94% of our graduates are kindergarten ready!

Our recent graduates have started their elementary school journey and we are thrilled to announce that 94% of them are kindergarten ready!

That’s a huge accomplishment. To put it into perspective, according to public data from E3 Alliance:

  • In 2018-19, 51% of all students in Central Texas were ready for kindergarten

  • Only 40% of all low-income students were deemed school ready

What does being kindergarten-ready mean for a child? Simply put: They have a significantly higher chance of succeeding in school and life. According to The Pew Charitable Trusts:

Children who attend high-quality programs are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education, and more likely to graduate from high school. They also have higher earnings as adults and are less likely to become dependent on welfare or involved with law enforcement.

Children who enter school behind their peers often stay behind. For example, children who do not recognize the letters of the alphabet when they enter kindergarten demonstrate significantly lower reading skills at the end of first grade. Eighty-eight percent of children who are poor readers in first grade will still be poor readers by fourth grade. Seventy-four percent of children who are poor readers in third grade remain poor readers when they start high school.

This is how you break generational cycles of poverty in a family.

In both 2017 and 2018, 100% of our graduates were deemed kindergarten ready by Teaching Strategies GOLD, a Texas Education Agency-sanctioned assessment platform.

Why are Mainspring graduates prepared at a higher level than the general population? We believe firmly in developing social, emotional and executive function skills in young children. These skills build the foundation necessary for learning and future success — and they are evident in every child at Mainspring.

This is your school. Thank you for making these amazing outcomes possible for each of these individual, full-of-potential young children! Together, we are changing the future of Austin.

Four new Board members join Mainspring

Press Release: July 25, 2019

The Board of Directors of leading local nonprofit preschool and family services provider Mainspring Schools unanimously voted to add 4 proven Austin leaders to its governing body.

Mainspring Schools, a South Austin nonprofit preschool and family services provider serving nearly 100 children and their families, has added 4 new members to its Board of Directors: Elle Beecher, Kelly Grooms, Amy Hurt and Caroline Page. Their 3-year terms begin August 24, 2019.



Elle Beecher joins the Mainspring Board after taking a prominent role in their school record-setting Amplify Austin fundraising efforts in 2019. She handles nonprofit accounts at Facebook, and has been a fierce and frequent advocate for Mainspring in the past year. She brings a creative presence and marketing savvy, and joins the school as one of the youngest Board members in the organization’s 78-year history.



Kelly Grooms is a technologist and entrepreneur who leads Austin-based firm Live Earth as Chief Operating Officer. Based on his vast experience and desire to serve this school, Kelly is expected to contribute in a number of areas. He brings an entrepreneurial spirit, proven leadership, history of philanthropic generosity and passion for emerging technology.



Amy Hurt recently completed her standout term as president of The Junior League of Austin. While in the position, she spearheaded a Junior League-driven effort to provide shoes for all Mainspring students. She quickly fell in love with the school. With her strong advertising background in brand campaign execution and commercial production, including a lengthy stint at internationally-acclaimed GSD&M, she brings a passion for driving awareness and increasing Mainspring’s already strong position in the early childhood sector.




Introduced to Mainspring by significant influencers in Austin's nonprofit community, Caroline Page currently leads development and marketing efforts for Friends of the Children Austin. She is the former Executive Director at A Legacy of Giving and has held positions at multiple forward-thinking organizations in her career, including the Robin Hood Foundation. She brings outside-the-box thinking, a sparkling track record of compassionate leadership and proven process-centric innovation in the nonprofit space both locally and globally.

Our 2017-18 Annual Report

Click the cover image above to view the Annual Report.

Click the cover image above to view the Annual Report.

The last year was a great one at Mainspring Schools, and we are pleased to present our 2018 Annual Report.

In it you’ll find information and updates about our model, impact, stories and financials — along with some great pictures of our kids!

We hope you enjoy reading about your school. This is a community effort and the work being done to help kids and families here in Austin couldn’t happen without you. Please feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested!

Special thanks to our business manager Colin Swanson for leading this project, with a content assist from John Gorman. The beautiful design was done by one of our parents, William Blacklock.

We have earned NAEYC accreditation!

We are proud to announce that we have earned accreditation from The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Only 8% of all early education programs in the U.S. meet these rigorous standards and, following a review by NAEYC that took the better part of the last year, we are thrilled to extend our accreditation for another five years.

Not only are we honored to continue our NAEYC accreditation, but we are pleased to have gotten such high marks following a stringent review. For example, with a required 70% in each category, here are our program standards scores:

Program Standard Adjusted Score
Relationships 100%
Curriculum 100%
Teaching 100%
Assessment of Child Progress 100%
Health 98%
Teachers 100%
Families and Community Relationships 100%
Physical Environment 100%
Leadership and Management 100%

MJ Korpela discussing mental health in early childhood at SXSW EDU 2019

Our wonderful director of family services, MJ Korpela, presented at SXSW EDU on March 6, 2019, as part of an expert panel on the importance of mental health intervention in early childhood. It's a topic of critical importance for young children and we are thrilled that MJ could address it in this forum.

Session: It's Never Too Early: Mental Health in Early Ed

Here’s a snippet of MJ:

Here’s the full video of the presentation:

And here’s the full audio of the presentation:

Mainspring Receives Top CLASS Scores

In the last year, in conjunction with the Austin Independent School District (AISD), we conducted a full CLASS assessment of our teaching staff. What does CLASS tell you? According to Teachstone:

  • CLASS uses research-driven insights to improve how teachers interact with children every day to cultivate supportive, structured, and engaging classroom experiences.

  • CLASS is a flexible tool that focuses on the heart of great teaching: the teacher-student interactions proven to drive learning and development.

  • CLASS helps child-care providers nurture children's early learning while responding to their needs. As children enter preschool, their sense of themselves is grounded in, and dependent on, relationships. CLASS helps preschool teachers foster a secure, supportive base for learning and exploration.

This is an important marker of high-quality early childhood education and we are proud to share our results!

  Dimension 2017 National Head Start Program Mean Scores 2017 Mainspring Scores
Emotional Support Positive Climate 6.01 6.63
  Negative Climate 1.07 1.00
  Teacher Sensitivity 5.88 6.10
  Regard for Student Perspective 5.45 5.83
Classroom Organization Behavior Management 6.00 6.25
  Productivity 6.14 6.14
  Instructional Learning Framework 5.35 5.46
Instructional Support Concept Development 2.49 5.00
  Quality of Feedback 2.99 4.92
  Language Modeling 3.51 4.88

The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS) “is the only observational teacher-assessment tool that captures teacher behaviors linked to students gains and that has been proven to work in tens of thousands of classrooms, from preschool to high school and beyond,” according to the University of Virginia.

Recommended reading: The science of adult capabilities

We highly recommend that you read this article from Harvard's Center on the Developing Child. It is a great summary of core capabilities -- falling primarily under the umbrellas of self regulation and executive function -- that everyone needs to truly succeed. And those capabilities are developed in a child's early years:

"The foundation is built in early childhood: By age 3, most children are already using executive function skills in simple ways (e.g., remembering and following simple rules). Ages 3-5 show a remarkable burst of improvement in the proficiency of these skills."

The article also talks about factors that can derail the development of these skills, including:

  • Serious early adversity and trauma
  • Chaotic, threatening, or unpredictable environments
  • Highly rewarding stimuli such as food or drugs
  • Poverty

It is great insight into the development of our kids and what we are striving to accomplish. 

Mainspring Schools Hosting First Annual Golf Scramble Benefiting the Rudi Andrus Scholarship Fund

Date: Sunday, November 12
Registration and Practice: 1-2:30 p.m.
Shotgun Start: 2:30 pm
Location: Falconhead Golf Club, 15201 Falcon Head Blvd., Austin, TX 78738
Price: $250/individual golfer, $1000/team of 4

Participate in a 9-hole golf scramble and help a child! Mainspring Schools’ first annual Golf Scramble will be held Sunday, October 15 at Falconhead Golf Club in Austin. Proceeds will go to the Rudi Andrus Scholarship Fund, which allows disadvantaged kids to stay in school by filling the gap when there is a temporary disruption in tuition funding.

Approximately 75% of children attending Mainspring School are from families living below the poverty level and receive tuition assistance from various sources. Without this scholarship fund, families would have to withdraw from Mainspring and children would not get the attention and nutrition needed to prepare them for kindergarten socially, emotionally and educationally.

Rudi Andrus, Executive Director of Mainspring from 2006-2017, never wanted a child to have to leave the school because of temporary financial difficulties. Because of her kindness, generosity, and dedication to the families of Mainspring, the Rudi Andrus Scholarship Fund was established in her honor upon her retirement.

Click here to register.

Our 75th Anniversary Luncheon: Please join us!


On Thursday, April 28, 2016 the community will come together to celebrate Mainspring's 75th Anniversary of existence. We hope you can join us for this very special Luncheon celebrating 75 years of service to the children and families of Austin. Since 1941, Mainspring is a best-in-class nonprofit preschool that eliminates the early childhood school readiness gap. 

Mainspring Schools started in 1941 in response to the needs of 'Rosie the Riveter.' Women across America - and here in Austin - were going to work, and needed high-quality care for their children while they were gone. 

Mainspring Schools has been a pillar in our community ever since. We invite you to celebrate this incredible milestone with us!

Mainspring Schools' 75 Anniversary Luncheon

Thursday, April 28 · 11:30 - 1:00

Renaissance Hotel's Glass Oaks Ballroom

9721 Arboretum Blvd.  Austin, Tx 78759

Featured Speaker

Javier Auyero, Professor of Sociology at UT, author of Invisible in Austin

The team that wrote the book that everyone is talking about will present their findings at theMainspring Schools Learning Starts Here Luncheon. This dynamic, high-tech city is also home to many that live in poverty; this is their story. And, these are the very families that Mainspring works to equip with tools for success.


Sponsorship Details


  • 2 tables of 10 with prominent placement
  • Event signage and special mention from podium
  • Listing in event program, all publicity materials and on Mainspring Schools web page


  • 1 table of 10 with prominent placement
  • Event signage and special mention from podium
  • Listing in event program, all publicity materials and on Mainspring Schools web page


  • 8 Luncheon tickets
  • Event signage and special mention from podium
  • Listing in event program, all publicity materials and on Mainspring Schools web page

STRAIGHT As ● $1,500

  • 4 Luncheon tickets
  • Signage near the podium at the Luncheon
  • Listing in event program, all publicity materials and on Mainspring Schools web page


  • 2 Luncheon tickets
  • Signage near the podium at the Luncheon
  • Listing in event program, all publicity materials and on Mainspring Schools web page 


  • 1 Seat at Luncheon Table 
  • Listing in event program

Your Chance to Attend the Sold-Out PGA Championship Tournament in Austin

For just $5, you can support disadvantaged children in Austin and get a chance to win two 5-day passes to the sold out PGA World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, held March 23-27 at Austin Country Club and featuring the world's top golfers, like Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and more.

To enter, visit www.mainspringschools.org/pga. Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20. 

All proceeds support the Mainspring Schools' food program, which has been feeding disadvantaged children in Austin for 75 years. Our children are served the nutritious meals they need to fuel their growing minds and bodies. These meals are essential to their social, cognitive and overall development as sometimes, these are the only consistent meals our students receive. By supporting our food program you will feed them not only nutritionally but also catapult their overall well being to be successful young citizens of our community.


Winners will be announced March 14 on our site and the winner will also be contacted by email.


Thanks for supporting the kids!

Food Fights over Veggies

by Rudi Andrus, Executive Director


I keep a picture of my 2-year-old self on the bulletin board beside my desk. It reminds me of how innocent and sweet children are...except when it comes to eating their vegetables!



I still remember the food fights at our kitchen table when my brother and I were little. It turns out, neither one of us wanted those lima beans. But our mother wanted us to get a balanced diet. She kept telling us, "They're an acquired taste!"


At Mainspring, we avoid the food fights...while helping our children acquire the taste of vegetables. We have a top notch nutrition program that features whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies, beans, and whole grains.  Here is a link to one of our menus.  Amazing, right?


Mainspring children get breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack during the school day. Often, these are the only healthful meals in their day; so many of our families struggle with constant food insecurity.


Amplify Austin is around the corner, and this year we're using the proceeds to benefit our Food Program. 



You can feed disadvantaged children healthful meals during the school day by contributing through Amplify Austin. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar by the Carl C. Anderson and Marie Jo Anderson Foundation, up to $5,000. Pre-schedule your donation today!



Meet Mandy!

Meet Mandy Brooks. As Anthony moves on from Mainspring as the Managing Director, Mandy steps in to keep it all going. Anthony’s last day with us will be Wednesday, April 15th. Until then, you can find Mandy around the school getting to know everything and everyone. Feel free to stop in and say hello. Here’s a little bit about Mandy.

Mandy Brooks is a first generation Texan – born and raised in Dallas and then moved to Austin in 2001 to attend the University of Texas at Austin. In 2005, she received a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Advertising in addition to certification in UT’s Business Foundation Program. She comes to us after a nine year stint as BookPeople’s Director of Marketing and Events.  In her spare time Mandy enjoys reading, playing softball, seeing live theater, and cooking for friends and family. She’s also a lifetime fan of the Texas Longhorns and an avid animal lover. Most exciting to her about Mainspring Schools is working in such a positive and creative environment with great kids and passionate educators.


Spring is in the air

Spring means a lot at Mainspring. From special outdoor activities to our units on planting and growing to the plethora of volunteer groups, it’s the perfect time of year for a rejuvenation. While this winter wasn’t particularly harsh for us, compared to our Northeastern friends, we must celebrate the better weather and new life that comes with it.

For the past couple weeks, classes have been talking about the different parts of plants, how they grow and what they do for us. Putting their learning into action, our raised garden beds are full with seeds and starter plants just waiting for little hands to come water them. Just this morning the last of sunflower seeds were planted by the Shining Stars

Keep tuned to Facebook for updates on the beds and the beautiful life they will surely produce!

Up for a Trade? A Cup of Joe for a Day of Meals…

cup o joe.jpg

Did you know that the price you pay for one cup of coffee from your local coffee shop could provide three healthy meals for a Mainsprings kid?!

Here at Mainspring Schools we have a different approach to our program. We not only provide top quality early education to our students , we also focus on our parenting program to help our parents with home and job skills. We also provide farm to table fresh meals for our kiddos every meal, every day! We teach our kids early the importance of healthy eating. We encourage you to come visit us during lunch to see and feel the importance of these healthy meals. It makes your heart smile to see a 3-year old pile his plate full of salad and fresh fruit.

Would you be up to forgoing a cup of coffee to help us feed farm fresh meals to children who really need it? I know I’m up for it! 

Join us in our mission to provide every student three healthy meals each day. Schedule your Amplify Austin donation today!


What do you want to be when you grow up?

Its the timeless question that gets asked of children generation after generation, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" At every stage of childhood, the answer changes or at least the reasoning behind the decision does. While our hope at Mainspring is that children learn about the various possibilities of community jobs and opportunities out there for them, we mostly strive to educate children on the importance of being a good human being... a kind, compassionate, fair, humane person. 

This subject recently came up because the school-wide unit on Community Workers and Places is in full swing. As an exercise, Ms. Marisa led the Shining Stars through a writing practice asking them to think about and complete this very question. For some, the expected Fireman, Police Office and Singer  answers surfaced. For a few though, it was surprising how thoughtful and insightful these 4 and 5 years olds could be. For one in particular shown here, the answer is what spurred this posting. It's in these moments that as an organization you realize that what you are doing is good and purposeful. Because of the loving and consistent relationship this student has built with Ms. MJ, he wants to be a Teacher... and in our book, there couldn't be a more nobler choice of profession!

Amplify Mainspring! Help us Get $5K in Matching Funds

We are excitedly gearing up for the big day of giving in our lovely Austin, TX! Amplify Austin will occur on March 5th & 6th, 2015 and is set to raise a whopping $7 MILLION for local non-profits! The Anderson Foundation has generously agreed to provide FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS in matching funds in support of our Food Program!! We ask you to team up with us to help us get these matching funds. 75 percent of the kiddos that attend our school are living below the current poverty level. That means that most healthful meals are eaten while they are at school. It is our mission to provide our kids with farm to table meals every day they are with us. Learn more about our wonderful program here.


Schedule your donation today! Help us hit our goal to receive $5k in matching funds!

Become a Luncheon Sponsor


Mainspring Schools will host its annual Speaker Series Fundraising Luncheon on Thursday, April 16th, 2015. This wonderful event will take place in the beautiful Glass Oaks Ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel here in Austin. Dr. Casey Call from the TCU Institute of Child Development will speak about an emerging trust-based model for a wide range of childhood behaviors that Mainspring has used with great success.To ensure every dollar raised at the event goes directly to programming at Mainspring, we are looking for generous individuals and business to underwrite the event.

To ensure every dollar raised at the event goes directly to Mainspring programming, we are seeking generous individuals and businesses to help underwrite the event.  Benefits of sponsorship are listed below.  Please consider sponsoring so that you can join 300 other community leaders and show your support of quality early education for disadvantaged children in our community.

Sponsorship Levels

$10000 - Valedictorian

  • 2 tables of 10 with prominent placement
  • Event signage and special mention at the event
  • Listing in event program and materials

$5000 - Salutatorian

  • 1 table of 10 with prominent placement
  • Event Signage and special mention at the event
  • Listing in event program materials

$3000 - Class President

  • 8 luncheon tickets
  • Event signage and special mention at the event
  • Listing in program and materials

$1500 - Straight A’s

  • 4 luncheon tickets
  • Signage at event
  • Listing in program and materials

$500 - Honor Roll

  • 2 luncheon tickets
  • Signage at event
  • Listing in program and materials

$200 - Teacher’s Helper

  • 1 seat + 1 seat for Mainspring Teacher
  • Listing in event program

Mainspring Schools seeking Marketing and PR Intern

Job Description Position: Marketing & PR Intern

teacher with group of kids10-20 hours/week

Mainspring Schools is Austin’s premier nonprofit early childhood education center for economically disadvantaged children. 87% of children brought up in Austin’s low-income neighborhoods will enter kindergarten behind readiness levels, and when children start kindergarten behind, they are likely to stay behind for the rest of their lives.

Mainspring Schools eliminates the early childhood education gap and empowers families. 95% of our graduates start kindergarten at or above the State of Texas Pre-K readiness level & on par with their advantaged peers. Our model is based on a loving & individualized learning environment that systematically prepares the child and parents for success in school & life.

Mainspring Schools is seeking a dynamic and creative Marketing & PR Intern with outstanding communications skills who, through Marketing and promotions, wants to make a difference in the lives of Austin’s children in need.

We are committed to providing back to the ideal candidate through mentorship by our Board members - employees of Google, Humana, Innography and Excelleration Partners.


  • Manage and grow Mainspring Schools’ social media presence on Facebook and Instagram (photograph classroom activities, write posts, promote pages)
  • Write and format monthly email marketing communications; track performance
  • Help strategize the communication plan for our new “Adopt a Child” fundraising initiative
  • Find and pursue opportunities for media mentions in local news & blogs
  • Update website weekly and as needed

Minimum Qualifications

  • Love, compassion and patience with children (must also pass background check)
  • Self-motivated, good organizational skills, ability to prioritize and meet deadlines
  • Proficiency with basic technology & social media platforms
  • Exceptional interpersonal and writing communications skills

Preferred Qualifications

  • Graphic design skills including Photoshop photo editing and creation of marketing materials (mailers, web graphics)
  • Experience writing and distributing press releases, social media posts and email marketing messages (Constant Contact)
  • Experience performing Wordpress website updates
  • Creative and DIY approach to building community awareness for a small but growing nonprofit school

If interested, contact Anthony - anthony@mainspringschools.org for more details.

What do the parents say?

Once a month, Mainspring hosts a Parent Supper. At the most recent, parents were the teachers! Groups worked together to answer 4 Questions and then took turns reading their responses to the entire room. It was wonderful evening; parents were really engaged and shared some great advice. Here’s what they came up with: List Some Parenting Tips You’ve Learned at Mainspring • Make sure physical needs are met. (Hunger, sleep) • Read! Read! • Every moment is a teachable moment…to teach them teamwork, responsibility, language • Get down to their eye level when talking to them • Important to have a consistent routine so they know what to expect. • Build in some “Mommy Time” to keep your sanity. Teach your kids some self-directed activities • Keep your kids active! • Ignore what you can ignore • Pick your battles • Teach them to take one “Thank You Bite” at dinner…as thanks to the cook. • Increase their activity to get them to sleep easier • Give them freedom to choose; use more positive discipline • Every child is different and needs to be treated accordingly • Patience is key! • Learned to understand physical needs (and how they affect behavior)

What Have You Learned About Food / Health / Sleep / Exercise? • All tied together: More activity → More Healthy Food → More Sleep • Serving sizes are much smaller than we realized • There are resources available to help parents • Turn the TV off one hour before bedtime / white noise while sleeping / keep room cool • Get them exercise spread throughout the day • Relation of screen time to sleep • Self-soothing; taking a break • Idea of going shopping together and cooking together. • Pick your battle with food…don’t force • Work out when the kids are playing (so you have extra energy later, too) • Get at least 8 hours of sleep…more for kids. • The brain develops during sleep • The sleep schedule is key. Don’t wait until they show they are tired; it’s too late. • Present healthy food as the meal, but not too many options. They will eat what is presented, but they’ll also seek choices, which may lead them astray.

What Do You Wish Were Different About Mainspring? • The parking. (Unanimous!) • Open later…traffic is hard to get through (3 comments) • Have a “date night” for parents. (One parent jokingly asked if dates were provided!) • Use “date nights” as a way to raise funds • Change the sand on the playground to coconut husks • Wish we had a crossing guard / parking attendant • Miss the Child Inc partnership • More guest speakers at Parent Supper • Wish every parent came to PAC and took advantage of the parent support

What Do You Love About Mainspring? • Teachers are amazing • Learning techniques are on the children’s level • Environment: You can reach out to the parents • How the children are introduced to healthy eating • The many volunteers • Teachers • Curriculum • Community • Support Staff • Food • Individual attention

- Rudi Andrus, Executive Director