Minutes — May 2018 Project Development Committee Meeting


Committee Members Present

  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Jennifer Kaut, TWC
  • John Thomas
  • Rick Tisch
  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC
  • Keith Swink, TEA
  • Katlyn Le, DSHS

Committee Members Absent

  • Gladys Cortez, Chair
  • Kristine Clark
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Dana Perry

Guests Present

  • Stephanie Martinez
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS
  • Sue Fielder, HHSC

Staff Present

  • Ann Bjorgo
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Danny Fikac
  • Robert Garcia
  • Fernando Rodriguez

Call To Order

The Project Development Committee met on Thursday, May 3, 2018, at the Embassy Suites – Austin Central, 5901 North IH-35, Austin, Texas 78723. Acting Chair Richard Tisch called the meeting to order at 1:02 PM. A quorum was present.

  1. Introductions
    Committee members, staff and guests were introduced.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered.

  3. Consideration of Minutes
    The Committee reviewed minutes of the February 8, 2018, Project Development Committee meeting. No additions or corrections were noted.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the February 8, 2018, Project Development Committee.
    MADE BY: John Thomas
    SECOND: Keith Swink
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Remarks
    Facilitating as Chair, Rich Tisch announced member absences of Gladys Cortez, Kristine Clark, Mateo Delgado, Scott McAvoy, and Dana Perry. Because of the absences of the Chair Cortez, and Vice Chair McAvoy, Rich Tisch facilitated the meeting. Cortez participated in the meeting by phone.

    It was noted that the Public Policy Committee is considering a project executive summary on “Public Policy in TCDD Grants.” Because projects recommended for funding need to be included on the Future Funding Priorities list, the list will be reviewed at the Council meeting on Friday, May 4, 2018.

  5. Member Updates
    Committee members discussed personal activities during the previous quarter. Cortez reported that she is participating in an upcoming children’s disaster response play therapy training that will cover principals and procedures for mental health professionals.

  6. Staff Reports
    • Status of New/Approved Projects
      Grants and Contract Compliance Specialist Robert Garcia reported that the following projects started this past quarter:
      • Peer Support Specialist for Community-Based Person-Centered Planning project by Imagine Arts.
      • Peer Support Specialists for Individuals Living in Institutions projects by Project Amistad and Texas Advocates.
      • Leadership Development and Advocacy Training in Rural Areas by West Central Texas Regional Foundation.

        There were no further questions for Garcia.

    • Projected Available Funds
      Operations Director Martha Cantu reported that $578,000 is left in FY 2017 funds to assign to grantees by September 30, 2018. However, there are several planned projects pending approval. She also noted that the Executive Committee is proposing to increase funding to allow additional TCDD Policy Fellow projects. Committee members questioned the expenditure of out-of-state travel funds and how excess funds are distributed if they go unused. Cantu reported that there are several scheduled events where current available funds would be expended. Members also discussed excess funds in the computer equipment category and it was noted that these are used to pay for audio/visual equipment at Council meetings. Cantu noted that the audio/visual expense is a separate cost from the meeting room expense but is billed through the hotel contract. Any remaining funds can be reallocated for grant projects.

    • Other Updates
      Planning Director Joanna Cordry reported the following Request for Proposals (RFP) are posted and close on May 18, 2018.

      • Disability-Related Participatory Research is a project for entities working on disability-related topics that would further the Council’s Goals and Objectives to include individuals with developmental disabilities as researchers. The Council has funds available for funding three separate projects.

      • Next Chapter Book Club are community-based book clubs for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities who choose to meet for one hour a week in bookstores, libraries, cafes, or other public spaces to read books aloud and discuss them together.

  7. Future Activities for State Plan Implementation
    • Executive Summaries
    • Creating a Meaningful Day Mini-Grants
      Planning Specialist Danny Fikac presented the executive summary for Creating a Meaningful Day Mini-Grants. This project would allow disability service providers to apply for mini-grants to increase community connections and involvement. It would also raise expectations for community support to provide individuals with increased independence and opportunities for participation in their chosen activities. Committee members asked if there are sufficient staff resources to ensure that current grantees do not use mini-grants to fund activities or materials that should be paid for by their existing grant. Staff responded that grant award and monitoring procedures would prevent this. The Committee also expressed concerns about transportation being a barrier that would prevent the providers receiving the mini-grants to accomplish the goal of increasing community involvement.

      The Committee discussed the type of activities that may be included, such as spending more time with friends, exercising, taking classes, volunteering, and working in a community setting. TCDD would assemble a technical assistance team to provide direction to providers so that more people have person-directed meaningful days. The Committee also discussed the process through which this would be funded.

      MOTION: To recommend approval of up to ten Meaningful Day Mini-Grants, for up to $15,000 per organization, for up to 2 years.
      MADE BY: John Thomas
      SECOND: Katlyn Le
      The motion passed unanimously.

    • New Initiatives
      Planning Director Cordry presented the New Initiatives Executive Summary. This RFP would provide TCDD with the opportunity to receive proposals from organizations for projects they think would be beneficial to people with developmental disabilities and families. The topics or approaches would vary, although all projects would have to relate to a State Plan Goal and Objective. The applicant would describe the project and state the outcomes. At the end of the project, the grantee would document the barriers and successes. The Committee discussed how this RFP would work and what type of projects are acceptable. Several examples were presented to the Committee.

      MOTION: To recommend approval of funding for up to three New Initiatives projects, for up to $100,000 per year, for up to four years.
      MADE BY: Keith Swink
      SECOND: Lisa Akers-Owen
      The motion passed unanimously.

    • Media Fellow
      Planning Director Cordry presented the Media Fellows Program Executive Summary. This RFP would support experienced media professionals to train and mentor people with developmental disabilities (DD) to work in communication and mass media outlets. The goal is for people with

      DD to participate in the development of media and reporting about issues that impact them.

      The Committee discussed updating the People First Language document and the inclusion of Identity First Language through the TCDD Communication Department. Council member Goldstein provided potential resources for additional research on this issue.

      Committee members would like ensure that all RFPs continue to have a bi-lingual or multi-language option built in the proposal. Council member Swink informed the Committee that Texas Education Agency (TEA) produces information in Spanish and Vietnamese.

      MOTION: To recommend approval of funding for up to two Media Fellows, for up to $67,500 per year, per entity, for up to two years and that at least one project would provide content in multiple languages.
      MADE BY: Keith Swink
      SECOND: Kimberly Blackmon
      The motion passed unanimously.

  8. Other Discussion Items
    Planning Director Cordry discussed the disparity in the percentage of students who are English learners and are eligible for special education services. The need for students to obtain appropriate special education services is an issue in Texas and identifying this student population at an earlier age is critical to success. Committee members expressed concerns in distinguishing between a learning disability and a language barrier. The Committee recommended extending an invitation to fellow member Justin Porter, TEA’s Executive Director for Special Populations, to present to the Committee. The Committee would like to see baseline statistics for Texas and explore what data is available. Keith Swink, the TEA representative, informed the Committee that TEA is working on revising the Dyslexia Handbook.
    Cordry also discussed supporting local self-advocates groups to develop their capacity to apply for and manage grants. Texas Advocates annual conference is in August and she suggested that this would be an opportunity to address this topic. One of the barriers identified was the belief that only non-for-profit organizations qualify as an applicant. Many organizations are unaware of who can and cannot apply for a grant. Fikac suggested that an outreach strategy be developed to reach self-advocate groups in other regions of the state.

    Cordry reviewed the updated report for the TCDD State Plan Projects List. Committee members liked the changes made to the reporting system and layout of the report.

    There was no further discussion.


Acting Chair Tisch adjourned the meeting at 2:57 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council