Area couple works to impart change throughout Ethiopia and Austin
After hearing about the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, Donna Berber said she was shaken to the core. After moving to Austin with her husband, Philip, the couple decided to make a difference and founded A Glimmer of Hope in 2000.
Philip sold his Internet brokerage company, CyBerCorp, to Charles Schwab, and the couple invested a large sum of money into the nonprofit.
A Glimmer of Hope was founded to help lift women and children out of extreme poverty in rural Ethiopia and focuses on four areas of development: water, health, education and microfinance.
Throughout the years the foundation has built wells, health clinics and schools in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty and provides microloans to women for use in starting or expanding a business to sustain their families.
The nonprofit has constructed more than 6,700 water projects, 520 schools, 210 health facilities and distributed more than 19,000 microloans since its founding in 2000, according to its website.
In 2003 the nonprofit founded A Glimmer of Hope Austin run by Executive Director David Porter.
“This city has been great to the Berbers, and there are tremendous needs here in Austin,” Porter said. “There are needs to be met here, and we are going wherever there are disadvantaged youth and seniors.”
Porter said the Austin nonprofit focuses on people in the Austin area and provides funds to take their work to the next level.
“We like out-of-the-box thinking and look for those innovative, grass-roots entrepreneurs,” he said. “We don’t fund projects—we fund people.”
Since opening, A Glimmer of Hope Austin has distributed more than $5 million in grants to more than 150 different nonprofit organizations, Porter said.
Porter said his team has about 30–35 applicants every six months and awards up to $20,000 each to about 10 of those.
“We try to appreciate the people behind the project; whether we choose them or not, we acknowledge the difference they are making and try to be supportive in other ways,” Porter said.
One of the ways the nonprofit is supporting potential applicants is through its partnership with Austin Community College. Porter said with the help of ACC the nonprofit has developed a series of training sessions about marketing, social media and more, and Porter invites applicants to attend.
Porter said the company has also launched an online giving platform to help people encourage and participate in both the Austin and Ethiopian efforts.
Porter said the two sections of the nonprofit are going to be working even more closely than they already are.
“Poverty is poverty regardless of where it occurs,” Porter said. “It is a blessing to be able to serve, create and connect ideas from people. We consider those folks angels in the community, and they are the ones making things happen.”
In addition to running nonprofits to help both Ethiopia and Austin, A Glimmer of Hope also runs a summer camp on
40 acres of land on Lake Travis.
The facility includes sports courts, trails and a multipurpose facility and is sponsored in part by The Andy Roddick Foundation. The Austin Tennis Academy is also involved, and more than 500 campers go through the summer camp every year, said David Porter, executive director of A Glimmer of Hope Austin.
A Glimmer of Hope, 3600 N. Capital of Texas Hwy., Bldg. B, Ste. 330, Austin, 512-328-9944, www.aglimmerofhope.org