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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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Lyfting The Community

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 is Austin’s front door to community resources. United Way for Greater Austin’s call specialists connect people in need with the services that can help – health care, food, housing, counseling, substance abuse services, job training, services for older adults and veterans, transportation and more. Cities are changing. Because of this, individuals and families with low-income tend to live outside of the urban core, away from essential services. Consequently, access to transportation for vital services is now an even greater challenge. For example, an older adult living outside of the city in need of dialysis has no way to get to her appointment. An unemployed father does not transportation to get to a job interview. 2-1-1 call specialists help callers navigate the complex, and often times confusing, social services system, especially when it comes to qualifying for transportation services. “The Lyft calls I take are distinct. Some of the individuals calling are not disabled enough to qualify for special transportation or they are not old enough. They are caught in the middle,” 2-1-1 Call Specialist Arnoldo Longoria said. “Some of their appointments are really far away, where the bus system wouldn’t be helpful and because of barriers like that, they are more […]

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When Dog Days Turn Into Summer Shade

The sun beats down as children from Sweetbriar Child Development Center file outside to the playground. The students, ranging in age from 18 months to five-years-old, scurry to the fence line instead of onto the playscape. Fighting for refuge from the sun’s rays, those who do not fit in the sliver of shade, provided by large oak tree branches that sag over the black iron fence, huddle under the play structure. This routine has been on repeat twice a day for more than two summers.   “We don’t want to go outside, it’s too hot,” is their rally cry. It’s something we can all relate to in the Texas summer heat.   According to an Austin American Statesman article, July in Austin was a scorcher. With 17 triple-digit days on record, the average temperature for the month of July came in just shy of 100 at 99 degrees. The last two weeks have been particularly brutal, with all 14 days in the triple digits.   “One afternoon we came to pick up our son,” Joshua Mauk, Sweetbriar parent shared “and he was huddled under the play structure because it was really hot and that was the only shade available.”   Something had to change but parents, teachers and even the Center Director alike did not know where to begin.   The Background and Beginning   Sweetbriar Child Development Center is located in the 78744 neighborhood that Go Austin Vamos Austin (GAVA), a resident-led coalition focused on community health and well-being, […]

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Company Culture that Creates Change: Texas Mutual

“Now let me start from the beginning,” Teresa Martinez, Texas Mutual Project Management, and Analysis Supervisor said. After leaving home at a young age Teresa found herself, a 17-year-old who didn’t finish high-school, working at Target with a young son at home and looking for more.   “I happened to notice a sign that read if you’re a youth and you are interested in something more than just your average job, call this number,” Teresa said. “So, I called the number on the sign and after going in and talking with counselors at the program, I called Youth Employment Services and found out that I qualified for help.”   Youth Employment Services, at the time, was a funded partner of United Way. The program helped her work towards her GED, obtain a driver’s license and most significantly, helped her get her son into childcare with Any Baby Can – a United Way affiliated partner. “That was my first introduction to United Way,” Teresa said.   Change-maker   As a 19 year Texas Mutual veteran, Teresa has eight years of United Way campaign coordination under her belt and has once again returned to the campaign as 2017 co-chair. Teresa was the volunteer special events coordinator for the United Way Campaign at Texas Mutual from 2007 – 2013 and during that time, along with the help of passionate coworkers, she organized fundraising events that allowed Texas Mutual Employees to give back to their community in a fun and rewarding way.   In […]

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Building Better Brains: The Importance of Early Childhood Educators

It’s a hot summer afternoon around three o’clock when we pull into the parking lot. Cars and parents scattered across the drive as they mosey inside to pick up their children. Upon opening the front door of the medium-sized brick building, a wave of cold, clean air, smelling slightly of finger paint and crayons, crashed over our faces. Bright white tiles reflect the sunlight coming through the big open front window causing the colorful artwork on the walls to shimmer and dance. There is no doubt that we have entered a childcare center.

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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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