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5 Immediate needs you can meet this summer…

Everyone talks about beating the heat when it’s time for summer, but do we ever stop to think about those in our community who can’t? Being raised by parents working in the social service sector means volunteerism is both an inherited and a learned trait. Read the post below to learn about the five simple ways I hope to make a difference in Austin this summer.

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United Way & Partners Award $781,000 To Six Local Organizations

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall nearly a year ago, nonprofits and businesses across Texas stepped up. In order to meet the needs of Central Texans who fell victim to the turbulent storm, United Way for Greater Austin partnered with MFI Foundation, Capital Factory, Entrepreneurs Foundation and Austin Community Foundation to coordinate efforts in the philanthropic community. On July 2, 2018 the collaborative announced grants to six community organizations totaling $781,000.

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In Good Hands, From Day One

It’s not news to us that Austin is growing at an astounding rate, with more than 150 people moving here daily. But there are other challenges that come with rapid growth, besides the traffic. A large number of those newcomers are moving here for job opportunities, and often early in their careers. This strong flow of young transplants means that many people living in Austin are far from their traditional support structures such as family and friends. When they start their own families in Austin, they’re unlikely to have access to the helpful community they’re used to leaning on.

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The Austin Summer Survival Guide, and Not the One You Would Think…

This is not your average summer survival guide. I am not here to talk about Float Fest or Amy’s Ice Cream. While both are great summer staples, the purpose of this survival guide is to provide our community with a list of resources that will make sure everyone gets the best out of their summer vacation.   Remember that you can call 2-1-1 24/7 for community information and resources. Connect with a compassionate call specialist, like Arnoldo who has been on staff for more than six years.   “2-1-1 is the most effective way of getting resources out into the community.” Arnoldo, 2-1-1 Call Specialist said. “It is a gathering of many people, many facets, that create one big jewel.”   STAY FED From breakfast to lunch to after-school snack, many kids in Austin rely on school meal programs. Often times the meals they are fed at school, are the only thing they will eat all day. According to Feeding America and the Community Advancement Network Dashboard for Travis County, 25 percent of children in Travis County are food insecure. That means more than 63,000 kids in Austin often go hungry when school is out.     Thankfully, through the Summer Food Service Program, Austin ISD will continue to serve FREE breakfast and lunch to local children and teens ages 18 and younger. Your child can get FREE meals even if they don’t attend AISD, regardless of economic status. No registration or identification is required.    To access FREE summer […]

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MENTAL HEALTH & MIGRANT CHILDREN

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS Our School Readiness Action Plan (SRAP) provides a strategic and data-driven roadmap to making sure our community, parents, caregivers and educators are ready and prepared to support the mental and physical health and development of our children. Our SRAP goals include ensuring that all children receive early and regular developmental screenings, have access to basic needs and mental health services as well as increasing the number of family-serving agencies that are trauma-informed. Ninety percent of the brain develops by age five and a child’s mental health is the most important aspect of their social and cognitive development. Research shows that the earliest years of life can set the stage for lifelong mental health outcomes. “Early childhood trauma has been associated with reduced size of the brain cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for many complex functions including memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thinking, language and consciousness. These events may affect IQ and the ability to regulate emotions, and the child may become more fearful.” National Alliance on Mental Illness research shows that early intervention and treatment can minimize and prevent the loss of critical developmental delays. The more the community is prepared to identify, evaluate and, if necessary, treat the mental health of our children, the less we have to spend on healthcare, involve the juvenile and criminal justice system and fight to keep children from dropping out of school.   WHAT IT MEANS FOR MIGRANT CHILDREN TOXIC STRESS Doctors Concerned About ‘Irreparable Harm’ To Separated […]

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Investing Early Matters

Why focusing on the current and future workforce is imperative for the economic health of Austin and the long-term success of our children.   WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW   Our current workforce depends on childcare. It is as simple as that.   Do you have kids? If so, think about what kind of childcare are they receiving and what it costs you. Are either you or your partner able to stay home to take care of your children? If not, take some time to reflect on your experience with the childcare system.   For two working parents to support two children in childcare, a typical family needs to earn $61,356 per year. A family earning the median household income would spend 18 percent of it on childcare and for a single parent earning minimum wage, care costs about two-thirds (64 percent) of their earnings. When childcare costs are on par with tuition at a state university, many working families can’t afford to stay home.   Right now, U.S. businesses lose three billion dollars annually from employee absenteeism due to breakdowns in the childcare system. And these breakdowns disproportionately affect low-income families.   WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?   The current workforce is inhibited by the lack of accessible and affordable childcare and businesses are suffering due to the lack of a prepared workforce.   WHAT WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE   While the current workforce is suffering due to a fragmented childcare system, our focus should be on preparing […]

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Five Things Anthony Bourdain Can Teach Us…

We are saddened by the loss of Chef Anthony Bourdain, a man who dedicated his life to bringing people together through food, travel and writing. He turned food, something universal, into a greater conversation about humanity and being known – and nonprofits can learn a lot from him.   1. Ask the hard questions. “What are our expectations? Which of the things we desire are within reach? If not now, when? And will there be some left for me?”   If we expect to move the needle on social issues, we have to be willing to ask the hard questions. What does success look like when it comes to fighting poverty in Austin? Who should we be engaging? Where should we focus our efforts to generate the greatest impact? What is it going to take to make sure all children enter kindergarten school ready?   Reflection and re-evaluation are necessary and vital parts of creating lasting strategic change.   2. Try new things. “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”   Don’t be afraid to fail. Innovation is important in every aspect of life. It is important for progress and it is especially integral in the nonprofit space. If we are going to change the system we have to disrupt it – to think about things differently and fight poverty through multiple channels and in new ways. We should always be looking for opportunities to hone our efforts, trimming […]

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Lyft + United Way: A Nationwide and Local Collaboration to Meet Unmet Transportation Needs

Updated November 2019 Since 2018, United Way for Greater Austin has partnered with Lyft in a variety of ways to support the transportation needs of our 2-1-1 callers. This post may no longer accurately reflect our current partnership with Lyft. Please call 2-1-1 for the most up-to-date information. 2-1-1 gets calls for a variety of needs, like a woman with breast cancer going through chemo. Fighting cancer is hard work, but imagine trying to fight cancer without having safe and consistent transportation to your vital medical appointments. Not only are you physically and emotionally drained from fighting for your life, but you also have the added stress of finding a way to access the treatment you desperately need. In 2017, Untied Way for Greater Austin took more than 5,000 transportation-related calls, 423 were from veterans and 1,629 were requesting help with medical transportation. As the suburbanization of poverty increases, with low-income families moving further away from the city, the amount of people with unmet transportation needs increases. United Way for Greater Austin is pleased to launch a new partnership with Lyft and United Way Worldwide to provide free rides to those with unmet transportation needs. On June 4, 2018 the six-month pilot program began in twelve markets around the nation. The goal of the partnership is to eliminate barriers around transportation by scheduling free rides to clients in the Austin Metro Area. United Way for Greater Austin defines the Metro Area as Austin, Round Rock, Del Valle, Cedar Park, Pflugerville […]

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Comcast Cares Day 2018: Comcast Celebrates One Year in Austin At Mainspring Schools

Sixty-eight Comcast team members showed up at Mainspring Schools’ bright and early last Saturday. Mainspring Schools is a long- term funded partner of United Way for Greater Austin and is among eight percent of centers in the U.S. accredited by the NAEYC, the nation’s most rigorous early childhood accrediting body.   “Comcast Cares Day is one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” Executive Director of XFINITY Home Wholesale, Tom Chmielewski said. “I have volunteered as the chair of an Austin nonprofit who has benefitted from the United Way’s support. I am proud that Comcast is a long time United Way supporter and want to support this great organization that does so much for our Austin community and neighbors.”   Representing different backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels, families come from all over Austin to attend Mainspring. Seventy-five percent of Mainspring students receive tuition subsidies. They believe diversity is crucial to developing self-aware, well-rounded children.   Comcast team members volunteered as a part of Comcast Cares day, a nation wide annual tradition of Comcast NBCUniversal. 2018 marked the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day and Mainspring was the first event located in Austin. On April 21, 2018, 100,000 volunteers worked to improve 1,000 project sites at community centers, schools, gardens, parks, beaches and more throughout the U.S. and in 20 other countries   “A day of service is such a small effort that can generate […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) selected 26 Austin nonprofit agencies to be awarded a total of $1.466 million in grants to fund early childhood education and 2-Generation (2-Gen) programming as part of their 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants (CIG).   United Way creates a community of support by partnering with critical community stakeholders. UWATX convenes this community of stakeholders to identify proven strategies and invest in high-quality, data-driven programs. CIG’s seek to amplify the collective impact of organizations already providing critical services to Austin’s youngest, most vulnerable children and their families.   2018-2021 CIG funded partners include: American Youthworks Any Baby Can of Austin Austin Child Guidance Center Austin Voices for Education and Youth AVANCE-AUSTIN BookSpring Child Inc. Communities In Schools of Central Texas E3 Alliance Foundation Communities Goodwill Industries of Central Texas Jeremiah Program KLRU LifeWorks Literacy Coalition of central Texas Mainspring Schools Mount Sinai Christian Academy  Open Door Preschools Saint Lousie House St. George’s Episcopal School Texas Association for the Education of Young Children The SAFE Alliance Todos Juntos Learning Center Trinity Child Development Center Workforce Solutions Capital Area YMCA of Austin     The path to poverty starts at an early age. Children living in low-income households do not have access to the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers and when parents struggle to access social and economic opportunities, breaking the cycle of generational seems unimaginable.   “It means so much to the Mainspring kids, families and staff that you lead this effort in Central Texas […]

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