This month, we said goodbye to Hannah Berle and Tyler O’Neill as they closed their year as Americorps VISTA members supporting Success By 6 (SB6), which focuses on our youngest and most vulnerable community members.
The mission of Americorps VISTA members is to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. In 2013, Tyler and Hannah did just that by managing and leading several key initiatives. Their VISTA service connected them to more than 800 community leaders, volunteers and social service providers in the Austin area – and we’re so thankful for their incredible work.
“Being an AmeriCorps VISTA at United Way has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from experts. I see the impact of United Way every day, large or small, behind the scenes or directly, and it is incredible.” –Hannah
Hannah was responsible for providing support to early education centers serving low-income children in Austin. Through designing and implementing trainings to connect teachers to high-quality curricula to support their classrooms, Hannah helped ensure that nine early education centers had teachers trained to use Numbers Plus Preschool Math Curriculum. This curriculum, developed by HighScope Educational Research Foundation, is a comprehensive set of activities in English and Spanish designed to deliver developmentally appropriate content in five areas: Number Sense and Operations, Geometry, Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis. These activities help set the stage for later mathematical concepts. SB6 is dedicated to lasting academic gains for young children and Hannah’s diligent coordination of training and implementing this curriculum will benefit more than 630 children in Austin.
“I came into this position uncertain of what would lie ahead, but I thought cute kids & warm fuzzies would be most of it. What I got instead was a ground-floor crash-course in how complex it can be to lasso the issues which beset Austin’s communities. I’ll always be thankful.” – Tyler
Tyler concentrated his efforts on improving the network of services available to support parents of young children. These services include promoting free or low-cost resources available to parents via text message or the web. One national service, Text4Baby, allows mothers to get text message updates with helpful parenting information on topics like prenatal care and baby health. Thanks to an agreement with major wireless providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, the texts are entirely free. Tyler has been traveling throughout low-income communities of Central Texas promoting this opportunity at libraries, school districts, clinics and nonprofits. Since Tyler began promoting this service, more than 750 mothers in Austin have signed up to receive Text4Baby.
All of us at UWATX will miss Tyler and Hannah and are grateful for their incredible contribution to the organization and the Austin community – and also for their innovative approach to the challenges they take on – including Butter Half mural photos: