Author: Jene Shepherd

A First Look at Our Newest Initiative: K-12 Education

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation recently approached United Way for Greater Austin with an opportunity to expand our work beyond early childhood education and into the K-12 space. The Foundation offered funding because they’ve seen proof of our impact as a convening organization with both the Success By 6 and 2-Gen Coalitions.  We’re honored to serve as a convener within the K-12 space, partnering with dozens of organizations to amplify our collective impact and create greater equity for students in our community.  This year, our K-12 work will focus on bringing together a diverse coalition of literacy advocates, including nonprofit leaders, librarians, teachers, and parents, to work towards a shared vision of supporting children to ensure they are reading on grade level by the 4th grade. We’re excited to give you a behind the scenes look at what goes into building a coalition to create equitable systems changes in our community.  We all know that a good story highlights the who, what, where, when, why, and how. But, these are also critical questions and factors that we engage with in our systems change work. Today we’re going to look at “the why”. Why is United Way for Greater Austin expanding into the K-12 space?  Currently, our focus on education is centered around ensuring that ALL children in our community are Kindergarten-ready. But we know the work doesn’t stop at age six. The increased earning potential of an individual who attains a high school diploma or goes on to attain […]

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A Night United 2021: Truly a night to remember

Wow, what a night! With moving stories, inspiring levels of generosity, and a sweet dance party,  A Night United was truly a night to remember. More than 500 Austinites attended, and despite not being together in the same room, it felt like a community-wide, intimate dinner party. All of us on the United Way team left the event feeling immensely grateful for our essential heroes and inspired to continue the fight against poverty here in Greater Austin. We hope everyone who attended did too!  Missed the event? You can catch up on all the fun below! Together, we surpassed our goal and raised $230,000 to create greater opportunity for children and families in our community! You can join us in the movement to build a better Austin from the ground up by making a gift here.  Thank you to our amazing co-chairs Nahid & Ali Khataw and Natalee & Charles Thornburgh; Board Chair Malini Rajput; Cornerstone Sponsor Texas Mutual Insurance Company; Jeremiah Bentley; and our three Austin essential heroes Patsy Harnage, Arnoldo Longoria, and Kathryn Treviño. Your investment in our community is inspiring, and the definition of what it means to Live United. Special thanks to our 38 dinner party hosts for generously hosting a virtual table, inviting their friends and colleagues to join and give. As David C. Smith, United Way for Greater Austin CEO, said at the event: “When Nelson Mandela moved from his prison cell to the Presidency of South Africa, he shared these words of hope […]

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Meet Tracy Fielder: Creating a personal legacy of moving the needle on equity

We’re excited to launch a new year with Women United. This group of incredible and passionate women are advancing equity in early childhood education through their membership and we couldn’t be more grateful.  Tracy Fielder is just one of the 210 women who are supporting our youngest Austinities. Learn more about her work in creating a personal legacy of moving the needle on equity here in Greater Austin. Learn more about Tracy and why she joined Women United. How long have you been in Austin? “My husband and I moved our young family to Austin in 1996. We feel fortunate to live in such a diverse, creative, and vibrant city.” What is your favorite thing about Austin? “I love to be outdoors, and the Lady Bird Hike-and-Bike Trail is my go-to spot. This is where I walk my dogs, connect with friends, laugh, reflect, decompress, and of course, exercise. I also enjoy live music, especially blues and old gospel, at many of our iconic venues. Throw in a yummy bite from one of our local food trucks and I’ve had an amazing day.” What is one thing you want everyone to know about you? “I’m compassionate. I care about many things, but inequities in education really matter to me. I grew up in a home where education was the key to everything. My parents set a high bar for academic achievement, but also ensured my sister and I were keenly aware of the educational divide and how fortunate we were. […]

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A Night United 2021: Building a Better Austin Together

  If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that a system with a weak foundation will break under pressure. No matter how beautiful it looks from the outside; a structure must be built with good bones from the very beginning in order to endure. It’s time to take a closer look at where we started before we can keep building. This is why the theme for our third annual A Night United event is building a better Austin together. United we can work to strengthen the solid foundation upon which better systems are built. This year, we are committed to reimagining a stronger Austin that serves everyone, built on racial justice and equity for all.  Click here to save the date for the third annual A Night United on Friday, February 26.    All proceeds will build opportunity for Austin children and families in our continued fight for equity.

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