Category: Uncategorized

Doing good, one cookie at a time

Can you believe we are seven months into a global pandemic? In March, the team at United Way for Greater Austin transitioned from working in our beloved office on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to a distributed working model where most of our staff worked from home. While we weren’t sure what was going to happen next, we knew one thing for sure: We wanted to help our community get through this together. Just weeks after COVID-19 hit our community, we teamed up with Austin Community Foundation to create All Together ATX. And our community stepped up in a big way: Thousands of donors and companies donated more than $6 million. We were able to distribute relief funds into the hands of the community faster than we could have ever imagined. This amazing outcome was possible thanks to everyday people who want to make a difference. We want to introduce you to two of those people: High schoolers Alice Huang and Sarah Zeng of Dough Re Mi, a cookie baking and delivery business that they created during the COVID-19 pandemic with the intent of “doughing” good by donating a percentage of each cookie sale to a nonprofit of their choice. Dough Re Mi has raised more than $3,000 and donated 80% of their funds made from May to September to All Together ATX.   Learn more about Dough Re Mi and the spark behind their generosity here: But wait, there’s more … As All Together ATX comes to a close, […]

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Champions of change: Link Up Austin amplifies the voice of young parents for good

Young parents with low income experience a great deal of financial instability, and their poverty rate is nearly triple the national average. Thanks to funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way for Greater Austin and the Austin/Travis County 2-Gen Coalition are on a mission to support the needs of these young parents and create a social services ecosystem that promotes economic mobility for generations to come. One of the ways we are making this happen is through Link Up Austin. The group is a place for parents, ages 18-24, to connect with one another and grow their leadership skills. These young adults face many unique challenges that older parents do not. The labor market is rapidly changing, and often younger parents have not had the time to get the education, experience, or perspective needed to navigate their careers while focusing on the daily tasks of raising young children.  The cohort of nine parents is co-designing a pilot to help remove barriers for young parents in the workforce, education, and beyond. For example, providing flexible child care will allow parents to attend classes, in-person or asynchronously, and give them equal access to pursue education. Equal access to education is important because the likelihood of a child succeeding later in life is still affected by the education and income levels of his or her parents. Link Up Austin is designed to listen to the needs of young parents in our community and then work with them to create solutions that […]

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Compassion 2020

“About a year ago – looking towards the election season – I wondered if a campaign for something positive and unifying, designed to remind us of our shared humanity, might be welcome.” – Karen Gross, Founder & CEO of Citizen Discourse Compassion won’t be on your ballot this election season, so what is Compassion 2020? It’s a movement all about reimagining a more just, compassionate, and anti-racist society. Created by Citizen Discourse, Compassion 2020 calls upon all of us to do these seven things: 1. Be respectful 2. Listen to understand 3. Act with good intentions 4. Support ideas with evidence and experience 5. Disagree without being disagreeable 6. Critique the idea, not the person 7. Invite wonder Our world feels more divided than ever. Many people are exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, angry, sad, hurt, or some combination of all of those things. But there’s so much more that connects us than divides us. Compassion 2020’s goal is to turn the tide — to inject more passion, awareness, and understanding into our lives. To connect us through our shared humanity. “Compassion is empathy + action.” – Karen Gross, Founder & CEO of Citizen Discourse Will you join us and endorse Compassion 2020? It’s quick and easy: 1. Sign the Compassion 2020 contract here. 2. There’s nothing better to activate compassion than volunteering! That’s where United Way ATX comes in. After you sign the compassion contract, you’ll be directed to our volunteer website to sign up for a virtual or socially distanced […]

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Happy 2nd Birthday Family Connects! Meet the Nurses…

Family Connects Texas turns 2 years old this month, and we are so excited to celebrate the women who make this work possible! In case you didn’t know, research shows that 95 percent of all families have needs after the birth of a child. These needs are unique to each family, and Family Connects bridges the gap between parents and community resources to improve family well-being. Our nurses serve whole families in Austin/Travis County, checking in on all caregivers and the baby in the early postpartum period! We have proudly served over 1,300 families over the last 2 years through St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and we have loved every minute of it. Don’t take it from us, take it from our team on the front line! Meet the amazing Family Connects nursing team: Brenda Fincher, RN Senior Why do you love Family Connects? I know that having a baby is the most special time in your life, a time to be celebrated! Unfortunately it can also be stressful and parents can have unexpected concerns and worries! I love that Family Connects provides an opportunity to spend time with new parents and connecting with them to give them support and reassurance. I love working with the Mommies and their Babies! I know that when I have left a family and the Mommy is feeling more confident and reassured, It’s a good day for me! Do any moments or stories stick out from your work with families that you can […]

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MAKE AN AUSTIN THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE

Blog contributions from Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way ATX Corporate Volunteer Manager Brooke Freeland, United Way ATX Policy Consultant Cathy McHorse, United Way ATX VP of Success By 6 At United Way for Greater Austin we welcome our community to create positive change with us through three avenues: Give. Advocate. Volunteer. While giving and volunteering often feel straightforward, many folks aren’t sure where to start with advocacy. Thankfully, our resident advocacy expert Brooke Freeland is here to show that advocacy is easy! You just have to know where to start. Brooke and our team recently hosted a Volunteer Advocacy training to teach our community how to support issues they care about — and now we’d like to invite you (and everyone in ATX) to learn how to be an awesome advocate! “It was a great session… because in my head I always thought advocacy was much more involved and complex. I didn’t realize it was as simple as an email.” -Newton Wong Want to know how YOU can become an awesome advocate? Here’s how: Step 1: Identify the issue you care about Step 2: Decide the change you’d like to see Step 3: Learn who the decision makers are Step 4: Take action Here’s how to find those decision makers: Austin City Council Travis County Commissioner  AISD School Board  Texas Legislature U.S. Congress Here’s how to engage with those decision makers: Write letters, send emails, or call your elected officials Participate in social media campaigns to spread the word Submit op-eds […]

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New Look, Same Good: Volunteering with United Way ATX

Blog contributions by Jordan Gutierrez-Ramirez, United Way for Greater Austin, Corporate Volunteer Manager In our world, a lot has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic….but some things will always be the same: like our commitment to help Austinintes connect with their community through volunteerism. Volunteering may look different now, but we’re still finding ways to engage. Despite the pandemic, United Way ATX continues to host volunteer opportunities in our community that bring us all together whether that means masking up, social distancing or logging in virtually. It’s a new look, but it’s the same good that you’re used to doing! We’ve reimagined volunteering, and that means we’ve taken most of our opportunities virtual. Our team has been hard at work crafting unique online events to build community connections, support our neighbors, and still do good. Over the past few months we’ve hosted successful virtual events focused on education, advocacy, and gratitude. Together with our volunteers and donors, we continue to help make a tangible difference that positively impacts our community! While virtual volunteerism is our “new normal” we are still thrilled to find safe ways for folks to volunteer in person when possible. Longtime corporate partner JE Dunn Construction went above and beyond this summer for one of their company-wide volunteer days. They deployed their skilled volunteers to one of our Pre-K Partnership centers for an impressive two-day infrastructure project. With JE Dunn’s expertise, we were able to execute a safe, in-person event at Sweet Briar Child Development […]

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Meeting families where they are, virtually

Even before COVID-19 we knew that all families could use support at the birth of a child, and some things never change. Now more than ever families may be experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, and other obstacles when they are bringing a new child into their home. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. That’s why Family Connects Texas offers a FREE home visit from a registered nurse for families with a newborn. Before the pandemic, our nurses would come to your family’s home 3-weeks postpartum and offer in depth support. Now, our nurses meet you virtually, to help your family safely in today’s socially distanced world. During your 2-hour video chat, nurses check on mom, baby, and the whole family. In light of COVID-19, Family Connects was able to pivot their model to meet families where they are – virtually. We are so proud of our team for finding innovative ways to reimagine what high quality care and education in our community looks like. Families are still receiving the same great service, at a safe social distance during COVID-19. Staci Bishopp is a local first-time mom who has been weathering birth and postpartum during the pandemic, and she is thankful for the support Family Connects was able to provide her.  Staci, her partner Tim, and their baby Finn all received a virtual visit from a Family Connects nurse earlier this summer. She first learned about Family Connects Texas from her providers at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and signed […]

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JE Dunn Makes Sweet Briar Even Sweeter

JE Dunn Construction has been a close partner to United Way for Greater Austin since 2007. Last year, they ran their 11th annual employee giving campaign — and more than 30 team members stepped up to donate over $20,000 to support our Greater Austin community. But our collaboration isn’t just about raising money. JE Dunn is committed to showing up for our community through volunteer projects, too. They are deploying their skilled volunteers to our Pre-K Partnerships child development centers across Austin to complete much-needed infrastructure improvements. In late August, JE Dunn volunteers completed a two-day volunteer project at Sweet Briar Child Development Center. In the sweltering August heat, JE Dunn volunteers rolled up their sleeves and: -Removed a dead tree and buried tire -Moved the storage shed away from the main building to prevent additional water damage to both buildings -Improved the main walkway that staff, parents, and children use to walk into the school each day -Reconstructed the drainage system near the playground area to prevent any runoff issues -And more! Chris Szeliga, Sr. Vice President at JE Dunn, shared why this partnership with United Way for Greater Austin means so much to their company and team – especially now: “In these uncertain times, it’s crucial that organizations and individuals remain committed and diligent in the support of their local communities. JE Dunn Construction and our employees are proud to serve the Austin community by and through United Way. We are honored to affiliate with, humbled to partner […]

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Inspiring and empowering: Meet the 2020 Women United Executive Committee

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 improve early childhood education in Greater Austin. Women United members support United Way’s early childhood education initiatives, part of a community-wide collaboration called Success By 6. Our Women United members are champions for change and innovation in our community, and are committed to helping our youngest Austinites reach their full potential. We couldn’t do this work without our Executive Committee, and we think everyone should meet these incredible women and learn about what excites them in their work. Laura Hernandez Holmes, Political Consultant | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “I am most excited about introducing friends and colleagues to the work United Way does for our community. Whether it’s the expanded intake at 2-1-1 they have handled with grace or the way they stepped up to create All Together ATX to provide much-needed support to those in need during the pandemic, I am proud of the work they do for Austin.” Michele Scott, Square Move Realty | Women United Executive Committee co-chair “One of the things that excites me most about being part of United Way’s work is seeing firsthand the positive outcomes of supporting families in the Greater Austin area. It has been wonderful to witness the humanity of volunteers coming together for a common good, and for such a meaningful purpose – specifically, to support our children.” Maria Aguiluz, Pink Cactus Productions “When […]

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We Love Our H-E-B!

This blog was written by Director of Corporate Relations Erica Abbenante On August 3rd, our incredible community partner H-E-B officially launched its 2020 United Way employee giving campaign with almost 20,000 employees (Partners!) across 59 locations in the Central Texas area. Kicking off the festivities for the first time was Cathy Harm, recently named Regional Vice President for H-E-B and our brand new United Way ATX Board of Directors member! Cathy took on her new role in early 2020, and not long after settling in, we welcomed her to our Board of Directors. We’re thrilled to have her leadership! H-E-B and United Way have been close community partners for over 20 years. Since 2016, H-E-B Partners have consistently raised more than $1 Million every year for the Greater Austin community—last year’s record-setting campaign raised more than $1.4 Million! It’s not an understatement to say that H-E-B’s continued support and commitment to their communities has helped us to positively impact thousands of lives. When COVID-19 hit our community earlier this spring, H-E-B responded quickly and powerfully, working around the clock to make sure Central Texans had safe access to food and supplies while managing an unimaginably complex supply chain and public health puzzle. Not only did they focus on keeping their stores stocked and safe—they also quickly launched their “Texans Helping Texans” program to help seniors get supplies delivered to their door, supporting local restaurants by selling their food in stores, and donating millions to organizations providing relief. In June, we […]

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