Category: Uncategorized

Día de los Niños 2017

As part of Project HOPES, our Success By 6 Outreach Coordinator, Marilyn Manzo, led the second annual Día de los Niños event in congruence with Child Abuse Prevention Month. The event was held at Allan Elementary on April 29, 2017 and generated more than 150 referrals for early childhood programs. More than 300 attendees enjoyed a petting zoo, free face painting, healthy snacks donated by HEB & Community Sync, music, and developmentally appropriate activities. In addition, more than 100 developmentally appropriate books were given away for free to families during the event. Family Support Network and School Readiness Action Plan participants included: AVANCE, Any Baby Can, BookSpring, The Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, Communities in Schools, Vela, Mama Sana, Vroom, YMCA, Child Inc., Si Se Puede, and the Austin Public Library. The implementation, planning, and outreach for the event was truly a group effort that contributed to the success of the event. See all event photos here!   

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Celebrating Kerbey Lane Cafe

Kerbey Lane Cafe just wrapped up their fourth employee giving campaign and, thanks to their incredible team, it was huge success. Between their seven store locations, Kerbey team members donated over $37,000 to UWATX. Kerbey team members also volunteered over 650 hours giving back to the community. In addition to volunteer activities staff members, Rose Ann, Amanda and Karli, also committed months of work preparing, planning and helping to execute the first annual Ruthless Good event. Kerbey Lane volunteers are always the last to leave a project and can always be counted on to do the dirty work! If we need help, we know that we can count on Kerbey Lane to show up, never stop moving and stay until the place is cleaner than we found it. Kerbey attracts creative and passionate employees and it has been a great asset to have them in on the planning stages of major events, or to give them a paintbrush and see what they can do with a playground. Volunteers from Kerbey Lane Café can be counted on to participate in every Day of Caring that we host.  They often work on a variety of projects that support health and access to food, along with projects that support the early childhood development centers that they are so passionate about. Each Kerbey Lane location is paired with a local child development center and organizes projects to support the children and teachers at their designated center throughout the year. Over the last four years, Kerbey Lane volunteers […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Velarde

Mary Velarde is a Literacy Coach with United Way’s Success by 6 programming.  In the Literacy Coaching Project, Classroom Coaches are placed in child care center classrooms serving children ages 3-5 for the length of a school year. The coaches are trained to deliver age-appropriate, engaging early math and literacy games and activities during the day– these are usually provided in small group or one-on-one settings.  As an AmeriCorps member, Mary has dedicated this year to supporting students in this program and it’s easy to see that she will continue to have a huge impact on our Austin community when she is done.  We asked Mary about her experience as a volunteer, and she was happy to share her answers with us: Why do you think it is important to give back? I think it is important to give back to our community because it strengthens communities, improves the lives of the people we serve, and provides the tools they need to succeed in life. What inspires you to volunteer? I’m inspired to volunteer because I know I will make a positive difference in the lives of those I serve, which I believe will then have a greater impact for our community; it will strengthen our community. Another reason why I am inspired to volunteer is because it transforms my life and those I serve and it becomes a rewarding experience.  I like to encourage others to volunteer because through volunteer work, individuals are able to discover more about themselves that […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Karli Isiyel

Karli Isiyel is the Creative Director at Kerbey Lane Cafe, and a stupendous volunteer and partner of United Way for Greater Austin!  Kerbey Lane is graciously donating all of their proceeds from their anniversary celebration on May 5 to UWATX, so consider stopping by for some pancakes to support our friends and neighbors. Karli has volunteered with United Way in many different ways. She served on our logistics committee for Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt and she helps mobilize the team at Kerbey to get involved in volunteer projects that support UWATX’s Center Project supporting early childhood education facilities that provide subsidized space for low-income children to receive quality child care. We love Karli and are grateful for her thoughts about volunteerism at Kerbey Lane Cafe and what our community means to her. How long have you and Kerbey Lane Cafe been involved with United Way for Greater Austin? We have been volunteering with UWATX for 5 years now! What a wild ride it has been 🙂 What is your favorite memory of volunteering? I always enjoy making green pancakes at Ronald McDonald house, everyone is eager to help and you get to hang out with the people that may be going through a rough time in their lives and make their day a little brighter – pic attached of me and my friend Ronny. Clearly I’m a visual person – big surprise. As a longtime Austinite, what is your favorite thing about our exceptional community? I think being a native Austinite, I […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Cat Duong

Cat Duong is a fantastic volunteer leader from H-E-B and a great partner of United Way for Greater Austin in many of our volunteer events throughout the year. We were honored to have her as a member of our Cheer Team at Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt on April 8. Not even her birthday could keep Cat from giving back and on May 5, she’ll be part of our upcoming Spring Day of Caring, sponsored in part by H-E-B. We encourage anyone interested in giving back on May 5 or 6 to join H-E-B in making this huge volunteer event a success! Cat is also an integral part of planning and running the H-E-B Feast of Sharing where around 14,000 holiday meals are served at the Palmer Events Center each November.  It is hard to keep track of all of the ways that Cat is giving back to the Austin community and we were honored that she took the time to share some insight with us about what volunteering means to her. Tell us a little bit about how H-E-B gives back to the community. Where to begin?  H-E-B has done so much for the community since 1905, that it’s almost hard to quantify everything.  The numerous organizations that H-E-B gives back to in Central Texas is amazing.  We support our communities in the following areas: education, environment, diversity, disaster relief, health & wellness, hunger relief, military appreciation and volunteerism. H-E-B gives back in so many different ways.  All of […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Ahmad-Rauf Hardy

Ahmad-Rauf Hardy is a full-time volunteer in United Way for Greater Austin’s Literacy Coaching Project. He works directly with young children at Open Door Preschool to help bolster their literacy and math skills. Low-income children can be exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher income peers by the time they reach 3 years old and the Literacy Coaching Project aims to fill in the gap for students at child care centers with subsidized spaces for low-income children. This is Ahmad’s first year as Literacy Coach, second year as an AmeriCorps member and he plans to continue making an impact for Austin children when this school year is over. United Way for Greater Austin could not provide such robust services to low-income families without the help and dedication of phenomenal AmeriCorps members like Ahmad. How much do you volunteer as an AmeriCorps member through UWATX’s Literacy Coaching Program? I find myself on campus 40 hours a week through my AmeriCorps position, and I split that time between two Open Door Preschool facilities, the one at M-station, and Open Door East. What made you interested in starting to volunteer? My sister is a teacher, and I had experience teaching in other programs with older students before this.  I think it is important to give back to the community when possible, and I like to see kids start off on the right foot with quality educational child care. What is next for you when your time with Americorps is over? I […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jeff Eads

Jeff Eads, of Public Consulting Group – title sponsor of Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt, is currently serving on the Ruthless Good Logistics Committee. UWATX is thrilled to have his help planning the challenges that Ruthless Good participants will compete in!!  Jeff is also a member of UWATX’s Young Leaders Society a diverse group of young professionals who raise funds to support UWATX’s critical work in the Austin community. We asked Jeff a few questions about why he and Public Consulting Group volunteer with us. Enjoy his answers below. How long have you been involved with UWATX? I have been involved with UWATX since July 2016. Tell us about your experience volunteering on our Ruthless Good logistics committee. I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering on the committee since September 2016. I was lucky enough to volunteer on the committee with people I served alongside in the Army in addition to people doing great work in Austin’s philanthropic community. My main responsibility was to develop a method to score Ruthless Good. I created a system that allocates points to stops based on the distance from the Long Center. The scoring methodology will be incorporated into the technology platform that participants will use to submit their responses. Overall, the experience has been a great way to get plugged into UWATX! What are other Public Consulting Group employees saying about working with United Way for Greater Austin? Public Consulting Group (PCG) is excited for the opportunity to help raise funds for Austin-based charities supporting early childhood educational success. […]

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Ruthless Good, a scavenger hunt with social justice and equity in its sights

On April 8, Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt will dispatch dozens of teams from the Long Center to crack clues, solve trivia challenges, and discover photo-worthy landmarks and locales. But the rolicking hunt’s true aim is problem solving on a much grander scale–bolstering equitable community-wide access to health, education and work. I’m serving as honorary chair for the hunt, because I love the way this event shows that every Austinite can be a philanthropist and that giving is fun. Each one of us can leave the comfort of our homes, join a team, cultivate curiosity about our community, and give time or money (however limited) to support the causes we care about. And when we do it together we can have a huge collective impact. Those who join the hunt will raise awareness and funds for the United Way for Greater Austin, a powerful force for good. Each year, thousands of community members contribute to United Way through workplace campaigns and special events like Ruthless Good. United Way then pools those resources to make transformative investments in vital community programs. When you show up on April 8th or encourage others to do so, you help important initiatives that United Way funds, such as Success By 6, which launches Austin’s youngest citizens into bright futures. The early years are crucial for preparing children for school and life beyond, yet in Austin high-quality childcare often runs $10,000 or more per year, pricing out those who need it most. Success By […]

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2-Gen Network Focuses on Economic Mobility for Next Generation & Parents Too

Austin faces challenges in creating a community where all children and families have the opportunity to succeed. Social mobility in the U.S. is significantly lower than in most developed countries (about 8% compared to 11% in Denmark and 13% in Canada) (Corak, 2013) and in Austin we’re behind two-thirds of metro areas in the U.S in economic mobility. To extend opportunities to all kids regardless of zip code, we need to look at how we can help children and parents, together. That’s why United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and our partners are diving head first into cultivating 2-Gen programming in Austin. “2-Gen” refers to two generations. It’s a paradigm for the coordinated approach to services, policies and systems that addresses the needs of low-to-moderate income children and their parents. In Austin there are individual programs addressing parents’ economic opportunities from workforce to post-secondary education, children’s education and especially high quality early childhood education, and the wrap-around support to make the impact lasting, but few have put them together in an intentional, intensive, coordinated way, yet. We want to impact families of all kinds, but we know that families with young kids are uniquely poised to benefit from 2-Gen interventions. Research shows that increases in a parent’s education or income during the first few years of a child’s life have a powerful effect on a child’s development (Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 2014; Kaushal, 2014; Sommer et al., 2012). In addition, high quality early childhood education programs provide a safe, nurturing place […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Cecily Gordon

Cecily Gordon volunteers with UWATX in many capacities and brings along a fantastic group of philanthropic and fun co-workers from eBay!  Cecily is currently serving on our Logistics committee, planning the inaugural year of Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt.  She brings tons of passion and great ideas to everything she touches and she personally coordinated a holiday meal kit drive at eBay in November to ensure that families at Webb Middle School would have access to a delicious Thanksgiving meal.  From Family Volunteer Days to community clean-ups throughout Austin, eBay is a valued partner of UWATX and Cecily is leading the charge to make Austin Greater! Get to know more about Cecily and eBay’s volunteer engagement in our Q and A below. How long have you been involved with UWATX? I have had the pleasure of partnering with UWATX since early 2015. What kind of volunteer projects has eBay done? Being involved in the community is something eBay holds very dear. By partnering with UWATX, we have been able to provide our employees with opportunities to serve in a variety of ways over the past year, from community beautification projects, charity fun runs, working with the elderly & youth, family volunteer days & our Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive which supports the families of Webb Middle School. What reactions have you seen from fellow employees regarding eBay’s volunteer efforts? We have an exceptional group of people who work at our Austin Campus, service & charitable giving is ingrained in what we […]

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