Parents are Powerful: Meet Jennifer Dungey

Welcome to our blog series all about shining a spotlight on the incredible ways that parents are using their voices to build a better, brighter future for local kids in partnership with United Way for Greater Austin. Make sure you catch up on our previous installments to meet some truly inspiring parents!

Meet Jennifer Dungey. In addition to being a working mom of two, ages 9 and 12, Jennifer is involved in numerous community-based organizations, including serving as a member of the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Committee — a coalition convened by United Way. The thread that ties all of her work together is her passion for ensuring everyone in our community has the resources that they need to thrive, especially moms and their children! 

Check out what Jennifer had to say about ways parents and caregivers can incorporate more reading time into their busy schedules! 


How did you get involved with the Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Committee? 

I first heard about it via social media! I help administer a Facebook Group called Black Austin Mamas, and one of the moms brought up that there was a reading coalition parents’ group that was looking for members. 

Advocacy and representation are incredibly important to me! I really wanted to take a front seat in my daughter’s reading and advocate for her and other children. I’m always advocating for my daughter to read more, so I wanted to get more involved in this. 

Why do you believe it’s important for children to be reading on grade level? 

When you give kids the tools they need to succeed, it allows them to get their feet forward and set a foundation for their future. And sometimes, they don’t even know that they need that support. 

When my daughter was in the second grade, they kept telling her dad and I that she was doing great. But when COVID hit and my kids were learning from home, I heard my daughter reading and realized that she wasn’t reading on grade level. She was drowning in a pool, and we didn’t even know it. But with us all being at home, I was able to catch it, see it, and give her the tools that she needed to swim in that pool. We read together all the time from cookbooks to road signs and everything in between. The confidence that she exudes now that we have those check-in moments and were able to get her caught up is incredible. She’s now in the 4th grade and just did a reading and writing UIL Challenge and came in first and second place! 

Thank you to Jennifer and all of our parent leaders for sharing your lived experience and voice! You are providing invaluable feedback and guidance that continues to ensure that United Way’s work is responsive to the real-time needs of local children and families. 

The Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Committee is a group of local parents who are providing input and guidance in the development of the coalition’s strategic plan, as well as sharing resources with other parents and caregivers. To learn more about the Parent Advisory Committee contact Ileya Grosman, Greater Austin Reading Coalition Consultant, at 

Sign up for our Greater Austin Reading Coalition newsletter to stay connected on our work, advocacy opportunities, and invitations to community meetings and events.

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