Category Archives: Blog

Meet Ryan Melendez, Assistant-Vice President and Market Leader for Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T).


Ryan Melendez is a Assistant-Vice President and Market Leader for Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T), a community banking group for Austin and the surrounding areas. In this capacity, Ryan has responsibilities including business development, small business lending, client management and community engagement. Ryan also serves as a community leader in Austin. During his ten-year banking career, including 8 with BB&T Bank, Ryan’s primary focuses are to build long-term relationships as a trusted advisor with his clients and the community; manage a portfolio of retail and small business clients; and have a strong understanding of his client’s banking; investment and insurance needs.

Ryan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, has been in Texas since 1995, and attended Columbia Southern University. Ryan is an engaged community volunteer who currently serves on the board of Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) and supports various other community organizations in the Austin area. In his free time, Ryan likes doing outdoor activities with his son Stuart and his daughter Rihanna, and their dog Scotts.


Self Sufficiency Fund for Training


The Self Sufficiency Fund provides training grants to community and technical colleges and community-based organizations 501(c )(3) who delivers occupational training that must lead to an acceptable industry recognized certification for adult recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or individuals who are At-Risk of becoming dependent on public assistance, who are: Individuals who are a members of a SNAP household with dependent children; TANF applicants referred to a Workforce Board contractor by the Department of Human Services, or are parents including a non-custodial parent, who make less than $37,000 annually. Texas Work Force Commission (TWC) accepts project proposal submissions throughout the year for training programs that typically last for 12 months.

How the Self Sufficiency Fund Works

Eligible training providers applying for a grant may include nonprofit 501(c)(3) community-based organizations, Texas public community or technical colleges, or the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Training providers must:

  • Gain letters of support from local businesses indicating support of job skills training to be offered in project
  • Work closely with the local Workforce Development Board to assist with identifying eligible participants
  • Complete and submits grant application to TWC
  • Coordinate and deliver training
  • Administer the grant

The Self-Sufficiency Fund pays for curriculum development, instructor fees and certifications, training materials, certain work-related expenses for trainees and some training equipment. Applicants may receive up to $500,000 per proposal.

Training must be provided in one of the following industry clusters. Training may be for core, ancillary or support occupations that establishes a career path toward higher-level occupations.

Target Industry Clusters are:

  • Advanced Technologies and Manufacturing
  • Aerospace and Defense
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences
  • Construction
  • Logistics
  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Information and Computer Technology
  • Petroleum Refining and Chemical Products

Training can be delivered through a variety of methods including classroom, simulations, online instruction, and on-the-job instruction.

Business partners can be private, for-profit business, nonprofit hospital, or trade union.

TWC accepts project proposal submissions throughout the year for training programs that typically last for 12 months.

Collaboration between training providers, businesses, and Workforce Development Boards is required. Efforts may include:

  • Letters of support from the local business indicating the number of job openings and support of job skills training being offered in the project
  • Endorsement of the project from the Workforce Development Board
  • Contributions from other resources that are committed to the project

Program Benefits

The Self Sufficiency Fund provides access to training dollars that will lead to permanent employment opportunities.

  • Businesses fill entry to mid-level positions with candidates trained to fill high demand occupations and businesses become more competitive resulting in a strengthened Texas economy
  • Participants attain an occupational skill for high demand occupations and receive an industry recognized certification that will result in becoming independent of public assistance
  • College partners that participate in the Self Sufficiency Fund training are economic development leaders in their communities

For more information, click HERE.

Contact customizetraining.s[email protected] or call 1-877-463-1777 with questions.

Meet Gayle Reaume, founder of Moolah U


Gayle Reaume, founder of Moolah U, an organization created to inspire young people to establish habits that build a life of financial stability and independence. Through the entrepreneurial experience, they come to know themselves as responsible people who can accomplish whatever they choose.

Gayle Reaume founded Moolah U after noticing that children are often not equipped to manage their money powerfully–now or when they are on their own. She wanted to teach her own child how to be financially responsible, and searched futilely for resources to do so.

In response to this need, Gayle used her experience as a business coach, public speaker, and author, to design experiential programs and resources to provide this vital and missing piece of education to our community.

Her clever programs offer a fun, hands-on experience with money, showing kids that financial responsibility is a learned habit that they can develop at a young age.  These innovative programs are delivered in Moolah U’s signature style that engages participants in a real dialogue about the value of money and their relationship to it.

As a founding member of the United Way Capital Area Leadership Council for Financial Stability, Gayle is supporting the movement for financial empowerment for the next generation.

Moolah U assists people in creating more powerful financial perspectives for themselves, dramatically changing the lives of hundreds of kids who are now becoming financially responsible.   This relieves a common area of tension in the home.

Gayle’s commitment is to create a future of financial stability for everyone.

Meet Liliana Lozada-Beverido, Communications Coordinator for Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA)


Liliana is the Communications Coordinator for Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA). TOSA serves Central and South Texas offering organ recovery and donation services for individuals and families who wish to offer others a second chance at life via organ donation. TOSA is one of the 58 Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) in the nation. Liliana works to inspire the community using the stories of donor families and transplant recipients to show the power each one of us have to save lives as organ donors.

Liliana is married to Jason and a mother of two handsome boys, Carlo and Luca who she refers as “her world”. She is a Salsa dancer, instructor and performer. She is also a life coach and a blogger. Beverido is the Co-Founder of AMHIGA Hispana the first non-profit organization in Austin that aims to empower Hispanic women in Austin providing them with the tools they need to become successful, to integrate to their communities and increase their family’s quality of life and their own free of or at a very low cost . Liliana is very versatile and whether she is dancing, being an MC, or a speaker her positive energy and ¡si se puede! (Yes you can!) is contagious.


Facts of Distracted Driving


What is Distracted Driving? Driving while engaged in any activity that could divert your attention away from driving. Some of the facts Distracted Driving can cause are the following

  • Texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely to occur.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.
  • At 55mph, five seconds is enough time to cover a football field.
  • Talking on a cell phone creates risks like driving with .08 blood alcohol level.
  • Talking on a cell phone can slow a young driver’s reaction time down to that of a 70-year-old.
  • Talking on the phone reduces brain activity devoted to driving by 37%
  • Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and 1,153 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
  • With 1 in 5 crashes in Texas caused by distracted driver based on Texas Department of Transportation.
  • In 2016, based on TxDOT there were 109,658 crashes in Texas related to distracted driving – up 3% over 2015.

The common distractions could be simple actions like texting, eating or drinking, personal grooming, using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio or MP3 player, Snapchat and Twitter.

We know it’s risky, but we still drive distracted, why? Here are some of the reason we say ourselves: “I am a good driver”, “I drive more carefully when driving distracted”, “I can multi-task”, “I have to—I’m so busy”, “Everyone does it”, “Nothing bad will happen” or even “It’s just for a few seconds”

We would like to recommend you a few tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Drive without sending or receiving.
  • Call/text before I start driving to let parents, friends and others know when I’ll arrive.
  • Figure out directions before you leave.
  • Pull over to a safe location to check texts or listen to voice mail.

Who has ever been scared when driven by a distracted driver? Focus on the road for distracted driver, you can be the next victim!!!!!!!

In our agency we care about you, call us at (512) 331-1513 set an appointment to review your auto policy coverage and make sure you are protected against the unexpected.

Cestari insurance Agency


66 Years of Children’s Mental Health Services to Austin

The mission of Austin Child Guidance Center (ACGC) is to improve the mental health of children and their families through early intervention, diagnosis and treatment to help develop the emotional skills to face life’s challenges.
Since 1951, Austin Child Guidance Center has worked diligently to ensure that every child has equal access to quality mental health services. ACGC has earned it’s reputation as a trusted and invaluable resource to the Austin community. Since ACGC first opened it’s doors, over 141,127 clients have been served.
Help Austin Child Guidance Center ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable mental health treatment, no matter their religion, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or any other measure that is used to divide. Find out more about how to help, HERE.
Austin Child Guidance

Category : Blog


By: Pearl Esema

What is hackathon? <div> hackathon is the only youth and diversity-focused annual hackathon, 100% organized and 100% operated by students of color, in the United States. Hackathon  is held on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University.  <div> hackathon’s mission is to assist Millennials Of Color in recognizing that they can be more than consumers of technology—they too can be creators, innovators, and disruptors of tomorrow’s technology.

Last year (2015), was our inaugural year. 50 Millennials Of Color (high-school and undergrads) spent the first weekend of SXSW, paired with Mentors, developing mobile apps that solved problems in the Education, Health, and Social Justice sectors.

This year, our <div> hackathon is answering the technology pipeline problem. Our  <div> hackathon will serve as an information and social capital conduit—a pipeline—connecting talent-seeking companies to 65 phenomenal Millennials Of Color.

When and where is <div> hackathon? This year, <div> hackathon will be held March 12 and 13, 2016 on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University. Huston-Tillotson University is a federally designated HBCU (a Historically Black College and University). Huston-Tillotson University is home to a diverse student campus. Our student body is 72% African-American, 17% Latino, 6% White, and 4% International.

Who runs <div> hackathon? <div> hackathon is 100% organized and 100% operated by the students of Huston-Tillotson University.

What should you expect to see at <div> hackathon?

  • Over 234 participants (65 Students, 40 Mentors, 100 Spectators, 13 Huston-Tillotson Student Organizers, 5 Guest Judges, 10 Huston-Tillotson Faculty and Staff Members, and 1 Huston-Tillotson President);
  • 65 Students from diverse backgrounds, creating mobile apps that disrupt the Business, Health, Education, and Entertainment sectors;
  • Supportive, engaging, and curriculum-based environment ;
  • Tech talks, which share with students new product knowledge; career survival skills; and the power of personal branding; and
  • Opportunities to network, table, and discuss!

We work hard to create an amazing <div> hackathon experience! Here’s what last year’s participants had to say about our <div> hackathon:

“<div> hackathon was a life changing experience that helped open my mind to becoming innovative and more than just a consumer of technology.” – Judith Job, Huston-Tillotson University Kinesiology student

“At <div> hackathon, I made lasting connections. I was also inspired to continue to create apps.” – Arsenio Brown, Huston-Tillotson University Sociology student

“<div> hackathon opened my eyes to something special about my East Austin community. Spending a weekend seeing different people of color work together to solve different issues was not only empowering but proves that we can go further if we do it together.” – Juan Zuniga, Austin Community College Business Management student

“Thank you so much for putting together the <div> hackathon! It’s great that you guys promoted diversity and women’s equality! I had so much fun, met some amazing people and learned so many tools that I will definitely be using…Please let me know if you guys ever do this again, I’d definitely be interested.” – Maryam Khawar, Austin Peace Academy student

If you would like to support us, or have any further questions or concerns about our <div> hackathon Supporter Tiers below, please contact Autumn Caviness, 512-505-3163, [email protected] and refer to for more information.  Thank you!


Meet Oscar Flores, with the passion to help his community and encourage business owners


Oscar Flores moved to Austin from Seattle, WA. He is graduated as Telecommunication Technician in Venezuela. He studied Business Management and Entrepreneur at Edmonds Community College. Founder and former president of Venezuelan-American Washington association. He has many years of professional experience on Hispanic media such as EL Mundo newspaper, Azteca TV and ESPN Deportes Radio. Oscar started Cestari Insurance agency in 2005 and worked as Marketing Director. In 2013 became a Commercial Insurance agent. Passionate about sports, he has coached 6U baseball and support a gymnastic daughter.  He loves to cook and host parties. His passion is to help his community and encourage them to become business owners. He also has volunteered for Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Member and Ambassador, Instructor  for Economic Growth Business Incubator, and Baseball Coach for Cedar Park Youth League.

Oscar Flores

Meet Marieli Cestari, with the vision to provide advice and lead the insurance market based on experience


Marieli Cestari is original from Venezuela and has been living in the US since 2000.  She graduated as an Industrial Engineering in 1999.  In 2005, she decided to become a Farmers Insurance Agent and develop her career in the insurance and financial services industries.  In 2013, she accomplishes the Minority Business Executive program from Washington University, Foster School of Business and in 2014, she got certified as the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow designation “LUTCF” with the American College Institute.  Her passion is to advocate others, she participates as mentor and speaker for few local nonprofits to help another entrepreneur achieve their dream.

Her vision is to provide advice and lead the insurance market based on experience, trust, respect values and commitment to encouraging the peace of mind.  She loves dancing and listen to classic music.  She enjoys watching movies, doing sports and outdoors activities with her two beautiful children and husband as well as having friends over for entertainment.  She pursues her dreams and goals through hard work and attitude.

Marieli Cestari

Meet Christina Trevino, a visionary educator


Author Christina Trevino is a leadership entrepreneur, visionary educator and founder of Emotion Leadership Enterprises (ELE) with the goal to have this program in 22 cities by 2022. ELE focuses on professional and personal leadership training and coaching. Emotion Leadership is a critical skillset to accurately identify and express emotions for improved leadership, impacting work, relationships, health and wellness.

ELE is unique in that it bridges personal and professional development, spans from adults to children, corporate to families, leveraging a common framework. Programs include Leadership for the Professionals Spirit™ and Leadership for the Teen Spirit™ . ELE is headquartered in Austin, Texas. In addition to the Leadership for the Human Spirit ™ platform, Christina and her team continue to expand her Zoo in You ™ product line.

In 2013, Dr. Oz selected Christina’s book, “Zoo in You,” as the only children’s program at his inaugural Emotional Health and Wellbeing Conference for military families. And in 2015, Austin Woman magazine chose her as one of its Leading Minority Female Business Owners.


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