Category: Uncategorized

Going Back to School? 2-1-1 is here to make it affordable and easy.

While back to school can be a very exciting time of year, it can also be a very trying time for many people in our community. We know that 1 in 5 children under 18 in Austin/Travis County experience food insecurity on a regular basis and that basic needs requests accounted for 54% of our total call volume at 2-1-1 in 2018. As families navigate back-to-school season, children not only need new clothes and medical check-ups, but families are additionally tasked with gathering a list of required supplies — making the cost of going back to school very unobtainable, very quickly. Thankfully, there are many programs and nonprofits geared towards helping families gather these supplies and offering these medical exams for free, and you can call 2-1-1- today for all the details. There are dozens of back-to-school events happening in our community, and there are a variety of benefits available to all families. Services that may be available at these FREE events include: -Free clothes for kids -Free school supplies -Free immunizations -Immunization records assistance -Sports physicals -Eye exams -Hearing screenings -Safety supplies (booster seats, etc.) -Food, fun, games and more! Events are happening now, and will be continue through the middle of August. For a list of events in your area, and what to expect and prepare for at each event call 2-1-1 today. When calling 2-1-1, be sure to ask about the upcoming 2019 Back to School event at Manos de Cristo that will support 2000 children over […]

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Meet the United Way Team: Wonde Will Wow You

At United Way ATX we value and celebrate all voices. From Board members to donors to team members to partner organizations to the children and families we work with, we strive for inclusivity where everyone has a place at the table and their voices can be heard. Today, we are excited to introduce you to one of our newest team members Wondemneh Pawlose. We would love to tell you a little bit about Wonde, but we think you’ll like it even better hearing from him. (You’ll love him as much as we do.) I come from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I have seen the many faces of poverty growing up. People struggling to eat three meals every day, kids quitting school in order to financially contribute to their families, and sick people with the inability to seek medical treatment (where the clinic card itself costs more than their weekly budget) are realities lived by the few million residents of Addis Ababa. If you had told me in 2011 that poverty is rooted deep in various American cities and their inhabitants, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.  2011 was the year I have migrated to America, and I had no idea about the wealth disparity that exists within many American cities like Austin, TX. In my defense, I was taught to consider America as a land of milk and honey… a place where there is no space for poverty (if one chooses to […]

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The Secret to Success for ATX Business Leaders

What is the secret to success for an Austin business? Gay Gaddis, CEO of T3 and Ali Khataw, CEO of Encotech Engineering Consultants are sharing what helped their companies on the path to success, and leading a movement sparking change for businesses across the city. “We often get the question: ‘What’s the one thing about your business that keeps you up at night?’ For us, it’s how to keep talented team members at the company as they start their families. For over two decades we’ve been working to cultivate a family-friendly culture at T3 (and Encotech Engineering Consultants), while encouraging other business leaders to do the same.” -Gay Gaddis, founder and CEO of T3 The City is joining this family-friendly movement, too. Last month, Mayor Steve Adler joined us in launching the Early Matters Greater Austin (EMGA) Family-Friendly Workplace Initiative. The goal is to encourage local business leaders to survey their family-friendly workplace practices and commit to strengthening policies and practices that support families. Some guidance on what makes a family-friendly workplace has been established under the leadership of United Way for Greater Austin and E3 Alliance, who created a Family-Friendly Toolkit that outlines resources and recommendations both for employers and their employees. The suggestions in the toolkit can be applied to companies of all sizes, and offer a range of benefits that are easy to institute. “Life is just one virtuous circle — which includes work, family, and a person’s individual interests and pursuits. We believe at T3 that […]

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AVANCE-Austin Makes Austin Greater

Being a mom to three kids can be overwhelming at times, especially when one of your children needs some extra help and special attention. Such was the case for Catalina Sanchez. Catalina found herself in a bind when her youngest son Carlos began experiencing speech delays requiring therapy. Because he was having trouble communicating, Carlos began misbehaving. Over time, Catalina and Carlos’ frustrations mounted. Feeling stretched to her limit, Catalina turned to AVANCE-Austin for help. AVANCE was founded in 1973, and has been an Austin institution since 1998. The direct translation of AVANCE means to “advance” or “progress,” and that’s what the AVANCE-Austin team embodies. They meet families with low-income where they are. Families like Catalina’s. After meeting with Catalina and Carlos, the AVANCE-Austin team were able to identify that Catalina suffered from postpartum depression. She began group counseling while Carlos began speech therapy. After a few months of this support, Catalina is more equipped than ever to nurture Carlos’ needs, while also giving attention to her other two kids. Catalina’s interactions have become more intentional, and through her home visits from AVANCE-Austin she has shown incredible progress in working with her kids, including her new habit of reading to all of her children every evening for bonding and cognitive skill building. United Way for Greater Austin is proud to have played a supporting role in Catalina’s success. Funding from United Way ATX has helped to expand AVANCE-Austin’s capacity and quality for home visiting. What’s special about our partnership with […]

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Electronic Arts Gives Back Big

If you walked past our office on East MLK on May 23rd and heard “EA!” cheers, no need to be alarmed. That was just 300 amazing Electronic Arts (EA) employees working hard to make our campus and neighborhood beautiful. On May 23, more than 300 volunteers from Electronic Arts spread out across the Austin community at five volunteer spots completing more than 10 projects that had a BIG impact. As a part of their 2019 #EAGivesBack Day, EA employees partnered with United Way ATX to fight poverty through meaningful volunteer action. From building early childhood classroom kits to beautifying our Eastside neighborhood, EA employees brought energy and enthusiasm to every part of the volunteer day. “At EA, we give back because we have the wonderful opportunity to operate in 47 offices are 25 countries in the world. We can all get caught up in our day-to-day jobs of making games, but there is an entire population of people who surround us in these vibrant communities in which we operate for us to give back to,” Mala Singh, Chief People Officer at Electronic Arts, said. “Our gamers and their families give so much to us and it is important to give back to them in the ways that we can.” Mic drop. As an organization, EA is committed to giving back to their local communities all over the world and helping them thrive. And it’s mega inspiring. “We are so grateful for what [they have done]. Thank you so much,” David […]

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Get access to FREE food for kids this summer

“When school lets out for summer, millions of children lose access to school breakfast and lunch and are at risk of going hungry. Our summer meal programs work to make sure that doesn’t happen.” -USDA Food & Nutrition Service Did you know that 1 in 4 Austin, TX households are food insecure? Access to basic needs is a fundamental right, and United Way for Greater Austin is proud of the work our 2-1-1 Navigation team plays in ensuring that families have access to resources like nutritious, affordable food all year round. During the school year many families rely on the free breakfast and lunch program that is offered for qualifying families through the public school system. That benefit is not available when the school year ends, so funders and providers are coming together to ensure there is access to food available during these summer months. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is offered throughout the state of Texas. In the Greater Austin area our 2-1-1 Navigation team works hard to make sure families have accurate, up-to-date information on which locations in their area are offering food, and when. The SFSP program partners offer FREE food throughout the state to: · All children, 18 and under, no questions asked. · To individuals 19 years and older who have a mental or physical disability, and participate during the school year in a public or private non-profit school program. There are no other qualifications to receive the free meals. The program runs from […]

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Success By 6 Coalition Launches 2019-2023 “Success By 6” Strategic Plan

Every day, an average of 38 babies are born in the Austin area. The Success By 6 (SX6) Coalition is working to ensure that each of these 38 brand-new Texans has an equal opportunity to thrive. SX6 is a coalition of child and family advocates – providers, parents, policymakers, civic leaders, philanthropists, business leaders, and early childhood experts – working together on a community plan that reflects our collective wisdom and amplifies our collective voice.   “Success By 6 has child development at the heart of its mission,” Dr. Jennifer Duc, Assistant Clinical Professor, UT-Austin Pediatric Residency Program and Outpatient Pediatrician, CommUnityCare said. “Success By 6 knows that nurtured children and supported families create the foundation for strong, healthy, and successful communities.”     On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, the SX6 Coalition launched the next iteration of our community’s strategic plan and lay out their strategies and goals for the next 2,000 days. From 7:15 – 9 a.m. civic leaders, including Mayor Steve Adler, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Council Member Alison Alter, early childhood education experts, policymakers and more gathered to celebrate the hard work and collaboration that went into creating the plan. Attendees heard a keynote from The University of Texas System Chancellor James B. Milliken over breakfast at the University of Texas Club.   Why a 2,000-day journey? Because research has proven that the first five years of a child’s life strongly influence the rest. Ninety percent of brain development happens within the 2,000 days from birth to Kindergarten, […]

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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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