Blog

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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Child care centers struggle with funding, wages

Today, we’re proud to release the results of the 2014 Early Care and Education Survey – a look at trends across the early care field in our community and is the only one of it’s kind in Central Texas. This year’s data show more of the same positive trends we saw in 2012, but also similar challenges.    Teacher education varies widely depending on where you live Our data indicates that teacher education levels in early childhood education centers vary greatly between the regions of Travis County. In Central and West Austin, the percentage of teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree is nearly double the percentage than in other areas: Additionally, part-time centers reported that 58 percent of their teachers have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development—or related field—versus only 26 percent in full-time, nonprofit centers and 15 percent in full-time, for-profit centers.  The survey also found teacher retention has decreased over the past two years and turnover rates have increased significantly for both full-time and part-time centers.   Parent fees make up the bulk of funding for child care centers – including in low-income areas The survey found that centers, across nearly all regions in Travis County, depend on parent fees for the largest portion of their income. Centers located in East and South Austin use approximately equal percentages from parent fees and public subsidies. This may be part of the reason why the cost of child care is so high – approximately the same as the cost of tuition […]

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[VIDEO] YOU help Austin families thrive

Our friends and neighbors in particular communities are struggling more – in St. John’s, Manor and Dove Springs, families face unique challenges. To help Greater Austin thrive, we focus on these areas.    [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Dds5ulFns[/youtube]   Learn more about the Salazars, Maldonados or Wynns – and make a gift today to support Austin families.   

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Community Spotlight: Dove Springs

A Neighborhood in Need The Wynn Family lives in Dove Springs, an Austin neighborhood that is southeast of the intersections of I-35 and Ben White, near the airport. The Dove Springs community has a unique set of needs and relies heavily on community services. In fact, one out of every five individuals in Dove Springs uses SNAP to meet their food needs. 20% of Dove Springs relies on SNAP for food needs Anisha and David Wynn are the proud parents of four children, Kayla (13,) D’Maree (8,) D’Maya (5) and De’Ana (3.) To support their family, Anisha and David both work full-time for The City of Austin, each logging as many as 60-hours-per-week. However, making ends meet can still be a challenge. In Austin, a family of four has to make an average of fifty thousand dollars per year just to break even. With the expenses of groceries, rent, child care, car insurance and gas, this family of five has an even tighter budget and there’s rarely enough at the end of the month to save. UWATX Connects Families to Resources Anisha and David worry about what a lack of fiscal security could mean for them in the long run, and what they’ll do if an emergency occurs. Many Austin families, much like the Wynns, are only a few unexpected expenses away from falling behind on their bills. Should a car break down or a child become injured, they may be unable to recover financially. Fortunately, they both work at companies where […]

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A place for families: the Dove Springs community

As Austin grows, many neighborhoods are becoming more predominantly headed by single professionals or other household structures – but Dove Springs remains a place for families. Unfortunately, our friends and neighbors struggle with unemployment and health care challenges, and are still recovering from last year’s flooding.    Dove Springs is a younger community with many families and a growing Hispanic/Latino population The Dove Springs community has very strong Hispanic and Latino roots. The neighborhood has largely been settled by the Hispanic and Latino population for more than a decade and currently 4 out of 5 residents claim that ethnicity. Unlike other neighborhoods that have more seniors, students or young professionals without children, Dove Springs is full of families – which are define by the US census as a household with two or more people related by birth, marriage or adoption. A lower percentage of family households in Dove Springs are married-couple families (59 percent vs. 68 percent in Austin overall) and a higher percentage are headed by single fathers (13 percent vs. 9 percent) or single mothers (29 percent vs. 22 percent), similar to the St. John’s and Manor communities.  People who live in Dove Springs are also typically younger than other City of Austin residents with a full third of residents being under the age of 18.   Many Dove Springs residents are struggling with unemployment  Over the last couple of years, the unemployment rate for Dove Springs has been higher than the unemployment rate in the City of Austin: Dove Springs residents […]

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UWATX Exemplifies Employee Giving

At United Way for Greater Austin, we believe that anyone- regardless of income- can be a philanthropist. Through Employee Giving Campaigns, UWATX provides an opportunity for employees at area businesses to donate a portion of every paycheck to make a positive impact.  We wouldn’t ask others to give if we didn’t give ourselves. UWATX is one of 400+ Austin-area businesses that run an Employee Campaign. Our Building Spirit Committee worked on the logistics behind a week of fun-filled, spirit-building activities to encourage employee participation. This year, campaign focused on the three Austin neighborhoods were our work is centered: Manor, St. John’s and Dove Springs. In planning this week of spirited activities, our goal was to incorporate the neighborhoods that benefit from the donations.   Get everyone excited before campaign starts The week before our campaign, the Spirit Committee hid two sets of Michael Buble concert tickets in the office and sent out an email to staff containing riddles on where to find them. The stakes where high and the hunt was fierce! Building suspense and excitement during the days and weeks leading up to your campaign is a great way to get people thinking about how they plan on participating.   Kickoff the campaign with a fun event and communicate important details On Monday morning, UWATX Staff met over a scrumptious breakfast to discuss the importance of Employee Campaign. We are proud to boast a 97 percent participation rate from our last campaign, and hope to do just as well this year!    Connect your Employee […]

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What a difference a year makes

A little over a year ago, a group of young professionals began meeting and discussing ways that we could make a positive change in some of Austin’s most vulnerable communities. I’m proud to have been part of that group. We’ve had the chance to get to know each other better, help the community, and have a lot of fun along the way. More importantly, we’ve had the chance to be inspired by an amazing group of kids that are working to make Austin greater.  You don’t have to take my word for it:  I’m humbled by the accomplishments of the group over the last year and wanted to share a few of our key initiatives. Volunteering at UWATX’s Manor Summer Program – This year, we had the opportunity to help out with UWATX’s Summer Program at Decker Middle School. In this program, 75 plus low income middle schoolers had the chance to participate in a seven-week program designed to combat the effect of “summer slide.” As noted by Target Graduation Director Nichole Lopez- Riley, ““We know that a lack of summer learning contributes substantially to students falling behind academically across many subjects. This initiative is aimed to provide students with the materials, project-based learning opportunities and access to services they need during the summer break to be successful.” A highlight of the program was Summer Learning Day on June 20. The day was a chance for students in the UWATX Manor Summer Program to interact with volunteers and learn more about how to advocate for their […]

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Making Ends Meet in Manor

Meet the Maldonado Family – they live in the Manor area in Austin, Far East on 290. Benito, Sr. and Leonor are parents to Benito, Jr. (15,) Brenda (12) and Blue Emmy (1 mo.) Like the Salazar Family, they face a unique set of economic challenges and rely on their community for support. Benito, Sr. works two jobs to make ends meet for the family, but it can still be a struggle to manage everyday expenses in addition to the cost of housing and utilities. It takes about fifty thousand dollars for just a family of four to break even in Austin, so the Maldonados rarely have enough money at the end of the month after covering their rent, food, childcare, car insurance, bills and more. The Maldonados aren’t alone – half of all people in the Manor neighborhood spend 1/3 or more of their income on housing. And as temperatures rise during the blistering Texas summer, it can be tricky to keep up with high utility bills. Luckily, the Maldonado family is able to utilize our Navigation Center, where dialing 2-1-1 will connect them to local resources that can help them pay these high bills so that their utilities are not disconnected.  $50K For a family of four to break even in Austin 50%  Renters in Manor who spend 1/3 or more of income on housing The Maldonados have considered using payday loans when they’re behind on bills, but this can cost them $1,000’s in annual fees to predatory […]

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