Category: Uncategorized

David C. Smith Named Best CEO of 2018

Thursday, October 4 the Austin Business Journal announced David C. Smith as the Best CEO of 2018 in the nonprofit category as part of their 2018 Best CEO Awards. Austin Business Journal’s Best CEOs of 2018 are four leaders across sectors from technology to nonprofit categories. Winners were selected by a team of judges including previous Best CEOs. David had the opportunity to represent UWATX and encourage partnership & collaboration in a room filled with various CEOs, leaders, and guests from the business community. David Smith is now in his third year leading United Way for Greater Austin, although he has been working in the nonprofit space for more than 25 years leading organizations such as The Care Communities, the Hill Country Ride for AIDS and the Mamma Jamma Ride for Breast Cancer. Under Smith’s leadership, United Way has created and implemented the School Readiness Action Plan, a five-year strategic plan to turn the United Way into a convener that aligns efforts across the community behind big goals. Smith has also served on numerous boards including Austin Theater Alliance, Barton Springs Conservancy, E3 Alliance, Community Action Network and Conspirare. Prior to joining the United Way, Smith ran his own consulting firm, which is how he was named interim the executive director of The Thinkery children’s museum. He provides pro-bono board strategy sessions for organizations that need help creating or developing their own boards. For more information subscribe to the Austin Business Journal.

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Lyfting The Community

2-1-1 is Austin’s front door to community resources. United Way for Greater Austin’s call specialists connect people in need with the services that can help – health care, food, housing, counseling, substance abuse services, job training, services for older adults and veterans, transportation and more. Cities are changing. Because of this, individuals and families with low-income tend to live outside of the urban core, away from essential services. Consequently, access to transportation for vital services is now an even greater challenge. For example, an older adult living outside of the city in need of dialysis has no way to get to her appointment. An unemployed father does not transportation to get to a job interview. 2-1-1 call specialists help callers navigate the complex, and often times confusing, social services system, especially when it comes to qualifying for transportation services. “The Lyft calls I take are distinct. Some of the individuals calling are not disabled enough to qualify for special transportation or they are not old enough. They are caught in the middle,” 2-1-1 Call Specialist Arnoldo Longoria said. “Some of their appointments are really far away, where the bus system wouldn’t be helpful and because of barriers like that, they are more likely to cancel a medical appointment because it is too far or it takes up too much time in their day. I think this program is filling a gap.” Lyft recognized that there is unmet transportation need for many Americans and has partnered with United Way Worldwide to […]

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When Dog Days Turn Into Summer Shade

The sun beats down as children from Sweetbriar Child Development Center file outside to the playground. The students, ranging in age from 18 months to five-years-old, scurry to the fence line instead of onto the playscape. Fighting for refuge from the sun’s rays, those who do not fit in the sliver of shade, provided by large oak tree branches that sag over the black iron fence, huddle under the play structure. This routine has been on repeat twice a day for more than two summers.   “We don’t want to go outside, it’s too hot,” is their rally cry. It’s something we can all relate to in the Texas summer heat.   According to an Austin American Statesman article, July in Austin was a scorcher. With 17 triple-digit days on record, the average temperature for the month of July came in just shy of 100 at 99 degrees. The last two weeks have been particularly brutal, with all 14 days in the triple digits.   “One afternoon we came to pick up our son,” Joshua Mauk, Sweetbriar parent shared “and he was huddled under the play structure because it was really hot and that was the only shade available.”   Something had to change but parents, teachers and even the Center Director alike did not know where to begin.   The Background and Beginning   Sweetbriar Child Development Center is located in the 78744 neighborhood that Go Austin Vamos Austin (GAVA), a resident-led coalition focused on community health and well-being, […]

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Company Culture that Creates Change: Texas Mutual

“Now let me start from the beginning,” Teresa Martinez, Texas Mutual Project Management, and Analysis Supervisor said. After leaving home at a young age Teresa found herself, a 17-year-old who didn’t finish high-school, working at Target with a young son at home and looking for more.   “I happened to notice a sign that read if you’re a youth and you are interested in something more than just your average job, call this number,” Teresa said. “So, I called the number on the sign and after going in and talking with counselors at the program, I called Youth Employment Services and found out that I qualified for help.”   Youth Employment Services, at the time, was a funded partner of United Way. The program helped her work towards her GED, obtain a driver’s license and most significantly, helped her get her son into childcare with Any Baby Can – a United Way affiliated partner. “That was my first introduction to United Way,” Teresa said.   Change-maker   As a 19 year Texas Mutual veteran, Teresa has eight years of United Way campaign coordination under her belt and has once again returned to the campaign as 2017 co-chair. Teresa was the volunteer special events coordinator for the United Way Campaign at Texas Mutual from 2007 – 2013 and during that time, along with the help of passionate coworkers, she organized fundraising events that allowed Texas Mutual Employees to give back to their community in a fun and rewarding way.   In […]

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Building Better Brains: The Importance of Early Childhood Educators

It’s a hot summer afternoon around three o’clock when we pull into the parking lot. Cars and parents scattered across the drive as they mosey inside to pick up their children. Upon opening the front door of the medium-sized brick building, a wave of cold, clean air, smelling slightly of finger paint and crayons, crashed over our faces. Bright white tiles reflect the sunlight coming through the big open front window causing the colorful artwork on the walls to shimmer and dance. There is no doubt that we have entered a childcare center.

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5 Immediate needs you can meet this summer…

Everyone talks about beating the heat when it’s time for summer, but do we ever stop to think about those in our community who can’t? Being raised by parents working in the social service sector means volunteerism is both an inherited and a learned trait. Read the post below to learn about the five simple ways I hope to make a difference in Austin this summer.

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Investing Early Matters

Why focusing on the current and future workforce is imperative for the economic health of Austin and the long-term success of our children.   WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW   Our current workforce depends on childcare. It is as simple as that.   Do you have kids? If so, think about what kind of childcare are they receiving and what it costs you. Are either you or your partner able to stay home to take care of your children? If not, take some time to reflect on your experience with the childcare system.   For two working parents to support two children in childcare, a typical family needs to earn $61,356 per year. A family earning the median household income would spend 18 percent of it on childcare and for a single parent earning minimum wage, care costs about two-thirds (64 percent) of their earnings. When childcare costs are on par with tuition at a state university, many working families can’t afford to stay home.   Right now, U.S. businesses lose three billion dollars annually from employee absenteeism due to breakdowns in the childcare system. And these breakdowns disproportionately affect low-income families.   WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?   The current workforce is inhibited by the lack of accessible and affordable childcare and businesses are suffering due to the lack of a prepared workforce.   WHAT WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN IF THINGS DON’T CHANGE   While the current workforce is suffering due to a fragmented childcare system, our focus should be on preparing […]

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Five Things Anthony Bourdain Can Teach Us…

We are saddened by the loss of Chef Anthony Bourdain, a man who dedicated his life to bringing people together through food, travel and writing. He turned food, something universal, into a greater conversation about humanity and being known – and nonprofits can learn a lot from him.   1. Ask the hard questions. “What are our expectations? Which of the things we desire are within reach? If not now, when? And will there be some left for me?”   If we expect to move the needle on social issues, we have to be willing to ask the hard questions. What does success look like when it comes to fighting poverty in Austin? Who should we be engaging? Where should we focus our efforts to generate the greatest impact? What is it going to take to make sure all children enter kindergarten school ready?   Reflection and re-evaluation are necessary and vital parts of creating lasting strategic change.   2. Try new things. “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”   Don’t be afraid to fail. Innovation is important in every aspect of life. It is important for progress and it is especially integral in the nonprofit space. If we are going to change the system we have to disrupt it – to think about things differently and fight poverty through multiple channels and in new ways. We should always be looking for opportunities to hone our efforts, trimming […]

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International Women’s Day: Celebrating the women of United Way

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) we are proud to work with an incredible group of women who are intelligent, passionate and kind. Read the Q & A below to learn more about a few of the amazing woman working at UWATX.   Amy Price, 2-1-1 Director of Community Information Why is your work important? 2-1-1 is the community’s front door for information about community resources. Our knowledgeable, empathetic, professional staff guide callers through the process of getting help with housing, food, child care, legal assistance, mental health services, health care, and so much more. What woman do you most admire and why? My mom who defied stereotypes by being one of the few (maybe only?) female land surveyors in Texas. She was a tomboy as a child, got a degree in art history at UT, and continues to inspire me with her strength, sense of humor, and approach to life. She didn’t teach me how to paint my nails or do my hair, but she did teach me how to get dirty, the importance of giving back, and how to have fun doing both. Why is International Woman’s Day important to you? Any opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women today and throughout history is awesome!   Cathy McHorse, Success By 6 Early Childhood Education Director Why is […]

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12 Ways To Fight Poverty This Holiday

The holidays are full of traditions from baking gingerbread cookies and drinking hot cocoa to curling up on the couch to enjoy a classic holiday movie. This time of year, for most of us, is accompanied by nostalgia and joy.   Unfortunately, many families in Austin are barely able to celebrate the holidays. At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) we talk a lot about the two very different sides of Austin. Austin is the live music capital of the world, a rapidly expanding tech hub, one of the coolest places to live and yet, it’s also one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. Many parents in our community struggle to put food on the table each day and live paycheck-to-paycheck year round.   The holiday season often puts an undue burden on many Austin families. As you celebrate, we encourage you to spread your joy a little further, to your neighbors in need. Because giving back and is a part of our DNA at United Way, we hope that this blog will provide you with simple and meaningful ways to make fighting poverty easy and enjoyable this holiday season.   1. Donate to UWATX directly: The easiest way to fight to end poverty is by donating to UWATX this holiday season. All gifts are welcome.         2. Host a United Way Seasonal Drive Team up with co-workers or family members to help gather items to help families in need. Click the link for […]

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