Blog

Honor MLK Jr.’s life and legacy with us

MLK Jr. Day of Service celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy through service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Jr. Day is one of only two federal holidays designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.  Historical and systemic racism drive racial inequities in our country, and in our own community. We partner with you in building a Greater Austin that works for everyone. Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King is central to United Way for Greater Austin’s community volunteerism because it helps us reconnect with our mission to fight poverty in our community, and reminds us that together we can enact the change we want to see. While this year looks different from our previous community gatherings, we invite you to join us for a socially distanced celebration, and a virtual gathering full of reflection and motivation on how to carry on Dr. King’s legacy of anti-racism, justice, and equity. We have opportunities for individuals, families, and groups of friends. MLK Jr. Day of Service Monday, January 18, 2021 Socially distanced: Park at the United Way ATX office and follow our pre-mapped 3.3 mile round-trip self-guided tour of historical landmarks celebrating Black culture on the East Side. Virtual: Celebrate the life of Dr. King by viewing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, engaging in discussion around his life and legacy, and taking a […]

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Equity is at the center of the Success By 6 ATX Coalition vision

Co-authored by Jelina Tunstill (CAN) and Laura Olson (GAVA), members of the Success By 6 Leadership Team and Success By 6 Equity Team. United Way for Greater Austin proudly serves as the convening organization for the Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition. The first five years of a child’s life are a critical period when 90 percent of all brain development occurs. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from birth to Kindergarten readiness, to high school graduation and beyond.  In 2012, Success By 6 ATX formed a coalition to transform Austin/Travis County’s early childhood system through a Strategic Plan (originally called the School Readiness Action Plan). Today, the Success By 6 ATX Coalition (SX6) has grown and continues to make progress on the goals we have set. We are coordinating programs and actions to ensure that every child born in the Austin area receives the support and care they need during the first 2,000 days of their life, an essential time for development. We seek to ensure success not only for children, but also for the long term economic health of our community.  In 2021, SX6 will be leaning into race equity work as a priority for our coalition. To get beyond the buzzwords of racial equity and put real action behind intention will require alignment with our coalition, state leaders, funders, and local decision-makers to affirm: When it comes to the much-touted ideal of “child-centered” planning, supports, and care, children and families of color count […]

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Child care advocacy in action

When 2020 began, child care was already facing a tough dilemma. Teachers were underpaid and stretched thin, families were struggling to afford high-quality care, and child care programs were surviving on budgets with razor-thin margins. The pandemic has only worsened these strains. The problems were always there, but 2020 became the year that the world noticed that child care is in crisis. As schools and businesses shut down in March, Governor Abbott asked child care centers to stay open to serve the children of essential workers. Many local programs heeded that call to action despite the many unknowns about virus mitigation, transmission, increased costs, decreased revenue, and long-term sustainability. At the same time, our Success By 6 Coalition (SX6) began advocating for relief funding by contacting local officials, providing comment and testimony at meetings, and more. Many coalition members responded to the call for advocacy, and many leaders of local child care centers also emerged as leaders in advocating for their staff and families. The Austin City Council, in turn, allocated $5M+ child care relief funds, recognizing child care as a vital economic sector of the Austin economy. Austin is one of the only cities in the state providing substantial relief with local dollars for child care, thanks in part to powerful testimony from these local leaders.      Patsy Harnage has continued her advocacy, and was recently featured in an interview with KXAN sharing her support for essential child care workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Our advocacy has helped […]

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All Together ATX Final Round: Announcing $3.5 Million to 111 Local Nonprofits

We are excited to announce grant funding from All Together ATX in the amount of $3.5 million to 111 local nonprofits. This third and final round of grants provide funding for basic needs and support for nonprofits that are meeting other critical needs and/or facing operational impacts due to the pandemic. Since March, we have been honored to partner with Austin Community Foundation on this community-led philanthropic fund that provides flexible resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak.  The nonprofits receiving grants are working to address basic needs and the sustainability of the nonprofit sector. The grants range in size from $125,000 to $1,000, and will be distributed electronically by December 24. Meet the grantees here. We are so grateful that the $3.5 million to be distributed includes a generous matching gift from the Sheth Sangreal Foundation. Every donation made between October 1 and November 16 was matched dollar for dollar by the Sheth Sangreal Foundation. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color in Central Texas. Black and Latinx families are bearing the brunt of the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus. With this in mind, equity was a guiding principle in the All Together ATX grant-making process. Out of 111 nonprofits receiving grants, 81 organizations are led by Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and more than 50 percent of staff at these organizations are BIPOC. All Together ATX distributed two […]

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Supporting our littlest Austinites, together

Family Connects Texas recently celebrated its second birthday, and the program is striding forward, full steam ahead with plans for growth. We are so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years serving families at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and we are committed to serving even more families in the years to come. We have a bold goal: to make sure that all babies born in Austin/Travis County have the best possible start in life. “We really enjoyed our nurse home visit with Family Connects, and our nurse was fantastic! She provided wonderful resources, and a lot of important information for parents. Even though we already have a two-year-old, there were a lot of things that we learned from our visit, and we were impressed that the nurse checked on the health of the family in general. We would definitely recommend a nurse home visit with Family Connects for all parents.” — Brandon C. It takes a village to raise a baby, and for many families in Austin, Family Connects is that support structure. In just a few short years, we’ve made great progress on our goal to serve families in Austin. Already we have: Served over 1,300 families in Austin/Travis County Successfully connected 78% of families who indicated a need with support services, from food assistance programs to family support groups to lactation consulting Addressed some need or concern — either during the nurse visit or through a outside connection — for […]

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Meet Natasha Martin: A champion for change with Women United

‘Tis the season to be grateful, and our cups are overfilling with gratitude for our Women United Executive Committee members who support the work of United Way ATX. These women are champions for change and innovation in our community, and they are committed to helping our youngest Austinites reach their full potential. We couldn’t do our work without our Executive Committee, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to one of them! Meet Natasha Martin! Natasha supports Women United because she knows how important our early childhood education work is. Learn more about Natasha and why she joined Women United. How long have you been in Austin? “I’ve called Austin home for about 14 years.” What is your favorite thing about Austin? “I like the many recreational activities Austin has to offer. Over the last several months I have grown to love the regional parks in and around Austin. My family and I started hiking and bird watching more during COVID and there are so many perfect places in our city for these activities. Before COVID, one of my favorite things about Austin was catching live music or spoken word poetry in the more settled venues in East Austin.” What is one thing you want everyone to know about you? “Maybe I shouldn’t say this but I want to be known for having an open heart. I try to dial this back in my practice of law, but in church and in the community, I want to be known for letting […]

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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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