Newsroom

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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Play To Learn: Filling Gaps in the Digital Divide

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) is committed to developing innovative programs that enable low income families to have access to quality educational tools for their Pre-K3 children. Since 2011, UWATX’s Success By 6 program has been partnering with several community organizations (such as Austin Travis County Integral Care’s First Steps program, Austin Public Library Camp Fire Central Texas, KLRU and the YMCA of Austin) to offer Play To Learn (PTL) in some of the higher-need areas of greater Austin. This year alone, PTL served approximately 240 families through 15 partner locations and plans to partner with additional host sites in 2017. Play To Learn Technology By introducing tablet technology to the children and parents, PTL has been helping to decrease the “digital divide” that exists between lower-income families and their higher-income peers. Throughout the 10-week curriculum, parents learn skills to help their young children prepare for success in school. Additionally, PTL programming extends past the 10-week curriculum. Parents who attend at least eight sessions receive a tablet loaded with children’s books, songs, apps, PBS videos and bookmarked websites with helpful parenting resources to further aid and foster their children’s social and cognitive development. Program Impact Since the program’s inception, hundreds of parents in Austin have learned how to better connect and engage with their children. Likewise, PTL children are gaining the confidence and social skills to better participate in learning and with each other. Post-testing of families who completed PTL in 2016 showed great success: 99% of parents reported […]

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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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Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Tracy, IBM

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.” Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. […]

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Now Accepting Proposals

United Way for Greater Austin seeks to award up to $90,000, divided evenly into three awards of $30,000, to three qualified community organizations to deliver effective programs and services that assist parents and children together, increasing their family stability and self-sufficiency. Since 1924, United Way for Greater Austin  has worked locally to build philanthropy and support programs that break the cycle of poverty. UWATX programs and activities are designed to jump start sustainable solutions for low-income families and drive collective change by aligning public and private support. Our programs work together to provide low-income families with the skills and resources they need to take an active role in their own success. Our community investments illuminate this commitment. UWATX’s funding priorities are centered on three interrelated focus areas: Education: Children and youth are happy, healthy, and prepared for success in school and in life. Income: Families have equitable access to economic and social opportunities. Health: Families in Central Texas are physically and mentally healthy. Within each focus area, UWATX partners with community stakeholders to identify proven strategies toward a common goal. Community investment grants represent a strategic opportunity to identify critical community partners and enhance and create active collaborations for the greatest impact. Our community investment grants are made possible by the financial contributions of thousands of community investors each year. UWATX is committed to serving as a strategic steward of these community dollars. UWATX anticipates three awards of $30,000 each under this RFP. Read the Request for Proposal and sign up for the informational session taking place on Sept. 16.

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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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Kerbey Lane Café Beautifies Open Door Preschool East

Did you know that the average annual cost of high quality early childhood care is nearly $10,000? Imagine a family that is already struggling to make ends meet faced with an additional expense of $9,734, the average cost of high quality childcare in Austin according to the Texas Workforce Board. Even for a family with two adults working full time at minimum wage, that’s a third of the family’s income for the year going to childcare instead of housing, food, utilities or other necessary expenses. Because of this high cost and the barrier it represents to students starting kindergarten, United Way for Greater Austin supports childcare centers serving low-income families with free or reduced tuition through the Success By 6 Center Project. The initiative currently works with 13 childcare centers, serving over 1,000 children in Austin. The Center Project works with these centers to help them meet state and national standards for quality early childhood education including training for teachers, leveraging in-kind and volunteer resources to improve facilities and providing data collection and analysis to improve individual outcomes for students. On Aug. 19, employees from all seven Kerbey Lane Café (KLC) locations joined Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) to beautify Open Door Preschool East – one of the longest running partner schools of the Center Project. KLC volunteers painted four classrooms, over half of the rooms serving students. While the KLC volunteers were not expert painters, HOCT staff provided a short training and in-depth project coordination to ensure volunteers felt comfortable and completed […]

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Partner Spotlight: Any Baby Can

Photo: Any Baby Can United Way for Greater Austin believes collaboration is essential to tackling our community’s largest problems. We work with many nonprofit, public and private organizations in our community to have a larger impact and create real change in our city. One of these funded partners is Any Baby Can. Any Baby Can is a nonprofit organization that believes “all children deserve the chance to be healthy and happy”—a vision in line with UWATX’s own. Any Baby Can serves children with developmental delays, chronic or life-threatening illnesses and hearing loss, as well as their families. Any Baby Can also serves first-time pregnant women, including teenage moms, moms with postpartum depression and parents seeking parenting skills. According to Any Baby Can’s website, 34,959 children in Travis County have a special health care need. Services Any Baby Can offers to their clients include in-home physical, occupational and speech therapy, case management, mental health counseling for anyone in the family, support groups and nurse-home visitation. They also partner with Open Door Preschool so that parents receiving onsite classes have quality childcare while they are learning new parenting skills. Any Baby Can hosts monthly organization tours open to anyone interested in learning more about the organization. While on the tour, the absence of workers in many of the offices is striking. This is because much of Any Baby Can’s therapy and case work is done in the homes of their clients. Any Baby Can has boasts many robust programs. One such program, […]

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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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