Category: Makes Austin Greater

Play To Learn: Filling Gaps in the Digital Divide

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) is committed to developing innovative programs that enable low income families to have access to quality educational tools for their Pre-K3 children. Since 2011, UWATX’s Success By 6 program has been partnering with several community organizations (such as Austin Travis County Integral Care’s First Steps program, Austin Public Library Camp Fire Central Texas, KLRU and the YMCA of Austin) to offer Play To Learn (PTL) in some of the higher-need areas of greater Austin. This year alone, PTL served approximately 240 families through 15 partner locations and plans to partner with additional host sites in 2017. Play To Learn Technology By introducing tablet technology to the children and parents, PTL has been helping to decrease the “digital divide” that exists between lower-income families and their higher-income peers. Throughout the 10-week curriculum, parents learn skills to help their young children prepare for success in school. Additionally, PTL programming extends past the 10-week curriculum. Parents who attend at least eight sessions receive a tablet loaded with children’s books, songs, apps, PBS videos and bookmarked websites with helpful parenting resources to further aid and foster their children’s social and cognitive development. Program Impact Since the program’s inception, hundreds of parents in Austin have learned how to better connect and engage with their children. Likewise, PTL children are gaining the confidence and social skills to better participate in learning and with each other. Post-testing of families who completed PTL in 2016 showed great success: 99% of parents reported […]

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GAVA Early Childhood Team Provides a New Refrigerator at Little Dudes Learning Center

GAVA (Go Austin Vamos Austin!) is a resident-led health initiative working in Austin’s neighborhoods (78744 and 78745) with highest incidence of childhood obesity to promote family wellness, increase physical activity and improve nutrition and access to healthy food. The initiative works in different areas, called sectors, to address the key factors impacting childhood obesity: parks, schools, food service/quality/availability, out-of-school time and early childhood education. Laura Olson, Family Support Service Coordinator for United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 team, serves as the Early Childhood Sector Manager for GAVA. She works across the early childhood community to form teams made up of: childcare providers and early childhood teachers, nonprofit providers serving families with young children, home daycare providers, and parents of young children. Teams meet monthly to develop plans and take action toward improving the health of their families and neighborhoods. One of the childcare providers Olson works with is Little Dudes Learning Center. Little Dudes opened it’s doors in 1961 when Mrs. Ellen Smith recognized the need for childcare in South Austin. Consequently, Little Dudes was the first childcare center to open in Austin, south of the river. Little Dudes has long been seen as providing high quality early education and has been recognized as a Texas Rising Star Four Star Center, a statewide quality certification program. This past summer, Little Dudes had an old refrigerator that was not cooling properly during their annual health inspection. As a result, they had to pour out gallons of milk and throw away […]

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The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and One of our Own

Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) at United Way for Greater Austin coordinates corporate volunteer activities as team-building projects and each year they help hundreds of businesses engage their employees in community-changing volunteerism. On Saturday, Sept. 24., the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation teamed up with HOCT to give back at their annual Coke Scholars Service Summit. The Coke Scholars Service Summit is an opportunity for Scholars to gather from different parts of the country to build strong relationships, adventure in a new city, and continue to be inspired about community change. Austin’s Zavala Elementary School, where Coke Scholar Tim McCallum attended in 1991, was chosen as the volunteer project venue for the 2016 Summit. View photos from the Summit here. In attendance was Madison Springgate, who in addition to being a Coke Scholar, is also one of our very own Campaign Associates. Madison was chosen as a Coke Scholar in high school and said, “I was thrilled to be a part of the project at Zavala, from the Scholar perspective, as well as part of the United Way staff.” To get to know more about the Coke Scholars program and the impact it had on Madison, read the brief Q and A below.   What does it mean for you to be a Coke Scholar? When looking at my personal journey, specifically when it comes to my passion for community impact work, much of it goes back to my experience as a Coke Scholar. Though I was very involved with volunteering and philanthropy in […]

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All Hands on Deck at Fall Day of Caring

Each fall, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) welcomes corporate volunteer teams and individuals from the community to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism through a one day service extravaganza called Fall Day of Caring (FDOC). This year’s Fall Day of Caring  presented by NXP Semiconductors was held on Sept. 23 and brought close to 800 volunteers to over 30 volunteer projects at nonprofits and schools all over Austin. Volunteers cleaned out gardens, prepped materials for teachers, built play structures and much more. UWATX believes that anyone can be a philanthropist by giving their time to make their community stronger, smarter, safer, and more beautiful for everyone. Through events like Fall Day of Caring, we invite everyone to be a part of making Austin greater! FDOC wouldn’t be possible without our amazing sponsors: Austin Coca-Cola, Broadway Bank, JE Dunn, Kerbey Lane Café and NXP Semiconductors. These companies empower not only their own employees, but hundreds of other Central Texans to give their time to causes they’re passionate about at FDOC projects. In addition to sponsoring the event, each of these companies send their own workers– from executives to entry level employees – out to work together to accomplish huge projects for nonprofits in need of a little help. JE Dunn volunteers utilized their construction expertise to make the playground at Trinity Child Development Center safer by building a raised deck over a frequently flooded area on the playground. Trinity CDC, part of UWATX’s Center Project initiative, provides high quality early child education […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Tracy, IBM

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.” Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. […]

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Now Accepting Proposals

United Way for Greater Austin seeks to award up to $90,000, divided evenly into three awards of $30,000, to three qualified community organizations to deliver effective programs and services that assist parents and children together, increasing their family stability and self-sufficiency. Since 1924, United Way for Greater Austin  has worked locally to build philanthropy and support programs that break the cycle of poverty. UWATX programs and activities are designed to jump start sustainable solutions for low-income families and drive collective change by aligning public and private support. Our programs work together to provide low-income families with the skills and resources they need to take an active role in their own success. Our community investments illuminate this commitment. UWATX’s funding priorities are centered on three interrelated focus areas: Education: Children and youth are happy, healthy, and prepared for success in school and in life. Income: Families have equitable access to economic and social opportunities. Health: Families in Central Texas are physically and mentally healthy. Within each focus area, UWATX partners with community stakeholders to identify proven strategies toward a common goal. Community investment grants represent a strategic opportunity to identify critical community partners and enhance and create active collaborations for the greatest impact. Our community investment grants are made possible by the financial contributions of thousands of community investors each year. UWATX is committed to serving as a strategic steward of these community dollars. UWATX anticipates three awards of $30,000 each under this RFP. Read the Request for Proposal and sign up for the informational session taking place on Sept. 16.

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2016 Early Care and Education Survey Results

Today, we’re proud to release the results of the 2016 Early Care and Education Survey – a look at trends across the early care field in our community and the only one of it’s kind in Central Texas. This year’s data shows more of the same positive trends we saw in 2014, and also similar challenges. Teacher education in early childhood varies widely depending on where you live Our data indicates that teacher education levels in early childhood education centers vary greatly between the regions of Travis County. 20% – 25% of East and South Austin center teachers have no early childhood education beyond high school. West, North, and Central Austin fair better with only 7-9% of teachers having no formal early childhood education training. Regional Differences in Early Childhood Education                         The survey also found that long-term teacher retention has decreased over the past two years.   Parent fees make up the bulk of funding for child care centers – including in low-income areas The survey found that centers, across nearly all regions in Travis County, depend on parent fees for the largest portion of their income. Centers in East, South and North Austin also rely on public subsidies for funding, with private donations and corporate subsidies playing a minor role for the regions as well.   Child Care Center Funding Sources                 This may be part of the reason why the cost […]

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Kerbey Lane Café Beautifies Open Door Preschool East

Did you know that the average annual cost of high quality early childhood care is nearly $10,000? Imagine a family that is already struggling to make ends meet faced with an additional expense of $9,734, the average cost of high quality childcare in Austin according to the Texas Workforce Board. Even for a family with two adults working full time at minimum wage, that’s a third of the family’s income for the year going to childcare instead of housing, food, utilities or other necessary expenses. Because of this high cost and the barrier it represents to students starting kindergarten, United Way for Greater Austin supports childcare centers serving low-income families with free or reduced tuition through the Success By 6 Center Project. The initiative currently works with 13 childcare centers, serving over 1,000 children in Austin. The Center Project works with these centers to help them meet state and national standards for quality early childhood education including training for teachers, leveraging in-kind and volunteer resources to improve facilities and providing data collection and analysis to improve individual outcomes for students. On Aug. 19, employees from all seven Kerbey Lane Café (KLC) locations joined Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) to beautify Open Door Preschool East – one of the longest running partner schools of the Center Project. KLC volunteers painted four classrooms, over half of the rooms serving students. While the KLC volunteers were not expert painters, HOCT staff provided a short training and in-depth project coordination to ensure volunteers felt comfortable and completed […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Oliver, Broadway Bank

With the start of school less than a month out, UWATX’s volunteer arm, Hands On Central Texas, is already planning the Back to School Volunteer Day at Webb Early College Prep Academy. Volunteers will come together on August 18th to help teachers prepare their classrooms for the year, beautify the campus and distribute donated school supplies to different programs and areas of the school. One of our dedicated partners, Broadway Bank, has been volunteering with our back to school efforts for the past two years. Broadway Bank’s home city of San Antonio hosts a large school supply collection, which inspired Austin Assistant Market Manager, Jackie Oliver, to bring those efforts to Austin when she reached out to UWATX in 2014. That year and the following year, 2015, Broadway Bank successfully collected supplies for more than 50 students in need at a partner middle school by hosting collection events at their downtown Austin branch. Jackie made sure to keep the Broadway Bank group involved and volunteering throughout the year. Employees participated in the H-E-B Feast of Sharing in November, Spring Day of Caring and Fall Day of Caring. Additionally, Broadway Bank donated holiday meal kits to families at the Mendez Boys and Girls Club Thanksgiving Dinner. The meal kits included food to prepare a delicious family meal and an H-E-B gift card to purchase a turkey. We had the opportunity to chat with Jackie and her marketing team about what drives Broadway Bank’s philanthropic involvement:   1. How long have you been involved with […]

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Partner Spotlight: Any Baby Can

Photo: Any Baby Can United Way for Greater Austin believes collaboration is essential to tackling our community’s largest problems. We work with many nonprofit, public and private organizations in our community to have a larger impact and create real change in our city. One of these funded partners is Any Baby Can. Any Baby Can is a nonprofit organization that believes “all children deserve the chance to be healthy and happy”—a vision in line with UWATX’s own. Any Baby Can serves children with developmental delays, chronic or life-threatening illnesses and hearing loss, as well as their families. Any Baby Can also serves first-time pregnant women, including teenage moms, moms with postpartum depression and parents seeking parenting skills. According to Any Baby Can’s website, 34,959 children in Travis County have a special health care need. Services Any Baby Can offers to their clients include in-home physical, occupational and speech therapy, case management, mental health counseling for anyone in the family, support groups and nurse-home visitation. They also partner with Open Door Preschool so that parents receiving onsite classes have quality childcare while they are learning new parenting skills. Any Baby Can hosts monthly organization tours open to anyone interested in learning more about the organization. While on the tour, the absence of workers in many of the offices is striking. This is because much of Any Baby Can’s therapy and case work is done in the homes of their clients. Any Baby Can has boasts many robust programs. One such program, […]

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