Supporting entire families to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty
Many families in our community struggle to get by, and we know low-income families experience a complex network of challenges that hamper their ability to get ahead. Low-income parents often have low levels of education and job skills that limit their economic opportunities as well as the quality of the environments they provide for their children. Chronic poverty produces toxic stress that affects adults’ abilities to perform well in the workplace and provide a high-quality home environment, which in turn impairs children’s cognitive and emotional well-being. A chronic lack of affordable, quality childcare in lower income communities in Austin makes it difficult for parents to acquire and maintain employment. Changing the opportunities available to both parents and their children is not only humane but is essential to the economic well-being of our community.
In 2013, UWATX was selected in the inaugural group of Ascend 2-Gen Network partners by the Aspen Institute to build an ecosystem of intergenerational support in Greater Austin attacking systemic poverty at its roots. UWATX’s two-generation programs intentionally focus on both generations, ensuring families are more likely to break the cycle of poverty. Our 2-Gen collaborative network of service providers and experts is building a growing interconnected ecosystem in Austin. This network is comprised of:
- An advisory committee of local institutional leaders (city, county, workforce board, Austin Independent School District, Austin Community College, local chambers) to orient the policy and programmatic vision.
- A research partnership with the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School to study local needs, program assets, labor market and program evaluation strategies within the 2-Gen framework.
- A 2-Gen Austin Collaborative Network of more than 20 service providers who have been convening quarterly since August 2016 and are working to address the systemic challenge of fragmentation in service.
Through our Austin 2-Gen Network and Community Investment Grants we explicitly target low-income parents and children from the same family, providing intensive, high-quality-services for both, leading to family stability and self-sufficiency. In 2017, we awarded our first 2-Gen grants totaling $120,000 to five organizations:
- American YouthWorks
- Goodwill Excel and Exploration Center
- Jeremiah Program Austin
- SSP Learning Center
- Saint Louise House of Austin
Other Economic and Social Opportunity services include:
- ESL Classes where parents in the Dove Springs neighborhood of Austin received free English as Second Language classes while their children received high-quality early childhood education.
- A federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site helping low-income individuals file taxes and dedicated to increasing returns and encouraging saving.
- The Children’s Home Initiative, a partnership with Foundation Communities providing low-income families with stable housing and financial coaching.