Category: _Popular

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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United Way for Greater Austin Awards $120,000 to Fund 2-Generation Programming in Austin, TX.

On November 17, 2016, five Austin non-profit agencies were awarded grants to fund initiatives created to propel 2-Generation Programming (2-Gen) in Austin, TX. American YouthWorks, Jeremiah Program and Saint Louise House were each awarded $30,000 grants and Goodwill Central Texas and SSP Learning Center were each awarded $15,000 grants. Leah Meunier, Chief Programs Officer at United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) adds, “These five funded programs help parents pursue education and pathways to superior employment opportunities while also ensuring that their young children have access to high-quality early education. We know early education fosters key developmental needs for school readiness—in turn, embedding anchors of opportunity for upward economic mobility across generations. UWATX is privileged to support these organizations during a period when Austin’s families and communities may depend on their work more than ever.” Over the last two years, UWATX and Austin’s 2-Gen Advisory Committee, have worked to demonstrate the value of the two-generation approach in service provision, bringing together local service providers and top researchers from around the country in 2-Gen community forums. The result of these discussions is a “Two-Generation Vision for Austin” which states, “Intergenerational poverty is a major problem in the United States. Economic mobility across generations (or the ability for children to do better financially than their parents) has diminished over time, and Austin is no exception, with lower mobility rates than many major cities. Chronic poverty produces toxic stress that affects adults’ abilities to perform well in the workplace and to provide a high quality […]

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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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Summer Health Tips

Summer time usually means staying by the poolside, barbecues and other outdoor festivities, but with that comes sun exposure, mosquitos and various safety hazards! It’s important to prevent injuries and keep you and your family healthy while enjoying the outdoors. Below are a few tips to help keep your family healthy and safe this summer season: Stay Active Longer days and more daylight provide more opportunities for you to get outside and get some exercise in! Swimming, walking, biking and jump-roping are all great ways to burn some calories this summer. You can make enjoying physical activity a thing for the whole family! Playing tag, frisbee and hula-hooping are great ways to get the kids involved and everyone moving. One thing to keep in mind is that the warmer temperatures make exercising outdoors a bit more challenging. Wear lightweight and light-colored clothes to keep yourself cooler. With the hottest time of the day being between noon and 3 p.m., try to keep your exercising to mornings or evenings after the sun sets. Most importantly, drinks lots and lots of water, before, during and after you are physically active! Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes and Other Pests It’s important to carry around bug spray containing at least 20% deet to deter mosquitoes and others pests when outside. Mosquitoes are also attracted to sweet smelling perfumes and sprays, so try to minimize use of these products if you plan to be outside for extended periods of time. Protect Your Skin and Eyes When out […]

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SXSW 2016 Preview

It’s either the most wonderful time of the year, or the least wonderful time of the year, depending on which type of Austinite you are–it’s SXSW time. Like it or not, we are mere days away from 320,000 visitors who will flood the streets and venues of our city to check out live music, preview films and learn about the newest innovative ideas at the Interactive convention. We’ve compiled a list of the things we’re most excited to see at SXSW this year: POTUS and FLOTUS make a few appearances This is the first time a U.S. president has stopped at SXSW and he is making it count. On March 11th, President Obama will sit down with Evan Smith, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Texas Tribune, to discuss civic engagement in the 21st Century and to ask the audience to apply their ideas and talents to “make technology work for us – especially when it comes to tackling big challenges like increasing participation in the political process and fighting climate change.” First Lady Michelle Obama will speak on March 16th about the Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to break barriers for the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school today. No matter your political alliances, how many times will you have the chance to hear a president speak at SXSW? Panel: Building a Philanthropic Fashion Empire: Do Good Local fashion designer and philanthropist, Kendra Scott, will share her views of the importance of corporate social responsibility in a […]

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#GoodNews

The Internet can be such a drag these days. It seems multiple times per day there is a negative or heart-breaking story trending, and you can’t seem escape it on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed. Replace the negativity–or at least balance it out–by following these accounts that post positive stories that will remind you that there is still so much good in the world. The Good News Network This news site is dedicated to combatting negativity in the media by providing daily dosages of “news to enthuse.” The site has been around since 1997 and has more than half a million followers. You can even submit your own “good news” story for consideration on the site. Hands On Network This Twitter feed focuses on volunteerism, including opportunities near you, tips for organizing your own projects and inspirational quotes. Humans of New York Photographer Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York as a passion project after quitting his job in the corporate world. The idea is simple: he stops passerbys in New York City and encourages them to share bits of their lives with him. Since the project started as a simple blog in 2010, the popularity of Humans of New York has surged, mostly due to the simple reminder within each post that we are all part of one human race. Brandon now has two books and has raised millions of dollars from social media followers for low-income schools in Brooklyn, Syrian refugees and more. Smart Girls Amy Poehler started Smart Girls […]

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Veterans Day 2015: Businesses Honoring Our Heroes

Veterans Day is an important day to reflect and honor the courage displayed by our nation’s military. These are the brave men and women who have made sacrifices and risked their lives to protect our liberties. America is a country of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and this would not be possible without these selfless military personnel. In honor of this significant day, below is a list of companies who are giving special recognition to our veterans by providing a free meal or special discounts:   Starbucks All active duty service members, veterans and military spouses will receive a free tall (12 fl oz) hot brewed coffee from Starbucks. Lowe’s Lowe’s is honoring retired veterans, active military personnel and their immediate family, with a 10% discount. MOD Pizza All veterans and active duty military can stop by MOD pizza today to munch on a free pizza or salad! Ikea Ikea is offering a free entrée to active, reserve or retired service members. Entrée includes a sandwich, hot dish or entrée salad. Carl’s Jr When you purchase an Ultimate Care Package meal, 100% of the proceeds go towards the Call of Duty Endowment. The Call of Duty Endowment is a non-profit organization that helps service members transition to high quality civilian careers after their military service. JC Penney’s Current and former military personnel and family members get an extra 5% off discount — this offer can be combined with other coupons and special offers. Olive Garden Olive Garden invites veterans and active duty […]

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Community Tree Lighting in St. John’s Makes Austin Brighter

United Way for Greater Austin was pleased to host the inaugural Community Tree Lighting in St. John’s on December 2, #Giving Tuesday.  We are so appreciative of the people and communities that make Austin greater and are overjoyed about the opportunity to provide a complimentary holiday event for families in this neighborhood.  Located on the Webb Middle School campus, the 15-foot tree, which was generously provided by Capital Metro, will serve as a joyous fixture that the people of St. John’s will be able to enjoy and revisit throughout the holiday season.  We chose Webb Middle School as our venue for this event because of our investment and strong ties to the community. Our Target Graduation program invested $300,000 in Webb Middle School students during the last academic year to coordinate student services including mentoring, tutoring and parent education.  You can see photos from the Community Tree Lighting here! Principal Sanchez, dressed as santa, flipped the switch on the 15-foot tree, casting a warm holiday glow on approximately 200 attendees. Following the tree lighting, Hands On Central Texas  distributed more than 1,500 books to adolescents and children in St. John’s. Seeing the expression on students’ faces as they were able to carry armloads of books away from the event was the most rewarding moment for staff at United Way and all those involved in the book drive. This free holiday event also offered families the opportunity to participate in card decorating, ornament making, face painting, interactions with mini-horses and balloon art, as well as cookies and cocoa. We […]

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Young Leaders Society sets ambitious goal: bring FULL-TIME coordination to middle schools

Today, we’re proud to announce an ambitious goal for the Young Leaders Society: we will raise $180K by June 2015 to fully fund full-time coordinators at Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools.  [Tweet “Big goal for @uwatx #atxyoungleaders: bring full-time coordination to low-income middle schools!”] Last year, our group of young professionals from across the Austin community raised $126K to support middle school services – and this year, we’re raising the bar. By funding this specific service, we can make sure students are connecting to the help they need.  As Kat Pfannenstiel, strategic advisor for Target Graduation and YLS member, said, “Investing in a campus coordinator means that more children at-risk for school dropout and school failure can be identified and linked with supports. These supports have led to greater sense of school community and positive, long-term effects for middle school students.” The YLS Challenge is simple:   YLSers will grow a successful program by funding full-time coordination Since UWATX launched Middle School Matters in 2011, we’ve seen the difference that coordinating services can make:    Before, many nonprofits were working to help students at Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools, but they were working by themselves. With our support, nonprofits and schools are now working together in an organized way.  To date, we’ve coordinated 9,000 hours of service for nearly 5,000 middle school students.  But even with this success, we’ve only been able to provide part-time coordination services at each of the three middle schools. Helping 20+ nonprofits and 240+ school staff manage the needs of so […]

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