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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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The Texas Miracle wasn’t just economic; it was philanthropic
Ari Schulman - Philanthropy magazine

October, 2015

You’ve heard about the “Texas Miracle.” When the Great Recession touched down, Texas weathered the whirlwind far better than other places and was soon back to its rapid pre-recession growth. In the seven years after the slowdown, the Lone Star State added 1.7 million net new jobs—more than the entire rest of the country put together over that same period. The Texas economy is now bigger than all but 11 entire nations. And people are flocking in: the three ­fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. are Austin, Houston, and Dallas, with San ­Antonio not far behind.

The stereotypes may conjure up plains and cattle but, as in the rest of the country, most of Texas’s population and wealth resides in the cities. And those cities have recently become some of the most philanthropic places on earth. There are a lot of Texas donors. They give away gobs of money. And they invest entrepreneurial and management talent in many of their favorite causes.

Lone Star philanthropists are intensely civic-minded. Many of them are devoted to turning their hometowns into national centers for culture, health, innovation, and prosperity. Today’s two giant stars dominating the Texas philanthropy constellation are Houston and Dallas.

Houston is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in America. It is the energy-production capital of the world, a huge port, NASA’s base. It is home to several of the nation’s top medical facilities. Houston has a major arts complex. It is an immigration hub, and a bookend of the South (with Atlanta and Charlotte standing at the other end of the shelf).

Dallas is a technology and transportation center, as well as an oil town, and considers itself the most Texan metropolis. It has the long, spare views speckled with yellow and blue that tell you you’re in the West. “There is no obvious reason for Dallas to exist,” notes Brent Christopher, president of the Dallas-based Communities ­Foundation of Texas. There is no port like Houston’s; it was never capital of the Republic; the Trinity River is a muddy, meager wriggle. “This city was built out of the sheer will and determination of the people who decided to make it so.”

Parks and recreation

The secret of Dallas and Houston is that they are both chock-a-block with willful, determined builders. And that shows in their giving. As they’ve each become centers of gushing economic production, and matured as communities, an energetic competition has grown up in their creation of impressive new parks, museums, hospitals, universities, and arts centers. Burgeoning circles of local patriots wielding newly minted fortunes have dramatically changed the quality of life in both cities over the past decade or so.

There is much more at


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