The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) was formed in 1988 as a part of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) under the name the Building Fund Trust. The trust was formed for the purpose of acquiring and providing a home office building for TRTA in Austin.
From 1988 to 2000, the Building Fund Trust raised funds through the “Walkway by the Wall” campaign, accumulating as much as $125,000 in one year. The Building Fund Trust also purchased a lot at 12th and Trinity streets in Austin in 1992, which was rented out for parking until construction started.
In the late 1990s, the Building Fund Trust committee members learned it was not technically possible to accept tax-deductible donations as a part of TRTA (a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization) because of TRTA’s involvement in legislative activities.
As a result, TRTF was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation with an educational and charitable mission in 2000. Such nonprofit foundations are prohibited from participating in lobbying and other political activities.
The funds procured through the Building Fund Trust and responsibility for the TRTA building were transferred to the Foundation Board of Trustees. This action was followed by the TRTA Board of Directors authorizing a 99-year lease of the lot at 12th and Trinity to TRTF. In return, the association would receive prepaid rent on 10 percent of the available office space and seven parking spaces.
To build the office center, TRTF formed an alliance known as the 12th Street Limited Partnership with Development 2000, Inc. Under the agreement, Development 2000, Inc. assumed the role of managing partner and 30 percent ownership of the building while TRTF gained 70 percent ownership of the office center. This financial structure prevails until the partnership ends in 2029. At that time, the Foundation will own 100 percent of the building and TRTA will own the lot.
TRTF achieved a landmark goal as construction of the Trinity Office Center ended in 2004 and the building was fully leased by 2006. That year, TRTF entered a new phase of growth and development, and has since launched new programs to support public education in Texas and enhance the lives of retired teachers and school personnel. Programs include scholarships for students pursuing degrees in education, and grants for public school teachers to meet classroom needs.
TRTF launched a pilot version of its newest charitable program, “A Helping Hand,” in February 2010 in four districts: 8, 12, 17, and 20. This program provides financial assistance for education retirees in critical need. “A Helping Hand” launched statewide in October 2010, and has provided over $77,000 in assistance to date.
In November 2011, TRTF began its newest venture, the Legacy Campaign.
The purpose of the Legacy Campaign is to raise funds for developing factual resource materials about defined benefit pension plans and the value of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Additionally, the campaign will promote a positive image of public education in Texas, with an emphasis on appreciating the legacy of our retired and current school personnel.
The Board of Trustees and TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee work diligently to enhance the foundation’s programs. We welcome your suggestions to improve the lives of education retirees.