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$200M Holdsworth Center opens public educator training campus on Lake Austin

The $200 million Holdsworth Center opened its 44-acre Lake Austin campus Wednesday. (Holdsworth Center)

The placid Lake Austin shorefront has a new resident.

The Holdsworth Center, a $200 million public educator training center, announced the opening of its 44-acre campus on Wednesday.


Built on one of Lake Austin's last large undeveloped tracts, the center features an outdoor amphitheater, boat dock, walking trails and 186 guest rooms.

H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt invested $100 million in the nonprofit, which is named after his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, a former Hill Country school teacher. It broke ground in 2018.

"My hope is that the (Holdsworth) Campus will provide an inspiring place for educators to enhance their self-reflection, skills and creativity," he said in a statement. "Our objective is to be part of a strong future for all Texas students."

Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth, third from the right in the top row, pictured with her class in Center Point in 1923. (Holdsworth Center)

The Holdsworth Center has partnered with 13 Texas public school districts across two cohorts, including Round Rock ISD, and will welcome a third cohort of six additional districts in July. By the end of the year, it is on track to serve as many as 40 districts.

Over five years teachers, assistant principals, principals and administrators in participating districts will attend learning sessions with leadership experts from the business and education sectors to strengthen the school leader pipeline.

The center's mission is to improve the quality of K-12 public education in Texas by developing educational leaders. (Holdsworth Center)

"Being able to develop your own talent and grow your own leaders is critical for any successful organization, from the U.S. military to Google," Board Member and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a statement. "School districts are no different."

All programming and support are covered at no cost by Butt and other philanthropic supporters at an estimated cost of $6 million per district. When not being used for Holdsworth programming, the campus serves as a private event venue, with revenue benefitting the center.

"As we begin the multi-year effort to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 across the state, educators are facing an extraordinary moment," President Lindsay Whorton said in a statement. "It will demand incredible leadership, and we are honored to invest in educators at such a critical time."

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