The Philanthropy of George & Gladys Abell



What is the role of a foundation? It seems that one only need pick up a publication on philanthropy to hear more about the non-traditional ways foundations are working with their community to address needs, including interventions in public education.

Before embarking on a discussion of our current educational charitable efforts, we would be remiss in failing to share the long and rich history of education support provided by the Abell-Hanger Foundation. Mr. and Mrs. Abell were both life-long supporters of institutions of higher learning. Mr. Abell was a Midland Independent School District Board member and in 1949-1950, served as President. The Legacy Scholarship at Midland College is the centerpiece of our commitment to education.

As we entered this arena, we questioned our role as it was a divergence from the reactive nature of most grant making to a more proactive posture. Our business and philanthropic community was increasingly aware of the challenges faced by the Midland Independent School District. We were facing teacher shortages, poor academic performance and aging facilities. The business community was challenged in hiring talented staff to come to Midland due to school performance. As a community, we embarked on a series of initiatives to learn more about education, understand the challenges of our district and find opportunities for philanthropy that yield improved student academic performance. Abell-Hanger, Henry Foundation and the Scharbauer Foundation led the effort to engage Educate Texas to create a collective impact backbone organization that has become Educate Midland. Educate Midland is making its mark on the community and serving as a rallying point for all sectors to come together to improve student outcomes.

In our March 2017 Quarterly meeting, the trustees approved a plan to positively impact student performance across the cradle to career continuum. The foundation has supported the expansion of First Five, an early-childhood family intervention program, in Midland County. We funded the final wave of training for MISD as they implement the Professional Learning Communities instructional model district-wide. With direction from the Texas Education Agency, we are supporting the implementation of a consulting relationship with The New Teacher Project to increase the pipeline of talented teachers into our community. We have funded a lecture series presented by Educate Midland for the purpose of raising awareness of innovative models and to connect volunteers with meaningful opportunities to aid our school system.

In September 2018, we committed to IDEA Public Schools to provide a portion of the $55,000,000 required to launch their school model in Midland and Odessa.  Their proven success will offer local kids an educational alternative set in a rigorous academic environment.  We eagerly await the fruit of their work in our area.

Most recently, we collaborated with Scarbauer Foundation, Henry Foundation, Yarborough Foundation, Chevron, and the Carl B. Florence E. King Foundation to fund the work of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.   Meadow will work with MISD to implement the newly mandated mental health service expectations.  Meadows is a leader in the field.  The training and consultation they provide will enhance the awareness of the need for and the quality of available mental health services for our public-school students.

Visit the Midland Independent School District website.

Visit the Midland College website.