Search: \"volunteer project leaders\"

Volunteer Project Leaders celebrate 8th grade graduation at school dance

As the 2012-2013 school year winded down, Volunteer Project Leaders (VPL) at Webb Middle School coordinated their 8th dance and celebration and closed out the year with a bang. The gymnasium overflowed with cheery family, friends, and educators as their special 8th grader was commemorated for graduating middle school. Among those in support of the hardworking school kids were the bigger kids from United Way for Greater Austin’s (UWATX) Young Leaders Society (YLS). The YLS founding committee was excited to help celebrate students’ hard work and achievements. Members set tables in preparation for the fun evening, decorated the gym with balloons, and manned the taco buffet and cupcake line. After tacos and cupcakes, the real fun began as the dance was underway. YLS member, Luke Martinez, had a memorable moment when called upon by a Webb 8th grader to learn the complex and choreographed movements of the Dougie. After Luke’s life transformed before his very eyes, other members engaged in the ever famous Cupid Shuffle, the Wobble and even had the distinct honor of dancing Tribal, a dance that has ignited a cultural revolution in parts of Mexico. By the end of the night everyone had new dance moves to add to their repertoire. [AFG_gallery id=’8′] YLS members had tons of fun – here’s what they had to say about the celebratory night: “Having had to achieve certain goals in order to have the dance, it was evident that the 8th grade students cherished being there. The dance was much better behaved […]

Volunteer Project Leaders celebrate a year of success!

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the achievements of our Volunteer Project Leaders – 30 middle school students from Decker, Mendez and Webb Middle Schools who have become community advocates in just a few short months. Across three campuses and two school districts, students: completed 10 volunteer projects; gave 479 hours of volunteer work; and contributed the equivalent of $10,811 in volunteer time to the community! Projects included campus clean-ups, painting healthy and educational activities for outside play, creating campus motivational walls with letters from supportive adults, distributing food at a local food pantry and hosting a Community Cultual Celebration for families – just to name a few! To say Thank You and recognize their efforts, we gathered at UWATX offices – check out the pictures. Here’s what some of these amazing volunteer leaders – all 7th graders who participated in VPL – had to say about it all: Q: Why are you participating in United Way for Greater Austin’s VPL training? Valerie: I participated because I want to help other people and the experience I get from it. Breonna: I participated for fun! Jaritza: I saw it as an opportunity to do something in our community. Breon: I participated to join in on the VPL events and attend meetings.   Q: What projects have you enjoyed the most? Valerie: I enjoyed Community Cultural Celebration the most because a lot of people were involved and I helped out my community in a good way. Breonna: The Community Cultural Celebration! Jaritza: The Community […]

Volunteer Project Leaders show grown-ups how it’s done

In the early spring days of March and April, classes of Volunteer Project Leaders (VPL) at Decker and Mendez Middle Schools – 30 middle school students making a difference in their community – directed staff, administrators and founding members of the UWATX Young Leaders Society (YLS) in their first campus clean-up projects. The Decker VPL students, using the skills they’d obtained through their VPL training, instructed us through a detailed gardening project to beautify their campus: we raked old flowerbeds, planted fresh seeds and mulched the school garden. Volunteers worked tirelessly on that sunny day and there was never a dull moment as one of our esteemed young leaders, Mr. Juan Wah, hummed and sang his rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe. The project ended with a student-facilitated recap – allowing us the opportunity to discuss everyone’s favorite part of the day.  The VPL class at Mendez Middle School achieved their big milestone just a few days later: organizing and participating in their own campus clean-up project. The VPL class, along with volunteers from YLS, covered a ton of ground as we trekked across campus in search of unwanted, miscellaneous trash. The Mendez VPL students set an incentive for the person who found the most bizarre piece of trash – a gift certificate. Among the many items found the contenders were: a “Will you go out with me?” note a car floor mat a mouse pad a smoke alarm several carpet squares  a dismembered sock monkey. The dismembered […]

Principal Alejandro Góngora Wins OST Award

The end of the school year is a time to stop and celebrate successes, and that’s especially true for Austin’s Out-of-School Time (OST) community who works tirelessly year-round. Each year, the Central Texas Afterschool Network (CTAN) bring students, families, providers and funders together for the Breakfast of Champions event, to recognize excellence and the important work these collaborators do. Educators and afterschool professionals submitted more than 100 nominations this year to nominate OST champions in 12 award categories. The winners are chosen by a nominations committee, made up of volunteer OST leaders and staff. This year, it’s a privilege for UWATX and the Target Graduation team to join the larger community in applauding one of our key partners, Principal Alejandro Góngora, who received the award for “Best OST Collaborator.” Principal Góngora of Decker Middle School in Manor ISD has been a tireless collaborator with United Way through a variety of channels related to our Middle School Matters program. This award is a testament to his responsiveness, creativity and commitment – especially after the loss of federally funded afterschool programming last year. OST staff from Camp Fire and our Volunteer Project Leadership (VPL) programs are quick to commend Principal Góngora for his willingness to collaborate on events, participate alongside students in the classroom and assist with everything from communication to translation of materials. We’re grateful to Principal Góngora for embracing collaboration before, during and after the school day. This award is a reflection of his leadership and the hard work of […]

Volunteers Make St. John’s Greater

UWATX will focus on the St. John’s neighborhood during this year’s 24-hour session of community-wide giving through Amplify Austin in hopes we can expand our work in this community, as well as our other target neighborhoods including Manor and Dove Springs. Take a look at some of the projects volunteers completed in the St. John’s community within the last year! Webb students who participate in our Volunteer Project Leaders class have been busy improving their own neighborhood. For Valentine’s Day, they created cards and banners to show their appreciation for teachers at their school. VPL students also participated in our annual MLK Day of Service by working with members of the Young Leaders Society to create giant jenga and other games for the Big Game – Super Bowl XLIX watch party. Funds generated from the watch party will go toward the YLS $180K Challenge, raising money for full-time coordinators at Webb, Decker and Mendez Middle Schools. Last December, the neighborhood came together for our Community Tree Lighting held at Webb Middle School. UWATX volunteers gathered more than 1,600 books to give out to kids of all ages who attended the event. Many of the kids walked away with more books than they could carry. Our valued business partners have also been busy making St. John’s greater in the last year. Texas Mutual spent the day at Webb Middle School volunteering as part of the Insurance Challenge. Some volunteers worked to beautify the grounds, while others decorated and put together welcome boxes to inspire students for […]

Webb Students Lead Their Own Volunteer Project

It’s 4 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, and the halls of Webb Middle School are growing quiet. However, three students aren’t part of the stampede of their peers racing for the exits. They’re in a classroom on the second floor, making phone calls to local business owners to enlist help in putting on a St. Patrick’s Day pancake breakfast for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. These are the students of United Way for Greater Austin’s Volunteer Project Leaders program, and this isn’t their first rodeo. The kids in the VPL program at Webb have been conducting volunteer projects to help out around their community since the program’s inception four years ago. They’ve organized and led campus cleanups, campaigns to gather thank you notes for school librarians, community needs assessments, and a host of other initiatives designed to encourage their classmates and neighbors to give back to their community in St. John’s. While the idea of middle school students dedicating so much of their free time to philanthropic projects may seem extraordinary to many, it’s a no-brainer to the VPL kids. “What would you do if you just saw someone throwing trash around your neighborhood?” says LaDascious, an 8th grader who’s been a part of the program since he arrived at Webb Middle School. He’s just left a voicemail for a manager at Kerbey Lane Cafe, a frequent UWATX collaborator, asking for pancake mix donations and any helping hands they could provide. Kids in the program get many opportunities to practice this sort of outreach, […]

Volunteers Spread Love to Local Teachers for Valentine’s Day

According to the Greeting Card Association, 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. Due in part to United Way for Greater Austin’s first family-friendly Valentine’s Day volunteer event, community members will contribute nearly 1,000 cards to spread love to those giving back in the greater Austin community. On Saturday, February 7th, 25 volunteers created handmade Valentine’s Day cards to acknowledge the teachers and support staff who work every day in our target neighborhoods: Dove Springs, St. John’s and Manor. Volunteers wrote inspiring notes for preschool and middle school teachers, and thanked the businesses who run UWATX employee campaigns. Without the dedicated teachers, principals and staff who support Success By 6 and Target Graduation, programs aimed at improving school readiness and graduation rates, our work would not be possible.   [youtube id=pNu16XsTm4Q]   UWATX is investing in the future of greater Austin. In addition to the community volunteer event, our middle school Volunteer Project Leaders also created cards. These Volunteer Project Leaders are part of an afterschool program at Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools that train middle school students to identify community needs and coordinate volunteer projects. More than 35 middle school students contributed to the massive Valentine’s Day card project by writing notes to their teachers and making appreciation banners to hang in the schools. Valentine’s Day is a day to recognize and appreciate all of the people in your life. We hope this volunteer project inspires you to tell those around you that you love them–whether it is […]

UWATX Leads Projects That Make a Difference for Local Schools

United Way for Greater Austin believes that anyone, regardless of their ability to make a financial contribution, can engage in philanthropy. Volunteering one’s time is a valuable way to make a positive impact and invest in the community. As part of our annual participation in Make a Difference Day, one of the largest national days of community service, our staff members organized projects that allowed others to donate their time and talents in order to make local schools greater. On Friday, October 24, Hands On Central Texas coordinated a volunteer project for Mendez Middle School students to clean up litter on campus. Approximately 60 students participated in the project and were supported by adult volunteers through our Young Leaders Society. Ricoh kicked off its United Way for Greater Austin employee campaign by volunteering. Employees helped prepare Webb Middle School’s gardens for future outdoor classroom instruction. Webb’s Volunteer Project Leaders led the volunteers in gardening, and spoke about their campus and future project plans for the school and neighborhood. A group of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group employees also volunteered their time in the St. John’s neighborhood, where Webb is located, by touching up the Born Learning Trail at J.J. Pickle Elementary. Volunteers cleaned up the area and painted shapes, numbers and letters that coordinate with activity signs for children. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group employees also wrote inspirational letters to middle school students at our three Target Graduation middle schools (Webb, Decker, Mendez) and made bookmarks to accompany board books from recent book drives. Decker Middle […]

VISTAs end their term, move forward to new beginnings

Our Americorps VISTA volunteers have been with us for a year and done some amazing things. Now they are on to bigger and better things, but they’re not going too far. Kaley Horton, VISTA for UWATX’s Success By 6 program, has been focused on our Play To Learn project: a strategic initiative to bring high-quality services to Austin’s most vulnerable children at local libraries and other accessible neighborhood locations. “I could quickly tell from my interactions with partner agencies and people from the community that United Way was something exceptional, something special – I was proud to be a part of it,” said Kaley. This year alone, Kaley ensured that 55 families completed this 8-week program. Because of Kaley’s successful leadership and grant funding from Samsung, she will continue to manage this project beyond her VISTA service, helping 200 families complete the program. Steven Olender spent a year managing the Youth Program Quality initiative, a part of our Target Graduation program that works to address the need for quality standards in out-of-school programs. Working with more than 50 organizations, Steven coordinated more than 80 assessments of afterschool and summer programs that serve youth and 23 related trainings.  Steven also researched, analyzed and wrote the 2012 Early Care and Education Survey and assisted in teaching the Volunteer Project Leadership class at Webb Middle School, part of our Target Graduation program. “I’m incredibly proud to come to work every day at United Way because we bring together community members to address not simply the symptoms of poverty, but to work for long-term, sustainable solutions,” said […]

A look at the work we do

As United Way for Greater Austin has stepped back our grants due to financial reasons, we are maintaining our commitment to our most robust programs and reinvigorating our work in proven initiatives that support Financial Opportunity and provide access to health care. We are continuing to leverage our grants in Success By 6 and Target Graduation to help children start school ready to learn and keep them on the path to graduate from high school. We are dedicated to increasing the percent of children who enter school ready to learn to 70 percent by 2015 by continuing to lead a strong, motivated coalition of community advocates. We are devoted to helping vulnerable students graduate from high school by coordinating strong programs on their campuses, improving the quality of afterschool and summer programs and, essentially, helping students like Kevin – who participated in our Volunteer Project Leadership class and has already started leading projects in our community. In our Financial Opportunity program this year, we launched Learn Where You Earn (LWYE), an initiative that builds on our strong relationships with companies by bringing financial education courses into the workplace. So far, more than 200 individual have been part of the courses. They focused on topics like how to budget, manage their debt and save for the future. We will continue to help employees like Savannah, an H-E-B employee who attended the LWYE program and said “I want the chance to build my own life—savings, a home, all those things—and thanks to […]