Newsroom

Success: $500K of early childhood funding restored

When the City of Austin approved the City’s budget just a few weeks ago, it included a significant win for the youngest and most vulnerable children in Austin: the City restored approximately $500,000 in funding for services to young children. +500K Approximate funding restored to early childhood services throughout Greater Austin thanks to advocacy from UWATX and our partners. “When the City re-bid their Health and Human Services contracts last year, programs serving children under 6 lost more than $850,000 in funding,” explains Sue Carpenter, Senior Director of Success By 6 . “That included parent education, home visiting, literacy services, Head Start and child care centers – it was a significant blow, particularly because these are 3-year contracts.” In response, community organizations rallied together under the leadership of UWATX’s Success By 6 program to identify common goals, create a plan and lobby City Council to restore funding. Thanks to their efforts, Austin’s youngest community members are receiving more support. The restored funds include $150,000 of on-going funding and $350,000 of one-time allocations. With input from Success By 6 and other leaders, the City’s Early Childhood Council is working on recommendations for how the money will be spent. “We still have more to do – this is a great victory for young children, but we need to get back to previous funding levels so we can truly serve our children and invest in the future of our community,” said Carpenter.  “Public officials need to see that all of these efforts are working toward […]

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WLC sees their investment pay off with Play To Learn

On Wednesday, September 12, members of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) gathered to learn more about the evolution of Play To Learn, part of the Success By 6 program that works to coach parents of vulnerable young children on school readiness at accessible neighborhood locations. “The initial pilot program was funded by the WLC, so we wanted to show them how that investment had grown,” said Leah Meunier, Manager of Donor Engagement. “Thanks to the WLC’s seed money along with a generous gift from Samsung Austin Semiconductor and strong partnerships with Austin Public Libraries, KLRU and The University of Texas at Austin, we’re making a targeted, measurable difference in the lives of young children.” The current version of Play To Learn addresses the needs and barriers identified through extensive UWATX research: Accessible neighborhood locations make it easy for parents to get to the program – removing barriers for parents to participate Instruction focuses on developing fine motor skills, problem solving and communication – areas where research shows children are falling behind The course includes eight two-hour classes with curriculum developed by UWATX. The goal is to provide a variety of tools for parents to engage their children. “Each class starts with healthy snacks as an opportunity to talk about nutrition,” said Kaley Horton, who manages the project. “Most of our time is spent with an activity – from art to blocks to other games – that teaches a skill, and these vary by week. We also showcase appropriate PBS clips […]

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Spotlight: Debbie McGee, Vice President of Resource Development

Debbie McGee, Vice President of Resource Development shares her story of how her past experience has shaped and prepared her for her work at UWATX. Chloe Moore: How do you make Austin Greater? Debbie McGee: In terms of my role here, I’m the bus driver of this engine called ‘Resource Development’, which is basically fundraising for the work we do. My part is to make sure everyone is on the bus and moving in the same direction. So I see my role as bringing all the pieces together; for everyone to be on the same bus and driving down that road of success to make Austin Greater. Chloe Moore: What led you to UWATX? Debbie McGee: I’m from Huntsville, TX; that’s where I grew up. I went to the University of Texas and I ended up in the banking industry in Houston, where my husband and I were for 13 years. I stopped working for a while and stayed home for 15 years to raise my children. During that time, I was very involved as a volunteer in the community and enjoyed using my sales and banking skills to help raise money for different nonprofits in Fort Worth, Texas. When I decided that I was ready to start working again, a good friend of mine at TCU (Texas Christian University) told me, “Debbie I think you would be great at nonprofit and development work.” So in November 2006, as I was interviewing at different places, United Way aligned perfectly with my interests to help people with needs as […]

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United Way Young Leaders Society's Wild Night Out Waikiki

Mahalo for everyone who came to the coolest…and coldest November Luau EVER! We had a terrific turnout of United Way YLS members and their guests at Wild Night Out Waikiki donning their coconut bikinis and Hawaiian flare, as we enjoyed a luau show by Tropical Productions and some fine Hawaiian fare! It was so fun in fact, I even rhyme! Who doesn’t love to feel the wind… in their grass skirt? And to those naysayers who thought a luau in November was a strange idea, we say “go eat some poi” because we had one heck of a hukeilau! We were honored to recognize our 2008 Young Leader of the Year Award finalists Mike Hogan, Trey Halbert, Cara Link Mueller and our very own YLS Board Education Chair Bill Kempf, as well as the award recipient, Rachel Muir, founder of Girlstart. We can’t wait to see our YLS Ohana next year! Our lava is already flowing thinking of themes for WNO 09! Kelly Caldwell, YLS Board Co-Events Chair

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Young Leaders Society’s Sunset Dinner Cruise

Torrential downpours of rain and golf ball-sized hail couldn’t keep us from having fun during YLS’s Sunset Dinner Cruise! YLS members and potential members gathered on Saturday, May 10, 2008 aboard Lake Austin Riverboats’ Commodore and set sail on a memorable sunset tour of Lake Austin. Everyone was a little damp at the start – either from the 98 degree temps or from dashing through the raindrops – but the Commodore was a great venue in which to take shelter because it was mostly covered! As our captain took us around beautiful Lake Austin, we noshed on hula hut fajitas, played Board Member bingo, and networked with fellow young professionals. The evening ended with some door prize give-aways – a YLS party staple! Thanks to our members and Board Members for making the evening a great success! The mission of Young Leaders Society is to inspire philanthropy and volunteerism in the young leaders of Central Texas. Membership consists of more than 600 individuals and couples who contribute $1000 annually to United Way Capital Area. Learn more at www.unitedwayaustin.org/yls. Christine FernandezYLS Events Committee Co-Chair YLS Board members Karen Bryant and Kim Jowers The Riverboat “Commodore” YLS Board member David Rodriguez, Kim Allard, and YLS Board member Eloy Alderete Durel Bernard, Manager of YLS, getting into the nautical theme

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Young Leader Society's Wild Night Out,November 3

On Saturday, November 3, the Austin Scottish Rite Theater was filled with the sounds of the Roaring 1920s, as over 100 of Young Leader Society (YLS) members and their guests took part in the annual “Wild Night Out” celebration and heard the announcement of the Young Leader of the Year Award.The 2007 Young Leader of the Year is Mr. Luke Ellis. Mr. Ellis, who works as an attorney in Austin, exemplifies the YLS principles of leadership, volunteerism, and philanthropy in myriad ways. As co-chair of the People’s Law School event and host of the weekly legal segment “The Common Law” on News 8 Austin, Luke is committed to demystifying the law for the uninformed and underserved, helping them understand their rights and options and making the “legal world” seem far less daunting to the average Austinite. But that’s not nearly all. Luke has been a long-time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, having helped the organization build homes all over the world. Now, he’s deeply committed to Austin Habitat For Humanity, serving on its board and becoming the founding member of its young professionals group, “Habitat Young Professionals.” Starting with an initial membership of 16, Luke helped turn the HYP into a strong, recognized, active organization in Austin with more than 200 members. During the group’s first year, in dues and additional fundraisers, the HYP members raised more than $80,000 and donated more than 2,000 hours to Habitat. Members identify Luke’s compassion and leadership skills as the primary reasons for the […]

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