Our New Strategic Framework: Coalitions that confront economic inequality

Model Community meets quarterly to increase knowledge and collaboration among members, explore emerging topics through workgroups, provide participatory learning opportunities, and gather feedback for evaluation.

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 coalitions.

United Way envisions a Central Texas where everyone has the 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 harnesses the power of a collaborative community for lasting change for our next 100 years.

Our new strategic plan reflects the urgency of addressing economic disparity. We focus on increasing the availability of high-quality early care and education and equitable access to pivotal resources to dismantle economic barriers in Central Texas.

Our united front includes dedicated staff, donors, civic and private partners, and an engaged community. Together, we leverage our strategies of data, coalitions, services and support, and advocacy to transform Central Texas, responding to urgent needs with impactful solutions. Inspired by leadership and energy in our community, our grassroots coalitions ignite collective impact with community members and nonprofit partners. These alliances are the heartbeat of our mission, amplifying our efforts to confront economic challenges with unity and strength.

Here are some of our impactful coalitions:

  • Success By 6 Coalition: Creates opportunities for infants, toddlers, and young children to receive high-quality education before they enter Kindergarten, while also fostering a community of parents, caregivers, and teachers ready to provide high-quality care
  • 2-Gen Coalition: Creates a social services ecosystem that promotes economic mobility for this generation and the next
    • A 2-Gen approach serves parents and children simultaneously, leading to better financial outcomes for both generations. 
  • Greater Austin Reading Coalition: Works toward a shared vision of supporting children, grades K–3, to ensure they are reading on or above grade level by the fourth grade a pivotal point in a child’s reading development
  • Model Community: Transforms our systems of care to address racial and health disparities and improve outcomes – so everyone in our community can be healthy and thrive
  • Community Health Connect: Improves health outcomes and expands access to resources for local families by providing in-home care coordination, social service navigation, health education, and advocacy
Why do we use coalitions anyway?

Coalitions align and streamline efforts of many organizations working in the same sector by establishing a collaborative with shared goals and measurement to track progress. They equip an ecosystem of varied service providers and advocates with a strong backbone organization that coordinates and supports the work of addressing complex social issues. They maximize that impact and forge lasting systemic change in Central Texas.

Our coalitions have produced results such as:

  • Mobilized 120 volunteers to advocate for early childhood education, resulting in a $74.2 million increase in funding
  • More than $13 million invested into early childhood services through local and ARPA funding
  • Spurred improvements in collecting data on parenting status, providing much-needed additional supports for parenting students, and using family voice to improve service delivery
  • Put more than 90,000 books in the hands of young readers
  • Secured additional grants and sponsorships for over $600,000 in funding to improve health outcomes and expand access to resources for local families

Valerie Zapien, Healthy Williamson County Coordinator, recognizes how United Way’s coalition work maximizes impact. “The collective impact work between Williamson County and Cities Health District/Healthy Williamson County (WCCHD/HWC) and United Way has been integral in catalyzing systems-level change for Williamson County’s most vulnerable residents. This collaboration will help guide us in conducting research in food processing, food waste, and food recycling, specific to Williamson County. It truly takes effective relationship building, communication, and trust to align agendas, share data, and work in the collective impact space, and United Way is leading the way.

Our coalitions amplify the strengths of community partners and the entire nonprofit ecosystem. They allow us to have a greater impact than our organizations could have alone: with coalitions, 1+1=3. United Way serves as the backbone of these coalitions, providing leadership and alignment across a common agenda to close gaps in our community and strengthen collaborative change.

This strategy helps to build 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 individual in Greater Austin has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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