Category: K-12 Education

Parents are Powerful: Meet Sasha Salinas

Welcome to our blog series all about shining a spotlight on the ways that parents are using their voices to build a better, brighter Austin. In the first installment, we introduced you to two parent leaders who serve on the 2-Gen Leadership Council.  Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Sasha Salinas, a member of the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Council. A mom of two girls, ages 6 and 8, Sasha uses her voice to advocate on behalf of the children and families in her community.  Check out what she had to say to parents looking for ways to support their child’s reading development!  How did you get involved with the Greater Austin’s Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Committee?  I am a Parent Champion through Families as Partners, a program within Austin ISD. Maria Rosas who runs the program reached out to several of us moms who are heavily involved in our community and have a passion for engaging others and advocating for children.  What are some of the barriers you see for parents in trying to access resources for their children’s reading development?  The biggest barrier is finding the information that is age appropriate and in their preferred language. That was my hardest part, especially as my kids get older. A lot of information is geared towards younger ages and, with my kids being 6 and 8, I don’t always know where to look for material that is appropriate for them.  The Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory […]

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Announcing $70,000 to 14 Nonprofits: Increasing Grade-Level Reading Rates in Greater Austin

This summer, United Way for Greater Austin awarded a total of $112,000 in one-time grant funding to 23 qualified community organizations delivering effective programs and services that advance the goals of the community coalitions we convene as part of our collective impact work to fight poverty.  Here at United Way for Greater Austin we’re working hard alongside our community partners to ensure that all children are reading on grade-level by 4th grade. That’s why we lead the Greater Austin Reading Coalition, a diverse coalition of nonprofit and community leaders, librarians, teachers, and parents working to ensure that all children are reading on or above grade level by the fourth grade. To help advance this goal, United Way for Greater Austin put out a call for proposals to fund programs and services that are advancing the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s goals, including building a community culture of reading, engaging parents and caretakers in their child’s reading development, and making quality, enriching out-of-school-time services accessible to all children.  We’re thrilled to announce that the following organizations were awarded mini-grants, up to $5,000, to support their programs and services that are improving early grade reading outcomes for local children!  Build a community culture of reading  100 Black Men of Austin, Inc.: provide culturally-relevant books to local teachers to share with their students in the classroom AKA Association For Community Development, Inc.: implement Project G.R.E.E.N. at Oak Springs Elementary School, facilitating reading programs and book distributions for Oak Spring students Capital Area Alliance of […]

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$13.5 Million (Yes, Million) invested in Greater Austin Children and Families: Big Wins from the American Rescue Plan

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we’re on a mission to bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. United with community leaders and partners, we’re leading the charge to create sustainable and lasting solutions to break the cycle of poverty.  Advocacy is critical, not just to further the impact of United Way’s work, but to create lasting systemic change. It takes all of us — using our collective voice — to advocate for a Greater Austin that works for everyone. This is why we are so excited to share and celebrate with you a few major funding wins from the American Rescue Plan.  What is the American Rescue Plan?  The American Rescue Plan (ARPA) is a $1.5 trillion federal economic package designed to address the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is being allocated to cities, counties, and states to directly support their recovery efforts. The City of Austin received $195.8. million in funding, and Travis County received $247.1 million.  A collective investment of $13.5 million, from the City of Austin ($11MM) and Travis County ($2.5MM), will be made to specifically strengthen our local education, health, and workforce systems. These funding decisions were driven by testimony and recommendations put forth by United Way and you, our supporters and coalition partners. Thank you! This significant one-time investment of federal dollars will not only drive Greater Austin’s post COVID-19 economic recovery, but help address some of the root causes of poverty in our community. […]

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Introducing the Greater Austin Reading Coalition

A few months ago, we announced that we would be expanding our work beyond early childhood education and into the K-12 space. This year, our K-12 work will focus on bringing together a diverse coalition of literacy advocates to work toward a shared vision of increasing the number of children who are reading on grade level by the 4th grade — a pivotal point in a child’s reading development. There has been so much work put in this past year to launch the coalition, and we’re excited to continue to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into building a coalition to create equitable systems changes in our community.  We all know that a good story highlights the who, what, where, when, why, and how. But, these are also critical questions and factors that we engage with in our systems change work. Today we’re going to look at “the who.” Who is in the coalition, and what role does United Way for Greater Austin play?  We are thrilled to announce that our newly formed coalition has chosen the name: Greater Austin Reading Coalition. This coalition is comprised of nonprofit and community leaders, librarians, teachers, and parents working toward a shared vision of supporting children, grades K – 3, to ensure they are reading on grade level by the fourth grade. The coalition is convened by United Way for Greater Austin as part of our collective impact work to fight poverty.  Current coalition members include:  100 Black Men of Austin […]

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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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A First Look at Our Newest Initiative: K-12 Education

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation recently approached United Way for Greater Austin with an opportunity to expand our work beyond early childhood education and into the K-12 space. The Foundation offered funding because they’ve seen proof of our impact as a convening organization with both the Success By 6 and 2-Gen Coalitions.  We’re honored to serve as a convener within the K-12 space, partnering with dozens of organizations to amplify our collective impact and create greater equity for students in our community.  This year, our K-12 work will focus on bringing together a diverse coalition of literacy advocates, including nonprofit leaders, librarians, teachers, and parents, to work towards a shared vision of supporting children to ensure they are reading on grade level by the 4th grade. We’re excited to give you a behind the scenes look at what goes into building a coalition to create equitable systems changes in our community.  We all know that a good story highlights the who, what, where, when, why, and how. But, these are also critical questions and factors that we engage with in our systems change work. Today we’re going to look at “the why”. Why is United Way for Greater Austin expanding into the K-12 space?  Currently, our focus on education is centered around ensuring that ALL children in our community are Kindergarten-ready. But we know the work doesn’t stop at age six. The increased earning potential of an individual who attains a high school diploma or goes on to attain […]

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