Newsroom

The power of female philanthropy: 500 givers, $1.2M, nearly 10K lives

This week, our Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) celebrated another successful year of female philanthropy at the home of long-time supporter Anne Smalling. Here are a few highlights from the event: This year’s WLC co-chairs, Jennifer Foster (Dell) and Lauren Hammonds (Blackbaud), welcomed our guests and thanked them for their gifts of time, resource and advocacy. We recognized Betsy Abell and the generosity of the Buena Vista Foundation. We announced the collective impact of our WLC members: $592,000. Thanks to a matching gift from the Buena Vista Foundation, that means a total of $1.2M is being invested in UWATX’s Success By 6 (SB6) program, changing the lives of Austin’s youngest and most vulnerable children. Sue Carpenter, Senior Director of SB6, provided an inside look into this year’s successes – including impacting 9,900 lives and other results listed above – and next year’s exciting initiatives. At the end of the evening, members left with cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes and a renewed passion for Central Texas philanthropy. Get involved: make a gift today, get informed about WLC or  learn more about how your company can benefit from sponsoring this inspiring group of dedicated women and reach out to get involved.  

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Let our leaders know: Austin children are an important investment

In Greater Austin, low-income children are our fastest growing demographic and before they even get to school, they are falling behind. Our community is also falling behind in the level of public support we provide to vulnerable children – investing as little as one tenth of what comparable cities are spending. Right now, UWATX’s Success By 6 team is leading a community-wide advocacy effort on behalf of our youngest and most economically vulnerable children and families. We’ve already met with 9 leaders and plan to visit 3 more in the coming weeks to share our message about the importance of the first years. We’ve created a dashboard to highlight key data about this growing challenge as well as specific policy recommendations for the City and County. Beyond one budget cycle or legislative session, we are working to make early childhood a civic priority for our community. Between now and March 1st, as we meet with City Council members and County Commissioners, you too can lend your voice. Share this post or any of these links with your social networks and tag our community leaders to spread the word. You can also contact our community’s leaders via phone or email and let them know that early childhood matters to you. We’ve crafted this template as a starting point: Dear [NAME] – As a concerned resident of Austin/Travis County, I believe that every child in our community has potential. Yet too many of our youngest and poorest children do not enter Kindergarten […]

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Q&A: Jennifer Poppe on early childhood education and the WLC

Jennifer Poppe  is a partner at Vinson & Elkins and a member of our Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) Executive Committee. In December 2012, her firm gave a $10,000 grant to Success By 6 to support young children. We spoke with her about why early childhood is important to her and why she’s chosen to be involved with UWATX.   What inspires you to help young children? Over the last few years, I’ve realized how much early childhood education and development matters.  I’ve seen it with people close to me – both children and adults in my family – and have also seen its impact on our community more broadly. In one case, I know someone who started school behind because he moved here when he was young from another country. Because of that difficult beginning – starting just a little behind the curve because of a language barrier – he struggled with confidence in his academic skills and wasn’t sure he could catch up through high school and into college. Those beginning years really lay the foundation for your school career and not starting on the right foot can be a serious challenge. Given this importance, I want to do what I can to help make a difference.   What’s your most memorable experience giving back through Success By 6? I attended the Success By 6 Summit last year and learned a lot about how important the program is to our local community.  The keynote speaker focused on statistics – that early […]

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WLC Tours Northeast Austin Play To Learn session

Play To Learn: An 8-week parent education course that teaches parents how to help their children become school ready and incorporates tablet technology. On a cool November morning, Women’s Leadership Council members met in Northeast Austin to take an exclusive look at Play To Learn, a project of the UWATX Success By 6 program that works to reach vulnerable young children. Thirteen eager toddlers sang, danced, and played as their mothers and fathers looked on with pride. At Play To Learn, parents join in the fun as skilled facilitators guide them with helpful tips and child development information. “As part of the evaluation model, families are interviewed three times: before the program, at the end of the 8 week course and 3 months after the program,” said Kaley Horton, Success By 6 Project Coordinator. “Our first Play To Learn cohort just passed the three month mark and received their tablets. We’ve really been able to see what a valuable family tool the tablet is for vulnerable families.” WLC members left the tour with an even greater understanding of and appreciation for SB6’s work in the community: “I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this unique program that is clearly impacting the lives of the families that are a part of it. Seeing it in person had a great impact- the parents were very engaged with their children and with the learning activities today.” – Judy Donigan, Sales Manager at 3M  “It was wonderful to finally get to see the […]

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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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