Joe R. Long and Teresa Lozano Long have pledged $10 million to establish a permanent endowment at the Austin-based Long Foundation to help Hispanic youth in Texas by furthering the objectives of America's Promise, the national program started by General Colin Powell to help disadvantaged youth.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that Hispanics have become the largest minority group in the nation. According to the Texas Education Agency, Hispanics represent 36 percent of the state's student population and are nearly three times likelier than white students to drop out of high school. The endowment established by the Longs will make annual grants to charities, schools, universities, corporations, and government agencies that target areas with large Hispanic populations and support youth in those areas by fulfilling at least one of the Five Promises of America's Promise: promoting ongoing relationships with caring adults; providing safe places with structured activities during non-school hours; promoting healthy starts and futures; providing marketable skills through effective education; and providing opportunities to give back through community service.
The Longs established the Long Foundation in 1999 primarily to share their extensive art collection of French Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings with the public. The couple's other philanthropic efforts include a gift of $20 million to help build a performing arts center in Austin and donations totaling more than $20 million to higher education institutions in Texas. Mr. Long is the former chairman of First State Bank of Austin, which was recently acquired by Wells Fargo Bank, and Teresa Lozano Long, one of the first Hispanic women to earn a doctorate degree at the University of Texas, has served in Texas state government.
"I applaud the Longs for their dedication to the students of Texas. The youth of America deserve a special commitment from each of us so they may reach their full potential," said First Lady Laura Bush, who was in Houston for the announcement of the couple's pledge. "Each of us wins when we give young people the tools to succeed in school and in life. By making a difference for our youth today, we ensure a bright future for all Americans."