Author: Madyson Russell

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 […]

Read More

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.  […]

Read More

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, […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Family Leadership Council: Your story matters

At United Way for Greater Austin, we bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty. We know that real change happens when we Live United and we value the lived experience and extensive expertise of parents & caregivers. One of the ways we make this happen is through our Family Leadership Council led by Paola Silvestre Porras, Director of Family Pathways at United Way ATX. The Family Leadership Council aims to create a pipeline for parents with lived experience to become community leaders and serve on commission boards, city council, and more. It is important for parents to be part of the decision-making process that affects them directly. The Family Leadership Council is designed to help these parents be agents of change in their own communities.  One of these parents from the inaugural cohort of the Family Leadership Council is Amina Makamba. Immigrating from the Congo in 2016, Amina gave birth to her triplet daughters three months early, the very next day after arriving in Austin, Texas.  “I came here in December of 2016. When I got to Austin, the next day I had the triplets. One of my girls was one pound when she was born and stayed in the hospital for five months,” Amina said. “When my kids were born I didn’t have any family here, so I had to stay in the shelter and work to go through the [social service system].” Parents are nominated to participate in the Family Leadership Council by our Community Investment […]

Read More

Embodying grace: A Tribute to Jacquie Porter

Written by// Sue Carpenter, Chief Programs Officer Over the weekend, I learned about the passing of Jacquie Porter, Austin’s beloved early learning leader. This week has been a profoundly sad one, but I can’t help but reflect on the many wonderful experiences that I – and everyone in the Austin early education community – shared with this extraordinary colleague and friend. I first met Jacquie over a decade ago, when she was the Principal of AISD’s Lucy Read PreK Center. Even though her focus was on building and growing an exemplary early learning model for the district, she immediately stepped into a leadership role for the broader community coalition focused on school readiness. Having Jacquie at the table meant everything. If I could sum her up in one word (impossible!) – it would be “grace.” She was incredibly kind, thoughtful, and unstinting in the amount of time and counsel she was prepared to give to make our community better for young children and families. Very few people are both visionary and practical, but Jacquie dreamed of what could be and figured out the steps needed to make the vision a reality. One of my first conversations with her was about how the district could partner with community-based child care centers to deliver high-quality pre-K. She listened, asked questions, and then created plans to put this into action. Several pilot projects followed until the model was truly functioning, but she persisted across years despite all the challenges. Today, because of her […]

Read More

Texas Gas Service: Where philanthropy is a core component of culture

Carmen Luevanos, Community Relations Manager at Texas Gas Service, shares about how and why she is involved with United Way for Greater Austin with Corporate Account Manager, Chauncey LeGrand. Texas Gas Service has been partnering with United Way to end poverty in Austin for more than a decade. Last year alone nearly 300 employees raised more than $65,000. Texas Gas is a unique and impactful campaign because it is an organization that matches $1 for $1 when its employees donate to the United Way campaign each year – and we couldn’t be more grateful! Historically, the Texas Gas campaign lasts the entire month of October and they have various activities to raise money throughout the year with paired with fun social activities that include a chili cook-off, ice cream social, breakfast tacos, and more! Thank you Texas Gas Service, we couldn’t fight poverty without you! If you or your organization is interested in getting involved or starting a United Way giving campaign learn more here.

Read More

United Way ATX + Race and Poverty

Hi friends, All of us at United Way for Greater Austin are grieving the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the thousands of other black Americans impacted by recent acts of racism and violence. This cancer in our society diminishes all of us. Poverty and racism are so interconnected, we can’t address one without the other. What we can do is speak up, double down on our mission to fight poverty, and support each other every step of the way. These issues are too important for us to do anything else. Every time this happens, we all keep thinking this will be the time that people wake up and change finally comes. Together, we can be that change! Everyone deserves to live in a society where they feel safe, protected, and respected. Each and every one of us plays a role in creating that more just and equitable future. On Friday, I was in a meeting with one of the most brilliant people I know, Akasha. He is a black man, and he said, “We are shaping the future.” It was a hopeful word we all desperately need right now. May it be so. Our work fighting poverty has been about equity all along. Now we are more committed than ever, and ask that you join your hand with ours and be our partner in building a community that works for everyone. We believe that our only hope to lift up all of us is to address the systems that perpetuate inequity. Thanks to your […]

Read More