Category: Austin Trends

The Austin Summer Survival Guide, and Not the One You Would Think…

This is not your average summer survival guide. I am not here to talk about Float Fest or Amy’s Ice Cream. While both are great summer staples, the purpose of this survival guide is to provide our community with a list of resources that will make sure everyone gets the best out of their summer vacation.   Remember that you can call 2-1-1 24/7 for community information and resources. Connect with a compassionate call specialist, like Arnoldo who has been on staff for more than six years.   “2-1-1 is the most effective way of getting resources out into the community.” Arnoldo, 2-1-1 Call Specialist said. “It is a gathering of many people, many facets, that create one big jewel.”   STAY FED From breakfast to lunch to after-school snack, many kids in Austin rely on school meal programs. Often times the meals they are fed at school, are the only thing they will eat all day. According to Feeding America and the Community Advancement Network Dashboard for Travis County, 25 percent of children in Travis County are food insecure. That means more than 63,000 kids in Austin often go hungry when school is out.     Thankfully, through the Summer Food Service Program, Austin ISD will continue to serve FREE breakfast and lunch to local children and teens ages 18 and younger. Your child can get FREE meals even if they don’t attend AISD, regardless of economic status. No registration or identification is required.    To access FREE summer […]

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Ruthless Good, a scavenger hunt with social justice and equity in its sights

On April 8, Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt will dispatch dozens of teams from the Long Center to crack clues, solve trivia challenges, and discover photo-worthy landmarks and locales. But the rolicking hunt’s true aim is problem solving on a much grander scale–bolstering equitable community-wide access to health, education and work. I’m serving as honorary chair for the hunt, because I love the way this event shows that every Austinite can be a philanthropist and that giving is fun. Each one of us can leave the comfort of our homes, join a team, cultivate curiosity about our community, and give time or money (however limited) to support the causes we care about. And when we do it together we can have a huge collective impact. Those who join the hunt will raise awareness and funds for the United Way for Greater Austin, a powerful force for good. Each year, thousands of community members contribute to United Way through workplace campaigns and special events like Ruthless Good. United Way then pools those resources to make transformative investments in vital community programs. When you show up on April 8th or encourage others to do so, you help important initiatives that United Way funds, such as Success By 6, which launches Austin’s youngest citizens into bright futures. The early years are crucial for preparing children for school and life beyond, yet in Austin high-quality childcare often runs $10,000 or more per year, pricing out those who need it most. Success By […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards $120,000 to Fund 2-Generation Programming in Austin, TX.

On November 17, 2016, five Austin non-profit agencies were awarded grants to fund initiatives created to propel 2-Generation Programming (2-Gen) in Austin, TX. American YouthWorks, Jeremiah Program and Saint Louise House were each awarded $30,000 grants and Goodwill Central Texas and SSP Learning Center were each awarded $15,000 grants. Leah Meunier, Chief Programs Officer at United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) adds, “These five funded programs help parents pursue education and pathways to superior employment opportunities while also ensuring that their young children have access to high-quality early education. We know early education fosters key developmental needs for school readiness—in turn, embedding anchors of opportunity for upward economic mobility across generations. UWATX is privileged to support these organizations during a period when Austin’s families and communities may depend on their work more than ever.” Over the last two years, UWATX and Austin’s 2-Gen Advisory Committee, have worked to demonstrate the value of the two-generation approach in service provision, bringing together local service providers and top researchers from around the country in 2-Gen community forums. The result of these discussions is a “Two-Generation Vision for Austin” which states, “Intergenerational poverty is a major problem in the United States. Economic mobility across generations (or the ability for children to do better financially than their parents) has diminished over time, and Austin is no exception, with lower mobility rates than many major cities. Chronic poverty produces toxic stress that affects adults’ abilities to perform well in the workplace and to provide a high quality […]

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GAVA Early Childhood Team Provides a New Refrigerator at Little Dudes Learning Center

GAVA (Go Austin Vamos Austin!) is a resident-led health initiative working in Austin’s neighborhoods (78744 and 78745) with highest incidence of childhood obesity to promote family wellness, increase physical activity and improve nutrition and access to healthy food. The initiative works in different areas, called sectors, to address the key factors impacting childhood obesity: parks, schools, food service/quality/availability, out-of-school time and early childhood education. Laura Olson, Family Support Service Coordinator for United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 team, serves as the Early Childhood Sector Manager for GAVA. She works across the early childhood community to form teams made up of: childcare providers and early childhood teachers, nonprofit providers serving families with young children, home daycare providers, and parents of young children. Teams meet monthly to develop plans and take action toward improving the health of their families and neighborhoods. One of the childcare providers Olson works with is Little Dudes Learning Center. Little Dudes opened it’s doors in 1961 when Mrs. Ellen Smith recognized the need for childcare in South Austin. Consequently, Little Dudes was the first childcare center to open in Austin, south of the river. Little Dudes has long been seen as providing high quality early education and has been recognized as a Texas Rising Star Four Star Center, a statewide quality certification program. This past summer, Little Dudes had an old refrigerator that was not cooling properly during their annual health inspection. As a result, they had to pour out gallons of milk and throw away […]

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All Hands on Deck at Fall Day of Caring

Each fall, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) welcomes corporate volunteer teams and individuals from the community to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism through a one day service extravaganza called Fall Day of Caring (FDOC). This year’s Fall Day of Caring  presented by NXP Semiconductors was held on Sept. 23 and brought close to 800 volunteers to over 30 volunteer projects at nonprofits and schools all over Austin. Volunteers cleaned out gardens, prepped materials for teachers, built play structures and much more. UWATX believes that anyone can be a philanthropist by giving their time to make their community stronger, smarter, safer, and more beautiful for everyone. Through events like Fall Day of Caring, we invite everyone to be a part of making Austin greater! FDOC wouldn’t be possible without our amazing sponsors: Austin Coca-Cola, Broadway Bank, JE Dunn, Kerbey Lane Café and NXP Semiconductors. These companies empower not only their own employees, but hundreds of other Central Texans to give their time to causes they’re passionate about at FDOC projects. In addition to sponsoring the event, each of these companies send their own workers– from executives to entry level employees – out to work together to accomplish huge projects for nonprofits in need of a little help. JE Dunn volunteers utilized their construction expertise to make the playground at Trinity Child Development Center safer by building a raised deck over a frequently flooded area on the playground. Trinity CDC, part of UWATX’s Center Project initiative, provides high quality early child education […]

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2016 Early Care and Education Survey Results

Today, we’re proud to release the results of the 2016 Early Care and Education Survey – a look at trends across the early care field in our community and the only one of it’s kind in Central Texas. This year’s data shows more of the same positive trends we saw in 2014, and also similar challenges. Teacher education in early childhood 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. 20% – 25% of East and South Austin center teachers have no early childhood education beyond high school. West, North, and Central Austin fair better with only 7-9% of teachers having no formal early childhood education training. Regional Differences in Early Childhood Education                         The survey also found that long-term teacher retention has decreased over the past two years.   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 in East, South and North Austin also rely on public subsidies for funding, with private donations and corporate subsidies playing a minor role for the regions as well.   Child Care Center Funding Sources                 This may be part of the reason why the cost […]

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Philanthropy As Easy As 1-2-3!

Each year, we adopt a new campaign theme to inspire employees to give a little bit out of each paycheck to change their community. We at UWATX believe anyone can be a philanthropist–but the word “philanthropy” can sound overwhelming. We recruited some of Austin’s finest philanthropists–elementary school children–to show you just how easy philanthropy can be in this year’s campaign: “Philanthropy Easy as 1-2-3”. We were excited to once again work with Kathy Horn and her collective, Hunt, Gather, as well as local Austin photographer, Annie Ray. Local comedian Mac Blake spoke with these young philanthropists about how they help others and what giving back means to them. The videos highlight what philanthropy means at the most basic level, why we need philanthropy in our community and more. If you want a good laugh, check out all the videos here. We featured three UWATX service recipients in this year’s campaign, who can tell you in their own words what United Way and philanthropy means to them. Katrina and Aracelli Chapman UWATX gives Katrina invaluable peace of mind and support. A single mother and unable to work because of a disability, Katrina has looked to United Way for financial and emotional support since before the birth of her now three-year-old daughter, Aracelli, Now, she’s turning again to United Way’s Success By 6 program to make sure Aracelli is developmentally where she needs to be when she starts school. Ashley and Owen Trimpey Raising up the community, one family at a time. Through Play To Learn, […]

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Two-Gen Programs Aim to Break Cycle of Poverty

At United Way for Greater Austin, we focus on wrapping our arms around entire families and fighting the root causes of poverty. A family living in poverty rarely struggles with only one factor causing their situation, and therefore cannot rise out of poverty by only receiving one type of aid or only one person in the family receiving help. As an example, let’s say Diane is a single mom of three children. Diane is working fulltime making minimum wage during the day and also has a side job at night to make extra money. She must pay for childcare for her youngest child during the weekdays, and is having trouble making ends meet to pay the rent, put food on the table and clothing on her children’s backs. She has no opportunity for promotion at work as she only speaks Spanish and only has her GED. As a result, she is also struggling with depression and feels she has no support. Her oldest child watches the other two after school, and he is struggling with grades and never has time or help with his homework because of this. If Diane receives one service, such as food stamps, this will help her put food on the table—but the fact remains that the family is still unable to be lifted out of poverty due to the variety of other factors affecting them. This is where two-generation, or “two-gen,” programs come into play. Many programs focus solely on low-income children or low-income adults, […]

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Summer Health Tips

Summer time usually means staying by the poolside, barbecues and other outdoor festivities, but with that comes sun exposure, mosquitos and various safety hazards! It’s important to prevent injuries and keep you and your family healthy while enjoying the outdoors. Below are a few tips to help keep your family healthy and safe this summer season: Stay Active Longer days and more daylight provide more opportunities for you to get outside and get some exercise in! Swimming, walking, biking and jump-roping are all great ways to burn some calories this summer. You can make enjoying physical activity a thing for the whole family! Playing tag, frisbee and hula-hooping are great ways to get the kids involved and everyone moving. One thing to keep in mind is that the warmer temperatures make exercising outdoors a bit more challenging. Wear lightweight and light-colored clothes to keep yourself cooler. With the hottest time of the day being between noon and 3 p.m., try to keep your exercising to mornings or evenings after the sun sets. Most importantly, drinks lots and lots of water, before, during and after you are physically active! Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes and Other Pests It’s important to carry around bug spray containing at least 20% deet to deter mosquitoes and others pests when outside. Mosquitoes are also attracted to sweet smelling perfumes and sprays, so try to minimize use of these products if you plan to be outside for extended periods of time. Protect Your Skin and Eyes When out […]

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Vacationing on a Budget

Whether you have toddlers or teens, cabin fever may be starting to set with week two of the kids being at home for the summer. Taking the family to Disney or somewhere in the Caribbean is not something everyone can afford, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation. Texas has various getaways that are family-friendly, low-cost and enjoyable! It is possible to plan a quality summer vacation without breaking your budget. Interested in soaking up the sun on a beach? Or maybe you find joy in taking a scenic hike outdoors? Below is a list of affordable vacation hot spots that can work for weeklong trips or a day trip to encourage family bonding: Marfa, Texas Prices vary This west Texas town is quickly becoming a popular vacation spot for people all over the country! Since the 9th century ranchers, apache Native Americans and famous meteorologists have reported seeing the famous Marfa lights. These lights dance across the horizon of this town in hues of red, blue and white year round! Bringing the kids?You can camp for as little as $22 per night. If you have a bit more wiggle room, stay at the Thunderbird Hotel (rooms for around $160 per night) or get real groovy and opt to sleep in a yurt or tent at El Cosmico, where sleeping accommodations vary from $85 to $175. Galveston, Texas Free and up Looking for some fun in the sun? Visit the island of Galveston if you are looking to get some beach […]

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