Category: 2-Gen Coalition

Parents are powerful: Uplifting parent voices as champions for change | 2-Gen Leadership Council

Parents are powerful. At United Way for Greater Austin, we value the lived experience and extensive expertise of parents & caregivers. What does that mean for our work? It means that we not only strive to make room at the table for parent voices, but we work to uplift those voices and ensure that they are heard.  Welcome to our new blog series all about shining a spotlight on the ways amazing parents are using their voices to build a better Austin. In this first installment, you will hear from two-parent leaders, Alma Ruiz and Cristina Guajardo, about their experience serving on the 2-Gen Leadership Council.  What is the 2-Gen Leadership Council? The 2-Gen Leadership council is made up of 47 local leaders. These council members guide the creation of policy at the city and county level and are decision-makers in the areas of workforce, school districts, nonprofits, child care, and more. They provide big picture guidance and oversight for the 2-Gen Strategic Plan purpose, goals, and strategies. As parent leaders, Alma and Cristina are actually sitting at the table with systems leaders to co-design strategies, programs, pilots as well as to guide our overall strategic planning process. The 2-Gen Leadership Council is the only structure of this type elevating parent leaders to this strategic level in Austin currently. The goal is to elevate the voices of families and inform strategic plan implementation while giving families the skills they need to be effective advocates and leaders in the community. The […]

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Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through collaboration

Have you heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? If not, don’t worry! We are here to help fill you in.  United Way for Greater Austin is excited to announce the launch of the PACES program, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through getting the Earned Income Tax Credit into the hands of more eligible families in the Greater Austin area. Only 20% of eligible families are currently taking advantage of this tax credit that is arguably the largest federal anti-poverty program there is and that’s where PACES comes in. The program is a collaboration between Foundation Communities, The Child & Family Research Partnership out of The University of Texas at Austin, and United Way.  Gabriela Mordi, Project Manager at Foundation Communities, will lead the outreach efforts with the help of United Way ATX’s PACES Coordinator Francisco Gallegos. Monica G. Navarro, Research Associate at The Child & Family Research Partnership, will support the project through data collection and analysis. “The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a refundable federal tax credit for working families of low and moderate income,” Navarro said. “In other words, the EITC lowers a family’s tax bill or provides a refund if they do not owe taxes, increasing the family’s overall income. By improving the financial security of families with low income, the EITC can reduce the environmental and economic conditions that put children at risk of experiencing ACEs and promote overall better family and child outcomes.” Watch the video below to learn more about the […]

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Champions of change: Link Up Austin amplifies the voice of young parents for good

Young parents with low income experience a great deal of financial instability, and their poverty rate is nearly triple the national average. Thanks to funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way for Greater Austin and the Austin/Travis County 2-Gen Coalition are on a mission to support the needs of these young parents and create a social services ecosystem that promotes economic mobility for generations to come. One of the ways we are making this happen is through Link Up Austin. The group is a place for parents, ages 18-24, to connect with one another and grow their leadership skills. These young adults face many unique challenges that older parents do not. The labor market is rapidly changing, and often younger parents have not had the time to get the education, experience, or perspective needed to navigate their careers while focusing on the daily tasks of raising young children.  The cohort of nine parents is co-designing a pilot to help remove barriers for young parents in the workforce, education, and beyond. For example, providing flexible child care will allow parents to attend classes, in-person or asynchronously, and give them equal access to pursue education. Equal access to education is important because the likelihood of a child succeeding later in life is still affected by the education and income levels of his or her parents. Link Up Austin is designed to listen to the needs of young parents in our community and then work with them to create solutions that […]

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Family Leadership Council: Your story matters

At United Way for Greater Austin, we bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty. We know that real change happens when we Live United and we value the lived experience and extensive expertise of parents & caregivers. One of the ways we make this happen is through our Family Leadership Council led by Paola Silvestre Porras, Director of Family Pathways at United Way ATX. The Family Leadership Council aims to create a pipeline for parents with lived experience to become community leaders and serve on commission boards, city council, and more. It is important for parents to be part of the decision-making process that affects them directly. The Family Leadership Council is designed to help these parents be agents of change in their own communities.  One of these parents from the inaugural cohort of the Family Leadership Council is Amina Makamba. Immigrating from the Congo in 2016, Amina gave birth to her triplet daughters three months early, the very next day after arriving in Austin, Texas.  “I came here in December of 2016. When I got to Austin, the next day I had the triplets. One of my girls was one pound when she was born and stayed in the hospital for five months,” Amina said. “When my kids were born I didn’t have any family here, so I had to stay in the shelter and work to go through the [social service system].” Parents are nominated to participate in the Family Leadership Council by our Community Investment […]

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From Barriers to Brighter Future

Imagine: You’re a mother of three and you recently relocated to the United States from the Middle East with your family. Striving to enforce the value of education to your children, you vow to complete your high school diploma – despite a sizable language barrier. You enroll in part-time high-school diploma classes so you can meet your two older children as they get off the school bus every day. Now, you need to find child care for your youngest daughter.   Anisa doesn’t have to imagine this scenario – she’s living it.   A native Farsi speaker, Anisa needed to enroll in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses before taking academic classes. Anisa also worried that her youngest daughter Adrina would be developmentally delayed due to her limited communication skills. Then, Anisa found one of United Way ATX’s Community Investment Grant partners – Goodwill Industries.   Goodwill Industries launched The Goodwill Excel Center, the first free public charter high school in Austin, Texas for adults 17 – 50. This high school has specialized learning plans, life coaches, and support services to help ensure student success. Thanks to The Goodwill Excel Center, Anisa was able to enroll in ESL classes and receive free childcare throughout the course of her education. The service allows parents to take classes close to where their kids attend child care and save parents several thousands of dollars a year in child care.   All of this sounded like a dream come true to Anisa. After […]

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Impossible to Unstoppable

Imagine you’re a young single mother struggling to find affordable child care for your new baby. You need child care because you are striving to get your GED. With a GED, you hope you will be able to get a better job, and in turn, build a better life for you and your daughter. Only… you need child care to be able to get your GED, and you need your GED to get a job that will allow you to make enough money to afford child care. See the problem here? This is the exact no-win situation Alyzeah Martinez found herself in. As Alyzeah began to adjust to life as a new mother, she was having to rely on family and friends to take care of her daughter Luna so she could make it to class – child care was just too expensive. Alyzeah was struggling to piece together a child care plan. With everyone’s availability changing day-to-day, she began to miss class. “I was asking family members to watch Luna during the day while I went to school and paying them [more than] $100 a week to do so,” Alyzeah said. “It was nearly impossible to find someone every day and I can’t afford to pay for child care myself.” Alyzeah decided to enroll in a GED and job training program at American YouthWorks. The Youthbuild program at American YouthWorks begins when a young parent needing child care applies. Then, case managers work with the applicant to enroll their […]

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Where Hope Takes Root

More than 70,000 children in Central Texas live in poverty and face challenges that stand in the way of learning, like hunger, trauma, homelessness, poverty and poor health. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out and failing to earn a high school diploma. Community In Schools (CIS) sees potential in every student, and they are committed to helping students believe in their own ability to achieve.   CIS are experts at bringing communities together for students. They collaborate with school districts and schools, deliver resources, work with local businesses, social service agencies, healthcare providers and volunteers to support students and families in overcoming obstacles and roadblocks to success. Thanks to this collaborative network, our community is a better place for students in need. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to fund the ASPIRE program run by CIS, and we are thrilled to see the convening of different entities committed to creating bright futures for all our neighbors.   ASPIRE (Achieving Success through Parental Involvement, Reading and Education) breaks the cycle of illiteracy and poverty within families by providing comprehensive, integrated literacy services for the entire family. This dual-generation (or 2-Gen) program brings parents and children together for educational success. School Readiness is the result of a process that starts at birth and relies on the home environment and parental involvement to help them achieve Success by 6. ASPIRE serves families with children that are living in poverty in Travis County. Parents experiencing poverty face […]

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ABC, 123 & Everything In Between

Literacy is often at the intersection of many issues affecting the well-being of our community, so it’s vital to place a big focus on improving literacy. The Literacy Coalition of Central Texas is building stronger communities by ensuring that individuals and families have the skills they need to thrive. Their clients are often the hardest to reach – adults with below third-grade reading level, parents whose busy schedules render them unable to participate in other programs, recent immigrants with low English proficiency, and survivors of trauma. A,B,C,1,2,3 and everything in between is all in a day’s work for the folks at the Literacy Coalition. Through work with partner agencies, they are lifting up the sector as a whole by training instructors, providing more capacity for their work, and responding to network-identified needs. Through its programs, the LCCT leads and manages multiple levels of skill-building efforts to positively impact underserved individuals who are strengthening their language and workplace skills. Literacy Coalition programs include: AmeriCorps direct service English at Work Integrated Education and Training Literacy Forward PALS (Playing and Learning Strategies) Social Services The Learning Center AmeriCorps VISTA   When people think about literacy, they often think about kids learning to read, but literacy is so much more than that. At the LCCT, there is a strong focus on literacy outside the K-12 arena, working side by side with young children and adults on early childhood literacy, adult education, vocational training, digital literacy, and English language skills. Their programs empower people to […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) selected 26 Austin nonprofit agencies to be awarded a total of $1.466 million in grants to fund early childhood education and 2-Generation (2-Gen) programming as part of their 2018-2021 Community Investment Grants (CIG).   United Way creates a community of support by partnering with critical community stakeholders. UWATX convenes this community of stakeholders to identify proven strategies and invest in high-quality, data-driven programs. CIG’s seek to amplify the collective impact of organizations already providing critical services to Austin’s youngest, most vulnerable children and their families.   2018-2021 CIG funded partners include: American Youthworks Any Baby Can of Austin Austin Child Guidance Center Austin Voices for Education and Youth AVANCE-AUSTIN BookSpring Child Inc. Communities In Schools of Central Texas E3 Alliance Foundation Communities Goodwill Industries of Central Texas Jeremiah Program KLRU LifeWorks Literacy Coalition of central Texas Mainspring Schools Mount Sinai Christian Academy  Open Door Preschools Saint Lousie House St. George’s Episcopal School Texas Association for the Education of Young Children The SAFE Alliance Todos Juntos Learning Center Trinity Child Development Center Workforce Solutions Capital Area YMCA of Austin     The path to poverty starts at an early age. Children living in low-income households do not have access to the same opportunities as their more advantaged peers and when parents struggle to access social and economic opportunities, breaking the cycle of generational seems unimaginable.   “It means so much to the Mainspring kids, families and staff that you lead this effort in Central Texas […]

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