Author: Madyson Russell

An Afternoon with Local Philanthropy Legend Earl Maxwell

-Ashley Haustein, Director of Marketing and Communications I recently had a chance to sit down with Earl Maxwell, CEO at St. David’s Foundation here in Austin, TX. We talked about Earl’s views on philanthropy, the partnership between our two organizations, and — as Earl prepares for retirement — his words of wisdom for the next generation of philanthropists. Q: What people and experiences shaped your views on philanthropy? Really it goes back to my grandparents. They were always giving back and helping people. Their philanthropy was confined to their church, family, and neighborhood. I remember they were always putting people up… they had a rollaway bed that people would sleep on as they were looking for a job. My mom was also really generous. She was a Registered Nurse, and she served as our neighborhood nurse. I grew up with this idea of giving back front and center. Right out of college, I went to go work for Deloitte. On the last day of my training, the local Partner Bob Cruikshank came in to talk with us. He talked about the importance of being involved in the community. I remember leaving that training thinking, “That’s the kind of CPA I want to become.” Q: St. David’s Foundation is “building the healthiest community in the world.” That’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about the challenges Austin faces in the arena of health and how St. David’s Foundation is working to address those challenges. Our community’s challenges in health are huge, […]

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When (college) students become the teachers

With 90% of the brain developing by age five, the early education work being done in child care centers across Austin has never been more important. Now is the time to make the most impact on the lives of children. Each child is a brick in the foundation of our community, our future workforce and beyond – and it’s important to ensure that all children have the same opportunity to receive a high-quality and compassionate early education. And that’s where our revamped tutoring program comes in.  Six college-aged tutors are making an impact in the lives of Pre-K aged children at two pilot campuses in Austin – Zavala and Galindo Elementary. “Right now, as college students, we realize the importance of education, and we know that these students are just starting out. We have the ability to help them not fall behind,” David, first-year Tutor said. “Once you get behind it’s a lot harder to catch up, and so it’s better to invest and make an impact now.” Tutors will work with the Pre-K aged kids to develop language skills throughout the school year through the Developing Talkers curriculum. The program uses dialogic reading, an interactive reading technique that involves engaging the child in conversation about the book in order to develop a wider vocabulary, improve verbal skills and more. But most importantly the tutors are developing relationships and a level of trust that allows them to grow the minds of these young learners. “A lot of people say children […]

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Something Special Happens When We Live United

Something special happens when we Live United… when we come together and root for our team: The Greater Austin community. And that’s exactly what we did on the morning of August 28th at our Live United Breakfast. Our Board, team, donors, community partners, volunteers, advocates, and champions came together to celebrate our community impact with all the people who made it happen.  Here are just a few highlights from the Live United Breakfast that we’re especially excited about: 1. We published our 2018-2019 Community Impact Report. Last year, we impacted more than 47,000 children and families, invested more than $7 million directly into our community, and answered more than 390,000 calls for assistance. And so much more.   Read All About It 2. Keynote Speaker Andy Loughnane, President of Austin FC, reminded us what makes the Greater Austin community special and shared how he Lives United. Thank you to Kristin Marcum, President of Elizabeth Christian PR and United Way Board Member, for leading that conversation with Andy (pictured above). Five lucky attendees even won an Austin FC scarf. 3. We debuted our Live United video. Watch and be inspired.   4. Everyone there inspired us with their commitment to Live United. How will you Live United? Here are a few ways you can take that next step. Join a United Way donor network to get involved, stay connected and advocate for change. Give Now > Volunteer during United Way’s Fall Day of Caring. Sign Up > Encourage your business to […]

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Meet Michele, A Passionate Early Childhood Champion

Women United educates, engages, and empowers women in Greater Austin. Each month we will spotlight and bring you a closer look into the lives of one of your fellow Women United Members. We are proud to celebrate women as philanthropic leaders and are honored to have so many amazing women in our community. Q&A with Michele Scott | Owner, Square Move Realty What do you love about Austin? There are so many wonderful reasons to love Austin! 🙂 I am enamored by the vast Hill Country views, the hiking and biking trails that endlessly wind through the city, as well as the uniquely Austin local flair. From enjoying lazy afternoons on the lake with family and friends, to experiencing the live music and foodie scenes, Austin has something for everyone. With all of the advantages of a big city, but with the vibe of a friendly small town, Austin strikes a uniquely perfect balance between hustle-and-bustle, and “keeping it weird”. Austin boasts a booming economy that offers exciting opportunities for families and people of all ages, as a result of a thriving startup ecosystem, several excellent universities, a growing biomedical industry, and the continued expansion of major companies opening offices here. To sum it all up…Austin is an amazing city to call home! How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin/Women United? I had served as a member of organizational leadership for a Texas-based nonprofit and had also volunteered for other charitable entities prior to becoming involved […]

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Meet Allison, Our Awesome Advocate

Over the course of two decades, Allison Dwyer has utilized her talents and voice to fiercely advocate for our community. As a speech pathologist and mom of four, Allison has always felt called to improve the lives of young children and their families, and here at United Way for Greater Austin, we’ve seen her do just that.    “When I came to Austin, I started to look around to see what the landscape here was like. I was raising my own kids, but every now and again I would get a little passion and fire to see what was going on out there,” Allison said. “I found Success By 6 back in the early 2000s. I called and spoke with someone who was working at United Way, and we talked for a long time. The mission really resonated with me.”   In addition to leading some advocacy efforts for Success By 6, Allison became involved with the early language coaching program at United Way for two years. Early Language Coaches are placed for approximately nine months in child care center classrooms serving children ages 3-5 in small group settings or one-on-one. Through the program, Allison ensured the children at the Bright Beginnings Child Care Center were provided with engaging, age-appropriate material to nurture their skills to help reach development milestones.    “It was nice to be able to go into the classroom with my speech pathology background and see how I could assist the children and teachers,” Allison said.    […]

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From Barriers to Brighter Future

Imagine: You’re a mother of three and you recently relocated to the United States from the Middle East with your family. Striving to enforce the value of education to your children, you vow to complete your high school diploma – despite a sizable language barrier. You enroll in part-time high-school diploma classes so you can meet your two older children as they get off the school bus every day. Now, you need to find child care for your youngest daughter.   Anisa doesn’t have to imagine this scenario – she’s living it.   A native Farsi speaker, Anisa needed to enroll in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses before taking academic classes. Anisa also worried that her youngest daughter Adrina would be developmentally delayed due to her limited communication skills. Then, Anisa found one of United Way ATX’s Community Investment Grant partners – Goodwill Industries.   Goodwill Industries launched The Goodwill Excel Center, the first free public charter high school in Austin, Texas for adults 17 – 50. This high school has specialized learning plans, life coaches, and support services to help ensure student success. Thanks to The Goodwill Excel Center, Anisa was able to enroll in ESL classes and receive free childcare throughout the course of her education. The service allows parents to take classes close to where their kids attend child care and save parents several thousands of dollars a year in child care.   All of this sounded like a dream come true to Anisa. After […]

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Meet the United Way Team: Wonde Will Wow You

At United Way ATX we value and celebrate all voices. From Board members to donors to team members to partner organizations to the children and families we work with, we strive for inclusivity where everyone has a place at the table and their voices can be heard. Today, we are excited to introduce you to one of our newest team members Wondemneh Pawlose. We would love to tell you a little bit about Wonde, but we think you’ll like it even better hearing from him. (You’ll love him as much as we do.) I come from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have seen the many faces of poverty growing up. People struggling to eat three meals every day, kids quitting school in order to financially contribute to their families, and sick people with the inability to seek medical treatment (where the clinic card itself costs more than their weekly budget) are realities lived by the few million residents of Addis Ababa. If you had told me in 2011 that poverty is rooted deep in various American cities and their inhabitants, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.  2011 was the year I have migrated to America, and I had no idea about the wealth disparity that exists within many American cities like Austin, TX. In my defense, I was taught to consider America as a land of milk and honey… a place where there is no space for poverty (if one chooses to […]

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AVANCE-Austin Makes Austin Greater

Being a mom to three kids can be overwhelming at times, especially when one of your children needs some extra help and special attention. Such was the case for Catalina Sanchez. Catalina found herself in a bind when her youngest son Carlos began experiencing speech delays requiring therapy. Because he was having trouble communicating, Carlos began misbehaving. Over time, Catalina and Carlos’ frustrations mounted. Feeling stretched to her limit, Catalina turned to AVANCE-Austin for help. AVANCE was founded in 1973, and has been an Austin institution since 1998. The direct translation of AVANCE means to “advance” or “progress,” and that’s what the AVANCE-Austin team embodies. They meet families with low-income where they are. Families like Catalina’s. After meeting with Catalina and Carlos, the AVANCE-Austin team were able to identify that Catalina suffered from postpartum depression. She began group counseling while Carlos began speech therapy. After a few months of this support, Catalina is more equipped than ever to nurture Carlos’ needs, while also giving attention to her other two kids. Catalina’s interactions have become more intentional, and through her home visits from AVANCE-Austin she has shown incredible progress in working with her kids, including her new habit of reading to all of her children every evening for bonding and cognitive skill building. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to have played a supporting role in Catalina’s success. Funding from United Way ATX has helped to expand AVANCE-Austin’s capacity and quality for home visiting. What’s special about our partnership with […]

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