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United Way Launches Model Community Initiative for Greater Austin Area

Model Community: a view of the austin skyline

Zip code shouldn’t determine what opportunities are available to families, such as jobs, grocery stores, child care, schools, and safe housing–but in our current reality, it does. To support more equitable access to social services for everyone, we are launching a Model Community initiative, a person-centered framework that brings together various agencies, community clinics, and education institutions to offer more holistic delivery of social services.

Funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, and St. David’s Foundation, Model Community allows service providers–from health clinics to schools and community-based organizations–to develop a comprehensive view of an individual’s needs, in an effort to coordinate cross-organizational support to improve their quality of life outcomes.

Research from the World Health Organization shows that social determinants of health–the non-medical factors and systems that shape one’s quality of life–can have a significant impact on health outcomes. Determinants such as access to education, housing, and healthcare account for between 30-55% of health outcomes.

“Our goal is to bring together partners from all sectors including policy makers, health care entities, those with lived experience, funders, grassroots advocates, and community-based organizations to create a more efficient, proactive, human-centered path to connect individuals to social services and therefore improve overall health in the the Greater Austin area,” said Stephanie Cerda, Director of Model Community at United Way. “This work must be informed, led, and owned by the community.”

As part of the initiative, our ConnectATX platform currently serves as one of the public-facing access points for the Model Community system, connecting various providers and helping community members navigate these services through a helpline, online self-service tool, as well as chat and text options.

Accessing an interconnected system such as ConnectATX has helped my team follow up on time sensitive client referrals,” said Mindy Vasquez, Social Service Manager at Central Texas Food Bank. “The analysis report is a valuable tool that helps me report on the number of people reached, services requested, and follow-up outcomes.”

As the steward of Model Community, United Way will support key strategic and operational initiatives, including a governance structure that will include both a Strategic Council and Community Council. 

Through Model Community, we are building a more effective system of social services that supports health equityso everyone in our community has the opportunity to be healthy and thrive. 

Interested in joining Model Community as a partner or advisory council member? Fill out our interest form.

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