Q&A: Jennifer Poppe on early childhood education and the WLC

Jennifer PoppeJennifer Poppe  is a partner at Vinson & Elkins and a member of our Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) Executive Committee. In December 2012, her firm gave a $10,000 grant to Success By 6 to support young children. We spoke with her about why early childhood is important to her and why she’s chosen to be involved with UWATX.


What inspires you to help young children?

Over the last few years, I’ve realized how much early childhood education and development matters.  I’ve seen it with people close to me – both children and adults in my family – and have also seen its impact on our community more broadly.

In one case, I know someone who started school behind because he moved here when he was young from another country. Because of that difficult beginning – starting just a little behind the curve because of a language barrier – he struggled with confidence in his academic skills and wasn’t sure he could catch up through high school and into college.

Those beginning years really lay the foundation for your school career and not starting on the right foot can be a serious challenge. Given this importance, I want to do what I can to help make a difference.


What’s your most memorable experience giving back through Success By 6?

I attended the Success By 6 Summit last year and learned a lot about how important the program is to our local community.  The keynote speaker focused on statistics – that early childhood provides such a high rate of return ($7 to $9 on every dollar invested) and how only 13% percent of children in low-income neighborhoods are ready for school  – and it stuck with me.

There are many ways our community can make a difference, and Success By 6 is focusing on impacting young lives that will shape our community for years – that’s a big impact.


Why did you chose to join the WLC? 

“Through the WLC, I know that I am making a difference to Austin and for young children while getting to know a supportive group of women.”

– Jennifer Poppe

I’ve been a member of WLC for several years, but have recently become more involved.  I joined the Executive Committee earlier this year and have enjoyed it.  The other women involved in the group are enthusiastic and supportive of charitable giving and early childhood education, specifically.  It is an easy way to give my time to worthwhile causes and know that we are making a difference.

Through the WLC, I know that I am making a difference to Austin and for young children while getting to know a supportive group of women – it’s a rewarding experience that I would highly recommend. It is always nice to meet women outside of my professional circle that share similar ambitions for making our community a better place.


Why do you think it’s important to give back to your community?

My husband and I like to give back to organizations that have helped us the most and that are impacting our community.  One of the great things about UWATX is that you know your money will be well used.  We donate through UWATX, other local charities and are also funding an endowment for the University of Texas, where we both have earned multiple degrees.


What 5 things do you think make Austin greater?

A supportive community, the diverse opportunities, an energetic culture, a commitment to education and of course, United Way.


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