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Economic Opportunity

Amarillo Area Foundation

The Texas Panhandle has a diverse population with varied needs, but the data shows that almost every community could have improved economic opportunities with more equitable access to childcare and high-speed internet. There is also substantial evidence that quality of life aspects of a community, like arts and culture, can help communities stay vibrant.

Arts & Culture

The Issue

Why are arts and culture important to economic opportunity in our area?

  • Rural counties that are home to performing arts organizations experienced population growth three times faster and higher household incomes than rural counties lacking performing arts organizations.   
  • Two out of three rural businesses report that arts and entertainment are important to attracting and retaining workers.   
  • Creative sector initiatives add value when integrated with economic development, workforce development, community development, and other state and local policies and practices.

The Strategy

  • Allocate $300,000 of the Economic Opportunity grant funds to performing and visual arts organizations (historic preservation and historical museums can submit in the Unique and Urgent cycle). Though we may choose to segment a portion of the funds for endowment matching in the future, it is recommended to wait until at least 2022 due to the pandemic’s impact on arts organizations.  This amount and the process will be reanalyzed annually.
  • Funding priorities will be arts and cultural organizations in the 26 counties for operational, programmatic, marketing, and capital expenses. A simplified application process will allow for smaller requests and smaller organizations.
  • Funding recommendations will be made to the Board by a subcommittee composed of members from the Amarillo and the Canadian Cultural District Advisory Committees. An AAF staff member will serve as an advisor (non-voting).
  • A Field of Interest fund will be established to enhance fundraising opportunities. 


The Economy’s ‘Invisible’ Driver
Overall Economic Impact in Texas:

How Childcare Impacts Texas Businesses

  • Texas loses an estimated $1.80 billion annually in tax revenue due to childcare issues.
  • Absences and employee turnover cost Texas employers an estimated $7.59 billion per year.
  • Approximately 7% of parents voluntarily left a job due to childcare issues.

How Childcare Impacts Texas Parents

  • Percentage of parents who experienced employment changes due to childcare, by income group: 44% Low Income, 25% High Income, 32% Overall Average.
  • Average total cost per month for childcare per household, by income group: $433 Low Income, $789 High Income, $611 Overall Average.
  • 9% of parents nationally and 11% of Texas parents reported childcare issues are causing significant disruptions to their employment. The parents in our survey reported much higher rates (30%) of childcare issues significantly impacting their employment or the employment of someone in their family.
Overall Economic Impact in the Texas Panhandle

Texas Panhandle

  • 20 of the 26 Texas Panhandle counties contain at least one zip code that is a “childcare desert”. (A zip code is a “childcare desert” if the number of children under age 6 with working parents is three times greater than the licensed capacity of childcare providers in the area.)
  • This includes at least parts of Dumas, Borger, Dalhart, Perryton, Pampa, Amarillo, Canyon, Hereford, Clarendon, and Friona.

Source: Children at Risk Childcare Desert Dashboard

supporting organizations


Connected Community Ecosystem

Source: 2018 Rural Broadband; A Texas Tour (Connected Nation)

Digital Equity

  • Access to affordable and reliable broadband
  • Access to internet-enabled devices
  • Access to digital literacy training
  • Access to technical support
  • Improved data collection and analysis
  • Grants to local communities
  • Public-private partnerships to advance digital inclusion

FIND OUT MORE! Panhandle Connected

Strategy Lead

Keralee Clay

Senior Vice President

Leading our economic opportunity strategy.