Blog

Public Innovators Lab II: Hope

Today we began to scratch the surface. We started to dig into perceptions of our communities, whether it’s the Eastside or Central Texas. What we found is that the perceptions where all based on individual experiences, where we live and how well we’re connected to the community and what we’re exposed to in the community. I for one, feel we have a long way to go: We don’t have broad, diverse and deep leadership; we have tattered networks, we are isolated (East vs. West/I-35 Railroad Tracks), nonprofit organizations are stuck in old patterns, still consider themselves charities as opposed to social entrepreneurs and don’t get me started on the divisiveness of the sector. With that said, I still have hope for our community! I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have hope because I see it in Public Innovators, in Volunteer Project Leaders, in everyday volunteers and community members; the willingness to help people and change our community’s conditions. They remind me how small acts of goodness can create the change we need in our community. Now, let’s work on doubling, tripling, quatripaling these acts of goodness! Public Innovators: Amanda Chiampi & Pflugerville’s own Rod Reyna! Will you “be the change?” Tell us how!!!! MandoDirector, Hands On Central Texas

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Public Innovators Lab – Aspirations

What are your aspirations for Central Texas? I”ll tell you mine: Central Texas is an inclusive community, we are proactive in addressing community issues and everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Well, I guess that”s more than one aspiration, but I think we can get there. Today, we are in the first day of Public Innovator Lab, hosted by Rich Harwood and the Harwood Intitute for Public Innovation. The Lab is an orientation on how Central Texans can make “real change” happen in our community; to address our community”s most pressing issues. I”m excited about the next three days. I”m in a room with people full of knowledge, experience and the “ganas” to make things happen. I”m talking about community, nonprofit, city, business and regional folks. One of online slots the first things we discussed was our aspirations for our Central Texas community. In our discussion, we talked about the issues (poverty, economic and educational disparities, racism, neighborhood isolation, etc.) and how we can come together to make a lasting difference. I want to share some of our aspiration notes (see above). Today, we started to build a network of people who want to make change and hope real. What issues will we tackle or how will we go about it? That”s still to be determined but I am excited about the possibilities! Public Innovators: Tommy Darwin (UT) & Margaret Valenti (City of Austin) Read more about the Harwood InstituteView the first class of Public Innovators MandoDirector, Hands On Central […]

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I Live Here, I Give Here

“I Live Here, I Give Here” has a video on YouTube that offers compelling reasons for why giving in Central Texas is so important. With our President and Chief Professional Officer David Balch as a member of the I Live Here, I Give Here steering committee, we are proud to participate with the The “I Live Here, I Give Here” campaign, which aims to boost local giving by educating fellow Austinites about the needs in Central Texas and the organizations working to meet those needs.

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The United Way Capital Area 2-1-1 Helpline and the Community Tax Center program

The Community Tax Center (CTC) program, a United Way Capital Area funded program of Foundation Communities, began its 4th year of providing FREE Income Tax preparation assistance to Central Texas families on January 22nd. Once again our United Way Capital Area 2-1-1 Helpline is serving as the public point of information and screening for the Tax Centers. Last year the CTC program filed just over 13,300 returns bringing in $17 Million into our community. Between January and April 2-1-1 handled over 12,000 calls from individuals and families seeking options and education on filing their taxes. This year the CTC program seeks to continue the growth and scope of the program and bring in $20 million in returns and credits. To give you an idea of a typical day–on February 4th 2-1-1 Team spoke to 953 callers. Just under 400 were calling for information on the Community Tax Centers or rural tax prep options in Central Texas. Almost 80% of these calls were answered in under one minute with an average hold time of less than five seconds. What other call center do you know of where anything approaching that kind of response is delivered on a regular basis? Consider this: an average return for a Tax Centers client is $3,000. For an average day like last Monday, this means that if all 400 of our tax callers from last Monday are served, that will bring in $1.2 Million into their lives. This is a powerful step toward achieving a positive, […]

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Text-to-Give With Tom Brady to Boost Youth Fitness

Making a donation to the United Way has never been easier. You probably saw the Super Bowl ad: But, in case you missed it, you can text FIT to 864833 to make a $5.00 donation and have the charge added to your wireless phone bill. Through an unprecedented partnership of United Way, NFL, Mobile Accord, and the Mobile Giving Foundation, with the support of VeriSign, a minimum of $4.50 for every $5.00 donation sent via text message will go directly to support United Way youth fitness efforts across the country.

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Capital IDEA, Focus Area: Financial Stability

We recently paid a visit Capital IDEA, one of the new programs under our Financial Stability focus area. Everyone from United Way who participated in the visit agreed that they are making impressive changes in some Central Texans’ lives. The results of Capital IDEA’s work are clearly demonstrable in this chart that shows the quarterly earnings trajectories of 321 program participants: Brian Hennigton was an experienced IT worker but due to the industry’s downward turn he was laid off five times! As the jobs became less plentiful, Brian knew he would have to get a better education in order to compete. And as a single father of three, this goal was even more important. But how would he go back to school, take care of his family, and pay the bills? That’s when he heard about Capital IDEA. “Capital IDEA paid for my tuition and books, which was great. But what was really helpful was that they helped with childcare,” explains Brian. With this support, he graduated from ACC with an Associate of Science in 2005. But he didn’t stop there. He went back and got his A +/Network + Certifications in March 2006. This exceptional education gave Brian the edge he needed; he now works at Seton Healthcare as an IT Systems Analyst. “I’m now making 50% more than before I started at Capital IDEA,” Brian says. But this isn’t what he’s most proud of. “My kids are proud of me,” he beams. Capital IDEA gave Brian the support […]

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Any Baby Can Healthy and Fair Start (HFS) program

We continue with our profiling of our new programs with an agency and program many of you are probably familiar with because of its long-time, outstanding service to Central Texas. Any Baby Can was also the beneficiary of this year’s 3M 1/2 Marathon, one of the more popular annual events here in Austin. They’ve been kind enough to share with us a wonderful story below, and you’ll no doubt want to read more stories about the impact they are making here. Any Baby Can Child and Family Resource Center has served Austin/Travis County and its surrounding communities for more than 28 years as a premiere, comprehensive family service organization. Any Baby Can’s mission is to ensure that all children reach their potential through education, therapy, and family support services. In 2007, Any Baby Can brought help and hope to over 5,000 of Austin’s youngest, sickest, and poorest children. Most families participating in the Any Baby Can Healthy and Fair Start (HFS) program have multiple risk factors including very low income, unstable housing, low literacy levels, limited job skills, limited English language skills, social isolation, lack of personal transportation, and limited knowledge of community resources. Parents of children birth to five years find support and encouragement in the HFS Program to create a healthy, positive home environment. Participating children consistently display improvements in cognitive skills, emotional adjustment, expressive language, and fine motor abilities, while their moms and dads improve parenting techniques, establish support systems, and secure community resources for their family. […]

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Click through to drinkg2.com and help support United Way

Between now and the Super Bowl you and your United Way can help generate $100,000 to support UWA young adult and campus based programs. Click here to participate in “Performance with a Purpose”, and please forward the link to 10 friends so they can help support United Way too! (When you first land on the site, a movie screen will pop-up that you can close to click on the “Support United Way bubble” as in the picture below.) Gatorade will donate $1 to support United Way for each click through. http://drinkg2.com/

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Everybody Can Be Great, Because Everybody Can Serve!

These are the words that were conveyed to over 250 volunteers during the United Way and Hands On Central Texas MLK Day of Service celebration on January 19, 2008. The celebration started with a kick-off event at Huston-Tillotson University that reflected on Reverend Martin Luther King’s dream toward racial equality, economic justice and his commitment for nonviolence. Reverend Joseph Parker of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church delivered the keynote address sharing his personal memories, as a young man in Birmingham, Alabama, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Others speakers included Yvonne Ortiz-Prince, Dean of Student Affairs, Huston-Tillotson University, State Representative Dawnna Dukes and David Balch, President United Way Capital Area. The program also featured performances by the Huston-Tillotson University Choir, The Cipher Austin’s Hip-Hop Project, DJ Statik and an interactive activity led by the Theatre Action Project. Immediately following the celebration volunteers honored Dr. King’s legacy of service by beautifying the MLK Jr. Blvd, picking up litter and cleaning up, sanitized and cleaned-up the children’s playroom areas at SafePlace, sprucing up and painting a room in an East Austin Church, working on the winter garden at Oak Springs Garden and other similar volunteer projects throughout Austin. Additionally, a large group of volunteers from diverse walks of life came together to work on “Peace Benches” reflecting on the lessons of Dr. King as they choose a quote for imprint on the bench, a messages of peace or inspiring words. A total of nineteen “Peace Benches” were built on Saturday. This is […]

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Elderhaven Adult Day Care

Today, we visited Austin Groups for the Elderly’s Elderhaven Adult Day Care, the only licensed medical-model adult day care program in Travis County. Elderhaven is one of our newly funded programs, and the impact they are making on the quality of so many seniors’ lives is impressive. Many varied activities are planned throughout the day for the participants, and everyone is monitored closely by the activity director. They related to us one recent heartwarming example of a lady whose quality of life was improved remarkably—she was believed to be catatonic and unable to feed herself, but through persistent instruction from the activity director, she “learned” how to eat again after having grown completely sedentary in her apartment, and was even up and dancing after several days of participation in the program. We were delighted to learn that Elderhaven Adult Day Care Center was recently featured in the news, by Andrea Ball at the Austin American Statesman: Staffers make a concerted effort to help newbies feel welcome. They introduce the newcomer to the whole group, reminding everyone how hard it is to be in a strange environment. Say hi to our new friend, staffers say. Make her feel comfortable. And, also on this morning’s Fox News, a great introduction to their work. What was also very impressive about Elderhaven’s work is the number of other non-profit programs in the area that benefit from them, taking advantage of the community space and medical equipment they have on hand. Austin Groups for the […]

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