Author: Madyson Russell

We did this, All Together ATX

Back in March of 2020 we had no idea the amount of good we would do when we worked together to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many in our community facing economic, social, and health hardships, the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it,  we just knew we had to do something. That’s why, in an effort to support the community, United Way for Greater Austin partnered with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. Now here we are, nearly a year later, celebrating more than $7.7 million in funding raised by 3,149 donors that helped 210 local nonprofits provide support to our community members most in need. Check out the full report to learn more! For nearly 100 years, United Way for Greater Austin has been dedicated to those in our community who are suffering and creating opportunity for all people, children, and families. The work we’ve been doing all along prepared us for this moment of unprecedented need. Needs will continue to evolve, and we will be here.  Together, we can provide stability today and create long-term solutions for the future, for all.     

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Meet Patrick, a member of Emerging Leader passionate about connecting with our community

Photo: Patrick Mercer, Dr. Alison Bentley, and Sara Reeves.  This week we caught up with Patrick Mercer, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Assistant Vice President, Wellness Director at Frost Insurance Agency. Patrick is passionate about connecting with our community and giving back to the Greater Austin community that has given him so much. Check out our interview with Patrick to learn more about his “why” for joining Emerging Leaders and being involved with United Way ATX. “[I am involved with United Way] first and foremost because of the people,” Mercer said. “It seems like everybody that I have met, whether it is a staff member or a volunteer, has a heart for service and giving back. They have a heart for creating opportunities for people.” Want to know more about Patrick? How long have you lived in Austin? 15 years! What is your favorite thing about Austin? Weather allows most outdoor activities to be enjoyed year-round. What is a fun fact about you that you wish everyone knew? I’ve been attacked by a mountain lion. “Patrick has been a dynamic and essential member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past two years, leading the effort to relaunch this group and make an impact on the lives of so many here in Central Texas. Patrick also always has an incredible story to tell and is such a joy to be around.” – Jennifer Woods| Donor Relations Manager, United Way for Greater Austin To learn more […]

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It’s 2/11: Celebrate 2-1-1 front line heroes with us!

When COVID-19 hit Central Texas, the team here at United Way responded quickly. Almost a year later, our 2-1-1 team is still responding to increased calls for questions and help around COVID-19, and help in general. (At times in the first few months of the pandemic, our call volume was 10x the average.)  The Governor has said that 2-1-1 is THE place to go for information on COVID-19. Now more than ever, people need to know where to go for food, information on testing, health services, and so many other needs. Our 2-1-1 team is working around the clock to make sure callers seeking help are connected to accurate and up-to-date information. We know the whole community is thankful for our 2-1-1 front line heroes, and we couldn’t be happier to celebrate our team this 2-1-1 Day. Meet Stephanie Lyon, Statewide Community Information Coordinator, and learn all about the importance of 2-1-1. Want to know more about Stephanie? What brought you to United Way ATX? I came to United Way in the very beginning of September 2020, as a contract worker. I had been searching for meaningful, challenging, community-related social services work in the nonprofit sector for a few months. Due to being in the middle of a global pandemic and tough job market, I was incredibly fortunate to be contacted by a recruiter. I went through the interview process, and was grateful to land the position of 2-1-1 Navigation Specialist.  How long have you been working with the Nav […]

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Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through collaboration

Have you heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? If not, don’t worry! We are here to help fill you in.  United Way for Greater Austin is excited to announce the launch of the PACES program, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through getting the Earned Income Tax Credit into the hands of more eligible families in the Greater Austin area. Only 20% of eligible families are currently taking advantage of this tax credit that is arguably the largest federal anti-poverty program there is and that’s where PACES comes in. The program is a collaboration between Foundation Communities, The Child & Family Research Partnership out of The University of Texas at Austin, and United Way.  Gabriela Mordi, Project Manager at Foundation Communities, will lead the outreach efforts with the help of United Way ATX’s PACES Coordinator Francisco Gallegos. Monica G. Navarro, Research Associate at The Child & Family Research Partnership, will support the project through data collection and analysis. “The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a refundable federal tax credit for working families of low and moderate income,” Navarro said. “In other words, the EITC lowers a family’s tax bill or provides a refund if they do not owe taxes, increasing the family’s overall income. By improving the financial security of families with low income, the EITC can reduce the environmental and economic conditions that put children at risk of experiencing ACEs and promote overall better family and child outcomes.” Watch the video below to learn more about the […]

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All Together ATX Final Round: Announcing $3.5 Million to 111 Local Nonprofits

We are excited to announce grant funding from All Together ATX in the amount of $3.5 million to 111 local nonprofits. This third and final round of grants provide funding for basic needs and support for nonprofits that are meeting other critical needs and/or facing operational impacts due to the pandemic. Since March, we have been honored to partner with Austin Community Foundation on this community-led philanthropic fund that provides flexible resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak.  The nonprofits receiving grants are working to address basic needs and the sustainability of the nonprofit sector. The grants range in size from $125,000 to $1,000, and will be distributed electronically by December 24. Meet the grantees here. We are so grateful that the $3.5 million to be distributed includes a generous matching gift from the Sheth Sangreal Foundation. Every donation made between October 1 and November 16 was matched dollar for dollar by the Sheth Sangreal Foundation. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color in Central Texas. Black and Latinx families are bearing the brunt of the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus. With this in mind, equity was a guiding principle in the All Together ATX grant-making process. Out of 111 nonprofits receiving grants, 81 organizations are led by Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and more than 50 percent of staff at these organizations are BIPOC. All Together ATX distributed two […]

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An interview with Emerging Leaders Co-Chair, Kaisha Morton

Photo above: Emerging Leaders Emily Gonzales, Kaisha Morton, and Jeremiah Bentley.  At United Way for Greater Austin, we are committed to fighting poverty and racism in our communities. These forces are so interconnected, we cannot address one without the other.  This week we caught up with Kaisha Morton, one of our new Emerging Leaders Co-Chairs and User Experience Recruiter and Women@ Social Impact Co-lead at Google to talk to her about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. Kaisha is a champion for creating a diverse workforce in our community to help break intergenerational poverty.  Check out our interview with Kaisha Morton to learn more about her work and her passion for creating a more diverse and inclusive community.  “I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are extremely important because all three of those are connected, but true equity in our society won’t happen unless we’re thinking about those three pillars. My work as an educator and also as a recruiter really highlighted for me that the gaps that exist early on for people who may live in poverty, especially communities of color, continue to widen as people progress in their lives and in their careers. I think that the layer of thinking through diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of life is something that I will always be passionate about.” -Kaisha Morton Want to know more about Kaisha Morton? How long have you lived in Austin? I moved to Austin from the D.C. area about two years ago.  […]

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Doing good, one cookie at a time

Can you believe we are seven months into a global pandemic? In March, the team at United Way for Greater Austin transitioned from working in our beloved office on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to a distributed working model where most of our staff worked from home. While we weren’t sure what was going to happen next, we knew one thing for sure: We wanted to help our community get through this together. Just weeks after COVID-19 hit our community, we teamed up with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. And our community stepped up in a big way: Thousands of donors and companies donated more than $6 million. We were able to distribute relief funds into the hands of the community faster than we could have ever imagined. This amazing outcome was possible thanks to everyday people who want to make a difference. We want to introduce you to two of those people: High schoolers Alice Huang and Sarah Zeng of Dough Re Mi, a cookie baking and delivery business that they created during the COVID-19 pandemic with the intent of “doughing” good by donating a percentage of each cookie sale to a nonprofit of their choice. Dough Re Mi has raised more than $3,000 and donated 80% of their funds made from May to September to All Together ATX.   Learn more about Dough Re Mi and the spark behind their generosity here: But wait, there’s more … As All Together ATX comes to a close, […]

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Champions of change: Link Up Austin amplifies the voice of young parents for good

Young parents with low income experience a great deal of financial instability, and their poverty rate is nearly triple the national average. Thanks to funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way for Greater Austin and the Austin/Travis County 2-Gen Coalition are on a mission to support the needs of these young parents and create a social services ecosystem that promotes economic mobility for generations to come. One of the ways we are making this happen is through Link Up Austin. The group is a place for parents, ages 18-24, to connect with one another and grow their leadership skills. These young adults face many unique challenges that older parents do not. The labor market is rapidly changing, and often younger parents have not had the time to get the education, experience, or perspective needed to navigate their careers while focusing on the daily tasks of raising young children.  The cohort of nine parents is co-designing a pilot to help remove barriers for young parents in the workforce, education, and beyond. For example, providing flexible child care will allow parents to attend classes, in-person or asynchronously, and give them equal access to pursue education. Equal access to education is important because the likelihood of a child succeeding later in life is still affected by the education and income levels of his or her parents. Link Up Austin is designed to listen to the needs of young parents in our community and then work with them to create solutions that […]

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An interview with Board Member Yvette Ruiz

Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15, and we are thrilled – this month and every month – to celebrate the work and passion of Hispanic leaders in our Greater Austin community. Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Yvette Ruiz, United Way for Greater Austin Board Member and Vice President of Community Engagement at JP Morgan Chase. Yvette is a champion for reimagining an Austin that is a great place for all people, and not just those with economic resources.  Watch our interview with Yvette Ruiz to learn more about her passion and work to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.  “When we talk about inclusivity, the value goes beyond just including people of color, it’s putting people of color and the BIPOC community in positions of power,” Ruiz said. “I don’t think it is a zero sum-game, that some people have to lose power so that others can gain power. I think specifically when we talk about inclusivity, we want to make sure that everyone’s voice matters, regardless of the color of their skin, how much money you make, or who you know.”  Want to know more about Yvette Ruiz?  How long have you lived in Austin? I have lived in Austin for 16 years! What is your favorite thing about Austin?  I love Zilker Park and Barton Springs. What is a fun fact about you that you wish everyone knew? I am a master at grilling chicken on the grill. Never dry and […]

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We Love Our H-E-B!

This blog was written by Director of Corporate Relations Erica Abbenante On August 3rd, our incredible community partner H-E-B officially launched its 2020 United Way employee giving campaign with almost 20,000 employees (Partners!) across 59 locations in the Central Texas area. Kicking off the festivities for the first time was Cathy Harm, recently named Regional Vice President for H-E-B and our brand new United Way ATX Board of Directors member! Cathy took on her new role in early 2020, and not long after settling in, we welcomed her to our Board of Directors. We’re thrilled to have her leadership! H-E-B and United Way have been close community partners for over 20 years. Since 2016, H-E-B Partners have consistently raised more than $1 Million every year for the Greater Austin community—last year’s record-setting campaign raised more than $1.4 Million! It’s not an understatement to say that H-E-B’s continued support and commitment to their communities has helped us to positively impact thousands of lives. When COVID-19 hit our community earlier this spring, H-E-B responded quickly and powerfully, working around the clock to make sure Central Texans had safe access to food and supplies while managing an unimaginably complex supply chain and public health puzzle. Not only did they focus on keeping their stores stocked and safe—they also quickly launched their “Texans Helping Texans” program to help seniors get supplies delivered to their door, supporting local restaurants by selling their food in stores, and donating millions to organizations providing relief. In June, we […]

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