Our New Strategic Framework: Advocacy and its profound community impact

United Way for Greater Austin advances our mission — bringing our community together to break economic barriers and build opportunity for all — using four strategies. One of those is advocacy.

United Way envisions a Central Texas where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. And 2024 marks an important milestone for us: 100 years serving the community! As we reflect on a century of change and a legacy of impact, our new strategic plan lays a strong foundation for our next 100 years.

Our new strategic plan galvanizes our promise to realize a future where every child is set up for success with high-quality early care and education – in a community where everyone is connected to the essential resources they need, when they need them. Through this plan, four key strategies emerged. One of them is advocacy.

Together with our coalition partners, United Way coordinates efforts to influence public policy at the district, city, county, and state level. We leverage the voices of our community to drive lasting change that will lay the foundation for 100 more years of impact.

One example of our advocacy culminated in a meaningful win for local child care centers in November 2023. The Austin/Travis County Success By 6 Coalition and Early Matters Greater Austin, both convened by United Way, worked in coordination with service providers and business leaders to advocate in support of Proposition (Prop) 2, a measure that would provide a property tax waiver for child care centers who serve a certain percentage of children on state scholarships (formerly called subsidies).

This initiative started at the Texas Capitol as a bill sponsored by Senator West and Representative Talarico. The Success By 6 Coalition and Early Matters Greater Austin led rally days, submitted letters of support, and drafted testimony for hearings. Ultimately, the bill passed with strong bipartisan support, setting up the opportunity for a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot.

In coordination with statewide advocates, the TX Restaurant Association, the Success By 6 Coalition, and local elected officials co-hosted a press conference and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) rally to increase awareness about Prop 2. 

Prop 2 passed on the statewide ballot with 65% of Texans in favor of a local option property tax waiver for center-based child care providers serving children on state scholarships. In Travis County, 76% of voters were in favor of adoption — one of the highest voter approval levels in the state. 

Two days later, the City of Austin was the first city to advance a 100% property tax abatement for qualifying child care providers. The advancement reduces financial burdens for the early care and education sector in Austin, especially providers caring for children whose families face economic barriers and operate within tight margins. The City went one step further and directed the Interim City Manager to explore mechanisms to provide similar relief to licensed home-based providers. The TX Restaurant Association, the LGBT and Asian chambers, and several providers joined Early Matters Greater Austin and the Success By 6 Coalition in support. 

These combined advocacy efforts are a big reason why Austin became the first jurisdiction in the state to implement the property tax abatement. 

Access to high-quality, equitable child care is essential for a thriving community, and the advocacy that led to this amendment’s passing supports children’s long-term success by ensuring a strong foundation in their early years.

Our advocacy strategy helps to envision a next century characterized by innovation, inclusivity, and an even more profound community impact. United Way stands as a beacon, guiding the way toward a future where every child in Greater Austin has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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