Newsroom

What’s the best way to make a difference as a corporation?

How do you enable your employees to make a difference in a way that maximizes their impact, builds professional skills, and increases their engagement? In addition, how do you use your unique position in the market to enhance these impact efforts and market yourself as a thought leader in that particular area in a way that drives business benefit? These are the main questions facing companies as they develop their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, and as the leader of a CSR program they are questions I wrestle with every day. My company, the Advisory Board, a Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas based research, consulting, and technology firm focused on elevating the performance of healthcare and higher education organizations, has always been focused on service. We were founded thirty years ago on principles such as a “spirit of generosity” and going “beyond commerce” to help our members and those in need. However, our employees have sought to maximize this ethos of service by recently pushing us to ensure we utilize their skills, talent, and interests in the most effective manner. One of the trends at our firm and across the country is that volunteerism and responsibility efforts are increasingly employee-driven and focused on impactful service, rather than a top-down push from executives focused on using CSR as a driver of the bottom line (though executive interest in CSR is also an increasing trend). This push has led to a surge in skills-based volunteering interest, allowing employees to use their combined time, […]

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2012 Fall Day of Caring Complete!

Although it was rainy and dreary this morning, we still forged ahead with our annual Fall Day of Caring – with some projects starting at 6 am! The turnout was fantastic – 749 volunteers showed up to power through the nasty weather and give back to our community. Volunteers signed up for Fall Day of Caring as individuals and employees of local companies like ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin American-Statesmen, Freescale, and Dell, and spread out across 20+ projects. Projects included several beautification projects, an Empty Bowl project at Garza High School, financial kit distribution, and Disaster Response Training + more. Over the course of the day, volunteers completed  2,622 hours of service – giving a total of $57,123 in donated labor costs! To conclude the day, we hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at The Long Center, where volunteers got to kick back and listen to some great local music. Special thanks to Freescale for being our Premiere Sponsor and to Austin Coca-Cola for donating beverages to keep our volunteers hydrated!   View additional photos from the event!                             Below is some initial feedback from participants of Fall Day of Caring. Please feel free to leave additional feedback in the comment fields below. ABC Home & Commercial wrote about their time at Open Door Preschool: “Great team building experience. The Open Door folks were fantastic and very appreciative. Enjoyed working with them.” – Bobby Jenkins “I volunteered with […]

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Partner Profile: Nordstrom

Name: Nordstrom  Partner for: 10 years locally Partner for: Employee Campaign, Hands On Central Texas   Our relationship: Volunteering as a way to connect to the community Last year, Nordstrom participated in two additional volunteer projects. They went to Webb Middle School, one of the sites for UWATX’s Middle School Matters program, to aid teachers in preparing fun and engaging math games. They were so inspired that they even found a way to donate glasses to a girl who needed them. Volunteering helps Nordstrom connect to the community and see the value of their philanthropy.   Continuing the fun of Employee Campaign all-year To keep connect employees to philanthropy throughout the year, Nordstrom has special events on top of their volunteering activities. Jeans Day events, which start in July, allow employees to donate and have the opportunity to wear jeans to work as an incentive. Fun activities like this keep the spirit of Employee Campaign year-round.   Nordstrom employs best practices: Providing donor-specific information to UWATX Inviting UWATX to speak at meetings Running a UWATX campaign Creating an Employee Campaign Team Engaging with UWATX outside of campaign   What we’ve accomplished together: A campaign increase of over $13,000 in the past 3 years, while employee count has stayed relatively the same.

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Partner Profile: Texas Gas Service

Name: Texas Gas Service Partner for: 10 years Partner for: Employee Campaign, Hands On Central Texas Our relationship: Serving customers and the community Texas Gas is dedicated to providing top-quality service. This keen focus extend to their work in the community, where the company is committed to providing an engaging experience for employees and employees are committed to serving the community as well as they serve their customers. In the past five years, that’s meant including more UWATX speakers at meetings and directing all dollars to make the most impact through United Way.   Growing philanthropists in innovative ways Through their Employee Campaign, Texas Gas provides innovative ways for any employee to find their own way to give back. Employees can make items for their raffle, including everything from wrought iron grills to breakfast tacos, go bowling or golfing or even donate to get their manager to karaoke. Alongside all these fun activities, Texas Gas maintains focus on their goal: for employees to give through payroll deduction, often the easiest way to make a big impact without hurting your budget.   Texas Gas employs best practices: Inviting UWATX to speak at meetings Running a UWATX campaign Creating an Employee Campaign Team Engaging with UWATX outside of campaign   What we’ve accomplished together: In the past three years, Texas Gas has grown their employee giving by more than $30,000, an almost 25 percent increase!   How Texas Gas makes Austin greater: “Texas Gas is dedicated to making sure there’s something for […]

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Making Austin greater – 2012 Employee Campaign

Leadership Makes Austin Greater Kevin, Webb Middle School student “I’m in the United Way Volunteer Project Leader program because I want to be a better person. When I grow up I want to be a professional soccer player but I worry I won’t ever be able to. Lots of times, money is tough even though my mom works really hard. She motivates me because she works so hard – she’s my mom and my dad at the same time. People from UWATX and my school who care about me say I should stay in school because even though I don’t need math to play soccer, I’m still going to need it at some point. Thanks to the UWATX program, I’ve already done some volunteer projects and it made me feel really good because I could talk to the people that couldn’t speak English so it made me proud to be bilingual. ”   Education Makes Austin Greater Beth, mother of 4-year-old Katelyn “My daughter is becoming more social and independent thanks to United Way’s Play To Learn project. A few months ago, my mother passed away and I was having a difficult time finding a caretaker for my 4-year-old daughter Katelyn until I discovered United Way’s Play To Learn project. Since I do not have Internet access, the library is a home away from home for us, so it was incredibly convenient to find this service there. And this was so much more than childcare, it also allowed my daughter […]

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Deloitte makes over Crockett High for IMPACT Day

On Friday, June 8, Deloitte professionals came together for IMPACT Day- a volunteer day where local employees revamped courtyards, common areas, and classrooms of Crockett High School. Before volunteers got down and dirty with various projects, they were greeted with an early morning pep rally to remind them why their volunteer work is so important, introduce them to the school  they were “impacting”, and provide a hearty breakfast to start the day. As projects began at 10 a.m., volunteers were assigned to different areas and set out to perform their duties. Some of these projects included: Building new bookshelves for students to house their achievements Sanding and painting the doors to improve the building’s appearance Landscaping the courtyard with flowers and grass Cleaning out the classrooms for the 2012-13 school year While volunteers worked on the outside beautification projects, additional Deloitte professionals taught no-cost workshops to local nonprofit employees on business counsel, leadership development and financial guidance, allowing these business professionals to gain important hands-on material. United Way for Greater Austin also managed additional volunteer projects for employees on campus, including downloading and preparing the new Samsung tablets with applications for the upcoming fall semester of Play To Learn. The Play To Learn project is an opportunity for parents and their children to learn together about school readiness at accessible neighborhood locations.  The course incorporates Samsung Galaxy tablets pre-loaded with children’s educational apps to continue the learning process outside class. One-hundred and fifty tablets were loaded by Deloitte on Friday […]

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Goldman Sachs Makes Austin Greater

On Monday, May 21st more than 150 individuals from Goldman Sachs and their clients came together to show how their volunteer service makes Austin greater! The team supported six service projects in and around Austin. Volunteers worked with United Way for Great Austin’s Success By 6 team to assemble 1,200 Play To Learn kits with educational materials including books, interactive children’s activities and literature that will assist families in building at-home libraries. These at-home activities not only reinforce the content of Play To Learn sessions conducted with families, they also supply families with appropriate materials to help their child become school ready. Across town, volunteers worked with Habitat for Humanity on a home repair for a local resident. Volunteers completed exterior repairs such as painting, scraping, siding replacement and trim repair in order to improve accessibility, safety, and energy efficiency for the homeowner. Partnering with Decker Middle School, one of United Way for Greater Austin’s target middle school campuses, a group of volunteers mentored and provided career and life guidance to at-risk students. Volunteers engaged students in a board game designed to increase the their knowledge of being financially responsible. Volunteers at Decker also worked in teams to decorate and pack 100 school supply kits that will benefit Manor ISD students, whose parents are veterans or are currently deployed. “I can’t thank Goldman Sachs volunteers enough for all your support. The Goldman Sachs employees and clients were exceptional individuals and had so much to offer our students, “said Becky Lott, […]

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Introducing: United Way for Greater Austin

After months of careful evaluation, we’re announcing an important evolution for our local organization: we are changing our name to United Way for Greater Austin! Austin is an incredible city to live and work in and we’re proud to be here, so this name change reinforces our long-standing commitment to our dynamic community. We deliberately chose for—and not of—because we are here in service to Greater Austin. The new name does not signal any change to our service area, we will continue to provide research-based and results-focused services to all ten counties where we work. We’ve been helping Central Texas for almost 90 years and are committed to creating a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all. The new name is one component of a larger rebranding process, where we are reintroducing ourselves to this vibrant community. At United Way, we are solving problems not just for one person with one need, but creating solutions for a large community with large needs. Our mission is to make Austin greater by building philanthropists, helping the working poor overcome barriers and making sure Austin continues to thrive. With this change, we have a new Facebook page that we urge you to like to see updates on UWATX. You can also follow @uwatx on Twitter for even more posts on how we’re helping Austin continue to thrive. (Note: While our Twitter handle has also changed, if you were following @unitedwaycapitalarea, you are automatically following the new handle.) As always, we couldn’t do […]

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UnitedHealthcare Employees give back to the City of Austin

Yesterday, 85 UnitedHealthcare employees rallied together to do something many Austinites might not be so keen to do – loaded wheelbarrows and spread truckloads of still-steaming Dillo Dirt and mulch at Pease Park. The service project helped prep the park for the City of Austin’s “It’s My Park Day” on March 3, an annual community service day focused on making improvements to Austin parks. “Access to safe and well-maintained parks offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy Austin without restrictions – making us an active, healthy and united Austin,” said Nikki Krueger, Director of Volunteer Engagement at United Way. UnitedHealthcare stands by the mission of its parent, UnitedHealth Group, which is “to help people live healthier lives.”  The company believes it is necessary to be active in the surrounding communities and encourages employee participation in company-wide volunteering events. By serving the City and enhancing Austin’s oldest park, yesterday’s event was another opportunity for UnitedHealthcare employees to show their support of volunteerism and community involvement. Through projects like these, United Way Capital Area’s Hands on Central Texas program brings together dedicated volunteers and caring companies like UnitedHealthcare to create a community of philanthropists that help Central Texans thrive. HOCT provides volunteers with high-quality community engagement experiences that inspire individuals to stay involved.

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Students get “Hands on” by helping their community

Since August, students at Webb Middle School participated in Volunteer Project Leader (VPL) training to learn how to better their community by leading volunteer projects. The group recently finished their first project: raising money for, making and donating warm fleece blankets for kids who need them. The program, which was adapted from UWCA’s Hands On Central Texas program specifically for Webb’s middle school students, aims to transform casual volunteers into active community leaders by equipping participants with the leadership skills and tools they need to make meaningful and lasting change in their communities. It focuses on providing volunteers with the basics of how to lead projects; how to manage and recruit volunteers; ways to identify needs in the community; adopt existing or create new volunteer projects; and ways to locate and utilize resources. During their time in the VPL training program, Webb’s seventh grade students performed an exercise that required them to reach out to their teachers, peers and community leaders to identify what the need was in the St. Johns neighborhood. Once this was completed, the exercise turned into much larger projects that focused on addressing those identified needs. One of the student leaders, Noel Mondragon, worked with his teacher, Mrs. Eckhart, to develop the idea of putting together warm fleece blankets for underprivileged children at orphanages or early childhood centers in the surrounding area. “Noel was the leader of the project but the whole school really got invested,” said Nikki Krueger, who runs HOCT and the Volunteer Project […]

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