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Five Things Anthony Bourdain Can Teach Us…

We are saddened by the loss of Chef Anthony Bourdain, a man who dedicated his life to bringing people together through food, travel and writing. He turned food, something universal, into a greater conversation about humanity and being known – and nonprofits can learn a lot from him.   1. Ask the hard questions. “What are our expectations? Which of the things we desire are within reach? If not now, when? And will there be some left for me?”   If we expect to move the needle on social issues, we have to be willing to ask the hard questions. What does success look like when it comes to fighting poverty in Austin? Who should we be engaging? Where should we focus our efforts to generate the greatest impact? What is it going to take to make sure all children enter kindergarten school ready?   Reflection and re-evaluation are necessary and vital parts of creating lasting strategic change.   2. Try new things. “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”   Don’t be afraid to fail. Innovation is important in every aspect of life. It is important for progress and it is especially integral in the nonprofit space. If we are going to change the system we have to disrupt it – to think about things differently and fight poverty through multiple channels and in new ways. We should always be looking for opportunities to hone our efforts, trimming […]

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Lyft + United Way: A Nationwide and Local Collaboration to Meet Unmet Transportation Needs

2-1-1 gets calls for a variety of needs, like a woman with breast cancer going through chemo. Fighting cancer is hard work, but imagine trying to fight cancer without having safe and consistent transportation to your vital medical appointments. Not only are you physically and emotionally drained from fighting for your life, but you also have the added stress of finding a way to access the treatment you desperately need. In 2017, Untied Way for Greater Austin took more than 5,000 transportation-related calls, 423 were from veterans and 1,629 were requesting help with medical transportation. As the suburbanization of poverty increases, with low-income families moving further away from the city, the amount of people with unmet transportation needs increases. United Way for Greater Austin is pleased to launch a new partnership with Lyft and United Way Worldwide to provide free rides to those with unmet transportation needs. On June 4, 2018 the six-month pilot program began in twelve markets around the nation. The goal of the partnership is to eliminate barriers around transportation by scheduling free rides to clients in the Austin Metro Area. United Way for Greater Austin defines the Metro Area as Austin, Round Rock, Del Valle, Cedar Park, Pflugerville and Buda. Lyft and United Way are joining forces to provide free rides to those in need through the 2-1-1 system. Lyft has committed $1.5 million to the Lyft Relief Rides program in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco. […]

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Comcast Cares Day 2018: Comcast Celebrates One Year in Austin At Mainspring Schools

Sixty-eight Comcast team members showed up at Mainspring Schools’ bright and early last Saturday. Mainspring Schools is a long- term funded partner of United Way for Greater Austin and is among eight percent of centers in the U.S. accredited by the NAEYC, the nation’s most rigorous early childhood accrediting body.   “Comcast Cares Day is one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where our customers and employees live and work,” Executive Director of XFINITY Home Wholesale, Tom Chmielewski said. “I have volunteered as the chair of an Austin nonprofit who has benefitted from the United Way’s support. I am proud that Comcast is a long time United Way supporter and want to support this great organization that does so much for our Austin community and neighbors.”   Representing different backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels, families come from all over Austin to attend Mainspring. Seventy-five percent of Mainspring students receive tuition subsidies. They believe diversity is crucial to developing self-aware, well-rounded children.   Comcast team members volunteered as a part of Comcast Cares day, a nation wide annual tradition of Comcast NBCUniversal. 2018 marked the 16th annual Comcast Cares Day and Mainspring was the first event located in Austin. On April 21, 2018, 100,000 volunteers worked to improve 1,000 project sites at community centers, schools, gardens, parks, beaches and more throughout the U.S. and in 20 other countries   “A day of service is such a small effort that can generate […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) selected 26 Austin nonprofit agencies to be awarded a total of $1.466 million in grants to fund early childhood education and 2-Generation (2-Gen) programming as part of their 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants (CIG).   United Way creates a community of support by partnering with critical community stakeholders. UWATX convenes this community of stakeholders to identify proven strategies and invest in high-quality, data-driven programs. CIG’s seek to amplify the collective impact of organizations already providing critical services to Austin’s youngest, most vulnerable children and their families.   2018-2021 CIG funded partners include: American Youthworks Any Baby Can of Austin Austin Child Guidance Center Austin Voices for Education and Youth AVANCE-AUSTIN BookSpring Child Inc. Communities In Schools of Central Texas E3 Alliance Foundation Communities Goodwill Industries of Central Texas Jeremiah Program KLRU LifeWorks Literacy Coalition of central Texas Mainspring Schools Mount Sinai Christian Academy  Open Door Preschools Saint Lousie House St. George’s Episcopal School Texas Association for the Education of Young Children The SAFE Alliance Todos Juntos Learning Center Trinity Child Development Center Workforce Solutions Capital Area YMCA of Austin     The path to poverty starts at an early age. Children living in low-income households do not have access to the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers and when parents struggle to access social and economic opportunities, breaking the cycle of generational seems unimaginable.   “It means so much to the Mainspring kids, families and staff that you lead this effort in Central Texas […]

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International Women’s Day: Celebrating the women of United Way

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) we are proud to work with an incredible group of women who are intelligent, passionate and kind. Read the Q & A below to learn more about a few of the amazing woman working at UWATX.   Amy Price, 2-1-1 Director of Community Information Why is your work important? 2-1-1 is the community’s front door for information about community resources. Our knowledgeable, empathetic, professional staff guide callers through the process of getting help with housing, food, child care, legal assistance, mental health services, health care, and so much more. What woman do you most admire and why? My mom who defied stereotypes by being one of the few (maybe only?) female land surveyors in Texas. She was a tomboy as a child, got a degree in art history at UT, and continues to inspire me with her strength, sense of humor, and approach to life. She didn’t teach me how to paint my nails or do my hair, but she did teach me how to get dirty, the importance of giving back, and how to have fun doing both. Why is International Woman’s Day important to you? Any opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women today and throughout history is awesome!   Cathy McHorse, Success By 6 Early Childhood Education Director Why is […]

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12 Ways To Fight Poverty This Holiday

The holidays are full of traditions from baking gingerbread cookies and drinking hot cocoa to curling up on the couch to enjoy a classic holiday movie. This time of year, for most of us, is accompanied by nostalgia and joy.   Unfortunately, many families in Austin are barely able to celebrate the holidays. At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) we talk a lot about the two very different sides of Austin. Austin is the live music capital of the world, a rapidly expanding tech hub, one of the coolest places to live and yet, it’s also one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. Many parents in our community struggle to put food on the table each day and live paycheck-to-paycheck year round.   The holiday season often puts an undue burden on many Austin families. As you celebrate, we encourage you to spread your joy a little further, to your neighbors in need. Because giving back and is a part of our DNA at United Way, we hope that this blog will provide you with simple and meaningful ways to make fighting poverty easy and enjoyable this holiday season.   1. Donate to UWATX directly: The easiest way to fight to end poverty is by donating to UWATX this holiday season. All gifts are welcome.         2. Host a United Way Seasonal Drive Team up with co-workers or family members to help gather items to help families in need. Click the link for […]

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Each And Every Person Counts: H-E-B Wraps Up 2017 Campaign

What are the fundamentals of fundraising? Just ask H-E-B! In the past five years, H-E-B has donated almost $6.5 million to the Central Texas area, and they just wrapped up their 2017 record-breaking United Way campaign at the end of October. From leadership giving to payroll pledges, all together H-E-B partners raised more than $1.37 million dollars for Central Texans this year. No matter the obstacle or odds, H-E-B’s support of our community never falters. And this year they faced a huge obstacle—Hurricane Harvey. When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August, H-E-B suspended their United Way campaign to focus attention on providing critical disaster relief. United Way services often benefit families in communities that are disproportionately affected by natural disasters like Harvey. Founded with a focus on taking care of people, H-E-B recognizes the need for resources not only in time of disaster, but also day in and day out. Following their disaster response, H-E-B resumed their campaign with amazing energy. They even agreed to extend their campaign to make up for the lost time due to Harvey response. We are so grateful for their invaluable support. After their record-breaking 2017 campaign wrapped up, we spoke with Employee Campaign Leaders at several top performing H-E-B stores to see what they believe enabled their overall success. Through a combination of educating their partners on our mission as well as individual partner’s personal experiences with receiving United Way assistance, each store had their own story of what motivated a successful campaign.  Yami […]

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A Different Kind Of First Responder: 2-1-1 Navigation Center Specialists

It has been two months since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Coast, but recovery efforts are far from over. Since the storm touched down on August 25, 2017, United Way for Greater Austin’s (UWATX) 2-1-1 Navigation Center has fielded more than 300,000 calls. In just two months, 2-1-1 took 98 percent of its 2016 call volume and the calls are still coming in. From evacuation information to FEMA assistance and volunteer aid, approximately 10 to 20 percent of 2-1-1 calls remain related to Hurricane Harvey disaster response.   The 2-1-1 Navigation Center is a principal part of a statewide support network that participates actively with emergency and disaster support. During Hurricane Harvey, 2-1-1 remained open and responsive 24/7 for nearly three weeks to help the network handle an overwhelming number of calls for rescue, support and recovery resources. In addition to dramatically extending overtime hours, the Navigation Center welcomed support from more than 60 volunteers UWATX staff, Board members and other community volunteers.   Harvey taught us that anyone can end up needing help in times of disaster   Picture this: you and your family are in a strong and stable place financially, you live in a nice two story house and you’ve never had to worry about where to get your next meal. Then, Hurricane Harvey hits. The entire first floor of the home you’ve worked so hard for is destroyed. The carpet is rotting and the sheetrock, drywall and insulation are mold-ridden. The damages to your home could be tens […]

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Staff Spotlight: Meet Shay Noriega

  Meet Shay Noriega! On October 3, Shay was recognized at the annual Texas Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (TAIRS) and awarded the 2017 Information and Referral Resource Specialist award. As the 2-1-1 Community Information Coordinator, Shay actively updates and maintains a comprehensive community resource database that meets complex state and national standards. She also provides daily training and support for 2-1-1 call specialists to ensure that they have everything they need to successfully help over 150,000 callers annually. Shay has worked in a leadership role with United Way for Greater Austin 2-1-1 Navigation Center for more than four years.  Since receiving her MSW in 2013, Shay has supported the 2-1-1 program by ensuring health and human services resource information is up-to-date and easy to navigate for 2-1-1 call specialists.  She actively participates in updating and maintaining a comprehensive community resource database that meets complex state and national standards. In addition to managing relationships with all of the organizations within the 2-1-1 database. Hear more from Shay herself: What is your role? My core responsibility is maintaining the database, which largely includes reaching out to big players in the community, updating their information when it changes and maintaing the integrity of our data and resources. I am really proud to work here. I feel so fortunate to work with people who have one of the toughest jobs. It takes a very special person to field calls everyday from people who don’t have access to basic needs and I feel very […]

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An army for good: Fall Day of Caring 2017

“We love Days of caring for a lot of reasons. Day of Caring is a snapshot of who we are at the United Way, it is a reflection of what we’re all about—multiplying the work you do and the resources you donate exponentially.” – David C. Smith, CEO United Way for Greater Austin On Friday, September 22, more than 300 volunteers came together to work on 23 projects at sites throughout the city. UWATX teamed up with United Way of Williamson County and United Way of Hays and Caldwell Counties this year to celebrate Fall Day of Caring collectively. Volunteers across Central Texas came together with the shared mission of making sure our communities continue to thrive. From preparing Play to Learn Tablets to sorting donations at Austin Creative Reuse, volunteers from many of our corporate partners came out in full force to support the community. We would like to give a special thanks to our Fall Day of Caring sponsors; NXP Semiconductors, JE Dunn Construction, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Ebay and Austin Coca Cola. Without your support, our work would not be possible—thank you!   This is Our Love Letter Fall Day of Caring is a community-wide service event that addresses critical needs through meaningful volunteer action, but it is more than that. Days of Caring, or more specifically – caring for our neighbors on a daily basis – is our love letter to Austin. On Days of Caring, UWATX staff, corporate sponsors and community partners alike come together to […]

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