Category: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Celebrate Juneteenth with your neighbors

Juneteenth (June 19) is a day of celebration and recognition of the end of chattel slavery in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to inform enslaved Black Americans of their freedom — more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The following year ⁠— and every year thereafter ⁠— June 19th has been a celebration of freedom in the Black community in Texas and beyond.  At United Way for Greater Austin, we will be closing our office on Friday, June 18 in recognition of Juneteenth. We invite you to join us and your neighbors in celebrating this day of freedom. Here are 7 ways to Live United and celebrate Juneteenth this year: 1. Learn more about the history of Juneteenth (virtual) The history of Juneteenth is something that is not often taught in schools. Take some time to learn more about the significance of this day. Here’s an informative article from VOX, a list of books for people of all ages, and a short video from History.  2. Attend “Juneteenth 2021: Stay Black and Live Vol.2” (in-person and virtual) This city-wide Juneteenth festival is presented by Six Square, CarverMuseumATX, and the Black Austin Coalition, in partnership with Jump On It, the Austin Area Urban League, Austin Justice Coalition, and the Greater East Austin Youth Association. This day-long celebration kicks off with a parade at 10 am and ends at 9 pm with a fireworks display. 3. Take a self-guided tour through […]

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Read United: 10 age-appropriate books that reflect the LGBTQIA+ community

Did you know that having at least 20 age-appropriate books in the home can improve a child’s educational success? The Greater Austin Reading Coalition and Success By Six Coalition – convened by United Way for Greater Austin – want to make sure that all local children and families have access to books that illustrate a diversity of backgrounds and cultures. This June marks the 51st celebration of Pride Month — a month where we uplift, celebrate, and support the LGBTQIA+ community. United Way is excited to celebrate this month with all of our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.  In honor of Pride Month, here are 10 age-appropriate books that reflect the LGBTQIA+ community to help raise awareness about different types of families, what it means to be LGBTQIA+, and promote inclusivity. Many of these titles are available to check out at your local library or in audio form on YouTube. Top 5 board books for babies to toddlers: (ages 0-4) 1.”Love Makes a Family” by Sophie Beer 2. “My Two Moms and Me” by Michael Joosten, illustrated by Izak Zenou 3. “Peanut Goes for the Gold”  Jonathan Van Ness, illustrated by Gillian Reid 4. “Baby’s First Words” by Christiane Engel 5. “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole   Top 5 books for young readers: (K- 4th) 1. “Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love 2. “I am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas 3. “Pride: The Story of Harvey […]

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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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What we are reading (and watching) about race, power, & privilege

Each quarter, we like to pull together a list of what we are reading (and watching) about race, power, and privilege. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Race continues to be a big predictor of a person’s life outcomes, so we can only break the cycle of poverty by standing up for racial justice. Learn more about what we are reading and watching this quarter:  Podcast. Tune in to an episode of Leadership for Society with Brian Lowery. Brian is a senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford Graduate Business School. In this episode, Brian sits down with American journalist and publishing executive, Dana Canedy, to talk about the decisions editors need to make to bring in more voices to tell our country’s authentic stories. Listen with us >     Series. Educators have a responsibility to support young people as they grapple with multiple parts of their identities, including their gender and sexual identities. Exploring Equity, a new five-part series and teaching model from Usable Knowledge and Harvard Graduate School of Education shares strategies for leading and teaching so all students can flourish. Explore equity >       Brief. By helping people of color safely navigate current systems, financial coaching with a racial equity lens can be part of a broader strategy to increase equitable outcomes. The Asset Funders Network released a helpful brief all about Investing in Financial Coaching with a Racial Equity Lens. Read […]

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Looking Back to Look Forward: The 1928 Master Plan

United Way for Greater Austin recognizes that our fight against poverty is also a fight against racial inequity. Systemic racism and poverty are intrinsically connected, and one cannot be eradicated without the other. This is why United with our community, we are working to reimagine systems that are rooted in equity and racial justice.  As we work toward building a brighter and more equitable future for our great city, it’s important for us to know the past in order to understand the present and chart a path towards the future.  The Present  Just as the skyline has grown, so have the disparities in the lived experiences of those living west of IH-35, and those to the east. For all of its wonderful qualities, Austin is one of the most economically segregated cities in the country.  It truly is a tale of two cities. One in which if you happen to live on the east side of the city you have less access to hospitals and healthcare facilities, fewer public transportation options, and a lack of grocery stores with fresh produce. A study has even shown that there is a nearly 20-year difference in life expectancy between parts of east and west Austin. And the unfortunate reality is that these areas of concentrated poverty overlap with Austin’s Black and Brown communities. The current system isn’t working for so many of our neighbors.  To make Greater Austin a community that truly works for everyone, we first have to understand how these inequitable […]

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5 organizations to celebrate, and 1 thing to do

Happy Black History Month! There are many incredible organizations in Austin fighting for social justice, racial equity, and preserving and furthering Black culture in our community. Here are 5 organizations you can celebrate this month, and one easy way to support them today: DONATE.  1. African-American Youth Harvest Foundation “Through our programs, nearly 9,000 youth and adults have received services at our flagship African American Youth Resource Center. We have also helped 49 juvenile offenders enroll in our mentoring program, and nearly 2,000 youth and adults have attended our conferences, where we seek to improve our community by focusing on supporting and strengthening the family unit and addressing preconceived notions of minority youth.” Their mission: To effectually address disparities and ensure low-barrier access to vital educational, economic, and enrichment resources to underserved, at-risk youth and their families on their path to self-sufficiency. DONATE to African American Youth Harvest Foundation to improve our community by elevating our minority youth.  2. Austin-Area Urban League The Austin Area Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to providing economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for African Americans and other underserved/underrepresented populations in the Austin/ Central Texas region. Their mission: To enable African Americans and other underserved urban residents to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights, and to provide tools for them to build a foundation for social and economic equality. DONATE to Austin-Area Urban League to help build healthy foundations for equity in our community. 3. […]

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Equity is at the center of the Success By 6 ATX Coalition vision

Co-authored by Jelina Tunstill (CAN) and Laura Olson (GAVA), members of the Success By 6 Leadership Team and Success By 6 Equity Team. United Way for Greater Austin proudly serves as the convening organization for the Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition. The first five years of a child’s life are a critical period when 90 percent of all brain development occurs. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from birth to Kindergarten readiness, to high school graduation and beyond.  In 2012, Success By 6 ATX formed a coalition to transform Austin/Travis County’s early childhood system through a Strategic Plan (originally called the School Readiness Action Plan). Today, the Success By 6 ATX Coalition (SX6) has grown and continues to make progress on the goals we have set. We are coordinating programs and actions to ensure that every child born in the Austin area receives the support and care they need during the first 2,000 days of their life, an essential time for development. We seek to ensure success not only for children, but also for the long term economic health of our community.  In 2021, SX6 will be leaning into race equity work as a priority for our coalition. To get beyond the buzzwords of racial equity and put real action behind intention will require alignment with our coalition, state leaders, funders, and local decision-makers to affirm: When it comes to the much-touted ideal of “child-centered” planning, supports, and care, children and families of color count […]

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An interview with Emerging Leaders Co-Chair, Kaisha Morton

Photo above: Emerging Leaders Emily Gonzales, Kaisha Morton, and Jeremiah Bentley.  At United Way for Greater Austin, we are committed to fighting poverty and racism in our communities. These forces are so interconnected, we cannot address one without the other.  This week we caught up with Kaisha Morton, one of our new Emerging Leaders Co-Chairs and User Experience Recruiter and Women@ Social Impact Co-lead at Google to talk to her about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. Kaisha is a champion for creating a diverse workforce in our community to help break intergenerational poverty.  Check out our interview with Kaisha Morton to learn more about her work and her passion for creating a more diverse and inclusive community.  “I believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are extremely important because all three of those are connected, but true equity in our society won’t happen unless we’re thinking about those three pillars. My work as an educator and also as a recruiter really highlighted for me that the gaps that exist early on for people who may live in poverty, especially communities of color, continue to widen as people progress in their lives and in their careers. I think that the layer of thinking through diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of life is something that I will always be passionate about.” -Kaisha Morton Want to know more about Kaisha Morton? How long have you lived in Austin? I moved to Austin from the D.C. area about two years ago.  […]

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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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