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CFA Takes on ThriveABI Initiative

Jun 30, 2020

The Community Foundation of Abilene is the new home of ThriveABI, an initiative to drive and measure progress towards a community vision for a thriving Abilene.

Late last year, hundreds of Abilenians participated in casting a community vision for what they want the future of Abilene to look like. More than 2,000 people either took a survey and/or took part in open forums to talk about goals for specific areas of interest, such as essential resources for people in need, workforce, arts and culture and more.

The steering committee’s next step after casting this vision was to find an organization to manage the ThriveABI initiative moving forward. The steering committee voted in February to house the initiative at the Community Foundation of Abilene, and the foundation has agreed to take it on.

“Part of our mission is to provide philanthropic leadership to enhance Abilene’s future. Even before the opportunity to take on ThriveABI, our team set a goal to serve as a convener and data collector in order to make an even more strategic impact on our community. This initiative beautifully aligns with that purpose,” said Katie Alford, President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Abilene.


ThriveABI began as a grassroots effort to identify key issues in our community and collaborate to make improvements in each of those areas.

Before the initiative had a name, it had a steering committee of volunteer citizens from a broad range of backgrounds. This committee chose to have the Community Foundation lead the launch of ThriveABI, modeled after a similar program in San Antonio called SA2020.

CFA led the committee through the community visioning process. See the full Abilene Community Visioning Report. The identified cause areas include:

1. Education
2. Essential Needs
3. Health and Wellness
4. Workforce and Economic Development
5. Family Well-being and Neighborhoods
6. Arts and Culture
7. Transportation

Next Steps

Now that the CFA staff is back in the office after sheltering in place during the COVID pandemic, we're working on next steps.

Michelle Parrish, Grants Director for CFA, will take the lead on ThriveABI.

“Michelle has extensive experience working with organizations serving a broad range of needs in our community. She has an innate ability to listen to and connect people, and we are confident she is the ideal person to carry this initiative forward,” said Katie Alford.

  • Research – CFA has tapped Dr. Julie St. John of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to lead the data-collection piece. During the community visioning phase, the community identified the key issues that affect our quality of life in Abilene. Dr. St. John will gather data to show how Abilene is performing in each of these identified areas.
  • Addressing Key Issues – ThriveABI will use this data to determine which issues to address first, likely focusing on one to two issues at a time. Addressing issues will involve convening the agencies doing work in those areas and other people who may not be directly involved but are interested in finding solutions, then remaining in communication to determine how best to move towards improvement.
  • Web page – A web page dedicated to ThriveABI progress and data on key issues is coming soon! Follow the Community Foundation of Abilene Facebook page for updates.

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