Newsroom

More than 140 volunteers come together for Summer Day of Caring

On Friday, June 3, over 140 volunteers at 12 different locations across Travis and Williamson counties rolled up their sleeves at United Way for Greater Austin’s Summer Day of Caring, a community-wide volunteer event. Volunteers worked on a range of projects, from cleaning up local parks to painting jungle gyms at child development centers to gardening at local nonprofits – and more!  “These Days of Caring are so important. It connects us with each other, it connects us with the community, and it connects us with the truth that when one of us suffers we all suffer, and when one of us celebrates we all celebrate,” said United Way for Greater Austin CEO David C. Smith while at a volunteer location in Leander (pictured below).  “Volunteering with United Way makes a difference,” shared Terry Cook, Commissioner of Precinct 1 in Williamson County. Terry and her team volunteer every year, and choose to support United Way for Greater Austin because “the tasks chosen by United Way are very impactful.”  Events like Summer Day of Caring are a crucial part of United Way’s mission to fight poverty. Volunteering makes a direct impact on our community in a powerful way. Community events like these aren’t possible without the help of our amazing volunteers and sponsors. A big thank you to H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, QuikTrip, Superior HealthPlan, and Texas Gas Service for their support in making Summer Day of Caring a success!   Check out the full photo album for Summer Day of Caring here. […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards $2.2 Million to 68 Local Organizations

United Way for Greater Austin awarded a total of $2.2 million in strategic grants to 68 nonprofits in Travis and Williamson counties. The recipients represent a diverse set of community leaders collectively serving over 13,000 local children and families in the areas of education, health, and financial stability.  As an organization committed to changing inequitable systems and embracing inclusivity, United Way approached the grant selection process with these values in mind. In total, 66 recipients focus on clients who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), and 25 recipients have BIPOC leaders.  “We are grateful to every donor who makes these strategic investments in our region possible,” said David C. Smith, CEO of United Way for Greater Austin. “Every dollar goes a long way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. United Way is proud to support and work with such outstanding partners, and we look forward to changing lives the only way we know how: United.”  In January 2022, United Way for Greater Austin and United Way of Williamson County joined forces and merged into a regional organization supporting children, families, and individuals in Austin, Travis County, and Williamson County. This funding represents a continued investment in both counties. Because United Way brings local solutions to local issues within each community across the region, grants will support strategic priorities specific to each county.  In Travis County, the grants will advance the goals of two community coalitions powered by United Way: The Success By 6 […]

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Austin-based Superior HealthPlan Filling a Need with Hygiene Closets

This blog was written by Superior HealthPlan Director of Communications Michael Cation. Superior HealthPlan is a long-time corporate partner of United Way for Greater Austin and a pillar of our community. Together with our partners like Superior, we’re making a real difference for children and families across our Austin region.  Shampoo. Toothpaste. Feminine hygiene products. These are just a few of the items individuals from lower-income neighborhoods often struggle to buy. That’s why Superior HealthPlan, a leading managed care organization in Texas, has been working with schools and nonprofits in Austin and beyond to launch hygiene closets. As part of this initiative, which kicked off in 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Superior provides grants to community-based organizations to help stock these closets for individuals in need. “We’re excited to support the Austin community as well as many others in Texas by providing families access to personal care items,” said Mark Sanders, President, and CEO of Superior HealthPlan. “Combined with the many other community programs and family services we offer, hygiene closets allow us to help Texans right where they are.” The initiative began by partnering with 6 organizations that support the disability community. Following a wealth of positive feedback, Superior decided to expand the program in 2021 and has supported even more organizations this year. To date, Superior has provided more than $300,000 in funding to more than 70 organizations and schools in Texas, including more than $20,000 to the following in the Austin area: Austin […]

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United Way Launches Model Community Initiative for Greater Austin Area

Zip code shouldn’t determine what opportunities are available to families, such as jobs, grocery stores, child care, schools, and safe housing–but in our current reality, it does. To support more equitable access to social services for everyone, we are launching a Model Community initiative, a person-centered framework that brings together various agencies, community clinics, and education institutions to offer more holistic delivery of social services. Funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, and St. David’s Foundation, Model Community allows service providers–from health clinics to schools and community-based organizations–to develop a comprehensive view of an individual’s needs, in an effort to coordinate cross-organizational support to improve their quality of life outcomes. Research from the World Health Organization shows that social determinants of health–the non-medical factors and systems that shape one’s quality of life–can have a significant impact on health outcomes. Determinants such as access to education, housing, and healthcare account for between 30-55% of health outcomes. “Our goal is to bring together partners from all sectors including policy makers, health care entities, those with lived experience, funders, grassroots advocates, and community-based organizations to create a more efficient, proactive, human-centered path to connect individuals to social services and therefore improve overall health in the the Greater Austin area,” said Stephanie Cerda, Director of Model Community at United Way. “This work must be informed, led, and owned by the community.” As part of the initiative, our ConnectATX platform currently serves as one of the public-facing access points for the Model […]

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United Way partners provide children’s vaccines in Greater Austin

When the CDC first recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 in early November, United Way for Greater Austin jumped into action alongside eight of our community partners to provide children’s vaccines in Austin and the Central Texas region. To date, we have vaccinated over 3,000 children, and will continue our efforts through June 2022. Since Spring 2021, United Way has partnered with St. David’s Foundation and Austin Community Foundation to support 19 community-based organizations with funding to address COVID-19 vaccine confidence and equitable access among people with low income, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and other groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Now, eight of our partners in 2022—including VaxTogetherAustin, Eikon Church, Where We Thrive, Central Texas Allied Health, Latino Health Care Forum, Del Valle Community Coalition, Hays Latinos United, and COVAC Ops—are focused on providing children’s vaccines in Austin through pediatric clinics by partnering with school districts across Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, and Hays counties. Our partners have worked tirelessly to provide the best children’s vaccination experience for families, with strategies like VaxTogetherAustin’s onsite therapy dogs to help kids stay calm. We know that successful and equitable deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most hopeful path to economic recovery, educational re-engagement, and re-emergence of cultural life.  Here are three ways YOU can help advance vaccine equity: Talk to your children and loved ones about the vaccine Share resources such as vaccine clinics in your area and transportation support for […]

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Free December holiday meals and events in Greater Austin

Every holiday season, United Way’s Navigation Center helps local families access free or low-cost meals and holiday events across the Greater Austin area. To make it easy for community members to find these seasonal events, we’ve compiled a calendar of meals and celebrations happening throughout the month of December.  From drive-thru light trails and gift giveaways for kids, to holiday festivities with Santa Claus, each event is open to the public. Check it out below! Know someone looking for assistance with food, transportation, housing, or other resources? Tell them to give us a call at 2-1-1 to get connected to help in our community. 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.

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VaxTogetherAustin: Helping the community heal, one vaccination at a time

On May 4, 2021, VaxTogetherAustin became one of nineteen community-based organizations receiving a total of $415,000 in grant funding from United Way for Greater Austin, Austin Community Foundation, and St. David’s Foundation. This grantee cohort shares ideas and collaborates in monthly meetings and day-to-day communications in their grantee Facebook group. Remember how we said that anyone can save lives in Central Texas? This week we want to introduce you to one of our vaccine equity initiative grantees who is doing just that. Meet VaxTogetherAustin, a COVID-19 health equity organization supporting underserved populations in Austin and surrounding areas.  Starting in January 2021, VaxTogetherAustin began as a loose coalition of volunteers drawn from various grassroots groups dedicated to helping people find COVID-19 vaccine appointments in and around the Austin area. Early efforts focused on serving seniors, the blind and visually impaired, medically fragile individuals, hesitant individuals, and underserved communities, while also assisting anybody who reached out for help. “Initially I was on NextDoor, helping people in my neighborhood who needed help securing vaccine appointments for their elderly family members,” Sharon Cohan, VaxTogetherAustin Founder, and Executive Director said. “I ended up partnering with Raji Parameswaran, now President of the Board and Strategic Operations for VaxTogetherAustin when we realized we were doing the same thing. The next thing I knew, we had a spreadsheet of 300 people that were all eligible for vaccines and needed help.” In February, Marcy Gonzalez, a visually impaired Austinite, helped VaxTogetherAustin identify a need for vaccine access in the […]

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Superior HealthPlan Supports New Moms: Meet Katy and her Futur

This blog was written by Superior HealthPlan Sr. Manager, Marketing and Communications, Michael Cation. Superior HealthPlan is a long-time corporate partner of United Way for Greater Austin and a pillar of our community. Together with our partners like Superior, we’re building a better Austin for families like Katy and Futur. Katy Moreno is a certified nursing assistant, a community health worker, and just weeks away from finishing coursework to become a phlebotomist. Three years ago, those achievements seemed unreachable, as she became a mother at the age of 16. As her son, Futur, faced early health complications, his wellbeing was at the top of her priority list. Katy and Futur accessed support through Medicaid and Superior HealthPlan, an Austin-based managed care organization that serves members in all 254 Texas counties. As a young, single mother in Austin, Katy had access to a range of services from Superior – including through its Start Smart for Your Baby program – that set her and Futur up to be successful. “Futur struggled to eat in the first few months,” Katy explained. “He had some issues with gaining weight and required multiple hospital visits and medication. Without Superior’s support, I think I would have had some anxiety and Futur might have had some even bigger health issues.” After addressing Futur’s healthcare needs, Katy’s focus turned to herself – how to support her young family moving forward. Like many before her, Katy enrolled in a GED and job training program through American Youthworks, an organization […]

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Community Partner Spotlight: Austin Asian Community Health Initiative

The Austin Asian Community Health Initiative (AACHI) partners with the local Asian community to enhance public health and well-being through advocacy, language-specific education, and healthcare navigation services. Successful and equitable deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most hopeful path to getting our community closer to herd immunity. However, we know that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities, those with low-income, or people who live in rural areas face systemic barriers to vaccine access and have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy.   That’s why United Way for Greater Austin, in partnership with St. David’s Foundation and Austin Community Foundation, recently awarded $415,000 in grants to 19 local organizations to address these inequities and increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in our community. The Austin Asian Community Health Initiative (AACHI) is one of those organizations doing incredible work in our community. Learn from AACHI Program Manager Lucy Nguyen about the specific barriers to vaccine access facing the local Asian and Asian American community, and how AACHI is helping mitigate those barriers and decreasing vaccine hesitancy.  What are some of the systemic barriers to COVID-19 vaccine access that the Austin Asian and Asian American community is facing?  Language access is the biggest barrier in Asian communities with high limited English proficiency in accessing vaccine locations, scheduling vaccination appointments, and understanding the risks of the vaccine. A majority of local vaccination locations only accommodate English speakers. What are some of the leading factors that promote vaccine hesitancy among some in this community?  Earlier this year, […]

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5 Ways to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month — a time to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of the AAPI community. Looking for opportunities to celebrate? Here are 5 ways to learn more about the richness of and diversity in AAPI culture, amplify AAPI voices, and support our AAPI neighbors.  1. View one of the many virtual galleries offered by Austin’s Asian American Resource Center  The Asian American Resource Center’s (AARC) vision is to empower Austin’s diverse communities through cultural understanding and life-enhancing opportunities. While they’re currently closed to the public, the AARC is offering digital programming including an opportunity to view numerous beautifully inspiring virtual galleries of artwork by local AAPI artists. Check it out >  2. Watch “Asian Americans” and explore 150 years of Asian American history This must-see, five-part documentary series chronicles the history and accomplishments of Asian Americans over the past 150 years, while highlighting the role the community has played in shaping America as we know it. Watch for free on PBS > 3. Support local, Asian-owned businesses The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce is encouraging the community to support our AAPI neighbors through patronizing Asian-owned businesses. For many, these businesses serve as community gathering spaces and cultural hubs. Check out this list of local Asian-owned businesses to visit > 4. Check out Leadership Austin’s Engage Series – Asian Representation: Quality of Life in Central Texas The AAPI community is one of the fastest growing in Austin. Join Leadership Austin as they […]

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