Blog

Uniquely Austin: The Early Childhood Council is helping all children in Austin thrive.

We all know Austin is unique for so many reasons, but did you know about our unique approach to early childhood investments? Our city has a formal body that advises City Council on early childhood issues and initiatives, dating back to 1985! Today this body is known as the Early Childhood Council (ECC), and is made up of 13 stakeholders from different sectors, who come together with recommendations on how our City Council should budget, spend, and address all matters that help ensure that our kids happy, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and beyond.  The Early Childhood Council is a very important part of our early care and education ecosystem, and their work promotes our Success By 6 Coalition efforts, helping us reach the goals of our strategic plan. We are grateful for the work they do, and we want everyone in Austin to celebrate them! Hear from a Success By 6 Coalition Leadership Team member and ECC member, Dr. Aletha C. Huston, on some recent successes from the ECC. Blog contributions from Aletha C. Huston, Professor Emerita of Child Development, University of Texas at Austin Early Childhood Council Member, District 5 Success By 6 Coalition Leadership Team Member The Early Childhood Council (ECC) is a City of Austin commission assigned to make recommendations to City Council for the “creation, development, and implementation of programs that promote optimal development for young children…and contribute to a system of high-quality early care and education and after-school programs for Austin’s children.” […]

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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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Spread Holiday Cheer

Blog contributions from Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way for Greater Austin | Corporate Volunteer Manager United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together all year long, and this holiday season we’re inviting you to join us! We know we’ll all be home for the holidays this year, and we’d like to brighten as many homes as we possibly can this season. We’re bringing together our friends and neighbors to spread cheer and good tidings through special holiday care packages for families that participate in United Way programs. These families make the work we do better by participating in focus groups, guiding our strategic priorities, and reminding us that together we are stronger. Will you support your neighbors by building care packages with us this holiday season? You can support neighbors like Esmeralda. This young mother dedicates her time to helping us build a better social services ecosystem that is more accessible and equitable. In addition to her day job, she helps support the needs of other young parents in our community, improving economic mobility for generations to come. Families like Esmeralda’s are the reason we’re still celebrating this year. Despite unexpected hardships, the human spirit is resilient, and together we’re rebuilding an Austin that is a better place for all families, for community, and for genuine connection. Will you help bring joy to families like Esmeralda’s? Each holiday care package will include: 1 H-E-B gift card 3-5 children’s books 1 toy gift After you have signed up, our […]

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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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Compassion 2020

“About a year ago – looking towards the election season – I wondered if a campaign for something positive and unifying, designed to remind us of our shared humanity, might be welcome.” – Karen Gross, Founder & CEO of Citizen Discourse Compassion won’t be on your ballot this election season, so what is Compassion 2020? It’s a movement all about reimagining a more just, compassionate, and anti-racist society. Created by Citizen Discourse, Compassion 2020 calls upon all of us to do these seven things: 1. Be respectful 2. Listen to understand 3. Act with good intentions 4. Support ideas with evidence and experience 5. Disagree without being disagreeable 6. Critique the idea, not the person 7. Invite wonder Our world feels more divided than ever. Many people are exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, angry, sad, hurt, or some combination of all of those things. But there’s so much more that connects us than divides us. Compassion 2020’s goal is to turn the tide — to inject more passion, awareness, and understanding into our lives. To connect us through our shared humanity. “Compassion is empathy + action.” – Karen Gross, Founder & CEO of Citizen Discourse Will you join us and endorse Compassion 2020? It’s quick and easy: 1. Sign the Compassion 2020 contract here. 2. There’s nothing better to activate compassion than volunteering! That’s where United Way ATX comes in. After you sign the compassion contract, you’ll be directed to our volunteer website to sign up for a virtual or socially distanced […]

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Happy 2nd Birthday Family Connects! Meet the Nurses…

Family Connects Texas turns 2 years old this month, and we are so excited to celebrate the women who make this work possible! In case you didn’t know, research shows that 95 percent of all families have needs after the birth of a child. These needs are unique to each family, and Family Connects bridges the gap between parents and community resources to improve family well-being. Our nurses serve whole families in Austin/Travis County, checking in on all caregivers and the baby in the early postpartum period! We have proudly served over 1,300 families over the last 2 years through St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and we have loved every minute of it. Don’t take it from us, take it from our team on the front line! Meet the amazing Family Connects nursing team: Brenda Fincher, RN Senior Why do you love Family Connects? I know that having a baby is the most special time in your life, a time to be celebrated! Unfortunately it can also be stressful and parents can have unexpected concerns and worries! I love that Family Connects provides an opportunity to spend time with new parents and connecting with them to give them support and reassurance. I love working with the Mommies and their Babies! I know that when I have left a family and the Mommy is feeling more confident and reassured, It’s a good day for me! Do any moments or stories stick out from your work with families that you can […]

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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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MAKE AN AUSTIN THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE

Blog contributions from Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way ATX Corporate Volunteer Manager Brooke Freeland, United Way ATX Policy Consultant Cathy McHorse, United Way ATX VP of Success By 6 At United Way for Greater Austin we welcome our community to create positive change with us through three avenues: Give. Advocate. Volunteer. While giving and volunteering often feel straightforward, many folks aren’t sure where to start with advocacy. Thankfully, our resident advocacy expert Brooke Freeland is here to show that advocacy is easy! You just have to know where to start. Brooke and our team recently hosted a Volunteer Advocacy training to teach our community how to support issues they care about — and now we’d like to invite you (and everyone in ATX) to learn how to be an awesome advocate! “It was a great session… because in my head I always thought advocacy was much more involved and complex. I didn’t realize it was as simple as an email.” -Newton Wong Want to know how YOU can become an awesome advocate? Here’s how: Step 1: Identify the issue you care about Step 2: Decide the change you’d like to see Step 3: Learn who the decision makers are Step 4: Take action Here’s how to find those decision makers: Austin City Council Travis County Commissioner  AISD School Board  Texas Legislature U.S. Congress Here’s how to engage with those decision makers: Write letters, send emails, or call your elected officials Participate in social media campaigns to spread the word Submit op-eds […]

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New Look, Same Good: Volunteering with United Way ATX

Blog contributions by Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way for Greater Austin, Corporate Volunteer Manager In our world, a lot has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic….but some things will always be the same: like our commitment to help Austinintes connect with their community through volunteerism. Volunteering may look different now, but we’re still finding ways to engage. Despite the pandemic, United Way ATX continues to host volunteer opportunities in our community that bring us all together whether that means masking up, social distancing or logging in virtually. It’s a new look, but it’s the same good that you’re used to doing! We’ve reimagined volunteering, and that means we’ve taken most of our opportunities virtual. Our team has been hard at work crafting unique online events to build community connections, support our neighbors, and still do good. Over the past few months we’ve hosted successful virtual events focused on education, advocacy, and gratitude. Together with our volunteers and donors, we continue to help make a tangible difference that positively impacts our community! While virtual volunteerism is our “new normal” we are still thrilled to find safe ways for folks to volunteer in person when possible. Longtime corporate partner JE Dunn Construction went above and beyond this summer for one of their company-wide volunteer days. They deployed their skilled volunteers to one of our Pre-K Partnership centers for an impressive two-day infrastructure project. With JE Dunn’s expertise, we were able to execute a safe, in-person event at Sweet Briar Child Development […]

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