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Corpus Christi Caller-Times


March 24 is a big day for Ingleside: It's opening day of the Ingleside Little League season.

Ingleside was hard hit by Hurricane Harvey. One of the community's most prized assets, the Little League field, was destroyed beyond repair. Until a month ago, the community was facing the fact that the entire season would be canceled or significantly delayed. For the 500 kids who play in the league, and their families, this would have dealt yet another blow to a community already in pain.

The City of Ingleside has been on a determined path to ensure the Little League season proceeds as scheduled. Earlier this month, the Rebuild Texas Fund approved a grant to support the City of Ingleside's efforts to build a new Little League field. Our funding, combined with other funding that the city has secured from local and regional partners, will go toward building dugouts, fences, lights and scoreboards, and ensure that the field is up and running in time for opening day.

Ingleside Little League is one of 50 projects, and part of the $15 million that the Rebuild Texas Fund has distributed to date. The Rebuild Texas Fund launched on August 29, 2017, just four days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. The Fund, a collaboration between the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Foundation, set a target to raise $100 million, seeded with a personal gift of $36 million from Michael and Susan Dell. Thanks to the support from more than 32,000 individual and corporate donors who have answered the call from across Texas and around the world, the Rebuild Texas Fund is $93.1 million strong.

It has been six months since Harvey made landfall on that fateful evening in Rockport. What we've observed and learned over that time has humbled us and helped inform how we shape the next phase of our journey in partnership with communities.

We are seeing that communities are getting stronger and more organized. The first few months were characterized by shock and trying to recover. That meant mucking, gutting and clearing debris from streets to make homes, schools or businesses habitable again. What we are seeing now is communities becoming more organized and working together. They are leveraging their long-term recovery groups, extension agents and other resources.

We are seeing funders and invested stakeholders coming together to collaborate more. As Rebuild Texas Fund, we recognize that $100 million, although a large amount in absolute terms, represents less than 0.5 percent of the damage wreaked by Harvey, which is estimated to exceed $150 billion. To make a meaningful dent in the rebuild and recovery process, we cannot go it alone. We need to collaborate with partners — federal, state and local public-sector agencies, big and small business, non-profits, philanthropists. We want to work with anyone who wishes to contribute to the recovery in these communities, whether it's capital, competency, network, resources or expertise.

There is really no substitute for being on the ground in the affected communities. The scale and reach of Hurricane Harvey was unprecedented. Outside of Houston, more than 40 counties were hit, covering 300 miles of coastline, impacting 200,000 homes, 2 million residents and 500 school campuses. Our team has been immersed in affected communities, clocking almost 15,000 miles to meet with community leaders, families, business leaders, elected officials and non-profits, almost on a weekly basis, to develop the best response. It is important that our funding strategies and decisions are community-led, informed by our own experiences on the ground and undertaken in collaboration with local leaders and key community stakeholders.

Neeraj Aggarwal is program director for the Rebuild Texas Fund.

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March 2, 2018


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