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Family Resource Fair: A family-friendly event offering free books, rent assistance, and more

The pandemic put a long pause on in-person events, attributing to fewer families receiving the resources they need for their little ones. These in-person events allow parents to feel heard and supported, ultimately encouraging engagement in their child’s development.  With vaccine rates rising, and in-person learning back in place, United Way and Austin ISD partnered to bring back the Family Resource Fair for a second time. On Saturday, November 13, the Family Resource Fair took place at Uphaus Early Childhood Center in south Austin. Families in the surrounding area were invited to an outdoor event offering resources like ECE/ESL registration, rent assistance programs, parenting groups, career services, camps, and more.  A special thank you to our partners for coming out and supporting families and children.  Have questions about participating in the next Family Resource Fair? Contact Martina Santesteban at Martina.Santesteban@uwatx.org.

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Sponsor an early childhood education center!

This holiday season we’re inviting you to be a champion of cheer to spread a little extra joy! We’re bringing together our friends and neighbors to spread good tidings through special holiday care packages for our early childhood education centers – who have been resilient through the pandemic, caring for and teaching our youngest Austinites.  Will you  be a champion of cheer for our community by building care packages with us this holiday season?   Child development centers like Bright Beginnings and directors like Patsy make learning exciting for children and they are the reason we’re celebrating this year. The human spirit is resilient, and our child development centers continue to prepare our youngest Austinites for success!  Each holiday care package will include: 1 Yeti coffee mug Coffee shop gift card   3-5 children’s books Check out our volunteer website for all the details, including shopping lists, delivery details, and more! Want more information before signing up? See our FAQ. Have additional questions about this opportunity? Please email our volunteer team at Volunteer@uwatx.org. Happy holidays from the United Way team. We look forward to making the season brighter with you!  

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Ten Free Thanksgiving Meals in Greater Austin

Each year, United Way’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls during November and December, many from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. To help our Central Texas community find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free Thanksgiving meal distributions happening throughout the month. These meals are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis. This year’s events include dine-in and drive-thru Thanksgiving meals, packaged food distributions to help people prepare a Thanksgiving meal at home, and more.  For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.

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Emerging Leaders member Jose Lopez: “I Live United because I want to make a difference.”

After serving as a loaned executive for United Way’s biggest employee giving campaign two years in a row, H-E-B manager Jose Lopez joined our Emerging Leaders donor network to stay involved in the Austin community and be an advocate for United Way’s mission of fighting poverty. During his time with United Way thus far, Jose has led dozens of H-E-B store campaigns with more than 20,000 people and raised over $1 million for the Greater Austin community each year. Jose says he wants to help make his Austin community a more equitable place for everyone. As a member of Emerging Leaders, he aims to learn more about issues facing local communities and get involved in delivering impactful solutions. Watch more about Jose’s work and read the full story in his own words below. Why did you join Emerging Leaders?  I joined because I want to make a difference. A lot of the work being done [at United Way] personally resonates with me. Growing up with a single mom raising six boys, it was always a struggle. It was definitely a path that taught me a lot in life. But I don’t think everyone should have to go through that. It’s much better to help and connect folks to resources and put them on a better path.  Seeing the work that gets done with nonprofits has always been intriguing. I want to see what happens behind the scenes and not just that but how I can make a difference. So Emerging […]

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Hispanic Heritage Month: How we celebrate united

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we value the beautiful diversity of our community. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to celebrate that beauty with you! Join us in recognizing and honoring the rich culture and diversity of the Latino community.  This year, we asked our United Way team to share what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them and how they celebrate their roots. Natalie Obregon, Development Operations Associate Francisco Gallegos, PACES Project Coordinator  Paola Silvestre, Director of Family Pathways  Clarena Tobon, Director of Resource Development, United Way WilCo  Jose Lopez, H-E-B United Way Executive     Thank you Natalie, Francisco, Paola, Clarena, and Jose for sharing your stories. Everyone’s roots may be different, but one thing is for sure, food connects us all! We wish everyone a happy Hispanic Heritage month. When you celebrate united, you Live United. 

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Expanding Opportunity for Young Families helps parenting students advance their careers

Meet Katie Gonzalez, a parent of six young kids. As one of 34 parents in our Expanding Opportunities for Young Families pilot program, Katie recently earned a phlebotomy certificate from Austin Community College, advancing her career opportunities while also receiving access to vital wrap-around services for her family. Expanding Opportunity for Young Families (EOYF) is a collaborative community program coordinated by United Way for Greater Austin that helps parents overcome barriers to completing their degree, such as challenges finding child care and financial pressures. The program, which takes a 2-Gen approach of serving parents and children simultaneously, works to increase young parents’ successful academic enrollment and completion so they can access middle-skill jobs.  The goal of the program is to increase the financial stability of young parents age 18-29 while improving the well-being of their children. Together with local community partner organizations, young parents from our Link Up Austin group are co-leaders of this work to advance the well-being and economic mobility of their families and the community. Katie says participating in the program allowed her to support herself financially while studying to achieve her dream role as a phlebotomist. “It’s a good opportunity for a lot of families,” she said. “Especially those who are in need and are wanting to go back to school and get educated, so they can have a career for themselves, their kids and their families.” How it works United Way partners with Workforce Solutions (WFS) Capital Area, Central Texas Allied Health Institute (CTAHI), Skillpoint […]

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Greater Austin Reading Coalition hosts book fair for kids in Austin

Last month, dozens of elementary school students in Austin lined up to receive books at the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s second book fair, giving  local children access to diverse stories they can see themselves in. Thanks to a donation of over 1,000 books, 100 breakfast bags, and fitness equipment from KPMG, the coalition partnered with the Extend-A-Care YMCA program to host a book fair for the community, distributing these gifts to 32 students in Austin. Kids at the after-school event picked out four to five books featuring a range of characters and stories written in both English and Spanish, and participated in reading circles led by three KPMG volunteers. “To see the delight on the children’s faces as they select their books, and to hear the conversations that they have with their peers about what the books might be about warms my heart,” said Michelle Hutson-Crawford, Director of K-12 Education at United Way for Greater Austin. “In this heavily saturated digital and social world, it’s good to know that books are still winning in 2021! We hope this act of kindness and community engagement inspires others to step forward in partnership with the Greater Austin Reading Coalition.” Only three in 10 kids from low-income households are reading on grade level by 4th grade, a crucial point in children’s development that can impact their future academic and career outcomes. The Greater Austin Reading Coalition, convened by United Way, is working to change that by giving children access to culturally relevant books […]

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Meet Laura Gentner: Living life with kindness, honesty, and support for the dignity of everyone

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 fight poverty in Greater Austin. As one of this year’s Women United Co-Chairs, Laura Gentner is helping to create change in our community, so that everyone can share in the promise of Austin!  “I Live United because we are living and experiencing this world together, so let’s do that with kindness, honesty, and support for the dignity of every person.”  – Laura Gentner, Women United Co-Chair Why does United Way’s mission to fight poverty resonate with you personally?  Fighting poverty is an effort to change a person’s life cycle and what the next generation will inherit. It’s getting to the root of the poverty issues in our communities and creating solutions that have longevity. Growing up, we teetered on the poverty line, and I know how easily one can fall into a sudden, difficult place in life. I love that United Way is focused on finding solutions to such a complex challenge. It’s not easy, and the success isn’t immediate, but I’m glad United Way is front and center fighting for Greater Austin.  What is your favorite part about being a member (co-chair!) of Women United? Activism! We just had our first Women United meeting for 2021-22, and it’s very obvious these are women ready to make change and impact in our work for early childhood education and the fight against poverty. It’s my privilege […]

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Announcing $21,000 to 4 Nonprofits: Supporting Children in Their First 2,000 Days of Life

This summer, United Way for Greater Austin awarded a total of $112,000 in one-time grant funding to 23 qualified community organizations delivering effective programs and services that advance the goals of the community coalitions we convene as part of our collective impact work to fight poverty.  Here at United Way for Greater Austin we’re working hard alongside our community partners to ensure that all children in Austin/Travis County enter Kindergarten happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in school and beyond. That’s why we lead the Austin/Travis-County Success By 6 Coalition (SX6), a community-wide collaboration of child and family advocates – providers, parents, policymakers, civic leaders, and experts – with a shared goal to ensure every child born in the Austin area receives the support and care they deserve during their essential first 2,000 days. To help advance this goal, United Way put out a call for proposals to fund programs and services that are advancing SX6’s goals with a focus on efforts that build capacity to deliver prenatal and postpartum health services that are culturally responsive and support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women and infants, and elevate family voice as part of the planning and decision-making processes of community-based organizations serving children and families birth to age five.  We’re thrilled to announce that the following organizations were awarded mini-grants, up to $7,500, to support their programs and services that are supporting our littlest Austinites!  Culturally responsive prenatal and postpartum support  Catholic Charities of Texas: support the St. Gabriel’s […]

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Fall Day of Caring: A Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit Collaboration

COVID-19 has impacted all of us, including young kids. As the reality of the pandemic set in, and schools closed abruptly to keep students and their families safe — many students were navigating the challenges of remote learning for several months. It’s no surprise that education professionals have witnessed a stall in reading skills among young students since the pandemic began in early 2020. That is why, this year, our annual Fall Day of Caring took form as a book extravaganza! On Thursday, September 30, the Greater Austin Reading Coalition , convened by United Way, partnered with BookSpring to distribute 5,000 books to local community organizations supporting families with children ages 5-12.  Special thanks to our partners at Enterprise and Onnit who volunteered their time and effort to distribute all of the books throughout the region! At United Way, our mission is to fight poverty, and we know that reading is a crucial skill to help future generations win. Currently, only 30% of children from families with low income are reading at grade level by 4th grade. Our goal is that all children in Greater Austin reach that level. By increasing access to quality out-of-school learning opportunities, culturally relevant books, and building a community culture of reading, we can move the needle on grade-level reading rates in our community and create greater opportunity for local children and families. We’re honored to get 5,000 more books into the hands of young readers. Thank you to our partners, Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit, for […]

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