Author: Morgan Messick

Meeting families where they are, virtually

Even before COVID-19 we knew that all families could use support at the birth of a child, and some things never change. Now more than ever families may be experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, and other obstacles when they are bringing a new child into their home. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. That’s why Family Connects Texas offers a FREE home visit from a registered nurse for families with a newborn. Before the pandemic, our nurses would come to your family’s home 3-weeks postpartum and offer in depth support. Now, our nurses meet you virtually, to help your family safely in today’s socially distanced world. During your 2-hour video chat, nurses check on mom, baby, and the whole family. In light of COVID-19, Family Connects was able to pivot their model to meet families where they are – virtually. We are so proud of our team for finding innovative ways to reimagine what high quality care and education in our community looks like. Families are still receiving the same great service, at a safe social distance during COVID-19. Staci Bishopp is a local first-time mom who has been weathering birth and postpartum during the pandemic, and she is thankful for the support Family Connects was able to provide her.  Staci, her partner Tim, and their baby Finn all received a virtual visit from a Family Connects nurse earlier this summer. She first learned about Family Connects Texas from her providers at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and signed […]

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Inspiring and empowering: Meet the 2020 Women United Executive Committee

Women United is a diverse, vibrant donor network supporting United Way for Greater Austin. Members are committed to creating a powerful, female-driven philanthropic force to improve early childhood education in Greater Austin. Women United members support United Way’s early childhood education initiatives, part of a community-wide collaboration called Success By 6. Our Women United members are champions for change and innovation in our community, and are committed to helping our youngest Austinites reach their full potential. We couldn’t do this work without our Executive Committee, and we think everyone should meet these incredible women and learn about what excites them in their work. Laura Hernandez Holmes, Political Consultant | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “I am most excited about introducing friends and colleagues to the work United Way does for our community. Whether it’s the expanded intake at 2-1-1 they have handled with grace or the way they stepped up to create All Together ATX to provide much-needed support to those in need during the pandemic, I am proud of the work they do for Austin.” Michele Scott, Square Move Realty | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “One of the things that excites me most about being part of United Way’s work is seeing firsthand the positive outcomes of supporting families in the Greater Austin area. It has been wonderful to witness the humanity of volunteers coming together for a common good, and for such a meaningful purpose – specifically, to support our children.” Maria Aguiluz, Pink Cactus Productions “When […]

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All Together ATX: Announcing $2.2 Million to 70 Local Nonprofits

We are excited to award $2.2 Million to 70 Austin-area nonprofits working to support communities experiencing economic and health-related hardships caused by COVID-19 in Central Texas. This funding comes from All Together ATX, the COVID-19 relief fund we created in partnership with our friends at Austin Community Foundation. The nonprofits receiving grants are working to address domestic violence and child abuse, digital equity, mental health, aging populations and utility assistance.The grants range in size from $70,000 to $5,000, and will be distributed electronically by August 11. Meet the grantees here. Data consistently shows that Black and Hispanic residents in Central Texas are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 compared to their white neighbors. According to Austin Public Health, Hispanics make up 52% of confirmed cases in Travis County. Similarly, the Black community comprises 10% of hospitalizations and 9% of deaths in Travis County, but are less than 8% of the population.  To ensure the communities most impacted by COVID-19 are supported and funded, equity was a guiding principle in the All Together ATX grantmaking process. The intent of this round of funding was to enhance and increase existing services to individuals of historically under-resourced communities in the five-county Central Texas region (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson).  All Together ATX distributed an initial round of funding in April 2020. During that phase we awarded grants totalling $1.8 Million to 97 nonprofits. Funding from All Together ATX has helped dozens of Central Texas nonprofits meet a high demand for services and support […]

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Keeping the movement going together, even when we’re apart

At United Way ATX we are committed to doing the hard work, internally and in our community, of confronting racism. Our mission is to bring together people, ideas and resources to fight poverty in our community, and we we can most effectively fight poverty when we stand up for racial equity. Internally, we are 18 months into a deep dive on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and have been doing hard, introspective work on our shortcomings as an organization and finding innovative and inclusive solutions to continue moving forward in an open and equitable way. During this time, our team has been committed to transformation and growth, to keep learning and unlearning and to create safe spaces for our team to thrive.  Since transitioning to working in the virtual space we’ve enjoyed staying connected on our DEI goals through resource sharing. #BlackLivesMatter to us, every single day, and our team is committed to the movement, not the moment. Three members of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee have volunteered to share some of their favorite resources that have made an impact on them. _______________________________________________________________________ Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez | Corporate Volunteer Manager, United Way for Greater Austin Resource: In Bold Company, a community “Let’s be honest, the past few months haven’t been easy. Whether we are aware of it or not, systemic racism is something we live with every day, and as a brown woman it has been heartbreaking to see what is happening to the Black community both right now and […]

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Parents, here are 5 things to do before going back to child care

Going back to work will be different for everyone, including people who work in child care. Because of COVID-19, teachers have changed how they care for and educate children to follow new health and safety standards. Parents, here are 5 tips to get ready for going back to care outside the home. 1. Practice wearing your mask at home Early childhood teachers are asked to think about wearing masks while caring for children. Seeing people in masks and wearing a mask may be difficult for many young children. You can help your child adjust to this by: Practice wearing masks at home, and taking them on and off. Let your child touch and hold your mask before you put it on. Talk about why we wear masks in simple terms like: wearing a mask helps keep people from getting sick because it covers their nose and mouth. Children learn through play, so include masks in silly “peek-a-boo” games or in pretend play – or make little paper masks for your child’s stuffed animals or dolls. Make children’s masks individual and unique for them. Allow your child to ask questions and express their feelings. Note: Masks should NOT be worn by children under age 2. Read more guidance from Austin Public Health here. 2. Understand tuition and fees Since March, you may have paid a part of child care fees even if your program was closed. This may seem unfair, but it helps keep your child’s spot at the center and […]

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Encouraging Kids to Love, Dream and Think BIG with Pre-K Partnerships

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!” Helping all kids in the Greater Austin area go more places is what we do at United Way ATX through our work with the Success By 6 (SX6) Coalition. Ensuring all kids are happy, healthy, and ready to succeed at school and beyond is the top priority, and we know that access to books and a high-quality education help us get more kids there. Through our Pre-K Partnerships program, a Success By 6/AISD collaboration, we partner with child development centers in the Austin community to deliver high-quality pre-K and provide partnership centers with resources that help them improve and sustain quality services for children. This partnership is flourishing, and exceeding our first-year expectations…and a local acclaimed children’s book author took notice. Kat Kronenberg is the best-selling author of the Love Big trilogy, inspiring kids to dream, think, and love BIG to reach their full potential. She knows this BIG goal can’t be achieved alone, so we are honored that she reached out to partner with United Way in sharing her books, message, and heart at two of our Pre-K Partnership sites. “For the new year, one of my resolutions is to help bridge the gap for kids that tend to be left behind and make books relevant and exciting for them….I have helped in different cities over the years, and […]

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OMG, BOOKS!

Did you know that the first 2,000 days of every person’s life are foundational? Studies show that a child’s experiences during those early years literally build the architecture of their brain. Making the most of every child’s 2,000-day journey from birth to Kindergarten is essential, and we know that all families can use support along the way to do this. Research proves that having at least 20 age-appropriate books in the home can improve a child’s educational success, and the Success By 6 ATX Coalition (SX6) is making bold moves to provide those 20-books to all families in ATX! United Ways of Texas recently helped us make headway on this goal by granting United Way ATX with an OMG Book Award! Together, with SX6 Coalition partner BookSpring we distributed 16,899 books to thousands of families in Austin/Travis County utilizing this grant! “Ninety percent of brain development happens within the 2,000 days from birth to Kindergarten, so an early childhood full of rich experiences is essential for happy, healthy children who are ready to succeed in school and in life.”  – Cathy McHorse, VP of Success By 6.  Today in Austin 34,000 children under six in Travis County live in households with low income, and 61% of those children do not enter Kindergarten ready for school. In 2019 our coalition launched version three of a strategic plan aimed at slashing that statistic. With our coalitions bold goal to ensure that all children in Austin/Travis County enter Kindergarten ready to succeed we […]

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Meet Jamie, an Austinite with a passion for community

Women United educates, engages, and empowers women in Greater Austin. Each quarter 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 — like Jamie Bowers, a new Women United superstar! Q&A with Jamie Bowers| CEO, Bola Pizza What do you love about Austin? Good question! What do I not love about Austin? I grew up here so I’ve seen this city change rapidly and experienced the growing pains firsthand. I love how open and friendly we are. Austinites tend to hold open doors, smile and say hello.    How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin/Women United? I was lucky enough to meet Bill Butler [United Way ATX Sr. Corporate Account Manager] on a plane to a friend’s birthday in Tulum. We started talking about what we do and he explained to me how United Way’s programs impact our community. I was intrigued because I believe in supporting charitable causes that develop people along with being a source of information for basic needs and more complex issues like child care, counseling, access to continuing education. United Way has programs for all of those needs and other support organizations they direct people to if they don’t fit within the United Way programs. Having all the knowledge in one place has a serious impact for those in […]

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Volunteering: It’s Good for YOU, Too

People volunteer for all kinds of reasons. Many people volunteer because they want to make a difference or help the less fortunate. And it’s easy to see how spending your time lending a helping hand and supporting a good cause positively impacts the community. But it turns out, volunteering may benefit you just as much. Over the past 15 years, research has demonstrated the power of volunteering. Volunteering has positive impacts for your overall health and well-being; people who volunteer regularly have improved cognitive function, better physical health, live longer, and have lower rates of depression. A Harvard Health paper noted that people who volunteer weekly benefit from what they call the “happiness effect” and report happiness levels comparable to a life-changing wage increase. And, the positive benefits don’t end there! There are professional benefits too. Volunteering provides valuable opportunities to build your communication, teamwork, and problem solving skills. According to this Deloitte report, all this experience pays off: People who volunteer are twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their career progression. In fact, 92% of HR executives agree that contributing to a nonprofit can improve leadership skills. More and more, businesses are also reporting positive impacts of community engagement. Young professionals who volunteer through their company are more likely to be proud, loyal, and content with their place of work. Volunteering is a win-win. Not only is it good for the community, it’s incredibly special to be able to take some time out of your regular schedule […]

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Happy 1st Birthday Family Connects! (Day 1 of our Birthday Week)

Family Connects is a free, evidence-based nurse home visiting program for all families with newborns. We are thrilled to be celebrating the program’s 1st birthday in Austin/Travis County! The Family Connects Texas program (an arm of Family Connects International in Durham, NC) supports parents by linking nurses, community resources, and families. Our mission is to connect you with resources that nurture your whole family and support your child. It’s about planting seeds for the future. Together, we’re growing healthy babies! Want to know what a home visit looks like? Learn more about our amazing program at our website: https://www.familyconnectstexas.org/

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