Blog

Hands On focuses on holiday gifts

Dates:  November 16, 2012 – December 19, 2012 Hands On Central Texas, UWATX’s volunteer program, is working with our community partners to support Austin families this holiday season. Please join our effort in fundraising the following items for the following groups and individuals: Gift Cards for Financial Education Middle School Uniforms & Sweaters Playground Adoption & Clean-Up Tablet Covers & Screen Protectors for Success By 6 Pre-Teens to Young Adults Book Drive Teacher Care Kits Turkey Donations to Local Food Pantry The Basics: Diapers, Wipes and Underwear (socks, too!) Culturally Sensitive Thanksgiving Dinner Drive for Local Middle School Students This is a family-friendly volunteer opportunity that your faith-based organization, school leadership group and neighborhood can rally behind. This citywide Holiday Drive is an example of United Way’s goal to build philanthropy in our community by providing both giving and volunteer opportunities, allowing everyone to be a philanthropist regardless of how much they earn or where they live. The act of giving binds us all together and joins us in the shared mission of making sure our community continues to thrive. Holiday Drives can be organized individually or as a team. This opportunity to help continues through Wednesday, December 19th. Find out more. Photo courtesy of cwwycoff1 via Creative Commons.  

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Thank you! #GivingTuesday

This past Thursday, I sat down with three generations of my family – our kids and our grandkids, and with our extended family of friends that come over to fill our house with laughter, love and of course delicious food. As we passed the sweet potatoes and enjoyed salads from our garden, we went around the table thanking one another, sharing our appreciation for friends and neighbors. I thought about the community we were describing, a collection of individuals who had given something to someone – a cup of sugar, an understanding shoulder – and in doing so, created a ripple effect that we were sharing around the table. Four days after Thanksgiving, today is the first annual Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to celebrating and inspiring the act of giving. Giving Tuesday is a national initiative that follows on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – days when those of us with much are able to buy gifts for friends and family. Giving Tuesday is a day that celebrates what I am truly thankful for: the philanthropists I interact with every day, who understand the importance of giving back. Philanthropy is a very important word to me; it literally means the love of humanity. To some folks, it means writing a large check – but to me, it’s about giving back in any way that you can. Those who give their time, their talents or, of course, their dollars are participating in an act that binds us […]

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Local Holiday Assistance Programs: How you can help

Each year around the holidays, nonprofits, faith-based communities and community partners come together to contribute to holiday joy for the most needy in our community. Programs range from holiday meals (like yesterday’s Feast of Sharing, put on by H-E-B) and food boxes to holiday gifts for children. And whether you’re in need of these resources or you’d like to contribute, you can just call 2-1-1,  a service of our Navigation Center, to connect to up-to-date information about these holiday assistance programs. In Travis County, holiday gift programs are provided by The Salvation Army Social Service Center, Operation Blue Santa, which is operated by the Austin Police Department, and Brown Santa, run by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. The programs match individuals and families in need with organizations and individual sponsors who provide holiday meals, toys and gifts. For many area children, these are the only toys they will receive all year. In addition to providing holiday assistance information through 2-1-1, the United Way Navigation Center publishes calendars each year that include free or low-cost Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in Central Texas. The calendars are used by area nonprofits, like the Capital Area Food Bank. 2-1-1 also provides information on holiday volunteer opportunities each year. Just last week, 2-1-1 received a call from a woman who had received assistance from the Christmas Bureau in the past and said that because she is in a better place in her life this year, she wanted information on how to volunteer to help others in […]

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UWATX’s Navigation Center Partners with CAMPO

Beginning in November, our Navigation Center will embark on a partnership with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) to help improve access to information about transportation resources for callers of 2-1-1. CAMPO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties in Central Texas. The purpose of CAMPO is to coordinate regional transportation planning with counties, cities, Capital Metro, the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other transportation providers in the region and to approve the use of federal transportation funds within the region. Currently, most of the transportation-related calls received at 2-1-1 pertain to other caller needs, such as older adults or people with disabilities who need help getting to medical appointments; residents in rural areas who may have to rely on multiple transportation systems to make a single trip; and families living in poverty who have run out of food and cannot afford bus fare to get to a food pantry. The funding provided by CAMPO will allow 2-1-1 to work with Capital Metro and CARTS to better assist callers in utilizing transportation services, social services and other community resources more seamlessly. UWATX Navigation Center staff will work with transportation specialists at both organizations to create trainings for 2-1-1 Navigation Specialists on how to navigate the complex transportation system and relay information to callers in a usable way. If staff are unable to assist a caller with complex transportation issues, we will be able to escalate […]

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WLC Tours Northeast Austin Play To Learn session

Play To Learn: An 8-week parent education course that teaches parents how to help their children become school ready and incorporates tablet technology. On a cool November morning, Women’s Leadership Council members met in Northeast Austin to take an exclusive look at Play To Learn, a project of the UWATX Success By 6 program that works to reach vulnerable young children. Thirteen eager toddlers sang, danced, and played as their mothers and fathers looked on with pride. At Play To Learn, parents join in the fun as skilled facilitators guide them with helpful tips and child development information. “As part of the evaluation model, families are interviewed three times: before the program, at the end of the 8 week course and 3 months after the program,” said Kaley Horton, Success By 6 Project Coordinator. “Our first Play To Learn cohort just passed the three month mark and received their tablets. We’ve really been able to see what a valuable family tool the tablet is for vulnerable families.” WLC members left the tour with an even greater understanding of and appreciation for SB6’s work in the community: “I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this unique program that is clearly impacting the lives of the families that are a part of it. Seeing it in person had a great impact- the parents were very engaged with their children and with the learning activities today.” – Judy Donigan, Sales Manager at 3M  “It was wonderful to finally get to see the […]

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[VIDEO] How we make Austin greater

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h66EK3NeaIA&feature=g-upl[/youtube] At UWATX, our mission is to help Austin thrive by inspiring, leading and uniting an eclectic community of philanthropists to overcome barriers to economic opportunities. This video focuses on how our strategic programs – Success By 6, Target Graduation, Financial Opportunity and the Navigation Center – are making a difference in Greater Austin. Special thanks to Sneaky Giants for making this happen!

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Faith leaders gather to discuss early childhood

More than two dozen faith leaders joined United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 team to learn more about investing in our community’s youngest members. UWATX research shows that 30 percent of full-time nonprofit child care centers and 80 percent of part-time centers are affiliated with a religious organization. Beyond these, UWATX also wanted to reach families who weren’t already accessing services. “Reaching vulnerable children before they enter school is a significant challenge for our community, particularly because many parents do not access child care and rely on family, friends or neighbors.” said Sue Carpenter, Sr. Director of Success By 6. “The faith community is a valuable entry point to support those families. More than that, many churches provide services for young kids – from Sunday School to Vacation Bible School – so they have the opportunity to really change lives.” Debbie Bressette, President of UWATX, welcomed everyone and Sam Bryant, member of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, lead the program with a non-denominational prayer. Leah Meunier, early childhood expert and Manager of Donor Engagement at UWATX, shared the need in our community and Ellen Jockusch, St. James’ Episcopal School, and Rudi Andrus, Mainspring Schools, spoke about the opportunities available for faith leaders to make a difference. The event was the beginning of a longer effort to engage the faith community in the ongoing conversation about supporting young children. As an easy first step, UWATX distributed Born Learning materials, research-based tools for parents in English and Spanish, that leaders could take […]

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Partner Profile: ABC Home & Commercial Services

Name: ABC Home & Commercial Services  Partner for: 6 months Partner for: Employee Campaign, Hands On Central Texas   Our relationship: Taking advantage of UWATX offerings to better the community In just a few short months, ABC has selected a variety of UWATX services to make the most of our relationship, including Employee Campaign, volunteering and employee support through Learn Where You Earn. The company participated in Fall Day of Caring, plans to conduct a Volunteer Project Leader training course and uses Hands On Central Texas to facilitate and track employee volunteering.   Tailoring Employee Campaign  ABC leaders and UWATX staff worked hard to consider the company’s culture and structure to create an engaging, unique Employee Campaign. To accommodate different schedules, UWATX staff held meetings at various times for different teams – including several 7 a.m. meetings. UWATX also produced Spanish-language materials for ABC’s many Spanish-speaking employees. During Fall Day of Caring, Employees were able to utilize their expertise in landscaping to improve a children’s playground at one of UWATX’s early childhood education partners.  They didn’t let a little rain stop them and even finished early! The experience matched employee’s skills with community needs to benefit both.   Involving leadership to make a greater impact ABC leaders have committed their time, resources and expertise to make an impact on our community through UWATX. Mark Ambrose, General Manager, not only helped coordinate their employee campaign, but personally attended each of the 20 departmental meetings to ask employees to consider supporting UWATX, even travelling to […]

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Success By 6 supports healthy children and families

$41,000 Total value of WhiteGlove Health services provided through partnership with UWATX United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 program has helped more than 240 children, parents and early childhood educators receive more than $41,000 of medical care over the past year, thanks to a generous partnership with WhiteGlove Health. Five child care centers have taken advantage of the on-site low- or no-cost services for staff and clients, including free flu shots. The project is designed to reduce barriers, including time and transportation, so families can more easily obtain quality health care. “Families that might otherwise not have the resources to obtain medical help are not only receiving high quality care but in a timely manner,” said Anthony Pyatt, Administrative Director at Mainspring School. According to UWATX research released in August, only 54.8% of child care centers provide full or partially paid insurance for employees. The partnership with WhiteGlove Health helps fill the health care gap for many teachers. Teachers are now able to be treated immediately at their home or on-site reducing their need to find substitutes due to illness. “We are proud to partner with WhiteGlove Health on this initiative – it’s an innovative way for a company to use their business model to serve the community, truly a win-win,” said Sue Carpenter, Sr. Director of Success By 6. “Thanks to our work together, we are bringing valuable health services to young children, their teachers and their parents.”

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It’s here: 2012 Target Graduation End-of-Year Results

We’ve put the finishing touches on the Target Graduation 2012 End-of-year Results, a report that summarizes the program’s successes over the past year and goals for major improvement in the lives of middle school students in the Greater Austin area. Target Graduation focuses on two areas of work –middle school and out-of-school time – both of which are proven to have a major impact on the success of a student in college, work and life. In the middle school work, Target Graduation’s goal is to change the trajectory of three high-needs middle schools in the Greater Austin area by creating and refining a system of board-spectrum services. Through the Middle School Matters initiative, the program coordinates a wide array of evidence-based services and provides campuses with integrated coordination to ensure the services area available to meet the specific needs of students. Great strides were made this year: As a result of UWATX coordination and funding, our partners delivered more than 1,200 interventions (sessions in behavioral health, case management, mentoring, out-of-school time, parent education and tutoring) at 3 high-needs middle schools. Target Graduation facilitated 75 Youth Program Quality assessments, 23 professional development courses and the training of 108 individuals on improving the quality of their youth programs. Looking forward, we will continue to implement research- and evidence-based models and tracking results to improve the outcomes for children and youth in Greater Austin. We are excited about the future potential of Target Graduation and all UWATX could do for Greater Austin, our stakeholders […]

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