Axios Austin

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β˜€οΈ Today's weather: Sunny, with a high near 70.

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Today's newsletter is 882 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Making birding accessible

Virginia Rose on a birding trip this month. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Patterson

Virginia Rose, a 64-year-old Austin resident and disability rights advocate, is featured in a new book on adventuring and aging.

Why it matters: Rose, who was paralyzed in a horseback-riding accident 50 years ago, founded her organization Birdability with the goal of bringing birders with disabilities together and making trails more accessible.

Driving the news: Author Caroline Paul interviewed Rose for her book "Tough Broad: From Boogie Boarding to Wing Walking, How Outdoor Adventure Improves Our Lives as We Age." The pair will talk tonight at Austin Central Library.

  • Paul's book, which was published this month, explores the science and psychology of the outdoors and highlights women who embrace adventure, including Rose, 83-year-old scuba diver Louise Wholey and 52-year-old BASE jumper Shawn Brokemond.

What they're saying: Birding "is sort of like geocaching," Rose says. "You really don't know what you're going to see. You're walking β€” or wheeling β€” into a situation where you know that there's something out there."

Zoom in: The nonprofit, founded six years ago, now has 42 "Birdability captains" across 26 states who work to improve accessibility in their communities, host birding outings and populate Birdability's crowdsourced map.

  • Rose founded Birdability not just for people with disabilities β€” it's for "every single one of us as we age."
  • Birdability also offers free resources for access considerations at birding locations and steps to create accessible birding outings in your community.

πŸ“ What's next: Catch Paul and Rose's conversation at 6:30pm tonight at the Central Library.

Read the rest

2. Kendra Scott prospects for cash

A woman wears necklaces and rings featuring lab-grown diamonds. Photo: Courtesy of Kendra Scott

Austin-based jewelry company Kendra Scott is seeking capital to fund its expansion plans, CEO Tom Nolan tells Axios Pro's Richard Collings exclusively.

Driving the news: It would not be surprising if Kendra Scott enters into a transaction this year, which would give it "gas" to put on the "fire," Nolan says.

  • "We would make a great public company," he notes.
  • He declined to comment, however, on which options it is exploring, such as a sale or a transfer of shares. Nolan also declined to say if Kendra Scott is working with or interviewing investment banks.

Catch up quick: PE firm Berkshire Partners announced in 2016 plans to acquire a significant minority stake in the business, which valued the company at $1 billion.

By the numbers: Kendra Scott's revenue increased nearly 20% year over year, to around $500 million, and e-commerce traffic grew 26% year over year, the CEO says.

What's next: Kendra Scott expects sales will continue growing by double digits for the foreseeable future. The company plans to open at least 15 stores this year.

Between the lines: Kendra Scott has been introducing new products, including a Southwest-inspired jewelry collection called Yellow Rose.

  • Kendra Scott is now offering a lab-grown diamond collection to make fine jewelry more accessible price-wise to its customers, the company said Monday.

πŸ“– Dig deeper: If you need smart, quick intel on dealmaking in the retail industry for your job, get Axios Pro.

3. 🀠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Hays CISD school district officials identified 5-year-old Ulises Rodriquez Montoya as one of the victims of Friday's bus crash. His pre-K bilingual teacher described him as being filled with happiness, and "he had a talent for drawing dinosaurs." (KUT)

πŸ›οΈ Austin's two city manager finalists attended a meet-and-greet Monday. (KVUE)

πŸ₯ Texas Oncology is testing a Moderna mRNA vaccine for melanoma treatment, similar to how mRNA vaccines are being tested on colon and pancreatic cancers. (Austin American-Statesman πŸ”’)

4. Free tax tool

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

About 3.8 million Texans are eligible to use a new Internal Revenue Service tool to file their 2023 federal taxes for free.

The big picture: April 15 is the deadline for most taxpayers to pay any taxes owed and file their personal federal returns or request an extension.

Why it matters: Texas is one of 12 states participating in the IRS Direct File pilot, which could reshape how millions of Americans do their taxes and disrupt the multibillion-dollar tax preparation industry, per Axios' Jacob Knutson.

How it works: Users can check their eligibility using the Direct File website and, if they're eligible, enter their income information to file their federal taxes.

  • The tool comes with customer support, a checklist for completing the steps, and tutorials in English and Spanish.
  • Users can review the information they've entered and see how much they owe before filing their return.

Yes, but: Eligibility depends on your type of income and tax credits. You also can't itemize deductions.

  • And the tool does only federal filings β€” not state ones. Texas doesn't have a state income tax, but people who conduct business where there's a state income tax have to file returns there.

What's next: The IRS says that it issues most refunds within 21 days but that taxpayers shouldn't depend on receiving a payment by a certain date because of delays.

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5. πŸ“Έ 1 bird photo to go

A female ladder-backed woodpecker. Photo: Courtesy of Eric Burson Photography

Photographer Eric Burson shared this photo of a female ladder-backed woodpecker at Pedernales Falls State Park.

Details: Ladder-backed woodpeckers can be found in Central Texas year-round β€” usually nesting in dry habitats.

  • Males can be identified with a red cap on their crowns and alternating black and white stripes running along their backs, while females are generally smaller with a longer beak.

Burson photographed the bird while visiting Austin earlier this month with his fiancΓ©e, Axios Des Moines reporter Linh Ta.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

πŸ’§ Asher is learning everything he can about sump pumps. If you have tips, he wants 'em.

🐣 Nicole is texting her grandma her Birdability story.