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MLK Jr. Service Week: Honoring the legacy of Dr. King

Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. every year is critical to our commitment to the fight for racial equity and creating a Greater Austin region that works for everyone. Last week, United Way for Greater Austin hosted a series of in-person community volunteer opportunities and an educational walking tour to honor Dr. King. On Monday, January 16, more than 100 volunteers at two different locations across Travis and Williamson counties rolled up their sleeves to clean up parks in our community, in honor of Dr. King’s powerful words, ‘What are you doing for others?’ Senator John Cornyn and Austin Mayor Kirk Watson attended the event in Austin and thanked volunteers for their time. On Friday, January 20, dozens of community members joined us on a guided tour, led by Harrison Eppright of Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural District, to explore the Austin area that was originally created to segregate the Black community in 1928. Participants toured historic buildings and landmarks, and learned about the history of East Austin and how this neighborhood played a critical role in forming the city that we know today. See photos from the volunteer events and walking tour. “We thank you for volunteering to support United Way’s mission of bringing together people, ideas, and resources to fight poverty,” United Way CEO David C. Smith emphasized at the event. “When Dr. King said, ‘Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,’ he knew that we reach our highest potential as human […]

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Free December gift programs in Greater Austin

Every December, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls from people looking for help for the holidays. To help Central Texans find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free December gift programs and meals happening throughout the month. This year’s events range from toy giveaways to Christmas parties, gift deliveries, free coats and books, meal baskets, and more. Most gift programs require registration to participate–be sure to check each program’s eligibility requirements. View the calendar in Spanish For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.

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Free Thanksgiving meals and gift programs in Greater Austin

Each year, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls during November and December, many from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. To help Central Texans find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free Thanksgiving meals happening throughout the month. This year’s events range from in-person Thanksgiving meals, to meal deliveries, drive-thru meal options, meal kits, and more. Several organizations are also offering free toys, books, and gifts for kids. Some December gift programs have application deadlines in November–be sure to read each program’s eligibility requirements, as several events require registration to participate.  View the calendar in Spanish For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.  

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More than 140 volunteers come together for Summer Day of Caring

On Friday, June 3, over 140 volunteers at 12 different locations across Travis and Williamson counties rolled up their sleeves at United Way for Greater Austin’s Summer Day of Caring, a community-wide volunteer event. Volunteers worked on a range of projects, from cleaning up local parks to painting jungle gyms at child development centers to gardening at local nonprofits – and more!  “These Days of Caring are so important. It connects us with each other, it connects us with the community, and it connects us with the truth that when one of us suffers we all suffer, and when one of us celebrates we all celebrate,” said United Way for Greater Austin CEO David C. Smith while at a volunteer location in Leander (pictured below).  “Volunteering with United Way makes a difference,” shared Terry Cook, Commissioner of Precinct 1 in Williamson County. Terry and her team volunteer every year, and choose to support United Way for Greater Austin because “the tasks chosen by United Way are very impactful.”  Events like Summer Day of Caring are a crucial part of United Way’s mission to fight poverty. Volunteering makes a direct impact on our community in a powerful way. Community events like these aren’t possible without the help of our amazing volunteers and sponsors. A big thank you to H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, QuikTrip, Superior HealthPlan, and Texas Gas Service for their support in making Summer Day of Caring a success!   Check out the full photo album for Summer Day of Caring here. […]

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A Night United 2022: A celebration of our community’s collective resilience

Thank you to everyone who attended our fourth annual “A Night United” event! A sold-out crowd of over 300 people came out to advance our mission to fight poverty and make a difference in the lives of local children and families. It was a magical evening filled with community, celebration, and togetherness.   The past two years have called on our entire community to be more resilient than ever, and it was truly a pleasure to be with all of you to reflect and honor that collective resilience. Thank you for making this “A Night United” the most successful one yet! Every dollar raised will help families break the cycle of poverty and thrive.  Special thanks to our amazing co-chairs Yvette Ruiz & Ken Krumhansl and Sarah & Joseph Schick; Board Chair Malini Rajput; Mayor Steve Adler; Presenting Sponsor Texas Mutual Insurance Company; Uniting Level Sponsors ABC Home & Commercial Services, Deloitte, Independence Title, and Judy & Patrick Cantilo; Convening and Partner Sponsors; and all of our table hosts.  As CEO David C. Smith said, “Poverty is unjust, it’s cruel, and is the result of inequitable systems. Far too many of us are making hard decisions no family should have to make: ‘Do I pay my rent, or get my car fixed so I can get to work?’ Thanks to your support, together we are proving what is possible to ensure families can thrive long term!” Our collective generosity, love, and compassion will transform the inequitable systems that prevent our beloved […]

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Honor Dr. MLK Jr.’s life and legacy with us

Join us Monday, January 17 as we continue our annual tradition of gathering with our neighbors in service and learning to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King believed in the power of individuals to strengthen communities and achieve common goals, and all of us here at United Way do too. That’s what our mission – bringing people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community – is all about.  For our 2022 MLK Jr. Day of Service, we invite you to join us for one or several socially-distanced activities, all of which carry on Dr. King’s legacy of anti-racism, justice, and equity.   Learn: Take our self-guided walking tour. Walk through part of the area of Austin that was originally created to segregate Black Austinites in 1928, and reflect on how walking played a critical role in the Civil Rights Era.   Give: Donate books to the “I Am Brave” book drive. We’re partnering with Brave Communities to provide reading material to young people from  vaccine-hesitant populations, and bring awareness of the importance of diverse representation and storytelling in books.   Advocate: Advocacy is volunteerism, and we encourage you to use your voice to enact change in 2022. The Texas Primary Election is March 1. Voter education impacts voter turnout, so take some time today to make sure that you and your loved ones are registered to vote.   Volunteer: Get outside this MLK Jr. Day with the Austin Parks Foundation. Check out […]

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Free December holiday meals and events in Greater Austin

Every holiday season, United Way’s Navigation Center helps local families access free or low-cost meals and holiday events across the Greater Austin area. To make it easy for community members to find these seasonal events, we’ve compiled a calendar of meals and celebrations happening throughout the month of December.  From drive-thru light trails and gift giveaways for kids, to holiday festivities with Santa Claus, each event is open to the public. Check it out below! Know someone looking for assistance with food, transportation, housing, or other resources? Tell them to give us a call at 2-1-1 to get connected to help in our community. 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.

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Family Resource Fair: A family-friendly event offering free books, rent assistance, and more

The pandemic put a long pause on in-person events, attributing to fewer families receiving the resources they need for their little ones. These in-person events allow parents to feel heard and supported, ultimately encouraging engagement in their child’s development.  With vaccine rates rising, and in-person learning back in place, United Way and Austin ISD partnered to bring back the Family Resource Fair for a second time. On Saturday, November 13, the Family Resource Fair took place at Uphaus Early Childhood Center in south Austin. Families in the surrounding area were invited to an outdoor event offering resources like ECE/ESL registration, rent assistance programs, parenting groups, career services, camps, and more.  A special thank you to our partners for coming out and supporting families and children.  Have questions about participating in the next Family Resource Fair? Contact Martina Santesteban at Martina.Santesteban@uwatx.org.

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Greater Austin Reading Coalition hosts book fair for kids in Austin

Last month, dozens of elementary school students in Austin lined up to receive books at the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s second book fair, giving  local children access to diverse stories they can see themselves in. Thanks to a donation of over 1,000 books, 100 breakfast bags, and fitness equipment from KPMG, the coalition partnered with the Extend-A-Care YMCA program to host a book fair for the community, distributing these gifts to 32 students in Austin. Kids at the after-school event picked out four to five books featuring a range of characters and stories written in both English and Spanish, and participated in reading circles led by three KPMG volunteers. “To see the delight on the children’s faces as they select their books, and to hear the conversations that they have with their peers about what the books might be about warms my heart,” said Michelle Hutson-Crawford, Director of K-12 Education at United Way for Greater Austin. “In this heavily saturated digital and social world, it’s good to know that books are still winning in 2021! We hope this act of kindness and community engagement inspires others to step forward in partnership with the Greater Austin Reading Coalition.” Only three in 10 kids from low-income households are reading on grade level by 4th grade, a crucial point in children’s development that can impact their future academic and career outcomes. The Greater Austin Reading Coalition, convened by United Way, is working to change that by giving children access to culturally relevant books […]

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Fall Day of Caring: A Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit Collaboration

COVID-19 has impacted all of us, including young kids. As the reality of the pandemic set in, and schools closed abruptly to keep students and their families safe — many students were navigating the challenges of remote learning for several months. It’s no surprise that education professionals have witnessed a stall in reading skills among young students since the pandemic began in early 2020. That is why, this year, our annual Fall Day of Caring took form as a book extravaganza! On Thursday, September 30, the Greater Austin Reading Coalition , convened by United Way, partnered with BookSpring to distribute 5,000 books to local community organizations supporting families with children ages 5-12.  Special thanks to our partners at Enterprise and Onnit who volunteered their time and effort to distribute all of the books throughout the region! At United Way, our mission is to fight poverty, and we know that reading is a crucial skill to help future generations win. Currently, only 30% of children from families with low income are reading at grade level by 4th grade. Our goal is that all children in Greater Austin reach that level. By increasing access to quality out-of-school learning opportunities, culturally relevant books, and building a community culture of reading, we can move the needle on grade-level reading rates in our community and create greater opportunity for local children and families. We’re honored to get 5,000 more books into the hands of young readers. Thank you to our partners, Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit, for […]

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