Blog

Hands On Central Texas gets a makeover!

We strongly believe that donating your time is a valuable gift to our community – which is why we run Austin’s largest volunteer network. This week, we updated the Hands On Central Texas site to make it easier for volunteers to find what they’re looking for. Here’s what changed: New homepage We’ve updated the homepage with a more intuitive slideshow so you can easily browse the top events we have going on. We’ve also added a stream of photos from projects and created project categories. Project categories We’ve heard from you that the search function on the site is tricky – it doesn’t always pull the opportunities you’re really looking for. So we decided to take the guess work out of connecting to volunteering by making it easier to access opportunities in the areas we see most often. The categories – which are accessible from the home page and the new By Categories page – include opportunities related to our UWATX Strategic Programs (Success By 6, Target Graduation and Financial Opportunity) and those that offer team building, are family friendly or fit a seasonal need, like tax prep or holiday volunteering. Our goal is to connect you to meaningful volunteering – so let us know if you’re not seeing what you want to see. Easy-to-find calendar We often direct volunteers to our calendar to find the right opportunities for them – so we’ve made the calendar accessible from every page on the site. Now, you can easily see a calendar […]

Read More

[VIDEO] Success By 6 – making sure every child is ready to learn

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23fsa-DCZn8[/youtube] In our community, only 50 percent of children start school ready to learn – that number drops to 13 percent in low-income Austin neighborhoods. We are working to change that statistic though Success By 6 – our program to fundamentally change the landscape of care for our youngest and most vulnerable children. Today, 90 percent of children who participate in Success By 6 initiatives are on-track developmentally to be ready for school.   Want to learn more? Tell us:  [pardot-form id=”6638″ title=”Email marketing – welcome series”]  

Read More

UWATX: What We Do

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPZTdJaMoiY[/youtube] United Way for Greater Austin has been in this community since 1924 – committed to making Austin greater by building philanthropy and running strategic programs. In the presentation above, Debbie Bresette, our president since 2009, breaks down how we do it: To build philanthropy, we run employee campaigns, giving everyone in our community who earns a paycheck the opportunity to give back. We also coordinate volunteer efforts because we believe giving your time is valuable as well, and we work  to inspire individual giving because we know we are all richer when we give back. Last year, we raised more than $16M for nonprofit organizations and coordinated nearly 100,000 hours of volunteering. Of that fundraising, donors entrusted $5.1M to our organization – and we put that giving to work for Greater Austin. In our strategic programs, se support young children through Success By 6, middle school students through Target Graduation and families through Financial Opportunity, and we provide an easy way to connect to services and resources through the Navigation Center. But we also know that it takes a village – for children to succeed, they need parent support, for families to thrive, they need quality education for their children. So our programs are structured to create wrap-around services. Our work is coordinated, knowing that supporting one student can be a key first step to improving the trajectory of a whole family. It’s also targeted in areas that have the highest needs, innovative (because we keep an eye on the landscape […]

Read More

Elected officials & local organizations partner to get Central Texans covered

  UPDATED 10.31.2013: In the first month, UWATX received more than 650 calls related to the Health Insurance Marketplace. Learn more about the process so far from KEYE. Download the following maps: Hays County Williamson County Travis County In Central Texas and across the country, the Health Insurance Marketplace just launched. We’ve been working to connect individuals to government health programs through the UWATX Navigation Center and today we came together with  a wide range of elected officials and health care advocates to urge Central Texans to sign up for coverage. “Today represents a big step – a serious step – toward making health insurance available and affordable to so many Texans who need it,” said Senator Kirk Watson at today’s press conference. Oct. 1 marked the first day of open enrollment for the Marketplace, which allows applicants to easily access, compare and sign up for a variety of health insurance plans in person, online or over the phone. Consumers can access the Marketplace by going to healthcare.gov. In Austin, they can call the UWATX Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1 to find their nearest Certified Application Counselor. “The Affordable Care Act is law, and about 1.5 million Texans will benefit from the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace that the Act allows,” Watson said. “But don’t forget, Texas leads the nation in our percentage of uninsured residents. There’s still much, much more we can do to ensure that Texans have the health coverage they need.” More than one in four […]

Read More

Success By 6 Champions High-Tech Early Education Initiatives

To make sure children are prepared for school and life, parents need a variety of tools from the time they learn about their bundle of joy right through kindergarten and beyond. But parents are busy and information about how to prepare children is often hard to access, which is why United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) Success By 6 is championing two initiatives leveraging mobile technology to educate parents as they become their child’s first teacher. We’re partnering with Text4baby, a health literacy initiative where mothers receive weekly text messages, and Ready Rosie, a bilingual video curriculum that teaches parents how to incorporate early learning into daily activities. To sign up for Text4baby, women text “BABY” (or “BEBE” for Spanish) to 511411 and then receive  three texts per week on topics like immunization, nutrition, baby’s development and safe sleep practices. The messages are timed to the mother’s due date or their baby’s birth date and go from pregnancy until the baby’s first birthday. Text4baby has enrolled more than 600,000 U.S moms since its February 2011 launch. Locally, UWATX has promoted Text4baby to low-income mothers at community health fairs with posters like the one on the right and included it as a resource at WIC clinics – and it worked: we increased use in Travis County by 70 percent from 2012. Services like Text4baby are critical as low-income children under six are our fastest growing demographic. Prepared parents are a key first step in helping children get on the right path […]

Read More

Rain or shine – our volunteers are committed to giving back!

Despite the stormy weather, we still had a fantastic turnout for Fall Day of Caring on Friday – one of the annual volunteering days we manage through our Hands On Central Texas program. More than 900 volunteers attended and worked on 30+ projects to make Austin greater! Local employers, including ABC Home & Commercial, H-E-B, Kerbey Lane and IBM lent a hand as their employees spent Friday giving back to Greater Austin. Volunteers contributed to many projects, including preparing afterschool program materials, making soup bowls from clay and numerous beautification projects. Through their work, volunteers completed an estimated 2,700 hours of service, the equivalent of $60,939 in labor costs. Here’s what you guys are saying about the experience: Our volunteers stuck it out through the rain – enjoying the appreciation lunch with local food and music, and keeping high spirits. Thanks to everyone who came out and all the great local organizations and businesses that helped us make Austin greater!  Check out the photos on Facebook! See all our pictures on Flickr. 

Read More

[VIDEO] Bobby Jenkins on the value of philanthropy

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h9bKDe5JJc[/youtube]   “Austin is on a trajectory to grow, and it’s up to all of us to decide how we’re going to manage that growth in a way that’s positive.” – Bobby Jenkins, President of ABC Home & Commercial Services Our mission at United Way for Greater Austin is to build philanthropy and to invest those gifts of time, dollars and talent to help our community thrive. We believe that when we give back, we are all made richer, and that everyone in our community who earns a paycheck should have the opportunity to give back. Since last year, Bobby Jenkins, President of ABC Home & Commercial Services, has served as our Employee Giving Campaign Co-Chair, spreading our shared message about the importance of philanthropy to companies and individuals throughout Greater Austin. For us, it’s been an inspiring journey to see his commitment to philanthropy. We hope his words will move you too.

Read More

An ambitious challenge: doubling the number of low-income children in high-quality care

We are proud to announce our new United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) Success By 6 Center Project – an ambitious initiative to help 14 child care centers serving low-income populations meet and keep high-quality ratings. Our goal is to double the number of low-income children in the kind of care that changes lives. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu_uTm5SeIM[/youtube] Center were selected based different criteria, including the number of low-income children they serve, and ratings from our Women”s Leadership Council. Our partners are:   For a child to thrive, they need quality support in their life. That’s why UWATX is focusing on providing child care centers the key benefits that will truly make a difference in children’s lives. From a strong relationship with parents to supportive teachers and well-prepared child care directors, children depend on adults to help them thrive in the critical early years and our research shows that teachers are interested in increasing their education. UWATX is supporting continuing professional development for teachers and funding a mentorship program for center directors. We are also recruiting and training individuals to act as substitutes so that staff members can attend professional development opportunities while maintaining a high standard of care for children. Children also need safe facilities, engaging toys and books and educational materials. To fit these needs, UWATX is leveraging in-kind support through our networks to collect materials. We are also casino online providing tools like the High Scope math curriculum to build a strong foundation in math and kickstart children’s STEM education. […]

Read More

Top ten things to look for when choosing child care

At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX), we work to ensure every child is ready for kindergarten with our Success By 6 program—and an important part of that is making sure children enjoy quality care early on in life.  To help parents make sure they’re making the right choice for their child, we’ve compiled a top ten list of things to look for:  1. Safe and Secure Safety and security is obviously a parent’s top concern. Look to see if the building and equipment are in good repair. A security system is key—this way only authorized people can come and go, and all entry and exit activity is monitored.  2. Clean and Healthy Cleanliness is also a high priority. Caregivers should encourage children to wash their hands often, especially after using the restroom and before eating. Caregivers should lead by example and follow the same procedures, including after diapering. 3. Warm and Responsive You want to make sure your child is in a kind, loving environment and know that someone is dedicated to attending to your child’s needs. Listen for laughter and conversation between children and teachers. It is important that teachers talk to the children kindly and with respect. Also, look to see if teachers make an effort to talk to the children at eye-level. Infants should be held both lovingly and often. 4. Stimulating and Dynamic Children should be engaged in active learning through play. It is important that the children have interesting things  with which to explore, […]

Read More

Philanthropic women make Austin greater

One of the most committed groups supporting UWATX is the UWATX Women’s Leadership Council, co-chaired by Jennifer Foster, Dell (who voices the presentation below), and Lauren Hammonds, Blackbaud. Their commitment to early childhood brought in $400K last year for our youngest and most vulnerable children. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD0Nnowtfn8[/youtube]   The WLC is a committed, diverse group of women who donate $1,200 annually, volunteer their time and spread the word about UWATX Success By 6, our work in early childhood. At UWATX, we focus on early childhood because the first few years are critical and, in our community, children are not getting off to the best start. Across Central Texas, only 50 percent of children are ready for school when they get there – and in low-income communities, that drops to 13 percent. UWATX makes a difference – 90 percent of children in our Success By 6 program are on-track to be ready for school. WLC members support Austin’s future, our youngest children, by giving back in flexible ways. At the same time, they can network with peers and connect to women in different industries and from different backgrounds. Last year, the WLC included 200 women representing 55 businesses. Besides giving $400,000 to support young children, advocacy spearheaded by UWATX Success By 6 and the WLC restored half a million dollars in City of Austin funding for young children.  Learn more about these philanthropic women and check out photos from their latest event.

Read More