“Philanthropitch can really refresh organizations!”

-A conversation with Alissa Magrum, Executive Director of Colin’s Hope  by Taylor Prinsen, Associate, Philanthropitch, a program of the Notley Fund

Colin’s Hope, a water safety awareness program to prevent children from drowning, received $28,500 from Philanthropitch Austin in 2015. We wanted to check in with Colin’s Hope to see how the money impacted their organization and where they are now. I met up with Alissa Magrum, the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope, at the YMCA of Austin to see their Pre-K prevention program in action.


Philanthropitch’s goal is to help innovative programs like Colin’s Hope grow their impact significantly. How did the $28,500 prize help Colin’s Hope scale?

This donation was a tenth of our budget for the year, so it has been a huge help programmatically for us to expand the program to two more schools, and ultimately tripling the number of children and families impacted with our water safety messages. We are launching our new programs in Spring 2016 at Dobie and Uphaus Pre-Kindergarten Centers here in Austin. We are also currently running our initial program this Fall at Lucy Read Pre-K and are further refining the curriculum and the model.

That’s incredible! About how many more children now understand water safety?

450-500 children plus their families received training that otherwise would not. And, thanks to Philanthropitch, we provided an additional 4,000 swim lessons.

Philanthropitch aims to provide more than just funding. In what other ways has this experience helped Colin’s Hope?

Organizationally, we saw a HUGE increase in brand recognition…throughout the year at different events, people would come up to us and say “I recognize you from Philanthropitch!” Brand recognition is huge for us as we are an awareness program. It also helped us look at our program and determine how much impact we could truly make.

Personally, having Philanthropitch as a speaking opportunity helped me learn how to tighten up my messaging when giving a pitch about our program’s purpose and evaluation strategies. It helped me get super distilled and focused at “selling” our model.

How can people help?

We will be launching the replication programs in the Spring. We are most in need of donations so that we can hire a staff member to serve all of these kids and their families.

We also need $2,000 to fund a bus to transport the children to the YMCA from the Uphaus Pre-K Center. Without this funding, students will not be able to participate in the lessons because they don’t have a means of getting to the YMCA. The school did not have it in their budget to cover a bus or driver and it was an unforeseen expense for us.

I’d also really like to partner with an guidance from an accelerator-type coach who can to help us launch new programs and help us develop the curriculum into a product/toolkit that can then be used to “sell” the program and scale it.

And, swimsuits! Many of these children either do not have a swimsuit or cannot afford one. New suits are okay, but a monetary donation allows us to get the right size when we need to. But if you’d prefer to donate a new suit, the sizes are as follows: Girls/Boys Size XS (4/5) or S (6/7)

As for people who want to volunteer, in January, we’d like to train some new “Community Ambassadors” who can represent Colin’s Hope at our events or in their own communities spreading the water safety message. In February, we need volunteers for our Austin Marathon waterstop that we sponsor. Then, from March through June, we need TONS of volunteers to assemble and distribute water safety information cards, which is a very flexible opportunity that’s great for groups, families etc. This can be done onsite at a workplace or can be done on one’s own.


After speaking with Alissa, it was clear that Colin’s Hope has made great strides to help lower incidents of drowning in Central Texas and raise awareness about water safety. Alissa said that participating in Philanthropitch helped them verify the Pre-K program is where they can make the biggest impact. We’re so proud of the work they’ve already done at Lucy Read Pre-K this fall.

It was a huge honor to get to go watch these tiny, adorable children learn to swim for the first time. Many of them have never even been in a pool before, so to see the excitement on their faces as they experienced the joy of paddling around the pool with a swim instructor was a reminder at the wonderful work Colin’s Hope is doing! Colin’s Hope programs not only provide memorable experiences to these children, but also provide incredibly valuable education to help prevent unnecessary deaths due to drowning. We, as Philanthropitch, are so glad that we were able to help this program come to fruition.

Colin’s Hope needs your help!

  • Donate before the end of the year to help provide transportation from Uphaus Pre-K to the YMCA so these 4 year-olds can receive swim lessons! 95.6% of students at Uphaus Pre-K are considered “economically disadvantaged,” so providing these lessons for free is significantly helping these families. Colin’s Hope needs $2,000 to make this happen.

  • Donate swimsuits for the children receiving swim lessons in Spring 2016.

  • Volunteer with Colin’s Hope (see Alissa’s volunteer needs above)!

  • Spread the word! Colin’s Hope is an awareness program dedicated to highlighting the need for water safety among children and families. Check their website and Facebook page for more info!

If you are interested in donating swimsuits or volunteering with Colin’s Hope please contact Alissa Magrum at

Briana Loeb