can visit Upbring.org/Shop and sort by location to purchase items for children or families in their community. They can also purchase items for those being served in an Upbring program that is close to their heart. All gifts, which are 100 percent tax-deductible, are shipped directly to the appropriate Upbring program.

By streamlining the giving process, Upbring Marketplace eliminates the administrative costs associated with sorting and transporting gifts. Ultimately, Upbring staff has more time to spend doing what they are passionate about: serving the children and families in their care.

About Upbring

Upbring is a leading Texas-based, faith-inspired nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Upbring partners with federal, state and local government agencies, community groups, small businesses, large corporations and dedicated individuals to deliver services that produce measurable progress toward five key markers of every child’s well-being: safety, life skills, education, health and vocation. Upbring benefits nearly 30,000 families each year with its life-changing programs—including foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers and community services. While Upbring has evolved over more than 136 years of service, our organization remains firmly focused on delivering innovative programs and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. For more information, please visit upbring.org.

Upbring Conference to Feature Foster Care Expert Dr. John DeGarmo

FLOWER MOUND, TEXAS – September 13, 2018 – Nearly 4,000 children in the DFW area were in foster care last year. Each child had immediate needs for food, clothing and shelter. But as a foster care expert and foster parent who has welcomed more than 55 children into his home and heart, Dr. John DeGarmo knows that most importantly, every child in foster care needs love.

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Upbring, Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing Release First-of-its-Kind Study on Youth in Foster Care

AUSTIN, TX – March 7, 2018 – Upbring, a thought leader among child welfare nonprofits, and the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing today released the pilot report from the Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS). The study asks whether the child welfare system’s focus on legal permanency (adoption, reunification, kinship care) for children in foster care is sufficient— and offers an alternative model to give youth everything they need to succeed in adulthood.

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