Blog

Reward yourself (and others!) by volunteering with United Way ATX

Volunteering with United Way for Greater Austin is one of the most rewarding ways to do good in ATX. Throughout the year, we coordinate large volunteer days (Fall Day of Caring, Feast of Sharing, MLK Day of Service, Spring Day of Caring, and “Live United Days” are peppered throughout the year), but did you know that we also host smaller scale corporate volunteer days for our community partners? Even if you’re not from Austin! A few weeks ago, we hosted two different groups of volunteers at Open Door East. The volunteers were visiting Austin from all around the country. These groups wanted to take the opportunity to give back while they were here in Austin, and United Way ATX helped pair them with a community partner in need. One group of volunteers focused on the outside and play areas, and a few days later another group updated several of the classrooms, the kitchen, and the office. Both groups had a great time, and Open Door is pretty happy with the face-lift to their school! “I chose to volunteer at Open Door Preschool to – number 1, help the kids – but to understand what their needs are, and how we can give ourselves to make their transition and educational future a little easier. You know, we want them in a comfortable, encouraging environment that aids in their learning experience.” –Kim Stewart | Enerstar Electric Cooperative, Volunteer with United Way ATX Open Door Preschool received the following support on this project: […]

Read More

#RideUnited with 2-1-1 to Access Resources in ATX

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. Since the summer of 2012, Lyft has been giving a lift to patrons in need all around the country. Ride sharing and the “gig-economy” have become a very important staple in our society, and Lyft is ahead of the game when it comes to upping social impact in the communities it operates within. In 2018, Lyft partnered with United Ways in 12 markets around the United States, to perform a 6-month pilot test of making ride-share available for citizens in need, and Austin, TX was one of those lucky markets!    In 2017, the 2-1-1 network received more than 250,000 transportation requests from across the country, and on average 25% of these needs could not be met with existing resources (a heavily present issue in Austin, TX where we lack strong public transportation). That’s where Lyft came in. In an effort to address this need more effectively, United Ways around the country were able to provide 12,277 free Lyft rides over the 6-month pilot period. In Austin, TX alone our Navigation Center team were able to schedule more than 2,100 Lyft rides for local residents who were in need of rides to medical appointments, workforce-related services (like job training or interviews), or […]

Read More

Meet Michele, A Passionate Early Childhood Champion

Women United educates, engages, and empowers women in Greater Austin. Each month we will spotlight and bring you a closer look into the lives of one of your fellow Women United Members. We are proud to celebrate women as philanthropic leaders and are honored to have so many amazing women in our community. Q&A with Michele Scott | Owner, Square Move Realty What do you love about Austin? There are so many wonderful reasons to love Austin! 🙂 I am enamored by the vast Hill Country views, the hiking and biking trails that endlessly wind through the city, as well as the uniquely Austin local flair. From enjoying lazy afternoons on the lake with family and friends, to experiencing the live music and foodie scenes, Austin has something for everyone. With all of the advantages of a big city, but with the vibe of a friendly small town, Austin strikes a uniquely perfect balance between hustle-and-bustle, and “keeping it weird”. Austin boasts a booming economy that offers exciting opportunities for families and people of all ages, as a result of a thriving startup ecosystem, several excellent universities, a growing biomedical industry, and the continued expansion of major companies opening offices here. To sum it all up…Austin is an amazing city to call home! How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin/Women United? I had served as a member of organizational leadership for a Texas-based nonprofit and had also volunteered for other charitable entities prior to becoming involved […]

Read More

Meet Allison, Our Awesome Advocate

Over the course of two decades, Allison Dwyer has utilized her talents and voice to fiercely advocate for our community. As a speech pathologist and mom of four, Allison has always felt called to improve the lives of young children and their families, and here at United Way for Greater Austin, we’ve seen her do just that.    “When I came to Austin, I started to look around to see what the landscape here was like. I was raising my own kids, but every now and again I would get a little passion and fire to see what was going on out there,” Allison said. “I found Success By 6 back in the early 2000s. I called and spoke with someone who was working at United Way, and we talked for a long time. The mission really resonated with me.”   In addition to leading some advocacy efforts for Success By 6, Allison became involved with the early language coaching program at United Way for two years. Early Language Coaches are placed for approximately nine months in child care center classrooms serving children ages 3-5 in small group settings or one-on-one. Through the program, Allison ensured the children at the Bright Beginnings Child Care Center were provided with engaging, age-appropriate material to nurture their skills to help reach development milestones.    “It was nice to be able to go into the classroom with my speech pathology background and see how I could assist the children and teachers,” Allison said.    […]

Read More

From Barriers to Brighter Future

Imagine: You’re a mother of three and you recently relocated to the United States from the Middle East with your family. Striving to enforce the value of education to your children, you vow to complete your high school diploma – despite a sizable language barrier. You enroll in part-time high-school diploma classes so you can meet your two older children as they get off the school bus every day. Now, you need to find child care for your youngest daughter.   Anisa doesn’t have to imagine this scenario – she’s living it.   A native Farsi speaker, Anisa needed to enroll in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses before taking academic classes. Anisa also worried that her youngest daughter Adrina would be developmentally delayed due to her limited communication skills. Then, Anisa found one of United Way ATX’s Community Investment Grant partners – Goodwill Industries.   Goodwill Industries launched The Goodwill Excel Center, the first free public charter high school in Austin, Texas for adults 17 – 50. This high school has specialized learning plans, life coaches, and support services to help ensure student success. Thanks to The Goodwill Excel Center, Anisa was able to enroll in ESL classes and receive free childcare throughout the course of her education. The service allows parents to take classes close to where their kids attend child care and save parents several thousands of dollars a year in child care.   All of this sounded like a dream come true to Anisa. After […]

Read More

Going Back to School? 2-1-1 is here to make it affordable and easy.

While back to school can be a very exciting time of year, it can also be a very trying time for many people in our community. We know that 1 in 5 children under 18 in Austin/Travis County experience food insecurity on a regular basis and that basic needs requests accounted for 54% of our total call volume at 2-1-1 in 2018. As families navigate back-to-school season, children not only need new clothes and medical check-ups, but families are additionally tasked with gathering a list of required supplies — making the cost of going back to school very unobtainable, very quickly. Thankfully, there are many programs and nonprofits geared towards helping families gather these supplies and offering these medical exams for free, and you can call 2-1-1- today for all the details. There are dozens of back-to-school events happening in our community, and there are a variety of benefits available to all families. Services that may be available at these FREE events include: -Free clothes for kids -Free school supplies -Free immunizations -Immunization records assistance -Sports physicals -Eye exams -Hearing screenings -Safety supplies (booster seats, etc.) -Food, fun, games and more! Events are happening now, and will be continue through the middle of August. For a list of events in your area, and what to expect and prepare for at each event call 2-1-1 today. When calling 2-1-1, be sure to ask about the upcoming 2019 Back to School event at Manos de Cristo that will support 2000 children over […]

Read More

Meet the United Way Team: Wonde Will Wow You

At United Way ATX we value and celebrate all voices. From Board members to donors to team members to partner organizations to the children and families we work with, we strive for inclusivity where everyone has a place at the table and their voices can be heard. Today, we are excited to introduce you to one of our newest team members Wondemneh Pawlose. We would love to tell you a little bit about Wonde, but we think you’ll like it even better hearing from him. (You’ll love him as much as we do.) I come from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have seen the many faces of poverty growing up. People struggling to eat three meals every day, kids quitting school in order to financially contribute to their families, and sick people with the inability to seek medical treatment (where the clinic card itself costs more than their weekly budget) are realities lived by the few million residents of Addis Ababa. If you had told me in 2011 that poverty is rooted deep in various American cities and their inhabitants, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.  2011 was the year I have migrated to America, and I had no idea about the wealth disparity that exists within many American cities like Austin, TX. In my defense, I was taught to consider America as a land of milk and honey… a place where there is no space for poverty (if one chooses to […]

Read More

Mothers Day gifts that make a difference

Austin-area nonprofit unveils Mother’s Day gift that makes a difference People can honor the moms in their lives with a gift that supports early childhood initiatives in the community   Austin, Texas – This Mother’s Day, skip the flowers and chocolates. Donors can honor the moms in their lives with a gift that makes a difference. When people donate to United Way for Greater Austin, they will receive a beautiful Mother’s Day card to share with their honoree. Donors can pick from three card designs, each featuring artwork by children enrolled in early childhood programs supported by United Way in Austin. And, when donors give $100 or more, they will be entered to win a special giveaway – a $100 gift card to the new, hip restaurant, High Note. Donors can get involved by donating: $30: More Cherished than Chocolates $100: More Magical than Mimosas $250: More Fabulous than Flowers The best part? This is a Mother’s Day gift that gives twice. Donations will support United Way for Greater Austin’s work, including early childhood initiatives like Family Connects Texas. What is Family Connects Texas? United Way for Greater Austin provides families with the skills and resources they need to take an active role in their own success. As part of that mission, United Way for Greater Austin – in collaboration with Austin Public Health and St. David’s Foundation – has started offering free Registered Nurse home visits to families in Austin/Travis County with a newborn. The Family Connects model brings […]

Read More

Expanded funding for 2-Gen based programs

United Way for Greater Austin announces $300,000 in funding to jump start expansion of support services for parents and children in Austin/Travis County AUSTIN, Texas – United Way for Greater Austin (United Way) announced today that it is providing $300,000 in funding designed to accelerate expansion of 2-Generation (2-Gen) family support efforts in Austin/Travis County in line with the Family Opportunity Roadmap: Austin/Travis County 2-Generation Strategic Plan 2019-2023. 2-Gen efforts include the development and promotion of services and programming that support both parents and their children together. United Way is also working to eliminate barriers families with low income often face in accessing those services. To create a community of change, United Way will award funding to six nonprofit organizations launching “turnkey” 2-Gen programs or services at a total of $300,000 over two years. In partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, United Way led a year-long strategic planning process that resulted in a comprehensive, community-supported roadmap for providing comprehensive, intergenerational support to entire families so they can break the cycle of poverty. Implementation of the Family Opportunity Roadmap began in January 2019, and these investments support immediate increases in the number of organizations serving families through a 2-Gen approach and the number of families receiving services in this manner. These new Community Investment Grant partners are: Austin Area Urban League. In partnership with Child Inc., the Austin Area Urban League will provide onsite childcare for parents participating in workforce training and job readiness programs. AVANCE. In partnership with […]

Read More

Expanded High-Quality Pre-K Options for Families

United Way and Austin ISD Partner to Expand High-Quality Pre-K Options for Families United Way for Greater Austin and the Austin Independent School District are expanding an established collaboration to increase access to high-quality Pre-Kindergarten. Austin ISD trustees approved an innovative solution that will serve as a model in the state for how communities can make high-quality early education accessible to all families. Through Pre-K Partnerships (PKP) United Way will create a hub to manage partnerships between Austin ISD and high-quality child development centers (CDCs) to offer both three-hour Austin ISD Pre-K3 classes (program that serves children who turn 3) and full-day childcare in community settings. For working families – particularly those with low income – this will be a game changer that provides access to high-quality care and education in a location and on a schedule that is convenient for them. “Access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs is critical for all children to ensure students are on a trajectory for success in kindergarten and beyond,” said Austin ISD Director of Early Childhood Ami Cortes-Castillo. “We are happy to provide yet another option for our Austin ISD families.” The first five years are a critical period in a child’s life when more than 90 percent of brain development occurs. Children who enter Kindergarten school-ready are set on a path to success that predicts third-grade reading levels, high school graduation rates, and other critical life outcomes. Less than half the children in Austin and Travis County enter Kindergarten ready for school. […]

Read More