Blog

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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Quarantined Mom Life: Social-distancing self-care

This three-part series is authored by Shalyn Bravens (read part 1 here and part 2 here), Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that have stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. I’m not the first to say that regular self-care for parents during this time will be critical to the well-being of the whole family. But let’s be honest, self-care was a challenge to fit in for most of us when our lives were predictable. We could physically go to a gym, and we could see our friends in person. The usual strategies just will not work right now, so we need to think outside the […]

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Quarantined Mom Life: Working from home edition

This series is authored by Shalyn Bravens, Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that has stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. I want to start by saying that I’m not an expert in working at home with children. I’m a modern working mom and balancing parenting two young boys with a full time job. As you can imagine juggling working and parenting was already hard before this pandemic confined us all to our home. As many of us begin our fourth (or fifth – I’ve lost track) week of working from home, I want to share a few ideas with you that have helped me […]

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Quarantined Mom Life: Shelter in place parenting

This series is authored by Shalyn Bravens (read part one here), Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that have stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. Children don’t come with an instruction manual, and I think many fellow parents would agree when I say that parenting is challenging even on a normal day. And that during this COVID-19 pandemic it feels like all bets are off.  Some strategies that are helping me during this time center more around how we are parenting and less about work. I heard great advice recently that went something like, “There is a lot of parenting advice out there, and so […]

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3 Ways To Live United During COVID-19

Now is the time to Live United. So many of us are facing economic, social, and health hardships caused by COVID-19, and it’s more important than ever for us to face those challenges together. And there are many ways you can Live United by helping individuals and families in our community who are struggling due to COVID-19 school closures, reduced work hours and more. Check out three ways you can give back below.    1. Give to the All Together ATX Fund.     We are partnering with Austin Community Foundation to bring relief to our community through the All Together ATX Fund. The fund will accept donations large and small from individuals, foundations, and companies and will provide critical services, like basic needs, health services, and childcare. Grant recipients will include 501(c)(3) organizations, units of government, or faith communities in Central Texas. All Together ATX will support nonprofits’ ability to address the impacts of COVID-19 and maintain delivery of services and bring much-needed relief to our community. Every dollar counts. Donate today.    2. Advocate for nonprofits and our community.    In these uncertain times, your voice is more important than ever. From essential workers to nonprofits, our community is being stretched beyond our wildest imagination and needs relief. Congress must support charitable organizations so we can continue to support our communities. Follow us on social media (@UnitedWayATX) and we will share timely opportunities with guidance from awesome advocates like United Ways of Texas, Texans Care for Children and more.  […]

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5 ways to practice self-care during quarantine 

In these uncertain times, it can be difficult and daunting to weed through the congested news cycle – but I have good news! There are endless ways we can stay connected and calm while we shelter in place. Check out these 5 ways to practice self-care while Austin is under a shelter in place order. I hope they are a small reminder that we are all in this together, even if we’re six feet apart.  1 – Give meditation a try Meditation is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and promote emotional health. It benefits our mind to be in tune with what our body is feeling, and meditation is designed to do just that. I like to close my eyes and listen to a guided meditation as a way to start my day – even just five minutes of mediation can make a difference for your day.  Pro tip: Check out these free resources from the Calm and Headspace apps.   2 – Take a social media break Sometimes boundaries look like taking a step back. Try creating guidelines for yourself about when and how much media you consume. I have been limiting my media intake by structuring my scrolling time to only a few times a day. By being more conscious about your media intake, you can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  Pro tip: You don’t have to click on every link you receive about the Coronavirus in your group chat.  3 – Try a virtual hangout with […]

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Let’s do this, All Together ATX

Hi Friends, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and finding ways to stay connected in this unprecedented time. So many of us are facing economic, social, and health hardships caused by COVID-19, and it’s more important than ever for us to face those challenges together. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting life as we know it. From school closures to layoffs, now more than ever people are in need of support. Local nonprofits are on the front lines, supporting local workers and those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve been watching the news and wondering, “What can I do to help?” I’m heartened by how many have reached out to ask the same question. That’s why, in an effort to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way for Greater Austin is partnering with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. Join us in lifting all Central Texans and the organizations that support them. Your donation will support people in the Greater Austin area with immediate needs including food insecurity, basic needs, medical needs, employment, and child care. 100% will stay local, and 100% will go to help those who need it most. This community-led philanthropic fund will provide flexible resources to nonprofit organizations working with communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the outbreak. We will one day be on the other side of this. Right now, we hold the power to define who we’ll be on that day: More fractured and […]

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