Blog

Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Tracy, IBM

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.” Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. […]

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Now Accepting Proposals

United Way for Greater Austin seeks to award up to $90,000, divided evenly into three awards of $30,000, to three qualified community organizations to deliver effective programs and services that assist parents and children together, increasing their family stability and self-sufficiency. Since 1924, United Way for Greater Austin  has worked locally to build philanthropy and support programs that break the cycle of poverty. UWATX programs and activities are designed to jump start sustainable solutions for low-income families and drive collective change by aligning public and private support. Our programs work together to provide low-income families with the skills and resources they need to take an active role in their own success. Our community investments illuminate this commitment. UWATX’s funding priorities are centered on three interrelated focus areas: Education: Children and youth are happy, healthy, and prepared for success in school and in life. Income: Families have equitable access to economic and social opportunities. Health: Families in Central Texas are physically and mentally healthy. Within each focus area, UWATX partners with community stakeholders to identify proven strategies toward a common goal. Community investment grants represent a strategic opportunity to identify critical community partners and enhance and create active collaborations for the greatest impact. Our community investment grants are made possible by the financial contributions of thousands of community investors each year. UWATX is committed to serving as a strategic steward of these community dollars. UWATX anticipates three awards of $30,000 each under this RFP. Read the Request for Proposal and sign up for the informational session taking place on Sept. 16.

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2016 Early Care and Education Survey Results

Today, we’re proud to release the results of the 2016 Early Care and Education Survey – a look at trends across the early care field in our community and the only one of it’s kind in Central Texas. This year’s data shows more of the same positive trends we saw in 2014, and also similar challenges. Teacher education in early childhood varies widely depending on where you live Our data indicates that teacher education levels in early childhood education centers vary greatly between the regions of Travis County. 20% – 25% of East and South Austin center teachers have no early childhood education beyond high school. West, North, and Central Austin fair better with only 7-9% of teachers having no formal early childhood education training. Regional Differences in Early Childhood Education                         The survey also found that long-term teacher retention has decreased over the past two years.   Parent fees make up the bulk of funding for child care centers – including in low-income areas The survey found that centers, across nearly all regions in Travis County, depend on parent fees for the largest portion of their income. Centers in East, South and North Austin also rely on public subsidies for funding, with private donations and corporate subsidies playing a minor role for the regions as well.   Child Care Center Funding Sources                 This may be part of the reason why the cost […]

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Kerbey Lane Café Beautifies Open Door Preschool East

Did you know that the average annual cost of high quality early childhood care is nearly $10,000? Imagine a family that is already struggling to make ends meet faced with an additional expense of $9,734, the average cost of high quality childcare in Austin according to the Texas Workforce Board. Even for a family with two adults working full time at minimum wage, that’s a third of the family’s income for the year going to childcare instead of housing, food, utilities or other necessary expenses. Because of this high cost and the barrier it represents to students starting kindergarten, United Way for Greater Austin supports childcare centers serving low-income families with free or reduced tuition through the Success By 6 Center Project. The initiative currently works with 13 childcare centers, serving over 1,000 children in Austin. The Center Project works with these centers to help them meet state and national standards for quality early childhood education including training for teachers, leveraging in-kind and volunteer resources to improve facilities and providing data collection and analysis to improve individual outcomes for students. On Aug. 19, employees from all seven Kerbey Lane Café (KLC) locations joined Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) to beautify Open Door Preschool East – one of the longest running partner schools of the Center Project. KLC volunteers painted four classrooms, over half of the rooms serving students. While the KLC volunteers were not expert painters, HOCT staff provided a short training and in-depth project coordination to ensure volunteers felt comfortable and completed […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Peggy Wilson, Texas Mutual Insurance Company

It’s that time of year again. The heat. Buying school clothes; buying school supplies. Preparing for the school year gets expensive quick. To prepare students (and parents) for the 2016-17 school year, volunteers from all over Austin came together at Webb Early College Prep Academy on Aug. 18 to assemble school supply kits, reorganize the school library, aid teachers in preparing their classrooms and landscape the flower beds around campus. One of the sponsors of our Aug. 18 Back to School Readiness Event at Webb was Texas Mutual Insurance Company. Texas Mutual has a very large and active volunteer base, one of which is their IT Senior Manager, Peggy Wilson. Peggy has been volunteering with UWATX for just over a year and she loves it. She explains, “The reactions to volunteering at UWATX are very positive – we love it.” Read our brief Q and A below to get to know Peggy and her experiences volunteering at UWATX. 1. What inspires you to volunteer? People say volunteering is unselfish, but I actually think it feels good to help others. In a way, it’s self-serving, as corny as it sounds. You get away from your own problems for a while when you focus on others. It’s also nice to learn about other people – whether they’re those you’re helping or those you’re working with. 2. What do you like to do in your spare time? I’m pretty simple – I like to spend time with my husband, Chris and my dog, Otis. […]

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Philanthropy As Easy As 1-2-3!

Each year, we adopt a new campaign theme to inspire employees to give a little bit out of each paycheck to change their community. We at UWATX believe anyone can be a philanthropist–but the word “philanthropy” can sound overwhelming. We recruited some of Austin’s finest philanthropists–elementary school children–to show you just how easy philanthropy can be in this year’s campaign: “Philanthropy Easy as 1-2-3”. We were excited to once again work with Kathy Horn and her collective, Hunt, Gather, as well as local Austin photographer, Annie Ray. Local comedian Mac Blake spoke with these young philanthropists about how they help others and what giving back means to them. The videos highlight what philanthropy means at the most basic level, why we need philanthropy in our community and more. If you want a good laugh, check out all the videos here. We featured three UWATX service recipients in this year’s campaign, who can tell you in their own words what United Way and philanthropy means to them. Katrina and Aracelli Chapman UWATX gives Katrina invaluable peace of mind and support. A single mother and unable to work because of a disability, Katrina has looked to United Way for financial and emotional support since before the birth of her now three-year-old daughter, Aracelli, Now, she’s turning again to United Way’s Success By 6 program to make sure Aracelli is developmentally where she needs to be when she starts school. Ashley and Owen Trimpey Raising up the community, one family at a time. Through Play To Learn, […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Oliver, Broadway Bank

With the start of school less than a month out, UWATX’s volunteer arm, Hands On Central Texas, is already planning the Back to School Volunteer Day at Webb Early College Prep Academy. Volunteers will come together on August 18th to help teachers prepare their classrooms for the year, beautify the campus and distribute donated school supplies to different programs and areas of the school. One of our dedicated partners, Broadway Bank, has been volunteering with our back to school efforts for the past two years. Broadway Bank’s home city of San Antonio hosts a large school supply collection, which inspired Austin Assistant Market Manager, Jackie Oliver, to bring those efforts to Austin when she reached out to UWATX in 2014. That year and the following year, 2015, Broadway Bank successfully collected supplies for more than 50 students in need at a partner middle school by hosting collection events at their downtown Austin branch. Jackie made sure to keep the Broadway Bank group involved and volunteering throughout the year. Employees participated in the H-E-B Feast of Sharing in November, Spring Day of Caring and Fall Day of Caring. Additionally, Broadway Bank donated holiday meal kits to families at the Mendez Boys and Girls Club Thanksgiving Dinner. The meal kits included food to prepare a delicious family meal and an H-E-B gift card to purchase a turkey. We had the opportunity to chat with Jackie and her marketing team about what drives Broadway Bank’s philanthropic involvement:   1. How long have you been involved with […]

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Partner Spotlight: Any Baby Can

Photo: Any Baby Can United Way for Greater Austin believes collaboration is essential to tackling our community’s largest problems. We work with many nonprofit, public and private organizations in our community to have a larger impact and create real change in our city. One of these funded partners is Any Baby Can. Any Baby Can is a nonprofit organization that believes “all children deserve the chance to be healthy and happy”—a vision in line with UWATX’s own. Any Baby Can serves children with developmental delays, chronic or life-threatening illnesses and hearing loss, as well as their families. Any Baby Can also serves first-time pregnant women, including teenage moms, moms with postpartum depression and parents seeking parenting skills. According to Any Baby Can’s website, 34,959 children in Travis County have a special health care need. Services Any Baby Can offers to their clients include in-home physical, occupational and speech therapy, case management, mental health counseling for anyone in the family, support groups and nurse-home visitation. They also partner with Open Door Preschool so that parents receiving onsite classes have quality childcare while they are learning new parenting skills. Any Baby Can hosts monthly organization tours open to anyone interested in learning more about the organization. While on the tour, the absence of workers in many of the offices is striking. This is because much of Any Baby Can’s therapy and case work is done in the homes of their clients. Any Baby Can has boasts many robust programs. One such program, […]

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CommunityTHRIVE Offers Spanish Courses

Just a few months ago, United Way for Greater Austin announced the launch of a new initiative within our Financial Stability work called CommunityTHRIVE. CommunityTHRIVE provides financial education classes, coaching and community resources in partnership with the City of Austin Neighborhood Centers and Goodwill. Paola Silvestre-Leveck is Goodwill’s new financial literacy trainer for the CommunityTHRIVE program at the Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center. Thanks to Paola and continued collaboration between UWATX and Goodwill, we are excited to now be able to offer these important classes to Spanish speakers in addition to the already existing English classes. Paola earned her Business Administration degree and previously worked in investment for several years. Before her time at Goodwill, she worked as a legal assistant and business plan consultant for an immigration law firm in Austin. She has worked at Goodwill for three months and has already taught roughly 40 financial classes. Each week at various Goodwill locations, she teaches eight classes and in addition, she works with UWATX to provide three classes for the CommunityTHRIVE program and two for the City of Austin. “People usually have a lot of misconceptions regarding credit reports and credit scores, so majority of the questions surround those two topics,” Paola said. “The challenges are to not only convey financial information, but ensure that the topics are not confusing and that the client does not feel bored throughout the training.” The CommunityTHRIVE classes cover budgeting, savings, credit and financial recovery. In addition, Paola created specific modules that fulfill specific client […]

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Ask An ECL

United Way for Greater Austin’s 2016 campaign season is just beginning, and we’re excited to work with more than 200 companies with nearly 700 locations in the Greater Austin area to raise money to invest back into our community. We could not raise as much money as we do annually without the help of some very important volunteers: UWATX Employee Campaign Leaders (ECLs). ECLs are representatives from our corporate partners that lead their company’s employee giving campaign. They host fun events to teach their coworkers about our programs, set up time for our development officers to stop by and speak about UWATX, and inspire their coworkers to give through each paycheck and set fundraising goals. Two of our seasoned ECLs, Melanie Zamora of Texas Gas Service and Kim Perry-Klotz of KPMG, share their experiences in this crucial role. Where do you work and how long have you served as an ECL? How did you become the ECL for your company? Kim: “I work for KPMG, LLP in Austin, Texas. I was asked to be the Involve Coordinator for our office three years ago and gladly accepted. As the Involve Coordinator, one of my roles is to organize and lead the Giving Campaign for our office each year.” Melanie: “I work for Texas Gas Service. I have been an ECL for two years. I was nominated to be an ECL after being with the company for an only a short period of time and gratefully accepted the challenge.” What did you like […]

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