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City Council Candidate Forums Recap

Success By 6 hosted eight Austin City Council candidate forums in settings all over Austin to learn more about the candidates’ views on issues affecting families with young children. More than 40 of the 78 candidates participated in the non-partisan, positive conversations, and dozens of community residents took the chance to ask questions and learn more about the aspiring civic leaders. “My faith in democracy soared as I participated in these forums. The candidates were thoughtful, warm, and well-informed – and they truly want to serve their communities. After the elections, I plan to stay in touch with not only the new council members, but also with the cadre of amazing candidates who didn’t win. It is inspiring to see and hear their passion about our beautiful city and the neighborhoods they live in. I wish I could vote for more than one!”   Sue Carpenter, VP, Success By 6. When Austinites head to the ballot box this fall, we will be making decisions that will dramatically shake up the leadership structure of our community. Not only will we be electing a new mayor, but our influential city council will have at least nine new members – with one representative for each of ten newly formed districts. The council makes crucial decisions about how our city is managed and how to spend our precious tax dollars. Our goal for the forums was to learn more about each candidate – many who have never run for office before – and to […]

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The Other Side of Austin: Census Data Reveals Continued Poverty

Austin Residents Struggle to Make Ends Meet 300K+  individuals struggling to make ends meet   150K+ Austin residents living in poverty   16K+ local children under the age of 6 living in poverty   Austin is a city that is known for many things. We love our dogs, can’t get enough live music or Tex-Mex, and take pride in the slogan, ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ We are also the fastest-growing city in the nation – more than 100 people move to Austin every day. What many are unaware of is that more than 300K greater Austin residents are classified as low-income and face barriers to economic opportunity.  This is a serious concern for many families who struggle to make ends meet – it takes a household income of $50K annually for a family of four to break even! According to the most recent census data, 150K+ Austin residents live below the federal poverty level. Of these, more than 16K residents are children who are under the age of 6.   UWATX Helps Alleviate and Reduce Poverty    UWATX addresses community needs through our Strategic Programs including: Financial Opportunity, Target Graduation and Success By 6.  We know that preparing children for kindergarten and keeping them on the path to high school graduation is a strong indicator for their success down the road. We also provide financial literacy tools for their parents, so that both generations can thrive simultaneously. Our Navigation Center is able to connect individuals who call 2-1-1 to human services, […]

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Target Graduation End of Year Results: “The services are valuable, needed and much appreciated!”

Target Graduation 2014 End of Year Results United Way for Greater Austin is pleased to report that our Target Graduation program served more than 1,500 students through Middle School Matters during the past academic year with more than 400 students utilizing three or more services. Target Graduation, which focuses on boosting lagging graduation rates, was able to work closely with campus administration and local agencies to fund coordination of more than one million dollars’ worth of support services that meet individual students needs at Decker, Mendez and Webb Middle School. Middle School Matters, an initiative of Target Graduation, focuses on improving campus culture for these three low-income middle schools in the Greater Austin area so that students may improve their academic performance and stay on the path to graduation and success. In 2014, more than 3,000 interventions were provided to students in areas including mentoring, tutoring, case management, out-of-school time, parent education and behavioral health. What’s more, 90% of teachers think these support services positively impact their student’s academic performance. Target Graduation’s Summer Learning Camp also provided students with the opportunity to continue their learning during valuable out-of-school time. While at camp, students engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skill-building and learned everything from outdoor skills to filmmaking and volunteer leadership. View the complete Target Graduation 2014 End of Year Results. What Teachers are Saying about Middle School Matters Feedback from teachers and administrators indicates that Target Graduation is playing an important role in their schools. According to one response in the 2014 […]

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2014 Day of Caring – September 26, 2014

A record number of volunteers participated in United Way of Williamson County’s annual Day of Caring held on September 26, 2014. More than 220 volunteers provided in excess of 650 hours of time in their efforts to complete 19 local community service projects across Williamson County. Communities served by United Way of Williamson County volunteers included Cedar Park, Leander, Hutto, Georgetown, Round Rock and Taylor. Volunteers read to preschoolers in Taylor ISD, painted the Head Start facilities in Hutto, and expanded gardens at elementary schools in Round Rock ISD and Leander ISD. Others sorted donations and organized thrift store items at Round Rock Area Serving Center, The Caring Place, Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry, Hill Country Community Ministries, Annunciation Maternity Home and Hope Alliance. Williamson County Parks and local municipalities welcomed volunteers to assist with park clean up, beautification projects and trail development. The City of Round Rock made their Tool Lending Center available to volunteer projects across Round Rock. The Day of Caring is an annual event that coincides with the start of the annual United Way of Williamson County campaign and focuses on helping local nonprofit agencies, schools and communities complete projects that will benefit residents across Williamson County. Many special thanks to our Day of Caring sponsors. We are grateful for your support of our volunteers and our community.

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Success By 6 Center Project Results

The need for services Anyone who has a toddler of their own, or has spent any amount of time around a 2-year-old, knows that these tiny tots can be quite a handful! 11:1 The state-approved child-to-teacher ratio for 2-year-olds in Texas child care centers In Texas, the state approved child-to-teacher ratio for this age group in child care centers is 11:1. Can you imagine? Up to twenty-two energetic children being cared for by only two sets of hands! Now, picture the same scenario where many of the children struggle academically or have behavior challenges and there are a serious lack of resources available to their instructors. United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 program works with 12 local child care centers that serve low-income children to help them meet and keep high-quality standards by providing an array of support services that positively impact students and teachers. Success this year This past year, more than 900 children and 180+ teachers benefited from UWATX’s Center Project, which leverages in-kind support to provide resources, teacher training and professional development, social-emotional learning and director mentoring. 900 children served   180+ teachers impacted   1,500 hours of skilled substitute care Through the substitute pool, UWATX substitutes provided more than 1,500 hours of care in these centers. Success By 6 knows that just because a classroom isn’t lead by the usual instructor, we cannot afford to let a day’s worth of valuable learning go to waste! After assessing more than 250 children, the Center Project results from […]

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Fall Day of Caring: A volunteer’s perspective

Some might think that going out to work in a garden the day after torrential rains would be a not-so great idea. How much mud are you going to encounter? Will the flower beds and vegetable patches be flooded? Will it be gross? Those are some of the questions that might come up. It had rained pretty hard the night before the Austin American-Statesman volunteers were scheduled to volunteer in the JJ Pickle Elementary School garden. Because of this, we showed up in rain boots and rain coats, hats and hooded jackets. By the time we arrived at the school, there were menacing clouds gathering again in the sky, but these provided a great cover for us as we gathered our tools and listened to the instructions for the day. Our volunteer leader, Judith Hutchinson, greeted us with coffee and donuts. She was happy to see that we arrived in a school bus—very appropriate for our volunteering location. We huddled in front of the bus for a picture, and then we were off to the gardens. Judith showed us where all the tools were and gave us plenty of options of where to start and what to improve. There was more than enough enthusiasm to go around. Plenty of fresh green weeds to pull from the raised vegetable beds, and soft, crumbly dirt to turn over with a shovel. We emptied a pond in order to make room for fresh water, trimmed flower bushes and made sure the sprouting vegetables […]

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Austin Mayoral Debate Recap

Five Austin mayoral candidates tackled affordability, early childhood education and the need for high quality childcare and after school programs on Wednesday at the newly re-opened Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Catherine Morse, general counsel/director of public affairs at Samsung Austin Semiconductor and board chair for UWATX, moderated the debate, which was attended by more than 300 people and featured candidates Todd Phelps, Councilman Mike Martinez, Randall Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Steven Adler. Below we’ve provided the entire debate on video. Take a look to learn how each candidate stands on United Way for Greater Austin’s key issues: [youtube]http://youtu.be/G0JcRuC9zGs[/youtube]   David Orshalick, a candidate not in attendance, provided his answers in writing. Ronald Culver, another candidate not in attendance, also provided his responses in writing. Please click on each man’s name to view their responses.  A big thank you to our host committee and Balcones Resources, our title sponsor, for making this event possible. Who do you think provided the best answers in this week’s debate? Let us know in the comments or tweet us with hashtag #uwatxdebate.

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WLC Spotlight: Co-Chairs Anu Reddy and Robyn Eckermann

UWATX is delighted to introduce our Women’s Leadership Council Co-Chairs, Anu Reddy and Robyn Eckermann. These ladies are excited to be part of one of the most powerful, female-driven philanthropic forces in Central Texas! Anu Reddy Anu Reddy grew up in India and moved to Austin twenty years ago. She is the dedicated mother of two boys and is a Regional Sales Specialist at VMWare. When asked how her membership with WLC has helped her advance her goals, Anu said, “I’ve always wanted to give more than just through a monthly paycheck contribution to a charity of choice. WLC gives me a chance to see the direct impact of my contribution. Professionally, I get to meet so many other amazing like-minded women from various backgrounds.” “I get to meet so many other amazing like-minded women from various backgrounds.” The WLC is committed to issues surrounding improving early childhood education and ensuring quality care for Austin’s youngest citizens. When choosing early education centers for her own children, Anu looked for facilities that had a reputation of excellence and that offered real-time footage so she could check on her children while at work. Anu is a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ and enjoys trying new restaurants, playing tennis and reading. She is also a fan of Kendra Scott, a well-known female entrepreneur from Austin. Anu believes that generosity Makes Austin Greater. She is proud to be a part of the Greater Austin community, where people readily band together to help others. Robyn Eckermann  Robyn Eckermann, […]

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Greater Austin experiences marked increase in suburban poverty

Greater Austin has plenty to boast about. From a vibrant and diverse community, to welcoming neighborhoods and plenty of local live event opportunities, it’s no wonder we became the 11th largest city in the U.S. last year. There is one metric, however, that Greater Austin residents are not bragging about. A recent report from KUT.org revealed research from the Brookings Institution that proved Austin had the second-largest increase in suburban poverty among big cities. Business Insider recently named Austin #8 on its list of “The 15 US Cities Where Poverty Is Soaring Fastest.” According to its article, the poor population in Greater Austin grew by more than 100,000 individuals between 2000 and 2012. United Way for Greater Austin aims to overcome barriers to economic opportunities with strategic programming and philanthropic endeavors. We invite all who need help to utilize our free resources, including the 2-1-1 Navigation Center, an Austin-area community support line. For information on our free community resources, please call 512.472.6267 or visit our website: www.unitedwayaustin.org.

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Young Leaders Society sets ambitious goal: bring FULL-TIME coordination to middle schools

Today, we’re proud to announce an ambitious goal for the Young Leaders Society: we will raise $180K by June 2015 to fully fund full-time coordinators at Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools.  [Tweet “Big goal for @uwatx #atxyoungleaders: bring full-time coordination to low-income middle schools!”] Last year, our group of young professionals from across the Austin community raised $126K to support middle school services – and this year, we’re raising the bar. By funding this specific service, we can make sure students are connecting to the help they need.  As Kat Pfannenstiel, strategic advisor for Target Graduation and YLS member, said, “Investing in a campus coordinator means that more children at-risk for school dropout and school failure can be identified and linked with supports. These supports have led to greater sense of school community and positive, long-term effects for middle school students.” The YLS Challenge is simple:   YLSers will grow a successful program by funding full-time coordination Since UWATX launched Middle School Matters in 2011, we’ve seen the difference that coordinating services can make:    Before, many nonprofits were working to help students at Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools, but they were working by themselves. With our support, nonprofits and schools are now working together in an organized way.  To date, we’ve coordinated 9,000 hours of service for nearly 5,000 middle school students.  But even with this success, we’ve only been able to provide part-time coordination services at each of the three middle schools. Helping 20+ nonprofits and 240+ school staff manage the needs of so […]

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