Newsroom

More than 140 volunteers come together for Summer Day of Caring

On Friday, June 3, over 140 volunteers at 12 different locations across Travis and Williamson counties rolled up their sleeves at United Way for Greater Austin’s Summer Day of Caring, a community-wide volunteer event. Volunteers worked on a range of projects, from cleaning up local parks to painting jungle gyms at child development centers to gardening at local nonprofits – and more!  “These Days of Caring are so important. It connects us with each other, it connects us with the community, and it connects us with the truth that when one of us suffers we all suffer, and when one of us celebrates we all celebrate,” said United Way for Greater Austin CEO David C. Smith while at a volunteer location in Leander (pictured below).  “Volunteering with United Way makes a difference,” shared Terry Cook, Commissioner of Precinct 1 in Williamson County. Terry and her team volunteer every year, and choose to support United Way for Greater Austin because “the tasks chosen by United Way are very impactful.”  Events like Summer Day of Caring are a crucial part of United Way’s mission to fight poverty. Volunteering makes a direct impact on our community in a powerful way. Community events like these aren’t possible without the help of our amazing volunteers and sponsors. A big thank you to H-E-B, JPMorgan Chase, QuikTrip, Superior HealthPlan, and Texas Gas Service for their support in making Summer Day of Caring a success!   Check out the full photo album for Summer Day of Caring here. […]

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United Way partners provide children’s vaccines in Greater Austin

When the CDC first recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 in early November, United Way for Greater Austin jumped into action alongside eight of our community partners to provide children’s vaccines in Austin and the Central Texas region. To date, we have vaccinated over 3,000 children, and will continue our efforts through June 2022. Since Spring 2021, United Way has partnered with St. David’s Foundation and Austin Community Foundation to support 19 community-based organizations with funding to address COVID-19 vaccine confidence and equitable access among people with low income, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and other groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Now, eight of our partners in 2022—including VaxTogetherAustin, Eikon Church, Where We Thrive, Central Texas Allied Health, Latino Health Care Forum, Del Valle Community Coalition, Hays Latinos United, and COVAC Ops—are focused on providing children’s vaccines in Austin through pediatric clinics by partnering with school districts across Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, and Hays counties. Our partners have worked tirelessly to provide the best children’s vaccination experience for families, with strategies like VaxTogetherAustin’s onsite therapy dogs to help kids stay calm. We know that successful and equitable deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most hopeful path to economic recovery, educational re-engagement, and re-emergence of cultural life.  Here are three ways YOU can help advance vaccine equity: Talk to your children and loved ones about the vaccine Share resources such as vaccine clinics in your area and transportation support for […]

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Honor Dr. MLK Jr.’s life and legacy with us

Join us Monday, January 17 as we continue our annual tradition of gathering with our neighbors in service and learning to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King believed in the power of individuals to strengthen communities and achieve common goals, and all of us here at United Way do too. That’s what our mission – bringing people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community – is all about.  For our 2022 MLK Jr. Day of Service, we invite you to join us for one or several socially-distanced activities, all of which carry on Dr. King’s legacy of anti-racism, justice, and equity.   Learn: Take our self-guided walking tour. Walk through part of the area of Austin that was originally created to segregate Black Austinites in 1928, and reflect on how walking played a critical role in the Civil Rights Era.   Give: Donate books to the “I Am Brave” book drive. We’re partnering with Brave Communities to provide reading material to young people from  vaccine-hesitant populations, and bring awareness of the importance of diverse representation and storytelling in books.   Advocate: Advocacy is volunteerism, and we encourage you to use your voice to enact change in 2022. The Texas Primary Election is March 1. Voter education impacts voter turnout, so take some time today to make sure that you and your loved ones are registered to vote.   Volunteer: Get outside this MLK Jr. Day with the Austin Parks Foundation. Check out […]

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Sponsor an early childhood education center!

This holiday season we’re inviting you to be a champion of cheer to spread a little extra joy! We’re bringing together our friends and neighbors to spread good tidings through special holiday care packages for our early childhood education centers – who have been resilient through the pandemic, caring for and teaching our youngest Austinites.  Will you  be a champion of cheer for our community by building care packages with us this holiday season?   Child development centers like Bright Beginnings and directors like Patsy make learning exciting for children and they are the reason we’re celebrating this year. The human spirit is resilient, and our child development centers continue to prepare our youngest Austinites for success!  Each holiday care package will include: 1 Yeti coffee mug Coffee shop gift card   3-5 children’s books Check out our volunteer website for all the details, including shopping lists, delivery details, and more! Want more information before signing up? See our FAQ. Have additional questions about this opportunity? Please email our volunteer team at Volunteer@uwatx.org. Happy holidays from the United Way team. We look forward to making the season brighter with you!  

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Ten Free Thanksgiving Meals in Greater Austin

Each year, United Way’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls during November and December, many from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. To help our Central Texas community find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free Thanksgiving meal distributions happening throughout the month. These meals are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis. This year’s events include dine-in and drive-thru Thanksgiving meals, packaged food distributions to help people prepare a Thanksgiving meal at home, and more.  For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.

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Fall Day of Caring: A Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit Collaboration

COVID-19 has impacted all of us, including young kids. As the reality of the pandemic set in, and schools closed abruptly to keep students and their families safe — many students were navigating the challenges of remote learning for several months. It’s no surprise that education professionals have witnessed a stall in reading skills among young students since the pandemic began in early 2020. That is why, this year, our annual Fall Day of Caring took form as a book extravaganza! On Thursday, September 30, the Greater Austin Reading Coalition , convened by United Way, partnered with BookSpring to distribute 5,000 books to local community organizations supporting families with children ages 5-12.  Special thanks to our partners at Enterprise and Onnit who volunteered their time and effort to distribute all of the books throughout the region! At United Way, our mission is to fight poverty, and we know that reading is a crucial skill to help future generations win. Currently, only 30% of children from families with low income are reading at grade level by 4th grade. Our goal is that all children in Greater Austin reach that level. By increasing access to quality out-of-school learning opportunities, culturally relevant books, and building a community culture of reading, we can move the needle on grade-level reading rates in our community and create greater opportunity for local children and families. We’re honored to get 5,000 more books into the hands of young readers. Thank you to our partners, Bookspring, Enterprise, and Onnit, for […]

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Anyone can help save lives in Central Texas

Successful and equitable deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most hopeful path to economic recovery, educational re-engagement, and re-emergence of cultural life in Central Texas. From vaccine clinics in church parking lots to high school cafeterias, we are proud to be a part of the coordinated effort to save lives in Central Texas. In collaboration with Austin Community Foundation and St. David’s Foundation, we awarded $415,000 in funding to 19 community-based organizations. These grants will support COVID-19 vaccine confidence and equitable access among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other groups that have suffered disproportionately the adverse health and economic impacts from the pandemic.  “Vaccines save lives,” said Stephanie Cerda, Vaccine Equity Program Manager at United Way for Greater Austin. “People of color and people with low income have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and these same communities now face challenges in accessing the vaccine due to barriers like language, technology, transportation, and more. We’re honored to partner with 19 community-based organizations to improve vaccine access, provide culturally relevant outreach to address hesitancy, and get our community closer to herd immunity.” Organizations receiving grants have deep connections in the community and a plan for increasing vaccination rates for underserved, unserved, disconnected, and rural populations in Central Texas counties (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson).  Congratulations to the grantees! Learn more about the grantees here. “This work is very reliant on trust and building relationships,” said Cerda. “I know from my background as an educator, the first […]

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Meet Ashley Unbehagen: Making a Difference One Book at a Time

Here at United Way for Greater Austin, we know Ashley Unbehagen as a member of Women United and a volunteer at Bright Beginnings child care center. But, to the 3- and 4-year-olds she reads to each week, she’s the “Book Lady.” “It takes a community of people to be able to influence and grow these little beings, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” – Ashley Unbehagen  Bright Beginnings is one of our partner child care centers through Pre-K Partnerships — a collaboration between Austin Independent School District and United Way for Greater Austin to support and expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-K for children ages 3 and 4 in our community. Success in life begins with a quality education, but more than 50% of children in Travis County are not ready for Kindergarten. That’s why this partnership ensures children are ready to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Our youngest years are the most active period for brain development, a crucial time to lay a firm foundation for all future growth. What happens in these early years has a lasting impact from Kindergarten readiness to third-grade reading scores to high school graduation and beyond.  Ashley is one of many community members working hard to ensure that our littlest Austinites get the strongest possible start in life. What draws you to United Way’s work in early childhood education?  My background is in social work. I worked as a licensed therapist in the areas of mental health and education. I […]

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Join us for Spring Season of Caring

Live United with us during Spring Season of Caring! Join us on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22) for the kickoff of Spring Season of Caring, our annual tradition of gathering with neighbors in service of our community. Our mission here at United Way for Greater Austin is to bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Keeping that mission and COVID-19 safety in mind, this year we are hosting a virtual gathering of community, and we have curated some self-guided, socially distanced opportunities for any individuals or groups to get involved. United together, we’re building a better Austin for everyone. Here’s how to join us: Spring Season of Caring, virtual gathering Thursday, April 22 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. A Zoom link will be shared via email with all who register. Join us on Earth Day for a community moment, reflection, and a game to find out how well you know your city. Join us at our virtual gathering Spring Season of Caring, socially distanced activities Live United and take pride in your community! We encourage you to take part in any of these self-guided community beautification activities on your own time throughout Spring Season of Caring. How does it work? Pick one of these curated Community Beautification Routes that piques your interest. Spend an hour volunteering, learning, exploring, and collecting trash. We’ve curated a few different locations around town to help you get to know Austin’s past and present. Sharing your photos on social media? Make […]

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Meet Jen and Jack Foster: Making Giving Back a Family Affair

As a former United Way Board member, and a current member of Tocqueville United and Women United, Jen Foster is a true United Way champion! Her commitment to helping build a stronger Austin is something that she is passing down to her 10-year-old son, Jack. They have turned philanthropy into a family activity and jointly make decisions on how to best invest in the Greater Austin community.  “I know that other families need support, and it’s our number one goal as a family to make sure they get it.” – Jack Foster  Austin often tops the lists of best cities to live. A great place to raise a family, a healthy local economy, a city poised for future job growth – these are just some of the honors given to our metro area. And we agree… we love it too! But not everyone in our community is sharing in the promise of Austin. Yet. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in our community. Because when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and when everyone reaches their full potential, our entire community benefits and thrives. But it’s not something that can be done alone – it takes a community of kind-hearted, generous people. People like Jen and Jack Foster.  Why does your family Live United?  Jen: [United Way’s mission to fight poverty] really resonates with our family because we are really fortunate to be able to send Jack to good schools and […]

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