Blog

Texas Gas Service: Where philanthropy is a core component of culture

Carmen Luevanos, Community Relations Manager at Texas Gas Service, shares about how and why she is involved with United Way for Greater Austin with Corporate Account Manager, Chauncey LeGrand. Texas Gas Service has been partnering with United Way to end poverty in Austin for more than a decade. Last year alone nearly 300 employees raised more than $65,000. Texas Gas is a unique and impactful campaign because it is an organization that matches $1 for $1 when its employees donate to the United Way campaign each year – and we couldn’t be more grateful! Historically, the Texas Gas campaign lasts the entire month of October and they have various activities to raise money throughout the year with paired with fun social activities that include a chili cook-off, ice cream social, breakfast tacos, and more! Thank you Texas Gas Service, we couldn’t fight poverty without you! If you or your organization is interested in getting involved or starting a United Way giving campaign learn more here.

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United Way ATX + Race and Poverty

Hi friends, All of us at United Way for Greater Austin are grieving the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the thousands of other black Americans impacted by recent acts of racism and violence. This cancer in our society diminishes all of us. Poverty and racism are so interconnected, we can’t address one without the other. What we can do is speak up, double down on our mission to fight poverty, and support each other every step of the way. These issues are too important for us to do anything else. Every time this happens, we all keep thinking this will be the time that people wake up and change finally comes. Together, we can be that change! Everyone deserves to live in a society where they feel safe, protected, and respected. Each and every one of us plays a role in creating that more just and equitable future. On Friday, I was in a meeting with one of the most brilliant people I know, Akasha. He is a black man, and he said, “We are shaping the future.” It was a hopeful word we all desperately need right now. May it be so. Our work fighting poverty has been about equity all along. Now we are more committed than ever, and ask that you join your hand with ours and be our partner in building a community that works for everyone. We believe that our only hope to lift up all of us is to address the systems that perpetuate inequity. Thanks to your […]

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Meet Laura, a proud advocate dedicated to ending poverty in Austin

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. 1.    What do you love about Austin? I love our natural beauty. I love to see our community coming together to stand up against injustices and call out wrongdoing. I love seeing our community come together in peaceful protests and in support of those in need. I love feeling confident walking into any restaurant in this town and knowing you’re not going to be underdressed or overdressed, you’re going to fit in just as you are.     2.    How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin/Women United? When I first joined Mayor Adler’s administration, I attended the committee meetings the United Way convened focusing on the Pay For Success model for interventions supporting early childhood development and ending homelessness. I was impressed with the way they were able to gather many people and organizations focused on the same goal and help lead the group to get things done. I became more involved when a good friend, Kerry Tate, introduced me to David Smith, their new CEO. David has a passion and enthusiasm about him that draws you to help him achieve big audacious goals for our community.   3.    As a Women United leader, […]

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We all have a part to play: Meet Emerging Leader Emily Gonzales

As an Emerging Leaders member, you’ll have opportunities to network and collaborate with a diverse group of influential business leaders all while making an impact. We are proud to celebrate young professionals as philanthropic leaders and are honored to have so many amazing individuals in our community — like Emily Gonzalez, an Emerging Leader, and amazing community advocate! What do you love most about Austin? The diverse and spirited people! Austin is overall a great environment for young professionals to thrive. The city offers a vibrant space to be creative and do good. As an Emerging Leaders Executive Committee member, what do you hope the group will accomplish in the next year? Our shared goal is to grow our membership and a positive influence throughout Austin. I believe mentorship opportunities with United Way partners such as Family Pathways are a great way to achieve a strong community impact. What has been your favorite volunteer project with United Way?  I’ve enjoyed all of our projects! I’d say my favorite has been the MLK Day of Service because it allowed me to meet other volunteers while getting some fresh air cleaning up East MLK Jr Blvd.

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Meet Nico Ramsey, Emerging Leader & Philanthropy Champion

As an Emerging Leaders member, you’ll have opportunities to network and collaborate with a diverse group of influential business leaders all while making an impact. We are proud to celebrate young professionals as philanthropic leaders and are honored to have so many amazing individuals in our community — like Nico Ramsey, an Emerging Leader, and all-around rockstar! What do you love most about Austin? The feature I love most about Austin is the abundance of young people and the room to grow. As an Emerging Leaders Executive Committee member, what do you hope the group will accomplish in the next year? My hope is that we cultivate a diverse group of people who genuinely care about systemically changing our community for the better. What has been your favorite volunteer project with United Way? My favorite volunteer opportunities are the seasonal days of caring because it brings so many first-timers out, it’s inspiring.      

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Parents, here are 5 things to do before going back to child care

Going back to work will be different for everyone, including people who work in child care. Because of COVID-19, teachers have changed how they care for and educate children to follow new health and safety standards. Parents, here are 5 tips to get ready for going back to care outside the home. 1. Practice wearing your mask at home Early childhood teachers are asked to think about wearing masks while caring for children. Seeing people in masks and wearing a mask may be difficult for many young children. You can help your child adjust to this by: Practice wearing masks at home, and taking them on and off. Let your child touch and hold your mask before you put it on. Talk about why we wear masks in simple terms like: wearing a mask helps keep people from getting sick because it covers their nose and mouth. Children learn through play, so include masks in silly “peek-a-boo” games or in pretend play – or make little paper masks for your child’s stuffed animals or dolls. Make children’s masks individual and unique for them. Allow your child to ask questions and express their feelings. Note: Masks should NOT be worn by children under age 2. Read more guidance from Austin Public Health here. 2. Understand tuition and fees Since March, you may have paid a part of child care fees even if your program was closed. This may seem unfair, but it helps keep your child’s spot at the center and […]

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3 Steps to Catalyze Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Momentum

Guest Blog by: Rachel V. Rosen, Founder of S.P.A.R.K Equity in Action. Rachel is United Way for Greater Austin’s DEI Strategist Right now, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are more important than ever.  Studies continue to illuminate the importance of prioritizing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI), yet many organizations still have not made DEI a priority, which can have big implications. With all that’s going on in our country, this is a crucial moment to make a commitment to both DEI and anti-racism in our communities.  With the discourse shifting AND changing demographics in the global workforce (51% women, 54% new workers identifying as People Of Color, 68.6% non-Christian, and 5 generations in the workplace) countless studies show that prioritizing DEI increases productivity, innovation, morale, and creativity.  This McKinsey study notes that “companies in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnic/ cultural diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability than were all other companies in our data set,” and “companies in the top-quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.” As a DEI strategist, there are two types of inquiries I receive: A. Organizations wanting quick fixes, immediate solutions, or needing to put-out fires such as:   Someone said something racist/sexist/homophobic/microaggressive   There was a complaint and it’s impacting the culture B. Proactive organizations committed to creating conditions for DEI and preventing fires   Leaders committed to innovation and creating an inclusive culture   Leaders committed to addressing root causes, learning, […]

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The power of positive teacher-child interactions

Post by: Michelle Hutson-Crawford, Success by 6 Pre-K Coaching Manager What do you love most about working with your team? In 2019, United Way ATX was selected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to coordinate and implement a Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) observation coaching model with Pre-K educators in Austin ISD, Manor ISD, Wayside Schools, and Open Door Preschools. Getting the program off the ground was not only exciting but revealed in more ways than one, that our schools were prepared and ready to take on the challenge of increasing teacher-child interactions. I bet you are wondering what teacher-child interactions are… Well, positive teacher-child interactions can be defined by shared affection (hugs, smiles, high-fives etc.), understanding, and trust between a teacher and her students. Positive teacher-child relationships impact classroom management, learning, growth, and students mental-well being.  Children in these types of classrooms are known to take more risk, are motivated and tend to have a high self-esteem. According to research, improving teacher-child interactions build a foundation of trust, empathy, connectedness, equity, and improved child outcomes and school readiness. Not only do these connections build bridges for children and provide valuable insight to teachers, but they also create the blueprint for how local schools can continue this essential and transformative work. Throughout the course of the 19-20 school year, collectively our 33 teachers actively participated in more than 500 hours of group coaching and 260 hours of one-on-one coaching. What do all these numbers mean? Our teachers are awesome and […]

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Superior HealthPlan Committed to Family-Friendly

We’ve been proud to partner with the folks at Superior HealthPlan since 2005. Last year alone, 733 employees banded together to raise $159,042 for the Austin community! That’s an important investment in our collective fight against poverty. Our partnership with Superior is about more than funds raised. In 2019, Superior stepped up to become a Family-Friendly Workplace through our Early Matters Greater Austin initiative. What does that mean for Superior and their employees? Well, it means a lot for the 4,000 Superior employees in Texas – 1,100 of whom are based in Austin. It means that Superior has not only demonstrated family-friendly practices and policies, but is also committed to implementing new initiatives and improving these offerings for employees. Here’s Mark Sanders, President and CEO of Superior HealthPlan, explaining why this is so important to him: “Superior is proud to be recognized as a Family-Friendly Workplace. This designation means that thinking about families is part of how we do business, and that we strive to make sure our employees are supported at balancing work-family demands in all stages of life. While this designation is great news for our company, our goal is to continue to focus on ways we can better support all of our employees across the state.” Here are a few ways Superior has demonstrated a commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace and promotes a culture focused on family well-being: Parental leave: Mothers and fathers can take up to three weeks off work with 100% pay with […]

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Meet Barbara, a dedicated United Way 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 Barbara Caraway | Texas Mutual Insurance Company   What do you love about Austin? I moved to Austin from Lubbock in 2005. I love the diversity of Austin and although it is a large city, the people and vibe of the city is that of a smaller community. I marvel at the beauty of Central Texas and the vast terrain. My favorite places to take visitors are on a drive down 360 to Mount Bonnell, Wimberley and The Saxon Pub on Lamar. Some dear friends introduced us to great live music there. I also enjoyed going to Graffiti Park at Castle Hill. Austin is home to some of the most creative and talented people. How did you become involved with United Way for Greater Austin? On a personal level, both of my children went to the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock. The Boys and Girls Club had a great after school program they both loved going to. They also participated in their basketball program. When I came to Texas Mutual in 1995 they were a huge supporter of United Way and I thought, here is an opportunity to give back.  I am entering a […]

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