Many businesses and community members donate their time and resources at Katy ISD, and the district has been working on ways to improve these partnerships.

Janet Theis—the KISD executive director of Partners in Education, which oversees these partnerships—announced at the Feb. 24 regular board of trustees meeting that PIE's school-business partnership program will soon have a portal to better match volunteers and resources with local campuses.

“A common theme with all the groups that we talked to was the need for an online portal to match campus needs with business interests,” Theis said.

PIE selected, powered by VolunteerNow, which is a national volunteer matching platform, to help build this new online portal where organizations can provide information on the resources they have available and campuses can list their needs, Theis said.

“When we tried to find an online option [of a portal], we looked all over the state, and there was none,” she said. “There was nothing in existence. No other school districts were using a tool like that. ... But we did find a vendor called Voly. ... We liked the look and feel of it; we liked the functionality of it, and we liked the people that we met with from Voly.”

PIE is also working to find ways to share volunteers’ stories and say thank you to them in a more public manner on Facebook and other social media, Theis said.

In addition to a new portal, the school-business partnership program will be known as the Katy ISD Business and Community Partnerships to recognize the scope of the program encompasses all organizations in the Katy area that volunteer with the district, Theis said. It will also receive a new logo.

Theis did not provide a timeline for when the new portal will be available to all business and organizational partners, but she did say her team is already working on a second, improved version of the portal.

“For some reason [businesses have] got a connection and passion for education and the work that’s going on in our classrooms,” Theis said. “And we just provide the conduit that allows them to walk in there and [for KISD] to use their resources to make a difference.”