Blog

We Are Proud To Partner With Superior HealthPlan

Austin-based Superior HeathPlan is a health-care company that serves members in all 254 Texas counties. Superior partners with United Way for Greater Austin annually, approaching two decades, by running an employee giving campaign. Mark Sanders, Superior CEO, has been leading the company since January 2017 and encourages his employees to give back to the community they love. At United Way we believe that corporate values and social good go hand in hand – that’s why we work to bring Austin’s top corporate leaders together to fight poverty. Read below to learn more about this month’s Corporate Partner Spotlight.   About Superior HealthPlan Founded in 1999, Superior HealthPlan is a managed care company that delivers quality healthcare throughout Texas. Committed to transforming the health of the community, one person at a time, Superior supports active local involvement in all 254 Texas counties with 3,700 employees in 9 offices throughout the state. Headquartered in Austin, Superior is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise offering both core Medicaid and specialty services. Superior’s Relationship with United Way Superior has been proud to partner with United Way for Greater Austin, and other local chapters of the organization, for many years. Through annual fundraisers and other efforts, our employees have shown a long-standing commitment to support this organization and we look forward to forging an even stronger relationship in the years ahead. Why does Superior support United Way for Greater Austin? Superior has long been dedicated to serving Texans in need, […]

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It’s Fun To Stay At The YMCA

Yes, it’s fun to stay at the YMCA, but what else do you know about this nonprofit that has its own signature dance moves? YMCA is a nation-wide nonprofit that works to build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.  Here in our own backyard YMCA of Austin (the Y) identifies and solves Central Texas’ most critical needs across three pillars: -Youth Development -Healthy Living -Social Responsibility   Here at United Way for Greater Austin, that is our favorite kind of fun! We are proud to fund YMCA in support of their Early Learning Readiness program (ELR), which is making a tangible difference in our community every single day.     YMCA of Austin is serving more than 65,000 members (and an additional 60,000 program participants) through their eight branches in Travis, Hays and Bastrop Counties. They also provide Afterschool Child Care at 16 licensed sites in three school districts, and at five YMCA Learning Centers in affordable housing developments.   In Austin, across the nation and around the world, the accomplishments of the Y over the years reveal a mission to constantly search for innovative ways to meet community needs.   We all know the Y is a great place to expend energy and build community, but many people might not know how their programmatic work impacts our at-risk community. The Community Investment Grant YMCA has received from United Way will help them bring their ESL program to 60 additional at-risk children and caregivers in East Austin and Manor, so they can […]

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Top 10 Things To Look For When Choosing Child Care

Every child in Austin deserves access to high-quality, accredited early care and education. While quality child care is expensive, it yields significant long-term benefits for children. At United Way for Greater Austin (United Way) we believe every child in Austin deserves access to high-quality accredited early care and education and every working parent deserves confidence in knowing their children are in a safe, nurturing environment while they work to provide for their families. For working parents, finding the right care can be among the most difficult – and expensive – parenting decisions they face, but United Way is here to help. We work to ensure every child is ready for kindergarten with our Success By 6 program—and an important part of that is making sure children enjoy quality care early on in life.  To help parents make sure they’re making the right choice for their child, we’ve compiled a top ten list of things to look for:    1. Accredited And Recommended References go a long way. It is notable if the center can help you check references by providing contact information for current or past enrolled families (with their prior permission, of course). It is also important to check the state licensing website for any infractions the center may have. Look to see if the program is rated 4 stars by the Texas Rising Star system, or better yet, nationally accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Accreditation Commission. 2. Warm and […]

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Community Partner Spotlight: Child Inc.

Forging the way for families in Austin, TX since the 1960’s, Child Inc is making a real impact for families in our community.  Child Inc’s  Project Head Start was one of the first initiatives to be funded through President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. This was an important moment for funding in the nonprofit world and helped spotlight the need to break the cycle of poverty for families across the United States. In 1972 Child IncInc was officially established as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, and has been the Head Start grantee for Travis County since then. They enhanced our strategic community focus on making quality early childhood education accessible for more low-income families. The Child Inc mission is to provide high-quality education and comprehensive support services for children and their families while promoting personal and social responsibility in the communities [they] serve. Actively Involved Living and breathing their mission for decades, Child Inc has proudly prepared approximately 40,000 preschool children and their parents to succeed in school and in life. They are currently employing a diverse workforce of more than 230 staff positioned throughout their offices, in more than 80 classrooms, serving more than 2,000 children and families. Their work follows established evidenced-based approaches to serving families in the most need. According to their website two-thirds of [the families served] in [their] center-based program has single, female head-of-households, and at least 90 percent of them live at or below the federal poverty threshold. To better serve these families, Child Inc […]

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The School Readiness Action Plan wins Mission Capital’s Aligned Impact Award

Mission Capital recognized the School Readiness Action Plan with the Aligned Impact Award. This award celebrates a cross-sector collaborative creating system-wide change with a focus on shared decision-making, execution and ownership create unique and targeted progress through collective power. School Readiness Action Plan Leadership Team The School Readiness Action Plan Leadership Team is comprised of early childhood planners and funders that focus on the City of Austin and Travis County. The committee’s primary functions are to oversee and monitor the cyclical School Readiness Action Plan process, coordinate resources across entities, generate and monitor agreements at respective entities to invest in the shared plan and align policy and funding decisions when possible. Members also meet one or more of the following specific criteria: a significant funder of early childhood programming; taxing entity; the sole designee of federal funding (i.e. Child Inc.); collect and/or provide data and analysis; and influential in policy and/or research. SRAP Leadership Team Members Community Advancement NetworkUnited Way for Greater AustinManor ISDTravis County Health & Human ServicesWorkforce SolutionsChild Inc.Austin Public HealthCity of Austin Early Childhood CouncilE3 AllianceKLRUChildren’s Optimal HealthLiteracy Coalition of Central Texas Austin Independent School DistrictAustin Community CollegeAustin Association for the Education of Young Children

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Community Partner Spotlight: Mainspring Schools

Since opening its doors in 1941, Mainspring Schools has been a best-in-class nonprofit preschool that works to eliminate the early childhood school readiness gap. Their mission is “to deliver the highest quality early education and care to Austin’s most economically disadvantaged children – along with services so each child and parent have tools for success in school and life.” With a mission like that and its dedication to providing high-quality, innovative, and researched based services to all children, Mainspring serves as a model for early childhood centers in Austin and beyond. As the backbone organization for early childhood in Austin/Travis County, United Way supports more than 20 childcare centers serving children from low-income families. Mainspring envisions a future in Austin in which all students have an equal opportunity to start school with the skills, support and wellness to compete and succeed in school and life. “We firmly believe that you have to start early to build a strong foundation for at-risk kids. If you get the first years right, the path to success is clearer for our children,” says Jason Gindele, Executive Director for Mainspring. Gindele’s says of his team that they “often say, facetiously, that [their] mission is to get rid of all other charities. That’s obviously not true, but [they] do believe that if you get the first years of a child’s life right, it can prevent so many issues down the road that require the attention of our society.” In Travis County, 42 percent of children under […]

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David C. Smith Named Best CEO of 2018

Thursday, October 4 the Austin Business Journal announced David C. Smith as the Best CEO of 2018 in the nonprofit category as part of their 2018 Best CEO Awards. Austin Business Journal’s Best CEOs of 2018 are four leaders across sectors from technology to nonprofit categories. Winners were selected by a team of judges including previous Best CEOs. David had the opportunity to represent UWATX and encourage partnership & collaboration in a room filled with various CEOs, leaders, and guests from the business community. David Smith is now in his third year leading United Way for Greater Austin, although he has been working in the nonprofit space for more than 25 years leading organizations such as The Care Communities, the Hill Country Ride for AIDS and the Mamma Jamma Ride for Breast Cancer. Under Smith’s leadership, United Way has created and implemented the School Readiness Action Plan, a five-year strategic plan to turn the United Way into a convener that aligns efforts across the community behind big goals. Smith has also served on numerous boards including Austin Theater Alliance, Barton Springs Conservancy, E3 Alliance, Community Action Network and Conspirare. Prior to joining the United Way, Smith ran his own consulting firm, which is how he was named interim the executive director of The Thinkery children’s museum. He provides pro-bono board strategy sessions for organizations that need help creating or developing their own boards. For more information subscribe to the Austin Business Journal.

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Corporate Partner Spotlight: Mark Huff, H-E-B

Did you know there is more than one way to donate to United Way? From donating money to donating your time, United Way for Greater Austin provides a variety of ways for you to give back to our community. Donate Directly to United Way Visit our Volunteer Database and sign up Get your company connected to Corporate Volunteering Volunteer as a reviewer for our community investment grants At United Way, we are grateful to have worked with dedicated individuals and companies in the Central Texas Area for more than 90 years. Throughout our time in the Austin community, H-E-B has consistently been one of our biggest supporters and our largest employee giving campaign. United Way for Greater Austin is interested in partnering with companies throughout the year in many different capacities. When it comes to our corporate partners, United Way knows that we both have a lot to offer each other, and we want to make sure the greater Austin community that benefits the most from our partners working together to build a thriving community for all. Mark Huff, Loss Prevention Manager at Austin 12 H-E-B Plus, is a great example of how we are trying to engage employees in a holistic way. “When I started working for H-E-B it really opened my eyes to all the different capacities United Way [serves] the community,” Huff said. “To see every organization, you’re helping and how you’re helping them.” After working with H-E-B for 11 years, Huff became a H-E-B Bastrop in-store […]

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Community Partner Spotlight: Todos Juntos, Everyone is Family

Nestled on the East Side of Austin, Texas, Todos Juntos has been changing lives one family at a time for 10 years. Founder and Executive Director, Christina Collazo, has been a “Catalyst for Change” long before she was nominated for this year’s Mission Capital Award. Collazo began implementing a 2Gen (also known as Dual Gen) approach in her work a decade ago before it became the buzz-word it is today. She saw the value in raising families out of poverty through an intergenerational approach. Her vision took her out of the classroom, and into the non-profit sector where she has built an organization from the ground up. Amidst many hardships she faced along the way, she never balked in the face of adversity. “Christina Collazo is a pioneer who understood [the complex problem of intergenerational poverty] and saw its solution. She intuitively saw the link between outcomes for children and outcomes for their parents,” Sue Carpenter, Chief Programs Officer for United Way for Greater Austin said. “Many of the students at the predominately Latino high school in Austin where she worked were reading below grade level, and their parents, eager to engage and support their children, struggled to overcome language barriers and low-education levels themselves. For Christina, it was the stereotypical light bulb moment. If only she could reach the entire family earlier when the return on investment was so much greater and pair language and skills training for parents with high-high quality early education for their children.” Collazo’s solution […]

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Welcome Aboard

Our newly appointed Board Chair remembers walking around as a five-year-old with a paint scraper, tasked with scraping gum off the bottom of the tables. Does this sound familiar? That’s right, Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Café, has been appointed Board Chair of the United Way for Greater Austin Board of Directors. Mason can trace many of his early childhood memories to the Kerbey Lane Cafe’s original location in Central Austin. As the son of Kerbey Lane Cafe’s founders, David Ayer and Patricia Atkinson, he was literally born into the business. “I’m honored to Chair the Board for such a critical and backbone organization that serves the city I love and the place I’ve called home for most of my life. It’s an exciting time for Austin and United Way is growing to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. I can’t think of any more important way to spend my volunteer time.”  -Mason Ayer United Way is also honored to announce Jennifer Poppe as the new Board Secretary. Poppe, a partner at Vinson and Elkins, has been a United Way Board member for the last four years. “Vinson and Elkins have been a long-standing supporter of United Way since well before I joined the firm over 20 years ago. I’m proud to continue this tradition of giving back to the community through one of the most impactful organizations in Austin. Good things are happening through United Way, I’m excited to be a part of the Board leadership […]

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