Newsroom

Blog Action Day: Poverty – Slipping into the darkness (9am – Yes, I know I'm late )

Okay, sorry for the delay. I promise I wasn’t sleeping. I was eating and had some meetings. Yeah, can you believe it? I get no breaks around here! So how do people slip into the darkness aka poverty? What causes poverty? A major reason is wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing, healthcare, childcare, and education in our area. Consequently, many hardworking families struggle to earn enough income to support themselves and their families. United Way is a member of The Basic Needs Coalition of Central Texas. They produce a great fact sheet outlining these causes, I’ve summarized a few here; Low wages – In Travis County, almost 22% of households make less than $25,000 per year. Much of employment is in service jobs that pay low wages and have few, if any, benefits. Education opportunities – Employment and income earning potential are directly related to education attainment. A high school diploma increases a person’s lifetime earnings potential by $1 million; a college degree increases that to $2 million. Illness and Healthcare Costs – A 2005 Harvard study concluded that illness and medical bills caused half of the 1.45 million personal bankruptcies in 2001. Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by illness had health insurance. More that ¾’s were insured at the start of the bankrupting process. A common procedure such as an appendectomy and associated hospital bills, can easily cost in excess of $30,000. Remember, Texas also has the highest rate of uninsured in the whole […]

Read More

Target's Night of Giving

Target recently presented a grant to United Way Capital Area at its Night of Giving. The grant will help United Way Capital Area’s Success By 6 Books to Partners project provide age-appropriate books to children aged 0 – 6 being served by the agencies that are part of the Home Visitation Collaboration. L to R: Ramiro Munoz (Target), Marchele Lee (United Way Capital Area), Chondra Barton (Target), Robert Werner (Target) The Success By 6 Home Visitation Collaboration is a group of organizations targeting high-risk families with infants and toddlers who are overburdened due to health, social, and /or economic conditions, and who do not have access to other effective early childhood interventions such as Early Head Start or high-quality child care.

Read More

Early Childhood Advocacy Opportunity — A Mentally Healthy Community Starts with its Children

Early Childhood Advocacy Update–while the event below has passed, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved with Early Childhood Advocacy in Central Texas: Attend Advocacy 101, A Lunch with Mark Strama Learn more about the United Way Success By 6 Program here. Get “hands on” with a Child Care Facilities Improvement Project here. Here is a great opportunity to become an Advocate in our community for Early Childhood education. United Way’s Sue Carpenter, Director, Success By 6, will present Incredible Years, a presentation on Early Childhood best practices. The Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force Monitoring Committee (MMHTFMC) is hosting a public forum, “A Mentally Healthy Community Starts with its Children,” focusing on Early Childhood Interventions (ECI) and its preventative impact on mental health disorders. The forum will be held Oct. 3, 2008 from 10 a.m. until noon at Austin City Hall’s City Council Chambers, with a welcoming address from Council Member Lee Lefingwell, followed by guest speaker Libby Doggett, Ph.D., Executive Director of Pre-K Now.

Read More

Success By 6 and Wells Fargo

A big thank you to Mark Curry and Wells Fargo for helping spread the word about our early childhood education program, Success By 6 . With their generosity, they have underwritten the cost to run a new Success By 6 TV advertisement on KVUE, the ABC affiliate, from mid August through mid September. Check out Mark in the spot below or catch it yourself around the Ellen, Oprah, News at 5/6 and other prime time shows. Many thanks again Mark and Wells Fargo!!

Read More

Breakthrough Austin's Visitors' Day

“Good Morning Breakthrough” rang the cheers of 90 middle school students at 8:40 in the morning in Calhoun Auditorium on the University of Texas campus. While most students spend their summer at a camp, in the park or in front of the television set, these students are attending a summer enrichment program to help keep them on track to college. Staff from United Way Capital Area attended Breakthrough Austin’s Visitors’ Day today, and got to witness firsthand their amazing work. Breakthrough Austin is the providing agency for three of our Youth Education programs, Project Connect, School Success and Summer Bridge. Each day, the students meet at Littlefield Fountain on the UT campus for breakfast, then walk over to Calhoun Hall for attendance. Attendance is not just a mundane activity requiring minimal participation, it as an opportunity for students to be acknowledged and affirmed with a special place in their community acknowledged and affirmed with a special place in their community. This year marked an important milestone for Breakthrough Austin, their first group of sixth graders graduated from high school and they received acceptances to 44 colleges and universities. For Breakthrough students, the process of determining how to get to college is a difficult one, as most of their parents have never been to college. All of the students apply to be in Breakthrough’s summer program, so they come ready and excited to have a unique learning experience that will prepare them for college. For many Austin area students, graduating from […]

Read More

Check out what United Way is up to!

We’re midway through our 6 month “Tools for Community Change” workshops and this month we want to inform you how we want to change community conditions through the areas of Education, Financial Stability and Health as well as how we’re going to engage 100,000 people in this change. Interested? Come check it out… Community Innovation Workshops – Presented by the University of Texas, United Way Capital Area and Hands On Central Texas. Changing Community Conditions United Way’s purpose is to engage and unite the community to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and advance the common good. Come find out how United Way plans to change community conditions through the areas of education, health and financial stability, and to create opportunities for individuals, families and neighborhoods to succeed. Thursday, July 24, 2008 6:00-7:30pm United Way Offices: 2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd, Austin, TX 78702 To register for this session, go to http://www.handsoncentraltexas.org/ Thanks, Mando Director, Hands On Central Texas

Read More

New Education Study

The Financial Times posted this piece on education and why it is so important to our economy. Its implications are very troubling and point to the need for continued investment in early childhood education as well as helping stem the tide of high school drop outs. What do you think? America’s human capital is tested By Clive Crook Published: July 6 2008 17:43 | Last updated: July 6 2008 17:43 A startling and profoundly important fact about the US economy has received surprisingly little attention. The educational quality of the country’s workers is starting to decline – not just relatively (because other countries are catching up and moving ahead) but also, for the first time, in absolute terms. Over the coming years, baby-boomers departing from the labour force will have better educational qualifications than the younger workers replacing them. If the ultimate source of an economy’s ability to grow and prosper is its human capital, the US is in trouble. For decades the educational quality of the US labour force surged. In 1940, less than 5 per cent of the population aged 25-64 had at least a four-year college education. By 2000, the proportion had increased to nearly 30 per cent. Successive generations of workers improved on the educational attainments of their predecessors. Retiring workers were replaced by better-educated youngsters. This remorseless accumulation of human capital helped fuel the country’s postwar growth. According to at least one authoritative study, it was the principal driver. This trend came to a halt […]

Read More

Regional 'Blueprint for Educational Change' to be unveiled

A recent article in the Austin American Statesman outlines some of the challenges we face to improve Education in our community. Education leaders try to address these challenges in the Blueprint for Educational Change, the culmination of a two-year effort to improve education in Central Texas. Drafters of the blueprint, meeting today to release copies of the report, said they want to see: 95 percent of Central Texas students graduate from high school. Only two-thirds of ninth-graders now go on to graduate in four years. A 20 percentage-point improvement in eighth-grade passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills among students from all ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic eighth-graders sometimes lag 30 to 40 percentage points behind whites, 80 percent of whom pass all sections of the state achievement test. 70 percent of children enter kindergarten “school ready” by 2015. One study shows that 40 percent of children in Central Texas now enter kindergarten with up to an 18-month delay in skills. The coalition of business and education leaders who worked on the blueprint said they also want 20,010 more students enrolled in college by 2010 and want the number of students who are “college and career” ready to double by 2015. Now, only about 43 percent of area high school graduates can take college-level courses without remedial work. Susan Dawson, executive director of the E3 Alliance, the group that led the blueprint effort, said the intent is “to look at where other countries and cities are outpacing […]

Read More

CISCO Systems employees work MAGIC into volunteering!

As Director of Corporate and Volunteer Relations, I work with a lot of companies doing good in the community. CISCO by far exceeded my expectations with their “can do” attitude and big hearts! They magically make things disappear…truckloads of trash, broken down washing machines, old wooden desks and much more…these are just a few things that a team of CISCO employees made “go away” at the request of the Sammy’s House Director, Isabel Huerta, while volunteering on Friday, November 9th as part of a Success By 6 Child Care Facility Improvement Project. The true magic is how their magical powers worked throughout the day! The CISCO team built and installed wooden racks, set-up a teacher’s lounge, assembled shelves, installed a “gently used” washing machine and dryer, picked-up and delivered carpet, painted wooden cribs, moved around big bulking furniture and miscellaneous items, spread gravel in the playground, and even cleaned-up by sweeping and mopping floors before leaving at the end of the day!At the end of the day the teary-eyed director and staff couldn’t believe their eyes! The CISCO team had definitely started the holiday season early by spreading the cheer! CISCO Team: Tell us about your experience! Post a comment here! Diana Santos, Director of Corporate and Volunteer Relations Hands On Central Texas

Read More