Newsroom

Local resources for FREE tax prep

Did you know that you can make up to $57,000 annually and still qualify for free tax preparation services? At United Way for Greater Austin, we’re dedicated to helping individuals and families overcome barriers to economic opportunity, so this tax season we want to make sure Austinites take advantage of local FREE tax preparation services that will help them get all the tax credits they’re eligible for. If you are someone that makes less than $57,000, check out these three free options: Call 2-1-1 and receive information about the free tax prep location closest to you.  2-1-1 is free, 24/7, confidential and multilingual. In 2011, the UWATX Navigation Center, which runs the local 2-1-1 program, received more than 5,000 calls from callers looking for free tax preparation assistance. Visit MyFreeTaxes.org/uwatx to file your taxes online for free! MyFreeTaxes provides free tax preparation and filing assistance for individuals or families with a combined income under $57,000. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has helped 4.5 million families claim nearly $6 billion in tax credits and refunds! Visit one of Foundation Communities’ Community Tax Centers in the Austin area. They provide free tax preparation at seven convenient locations by their IRS-certified volunteer preparers for Austin area residents who make up to $50,000 per year. Walk-ins are always welcome, you can make an appointment starting February 15 or you can even drop off your tax documents so you don’t have to wait. These local, free resources can also help working individuals and families receive important federal tax credits they may […]

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Local Holiday Assistance Programs: How you can help

Each year around the holidays, nonprofits, faith-based communities and community partners come together to contribute to holiday joy for the most needy in our community. Programs range from holiday meals (like yesterday’s Feast of Sharing, put on by H-E-B) and food boxes to holiday gifts for children. And whether you’re in need of these resources or you’d like to contribute, you can just call 2-1-1,  a service of our Navigation Center, to connect to up-to-date information about these holiday assistance programs. In Travis County, holiday gift programs are provided by The Salvation Army Social Service Center, Operation Blue Santa, which is operated by the Austin Police Department, and Brown Santa, run by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. The programs match individuals and families in need with organizations and individual sponsors who provide holiday meals, toys and gifts. For many area children, these are the only toys they will receive all year. In addition to providing holiday assistance information through 2-1-1, the United Way Navigation Center publishes calendars each year that include free or low-cost Thanksgiving and Christmas meals in Central Texas. The calendars are used by area nonprofits, like the Capital Area Food Bank. 2-1-1 also provides information on holiday volunteer opportunities each year. Just last week, 2-1-1 received a call from a woman who had received assistance from the Christmas Bureau in the past and said that because she is in a better place in her life this year, she wanted information on how to volunteer to help others in […]

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UWATX’s Navigation Center Partners with CAMPO

Beginning in November, our Navigation Center will embark on a partnership with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) to help improve access to information about transportation resources for callers of 2-1-1. CAMPO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties in Central Texas. The purpose of CAMPO is to coordinate regional transportation planning with counties, cities, Capital Metro, the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other transportation providers in the region and to approve the use of federal transportation funds within the region. Currently, most of the transportation-related calls received at 2-1-1 pertain to other caller needs, such as older adults or people with disabilities who need help getting to medical appointments; residents in rural areas who may have to rely on multiple transportation systems to make a single trip; and families living in poverty who have run out of food and cannot afford bus fare to get to a food pantry. The funding provided by CAMPO will allow 2-1-1 to work with Capital Metro and CARTS to better assist callers in utilizing transportation services, social services and other community resources more seamlessly. UWATX Navigation Center staff will work with transportation specialists at both organizations to create trainings for 2-1-1 Navigation Specialists on how to navigate the complex transportation system and relay information to callers in a usable way. If staff are unable to assist a caller with complex transportation issues, we will be able to escalate […]

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[VIDEO] How we make Austin greater

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h66EK3NeaIA&feature=g-upl[/youtube] At UWATX, our mission is to help Austin thrive by inspiring, leading and uniting an eclectic community of philanthropists to overcome barriers to economic opportunities. This video focuses on how our strategic programs – Success By 6, Target Graduation, Financial Opportunity and the Navigation Center – are making a difference in Greater Austin. Special thanks to Sneaky Giants for making this happen!

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A look at the work we do

As United Way for Greater Austin has stepped back our grants due to financial reasons, we are maintaining our commitment to our most robust programs and reinvigorating our work in proven initiatives that support Financial Opportunity and provide access to health care. We are continuing to leverage our grants in Success By 6 and Target Graduation to help children start school ready to learn and keep them on the path to graduate from high school. We are dedicated to increasing the percent of children who enter school ready to learn to 70 percent by 2015 by continuing to lead a strong, motivated coalition of community advocates. We are devoted to helping vulnerable students graduate from high school by coordinating strong programs on their campuses, improving the quality of afterschool and summer programs and, essentially, helping students like Kevin – who participated in our Volunteer Project Leadership class and has already started leading projects in our community. In our Financial Opportunity program this year, we launched Learn Where You Earn (LWYE), an initiative that builds on our strong relationships with companies by bringing financial education courses into the workplace. So far, more than 200 individual have been part of the courses. They focused on topics like how to budget, manage their debt and save for the future. We will continue to help employees like Savannah, an H-E-B employee who attended the LWYE program and said “I want the chance to build my own life—savings, a home, all those things—and thanks to […]

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Navigation Center receives its 2 Millionth Call

  On Wednesday, May 30, our United Way Navigation Center reached its 2 millionth call; a symbol of greater need for our local Austin community and greater progress for your United Way. This specific call helped a repeat caller set up appointments to gain clearance for the Medical Access Program (MAP) for her family and helped an older woman gain access to taxpayer advocacy help. “Clients fluctuate between not having a stable job and unpredictable income,” said Charro Peralta-Bronstein, Bilingual Navigation Specialist. “My role is to make sure these callers qualify for assistance for the various programs offered in the Greater Austin community.”   The Navigation Center is at the essence of what keeps United Way for Greater Austin moving forward with vision and purpose. Providing 24-hour assistance, 2-1-1 connects those with needs to useful resources around the clock. Since the economic downturn, United Way has implemented a number of programs and created various partnerships that have been key building blocks in developing and sustaining community access to essential resources. “We have personal relationships with public services important to the well-being of each individual who needs it,” said LouAnn Bardash, Navigation Specialist. “Our helpline has access to a large database filled with our long-standing partners in the community and statewide programs available to anyone.” Through partnerships, not only has the Navigation Center increased their connections to the local community, they have facilitated programs to gain increased recognition for their services.  A partnership with Central Health, for instance, has resulted in a 40% enrollment increase into their […]

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Introducing: United Way for Greater Austin

After months of careful evaluation, we’re announcing an important evolution for our local organization: we are changing our name to United Way for Greater Austin! Austin is an incredible city to live and work in and we’re proud to be here, so this name change reinforces our long-standing commitment to our dynamic community. We deliberately chose for—and not of—because we are here in service to Greater Austin. The new name does not signal any change to our service area, we will continue to provide research-based and results-focused services to all ten counties where we work. We’ve been helping Central Texas for almost 90 years and are committed to creating a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all. The new name is one component of a larger rebranding process, where we are reintroducing ourselves to this vibrant community. At United Way, we are solving problems not just for one person with one need, but creating solutions for a large community with large needs. Our mission is to make Austin greater by building philanthropists, helping the working poor overcome barriers and making sure Austin continues to thrive. With this change, we have a new Facebook page that we urge you to like to see updates on UWATX. You can also follow @uwatx on Twitter for even more posts on how we’re helping Austin continue to thrive. (Note: While our Twitter handle has also changed, if you were following @unitedwaycapitalarea, you are automatically following the new handle.) As always, we couldn’t do […]

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United Way Capital Area Announces Wildfire Relief Fund Recipients

Yesterday, UWCA awarded $118,000 from its Central Texas Wildfire Relief Fund to three organizations that continue to support and rebuild devastated communities after last fall’s massive wildfires. In all, the UWCA Wildfire Relief Fund raised $122,000, of which $4,000 was used in October 2011 to provide Wells Fargo and H-E-B gift cards to help people displaced get what they needed to get back to work, feed their families and buy clothing. “At United Way Capital Area we unite philanthropists at all levels to ensure our community continues to thrive,” said Debbie Bresette, President of UWCA. “When the wildfires devastated Central Texas last fall, we brought together our resources and networks to increase our collective impact in providing for both immediate needs and long-term recovery efforts. Today’s announcement is just another strategic investment by United Way Capital Area in the future of our community.” Funds were distributed to the following organizations: Adopt A Family was awarded a $75,000 grant for its “Volunteer Action Network” program. The grant is specifically meant to provide recruitment and assignment for volunteers to help with disaster clean up and adopting families. Society of St. Vincent de Paul-South Central Region was awarded $20,000 to go toward the recruitment and training of volunteers to provide Bastrop families affected by the wildfires with case management services. Spicewood Long-Term Recovery Committee, which received $23,000, will the money will go toward rebuilding 16 new homes for families that lost their own residences in the fires. The funds raised for the Central […]

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Community Needs and Trends Identified by United Way Navigation Center

Today, the United Way (UW) Navigation Center, formerly called the UW 2-1-1 Helpline, released its 2011 Community Needs and Trends (CNT) Report. Using demographic information, feedback from callers and data compiled from 10 counties in the Greater Austin area, the report is developed each year to support planning for future health and human services. With the information the CNT Report provides, Texas legislators, city planners and community stakeholders are better equipped to meet the needs of our community. The UW Navigation Center is a free information and referral phone line that connects callers with services in their community that can improve their overall quality of life. Through a partnership with Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) 2-1-1 Texas program, the Navigation Center has access to more than 5,000 services and 1,800 agencies in a database that is updated daily. Additionally, through a partnership with Central Health, the center makes appointments for callers with the Medical Access Program (MAP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other health care and public insurance programs. “The United Way Navigation Center is a vital yet easy-to-use tool that connects the community to services in an efficient and effective manner,” said Kay Euresti Garza, Vice President of the UW Navigation Center. “When a recently laid off single mother of three calls seeking help to pay for last month’s utilities, our call specialist will spend the time needed navigating through her situation until they’re able to connect her to the appropriate resources, resources the caller […]

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UWCA raises over $100K for Wildfire Relief

It’s hard to believe it has been over a month since wildfires broke out across Central Texas. For UWCA, this time of year is always busy with workplace giving campaigns, but the wildfire relief efforts brought an added sense of urgency to the work we do. Within hours of hearing about the fires, our 2-1-1 (the United Way Helpline) team went to work verifying information on resources, services and safety. Social media is now a huge part of every disaster recovery effort so 2-1-1 staff members scoured social channels for up-to-the-minute news, verified its validity and then served as a hub of verified information for all callers. UWCA also initiated a text-to-give campaign, so anyone can text “Wildfire,” to 85944 and donate $10. The money donated to the Wildfire Relief Fund has already provided gift cards so those affected by the fires could buy groceries, gas, lodging, replacement tools, clothes and other necessities. To date, we have collected more than $117,000. Recently, Samsung announced a one-time gift of $50,000 for our wildfire recovery fund, the largest contribution to date. This donation allows United Way to work with communities to determine both immediate and long-term recovery needs. Together, we can help those most in need and those who are no longer covered by insurance regain a productive life. Samsung’s gift exemplifies what it means to be a true corporate partner and citizen. Their gift toward wildfire recovery is in addition to the ongoing corporate giving campaign, so those who relied on […]

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