Blog

Something Special Happens When We Live United

Something special happens when we Live United… when we come together and root for our team: The Greater Austin community. And that’s exactly what we did on the morning of August 28th at our Live United Breakfast. Our Board, team, donors, community partners, volunteers, advocates, and champions came together to celebrate our community impact with all the people who made it happen.  Here are just a few highlights from the Live United Breakfast that we’re especially excited about: 1. We published our 2018-2019 Community Impact Report. Last year, we impacted more than 47,000 children and families, invested more than $7 million directly into our community, and answered more than 390,000 calls for assistance. And so much more.   Read All About It 2. Keynote Speaker Andy Loughnane, President of Austin FC, reminded us what makes the Greater Austin community special and shared how he Lives United. Thank you to Kristin Marcum, President of Elizabeth Christian PR and United Way Board Member, for leading that conversation with Andy (pictured above). Five lucky attendees even won an Austin FC scarf. 3. We debuted our Live United video. Watch and be inspired.   4. Everyone there inspired us with their commitment to Live United. How will you Live United? Here are a few ways you can take that next step. Join a United Way donor network to get involved, stay connected and advocate for change. Give Now > Volunteer during United Way’s Fall Day of Caring. Sign Up > Encourage your business to […]

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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: […]

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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.    […]

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#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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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The Secret to Success for ATX Business Leaders

What is the secret to success for an Austin business? Gay Gaddis, CEO of T3 and Ali Khataw, CEO of Encotech Engineering Consultants are sharing what helped their companies on the path to success, and leading a movement sparking change for businesses across the city. “We often get the question: ‘What’s the one thing about your business that keeps you up at night?’ For us, it’s how to keep talented team members at the company as they start their families. For over two decades we’ve been working to cultivate a family-friendly culture at T3 (and Encotech Engineering Consultants), while encouraging other business leaders to do the same.” -Gay Gaddis, founder and CEO of T3 The City is joining this family-friendly movement, too. Last month, Mayor Steve Adler joined us in launching the Early Matters Greater Austin (EMGA) Family-Friendly Workplace Initiative. The goal is to encourage local business leaders to survey their family-friendly workplace practices and commit to strengthening policies and practices that support families. Some guidance on what makes a family-friendly workplace has been established under the leadership of United Way for Greater Austin and E3 Alliance, who created a Family-Friendly Toolkit that outlines resources and recommendations both for employers and their employees. The suggestions in the toolkit can be applied to companies of all sizes, and offer a range of benefits that are easy to institute. “Life is just one virtuous circle — which includes work, family, and a person’s individual interests and pursuits. We believe at T3 that […]

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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 […]

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AVANCE-Austin Makes Austin Greater

Being a mom to three kids can be overwhelming at times, especially when one of your children needs some extra help and special attention. Such was the case for Catalina Sanchez. Catalina found herself in a bind when her youngest son Carlos began experiencing speech delays requiring therapy. Because he was having trouble communicating, Carlos began misbehaving. Over time, Catalina and Carlos’ frustrations mounted. Feeling stretched to her limit, Catalina turned to AVANCE-Austin for help. AVANCE was founded in 1973, and has been an Austin institution since 1998. The direct translation of AVANCE means to “advance” or “progress,” and that’s what the AVANCE-Austin team embodies. They meet families with low-income where they are. Families like Catalina’s. After meeting with Catalina and Carlos, the AVANCE-Austin team were able to identify that Catalina suffered from postpartum depression. She began group counseling while Carlos began speech therapy. After a few months of this support, Catalina is more equipped than ever to nurture Carlos’ needs, while also giving attention to her other two kids. Catalina’s interactions have become more intentional, and through her home visits from AVANCE-Austin she has shown incredible progress in working with her kids, including her new habit of reading to all of her children every evening for bonding and cognitive skill building. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to have played a supporting role in Catalina’s success. Funding from United Way ATX has helped to expand AVANCE-Austin’s capacity and quality for home visiting. What’s special about our partnership with […]

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