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Ventana Del Soul

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About Ventana


Ventana del Soul is developing new
programs to foster positive change.
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Ventana del Soul will not have programs available during its development stage.

History of Ventana del Soul

During the aftermath of September 11, 2001 (9/11), a group of Austin students, business owners and faith-based community representatives began to discuss the community's reaction to the tragedy. The group noted a strong sense of togetherness, consideration, empathy and community in people's behavior that dissipated after a few weeks. This contrast in behavior highlighted the potential for Community, which inspired the group to find a way of fostering Community — without tragedy being the catalyst.

The group found positive factors that shape community in the 40 Developmental Assets, identified by Search Institute, which now serve as the ideological foundation for Ventana del Soul (Window of the Soul) and its experience-based learning. After a year of research and development, in December 2002, the group incorporated Ventana del Soul as a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization.

Ventana del Soul received tremendous support from the community, in the form of in-kind donations. Ventana del Soul opened Cafe Ventana with meeting rooms in September 2003 and the Ventana del Soul Cultural Center with a large conference space in December 2003. The cafe provides a vocational training area for at-risk youth and the meeting space attracts hundreds of active, community minded people involved with non-profit and community organizations -- the ideal role models for our youth. Funds raised through the cafe help Ventana del Soul fulfill its mission and help the center become sustainable.

In its first year, the Ventana del Soul helped 73 youth and provided space for nearly 1,100 meetings and served more than 220 non-profit and community organizations throughout Austin and Travis County. Today, Ventana del Soul helps more than 300 youth a year and serves more than 300 organizations.


September- 9/11 inspires group to find a way to foster Community

December- Group incorporates Ventana del Soul as a Non-Profit Organization

September- Café and Coffee House opens; December- Cultural Center opens

January - Internal Revenue Service recognizes Ventana del Soul as 501c3 School / Charitable Organization.  By May 2004, Ventana had hosted 900 meetings for more than 100 non-profit and civic organizations and community groups; State Resolution commends Ventana del Soul for "its many contributions in support of Austin residents affecting positive and lasting change. (Ventana del Soul) enriches the community in ways benefiting small business, neighborhood groups, schools, and charitable organizations"

Community Service Learning Program for ages 10-17 begins and provides service for more than 200 youth in its first year Austin Chronicle recognizes Ventana del Soul as “Best Cultural Arts Center”; Ventana enlists 20 Advisory Board Members to help develop programs and partnerships

Cultural Center steps up its Volunteerism, Mentorship, and Intern Programs; ESL and Food Service Certification Classes begin; Partnerships develop with the University of Texas at Austin, St. Edwards University, Austin Community College, Austin Municipal Court, Austin Independent School District, Del Valle School District, YWCA, Communities in Schools, and Texas School for the Deaf; Letters of Recognition received by Senator John Cornyn, Representative Eddie Rodriguez, Mayor Will Wynn and Judges from the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice; Ventana worked with more than 250 at-risk youth to help keep them from falling further into the justice system.

2007 and 2008
A Glimmer of Hope awards Ventana del Soul with a grant to assist youth program; Recruitment of 50 college students as Volunteer Job Coach Mentors per semester; Ventana works with more than 300 at-risk youth to help them from falling further into the justice system; Ventana conducts studies to find effectiveness of Mentorship and Community Service Learning Programs are in reducing recidivism, delinquency and dropout rates.

Ventana del Soul develops vocational training programs for youth and adults who have had contact with the justice system. Ventana’s training combines best practices for reentry according to Offender Workforce Development (OWD), an “Each One Teach One” model for supportive learning and empowerment, and a demanding curriculum that helps students earn up to eight industry specific certifications in six to twelve weeks. Ventana del Soul’s programs have touched the lives of more than 1,100 youth and adults by the end of 2009.

One Star Foundation awards a grant to Ventana del Soul to help build capacity for the reentry effort in Travis County; Ventana del Soul works closely with Federal, State, County and City authorities, workforce agencies and organizations throughout Texas to help facilitate successful reentry; Ventana partners with Travis County Criminal Justice Planning, faith-based and community organizations, the Travis County Reentry Collaborative, and the Employer Collaborative Group to help build capacity for successful reentry; Ventana sponsors and becomes the official home to Offender Employment Specialist (OES) Training which is offered quarterly by Travis County Criminal Justice Planning, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the National Institute of Corrections and provides information on best practices for helping clients overcome reentry challenges and identifies tools and strategies for improving outcomes in offender employment; 92% of adult students graduate from Ventana del Soul’s Vocational Training Programs, 100% of Ventana’s graduates get jobs.


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