Category: Uncategorized

Meet Laura Gentner: Living life with kindness, honesty, and support for the dignity of everyone

Women United is a diverse, vibrant donor network supporting United Way for Greater Austin. Members are committed to creating a powerful, female-driven philanthropic force to fight poverty in Greater Austin. As one of this year’s Women United Co-Chairs, Laura Gentner is helping to create change in our community, so that everyone can share in the promise of Austin!  “I Live United because we are living and experiencing this world together, so let’s do that with kindness, honesty, and support for the dignity of every person.”  – Laura Gentner, Women United Co-Chair Why does United Way’s mission to fight poverty resonate with you personally?  Fighting poverty is an effort to change a person’s life cycle and what the next generation will inherit. It’s getting to the root of the poverty issues in our communities and creating solutions that have longevity. Growing up, we teetered on the poverty line, and I know how easily one can fall into a sudden, difficult place in life. I love that United Way is focused on finding solutions to such a complex challenge. It’s not easy, and the success isn’t immediate, but I’m glad United Way is front and center fighting for Greater Austin.  What is your favorite part about being a member (co-chair!) of Women United? Activism! We just had our first Women United meeting for 2021-22, and it’s very obvious these are women ready to make change and impact in our work for early childhood education and the fight against poverty. It’s my privilege […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

United Way for Greater Austin & United Way of Williamson County are joining forces!

We are excited to announce that United Way for Greater Austin and United Way of Williamson County are joining forces! Our two organizations have signed a management contract with intent to merge, and we are engaged in a due diligence process as the final step in the merger process.  Together, we will have one mission: Bringing people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community.  “As the Austin metro area grows, the boundaries between Travis and Williamson counties continue to blend; many people work in one and live in the other,” said David C. Smith, CEO of United Way for Greater Austin. “For our communities biggest challenges, more and more people are finding regional solutions optimal. This merger will help us better and more efficiently serve the Greater Austin community, while expanding and deepening our impact with a regional approach. Together, we can do more.” The Boards of Directors for both organizations approved the move in June 2021. The due diligence process is expected to be complete by the end of the year, with a further vote by both organizations’ Boards at that time. Until then, United Way for Greater Austin has a managing agreement with United Way of Williamson County and is thoughtfully integrating the two organizations into one. “Integrating the services and expertise of our two organizations will help us better and more efficiently serve our community, both in Williamson County and the region,” said Jodee O’Brien, former CEO of United Way of Williamson County and […]

Read More

Meet Brandon Comisarenco: Giving Back to the City He Loves

Emerging Leaders is a group of tomorrow’s leaders supporting United Way for Greater Austin. Members have a passion for philanthropy, advocacy, volunteerism, and community. Through meaningful volunteer opportunities and networking events, members make connections with other local leaders who all believe that everyone deserves to enjoy the promise of Austin. Brandon Comisarenco is committed to ensuring that Greater Austin is a community that works for everyone. And as a member of the Emerging Leaders Executive Committee and a supporter of United Way for Greater Austin, he is helping to make that possible!  Learn more about why he joined United Way’s fight against poverty.  What is your favorite thing about living in Austin?  My favorite thing about living in Austin is how big of a city it’s gotten, but has still kept a small town feel. The people who live here truly make this city amazing. There’s a really strong sense of community in Austin. Everybody is so passionate about this city and are always looking for ways to improve it…It’s great to see a large portion of the population care so deeply about each other and doing everything they can to make sure this city is moving forward and progressing.  Why does United Way for Greater Austin’s mission to fight poverty resonate with you personally?  I’ve always had a passion and desire to help those around me. I think that starts with doing everything we can as a community to ensure equity and equality for as many people as possible. […]

Read More

Silicon Labs: Magnifying community good

Austin-based Silicon Labs has always had a deep commitment to supporting our local community. In 2019, Silicon Labs team members volunteered more than 3,500 hours. And every year, Silicon Labs gives back 1% of their profits to charitable organizations. When COVID-19 hit Central Texas, Silicon Labs stepped up in a big way with a significant donation to All Together ATX, the COVID-19 relief fund we created with our friends at Austin Community Foundation to support Central Texans through the pandemic. Hear from Silicon Labs CMO Megan Lueders, as she talks about why this donation means so much to SIlicon Labs and how together Silicon Labs and United Way ATX are “magnifying and multiplying community good.” And our partnership didn’t stop there. That donation to All Together ATX is the first stepping stone toward more collaboration between Silicon Labs and United Way ATX. Just last week, United Way ATX hosted a virtual volunteering event for Silicon Labs team members in support of All Together ATX grantee Central Texas Food Bank. At the event, Silicon Labs team members: Learned about the need in our community due to COVID-19. For more than 25 years, United Way ATX has run the 2-1-1 “call for help” line where people can get support related to food, housing, transportation, health, and more. Over the past few months, our 2-1-1 call specialists have been answering 4x our typical call volume. One of the biggest needs in our community: Food. Learned about how All Together ATX grantee Central Texas […]

Read More

Meet our new Board members

Here at United Way ATX, we’re convinced that we have the best Board in town. Each and every Board member brings their passion, expertise, and heart to our fight against poverty — at every Board meeting and every day in between. We’re thrilled to welcome five new members to our Board of Directors. They are all incredible humans and leaders in our community, and make our Board even stronger. Cathy Harm, Regional Vice President Central Texas at H-E-B _______________________________________________________________________ Jehmu Greene, Barbara’s Legacy | First generation American | Native Austinite _______________________________________________________________________ Allison Dwyer, Women United Executive Committee member | Success By 6 volunteer “I am excited to join the Board because I believe in the work United Way ATX does in our city and state to advocate for, assist, and educate our most vulnerable residents, their children, AND the community at large. My personal passion is ignited around their work to ensure that every child has a fair chance from the start in the classroom, rather than falling behind before Kindergarten due to his or her zip code.” _______________________________________________________________________ Yvette Ruiz, Vice President of Nonprofit Engagement at JPMorgan Chase _______________________________________________________________________ Pat Dorsey, Publisher at the Austin American-Statesman _______________________________________________________________________ We’re also thrilled to welcome back three returning Board members: Kathleen Farlow, Managing Partner at Deloitte; Bobby Jenkins, Owner at ABC Home & Commercial Services; and Heather Ladage, Publisher at Austin Business Journal. With these members, our Board becomes more diverse in race, gender, lived experience, and expertise. We’re proud of this […]

Read More

All Together ATX: Announcing $2.2 Million to 70 Local Nonprofits

We are excited to award $2.2 Million to 70 Austin-area nonprofits working to support communities experiencing economic and health-related hardships caused by COVID-19 in Central Texas. This funding comes from All Together ATX, the COVID-19 relief fund we created in partnership with our friends at Austin Community Foundation. The nonprofits receiving grants are working to address domestic violence and child abuse, digital equity, mental health, aging populations, and utility assistance. The grants range in size from $70,000 to $5,000 and will be distributed electronically by August 11. Meet the grantees here. Data consistently shows that Black and Hispanic residents in Central Texas are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 compared to their white neighbors. According to Austin Public Health, Hispanics make up 52% of confirmed cases in Travis County. Similarly, the Black community comprises 10% of hospitalizations and 9% of deaths in Travis County but is less than 8% of the population.  To ensure the communities most impacted by COVID-19 are supported and funded, equity was a guiding principle in the All Together ATX grantmaking process. The intent of this round of funding was to enhance and increase existing services to individuals of historically under-resourced communities in the five-county Central Texas region (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson).  All Together ATX distributed an initial round of funding in April 2020. During that phase, we awarded grants totaling $1.8 Million to 97 nonprofits. Funding from All Together ATX has helped dozens of Central Texas nonprofits meet the high demand for services and […]

Read More

Embodying grace: A Tribute to Jacquie Porter

Written by// Sue Carpenter, Chief Programs Officer Over the weekend, I learned about the passing of Jacquie Porter, Austin’s beloved early learning leader. This week has been a profoundly sad one, but I can’t help but reflect on the many wonderful experiences that I – and everyone in the Austin early education community – shared with this extraordinary colleague and friend. I first met Jacquie over a decade ago, when she was the Principal of AISD’s Lucy Read PreK Center. Even though her focus was on building and growing an exemplary early learning model for the district, she immediately stepped into a leadership role for the broader community coalition focused on school readiness. Having Jacquie at the table meant everything. If I could sum her up in one word (impossible!) – it would be “grace.” She was incredibly kind, thoughtful, and unstinting in the amount of time and counsel she was prepared to give to make our community better for young children and families. Very few people are both visionary and practical, but Jacquie dreamed of what could be and figured out the steps needed to make the vision a reality. One of my first conversations with her was about how the district could partner with community-based child care centers to deliver high-quality pre-K. She listened, asked questions, and then created plans to put this into action. Several pilot projects followed until the model was truly functioning, but she persisted across years despite all the challenges. Today, because of her […]

Read More

Texas Gas Service: Where philanthropy is a core component of culture

Carmen Luevanos, Community Relations Manager at Texas Gas Service, shares about how and why she is involved with United Way for Greater Austin with Corporate Account Manager, Chauncey LeGrand. Texas Gas Service has been partnering with United Way to end poverty in Austin for more than a decade. Last year alone nearly 300 employees raised more than $65,000. Texas Gas is a unique and impactful campaign because it is an organization that matches $1 for $1 when its employees donate to the United Way campaign each year – and we couldn’t be more grateful! Historically, the Texas Gas campaign lasts the entire month of October and they have various activities to raise money throughout the year with paired with fun social activities that include a chili cook-off, ice cream social, breakfast tacos, and more! Thank you Texas Gas Service, we couldn’t fight poverty without you! If you or your organization is interested in getting involved or starting a United Way giving campaign learn more here.

Read More

United Way ATX + Race and Poverty

Hi friends, All of us at United Way for Greater Austin are grieving the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the thousands of other black Americans impacted by recent acts of racism and violence. This cancer in our society diminishes all of us. Poverty and racism are so interconnected, we can’t address one without the other. What we can do is speak up, double down on our mission to fight poverty, and support each other every step of the way. These issues are too important for us to do anything else. Every time this happens, we all keep thinking this will be the time that people wake up and change finally comes. Together, we can be that change! Everyone deserves to live in a society where they feel safe, protected, and respected. Each and every one of us plays a role in creating that more just and equitable future. On Friday, I was in a meeting with one of the most brilliant people I know, Akasha. He is a black man, and he said, “We are shaping the future.” It was a hopeful word we all desperately need right now. May it be so. Our work fighting poverty has been about equity all along. Now we are more committed than ever, and ask that you join your hand with ours and be our partner in building a community that works for everyone. We believe that our only hope to lift up all of us is to address the systems that perpetuate inequity. Thanks to your […]

Read More