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Parents are powerful: Uplifting parent voices as champions for change | 2-Gen Leadership Council

Parents are powerful. At United Way for Greater Austin, we value the lived experience and extensive expertise of parents & caregivers. What does that mean for our work? It means that we not only strive to make room at the table for parent voices, but we work to uplift those voices and ensure that they are heard.  Welcome to our new blog series all about shining a spotlight on the ways amazing parents are using their voices to build a better Austin. In this first installment, you will hear from two-parent leaders, Alma Ruiz and Cristina Guajardo, about their experience serving on the 2-Gen Leadership Council.  What is the 2-Gen Leadership Council? The 2-Gen Leadership council is made up of 47 local leaders. These council members guide the creation of policy at the city and county level and are decision-makers in the areas of workforce, school districts, nonprofits, child care, and more. They provide big picture guidance and oversight for the 2-Gen Strategic Plan purpose, goals, and strategies. As parent leaders, Alma and Cristina are actually sitting at the table with systems leaders to co-design strategies, programs, pilots as well as to guide our overall strategic planning process. The 2-Gen Leadership Council is the only structure of this type elevating parent leaders to this strategic level in Austin currently. The goal is to elevate the voices of families and inform strategic plan implementation while giving families the skills they need to be effective advocates and leaders in the community. The […]

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What we are reading (and watching) about race, power, & privilege

Each quarter, we like to pull together a list of what we are reading (and watching) about race, power, and privilege. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Race continues to be a big predictor of a person’s life outcomes, so we can only break the cycle of poverty by standing up for racial justice. Learn more about what we are reading and watching this quarter:  Podcast. Tune in to an episode of Leadership for Society with Brian Lowery. Brian is a senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford Graduate Business School. In this episode, Brian sits down with American journalist and publishing executive, Dana Canedy, to talk about the decisions editors need to make to bring in more voices to tell our country’s authentic stories. Listen with us >     Series. Educators have a responsibility to support young people as they grapple with multiple parts of their identities, including their gender and sexual identities. Exploring Equity, a new five-part series and teaching model from Usable Knowledge and Harvard Graduate School of Education shares strategies for leading and teaching so all students can flourish. Explore equity >       Brief. By helping people of color safely navigate current systems, financial coaching with a racial equity lens can be part of a broader strategy to increase equitable outcomes. The Asset Funders Network released a helpful brief all about Investing in Financial Coaching with a Racial Equity Lens. Read […]

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Meet Emerging Leaders Member, Arielle Sadler

We recently caught up with Arielle Sadler, a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and Senior Technical Writer & Trainer at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. We have loved working with Arielle on the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee for the past year. Her light, drive, and tireless advocacy are just a few of the reasons we think you should get to know her too.  Arielle is passionate about making sure everyone in our community has a “fighting chance” to meet their full potential. Learn from Arielle herself  why she is proud to be a member of Emerging Leaders: Q&A with Arielle Sadler Why is fighting poverty important? My dad was homeless at one point and the continuous impact that has had on his life and mine is significant. Giving people the opportunity to have a fighting chance – to not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, where they are going to lay their heads down at night – so that they can focus on educating themselves and their children means a better community for us all.  Describe your favorite volunteer opportunity with United Way for Greater Austin. My favorite opportunity with United Way came in Summer 2019. I was part of Texas Mutual’s Employee Engagement committee and volunteered to lead a back-to-school drive with United Way. I’d been volunteering with several organizations for years, but I’d never had the chance to lead an initiative. I arranged to have members of our call center decorate and […]

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Looking Back to Look Forward: The 1928 Master Plan

United Way for Greater Austin recognizes that our fight against poverty is also a fight against racial inequity. Systemic racism and poverty are intrinsically connected, and one cannot be eradicated without the other. This is why United with our community, we are working to reimagine systems that are rooted in equity and racial justice.  As we work toward building a brighter and more equitable future for our great city, it’s important for us to know the past in order to understand the present and chart a path towards the future.  The Present  Just as the skyline has grown, so have the disparities in the lived experiences of those living west of IH-35, and those to the east. For all of its wonderful qualities, Austin is one of the most economically segregated cities in the country.  It truly is a tale of two cities. One in which if you happen to live on the east side of the city you have less access to hospitals and healthcare facilities, fewer public transportation options, and a lack of grocery stores with fresh produce. A study has even shown that there is a nearly 20-year difference in life expectancy between parts of east and west Austin. And the unfortunate reality is that these areas of concentrated poverty overlap with Austin’s Black and Brown communities. The current system isn’t working for so many of our neighbors.  To make Greater Austin a community that truly works for everyone, we first have to understand how these inequitable […]

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Join us for Spring Season of Caring

Live United with us during Spring Season of Caring! Join us on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22) for the kickoff of Spring Season of Caring, our annual tradition of gathering with neighbors in service of our community. Our mission here at United Way for Greater Austin is to bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Keeping that mission and COVID-19 safety in mind, this year we are hosting a virtual gathering of community, and we have curated some self-guided, socially distanced opportunities for any individuals or groups to get involved. United together, we’re building a better Austin for everyone. Here’s how to join us: Spring Season of Caring, virtual gathering Thursday, April 22 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. A Zoom link will be shared via email with all who register. Join us on Earth Day for a community moment, reflection, and a game to find out how well you know your city. Join us at our virtual gathering Spring Season of Caring, socially distanced activities Live United and take pride in your community! We encourage you to take part in any of these self-guided community beautification activities on your own time throughout Spring Season of Caring. How does it work? Pick one of these curated Community Beautification Routes that piques your interest. Spend an hour volunteering, learning, exploring, and collecting trash. We’ve curated a few different locations around town to help you get to know Austin’s past and present. Sharing your photos on social media? Make […]

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Meet Ashley Unbehagen: Making a Difference One Book at a Time

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we know Ashley Unbehagen as a member of Women United and a volunteer at Bright Beginnings child care center. But, to the 3- and 4-year-olds she reads to each week, she’s the “Book Lady.” “It takes a community of people to be able to influence and grow these little beings, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” – Ashley Unbehagen  Bright Beginnings is one of our partner child care centers through Pre-K Partnerships — a collaboration between Austin Independent School District and United Way for Greater Austin to support and expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-K for children ages 3 and 4 in our community. Success in life begins with a quality education, but more than 50% of children in Travis County are not ready for Kindergarten. That’s why this partnership ensures children are ready to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Our youngest years are the most active period for brain development, a crucial time to lay a firm foundation for all future growth. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from Kindergarten readiness to third-grade reading scores to high school graduation and beyond.  Ashley is one of many community members working hard to ensure that our littlest Austinites get the strongest possible start in life. What draws you to United Way’s work in early childhood education?  My background is in social work. I worked as a licensed therapist in the areas of mental health and education. I […]

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Meet Jen and Jack Foster: Making Giving Back a Family Affair

As a former United Way Board member, and a current member of Tocqueville United and Women United, Jen Foster is a true United Way champion! Her commitment to helping build a stronger Austin is something that she is passing down to her 10-year-old son, Jack. They have turned philanthropy into a family activity and jointly make decisions on how to best invest in the Greater Austin community.  “I know that other families need support, and it’s our number one goal as a family to make sure they get it.” – Jack Foster  Austin often tops the lists of best cities to live. A great place to raise a family, a healthy local economy, a city poised for future job growth – these are just some of the honors given to our metro area. And we agree… we love it too! But not everyone in our community is sharing in the promise of Austin. Yet. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Because when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and when everyone reaches their full potential, our entire community benefits and thrives. But it’s not something that can be done alone – it takes a community of kind-hearted, generous people. People like Jen and Jack Foster.  Why does your family Live United?  Jen: [United Way’s mission to fight poverty] really resonates with our family because we are really fortunate to be able to send Jack to good schools and […]

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United Way Partners are Proving Family-Friendly is Business-Friendly with Early Matters Greater Austin

Powered by United Way for Greater Austin and E3 Alliance, Early Matters Greater Austin (EMGA) is an alliance of Austin business leaders focused on the critical relationship between access to high-quality early education and our State’s long-term economic success. EMGA’s work is part of the collective impact initiative led by United Way, the Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition. Founded in 2018, Early Matters Greater Austin mobilizes and unites the business community around the goal that children in Greater Austin enter Kindergarten prepared for school success. EMGA also encourages Austin-area employers to adopt family-friendly policies because supportive workplace policies increase organization productivity and support the physical and emotional health of employees and their families. This pillar of the coalition’s work — known as Best Place for Working Parents™ — just concluded its 2021 open enrollment period in which 98 local businesses have been recognized as a 2021 Best Place for Working Parents™. Businesses qualified for the designation by taking a first-of-its-kind self-assessment highlighting the 10 family-friendly policies that have research-proven benefits to businesses’ bottom line, and scoring high enough to qualify. Each question in the self-assessment ties to one of the below policies, which positively impact employee attraction, retention, satisfaction, and productivity. You can find a full list of the 98 2021 Best Place for Working Parents™  businesses here. We are thrilled to see so many of our corporate partners on this list. Not only do they Live United, but are proving that family-friendly policies are business-friendly! Thank you for […]

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We did this, All Together ATX

Back in March of 2020 we had no idea the amount of good we would do when we worked together to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many in our community facing economic, social, and health hardships, the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it,  we just knew we had to do something. That’s why, in an effort to support the community, United Way for Greater Austin partnered with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. Now here we are, nearly a year later, celebrating more than $7.7 million in funding raised by 3,149 donors that helped 210 local nonprofits provide support to our community members most in need. Check out the full report to learn more! For nearly 100 years, United Way for Greater Austin has been dedicated to those in our community who are suffering and creating opportunity for all people, children, and families. The work we’ve been doing all along prepared us for this moment of unprecedented need. Needs will continue to evolve, and we will be here.  Together, we can provide stability today and create long-term solutions for the future, for all.     

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Join us for Blue Sunday

Blog by Caitlin Oliver, Success By 6 Intern, United Way for Greater Austin The Success By 6 Coalition is 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. United Way for Greater Austin is the convener of this work in Austin/Travis County. The Success By 6 Coalition (SX6) is made up of community stakeholders collectively creating a future in which all children in our community enter Kindergarten healthy, happy, and ready to succeed in school and life. To prepare all our youngest Austinites for school readiness, we partner with nonprofits in the community to deliver impactful services through four focus areas: Healthy beginnings Supported families High-quality care & education Safe & stimulating communities Together with our partners, we are building a stronger foundation for Austin so all families can thrive. This year we are expanding our support of whole families by participating in Blue Sunday and raising awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Blue Sunday is a day in which faith communities join together in prayer for children experiencing abuse and neglect. Each year this day of prayer falls on the last Sunday in April, which is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year, Blue Sunday is April 25, 2021. Child abuse and neglect statistics in Travis County and Texas are heartbreaking: In Travis […]

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