Press Releases

2-1-1 helping central texans

Helping Central Texans through 2-1-1: meet Chandler Foster

National 2-1-1 Day, celebrated on February 11, recognizes the more than 200 2-1-1 helplines located across the country.  For over 20 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s 2-1-1 helpline has connected thousands of Central Texans to local, statewide, and national resources for housing, food, health, child care, education, employment, transportation, counseling, disaster information, and more.  This week, we’re celebrating 2-1-1 Day by recognizing our incredible Navigation Specialists, who power this service and work around the clock to answer the call for members of our community. Just last year, our Navigation Specialists answered 254,387 requests for help in our region–that’s one call every two minutes. Chandler Foster is one of the 2-1-1 team members helping our neighbors navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas.  “I do this work because I have been on the other side of needing assistance just to make it day by day,” Chandler said. “I know how much the information we provide can change lives. I am living proof.” Read more about why and how Chandler advances our mission to fight poverty with each and every call.  What brought you to United Way, and how long have you been on the team? I recently moved to Texas from Louisiana, where United Way was a major team player in some of the advocating I did for poverty and victims of domestic abuse. I knew that when I arrived in Texas, I wanted to continue to work with a dedicated and like-minded team. So […]

community members celebrate MLK jr. service week

MLK Jr. Service Week: Honoring the legacy of Dr. King

Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. every year is critical to our commitment to the fight for racial equity and creating a Greater Austin region that works for everyone. Last week, United Way for Greater Austin hosted a series of in-person community volunteer opportunities and an educational walking tour to honor Dr. King. On Monday, January 16, more than 100 volunteers at two different locations across Travis and Williamson counties rolled up their sleeves to clean up parks in our community, in honor of Dr. King’s powerful words, ‘What are you doing for others?’ Senator John Cornyn and Austin Mayor Kirk Watson attended the event in Austin and thanked volunteers for their time. On Friday, January 20, dozens of community members joined us on a guided tour, led by Harrison Eppright of Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural District, to explore the Austin area that was originally created to segregate the Black community in 1928. Participants toured historic buildings and landmarks, and learned about the history of East Austin and how this neighborhood played a critical role in forming the city that we know today. See photos from the volunteer events and walking tour. “We thank you for volunteering to support United Way’s mission of bringing together people, ideas, and resources to fight poverty,” United Way CEO David C. Smith emphasized at the event. “When Dr. King said, ‘Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,’ he knew that we reach our highest potential as human […]

Williamson County: Mom and son hug and smile

One year since our merger: big wins in Williamson County

In January 2022, United Way for Greater Austin and United Way of Williamson County joined forces and merged. So much good has happened since then in our Greater Austin region. In the last year, United, we were able to make an even bigger impact for and with our neighbors in Williamson County.  Here are just a few things we accomplished in our first year as a newly merged organization. United, we awarded 36 grants to Williamson County nonprofits Thanks to the generous donations of thousands of community investors, we awarded $2.2 million to 68 local organizations, including 36 grants to Williamson County organizations focusing on education, health, and financial stability. We also celebrated with our partners at our first Nonprofit Partner Celebration! United, we launched new initiatives in Williamson County We launched several new initiatives in Williamson County, including: The Williamson County Success By 6 Coalition, to ensure all children in Williamson County enter Kindergarten happy, healthy, and prepared to succeed in school and beyond Pre-K Partnerships, to expand access to high-quality pre-K and provide centers with resources to help improve and sustain quality services for children in Round Rock ISD Addressing Cancer Together, to save lives and reduce the economic burden of cancer on families and communities in Greater Austin Community Health Connect, to improve health outcomes and expand access to resources for local families United, we served our community by volunteering We mobilized hundreds of volunteers to come together and serve the community at various locations in Williamson […]

Free December gift programs

Free December gift programs in Greater Austin

Every December, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls from people looking for help for the holidays. To help Central Texans find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free December gift programs and meals happening throughout the month. This year’s events range from toy giveaways to Christmas parties, gift deliveries, free coats and books, meal baskets, and more. Most gift programs require registration to participate–be sure to check each program’s eligibility requirements. View the calendar in Spanish For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.

Spread joy for an educator

Spread joy for an educator this holiday season

This holiday season, be a champion of cheer and spread a little extra joy! We’re bringing together our friends and neighbors to spread good tidings through special holiday care packages for our early childhood educators who, year-round, continue to show up, care, and teach our youngest community members.  Will you be a champion of cheer by building fun care packages with us this holiday season? SIGN UP Child development centers like Bright Beginnings and directors like Patsy make learning exciting for children. They are the reason we’re celebrating this year. Centers across our region are facing increasing costs and educator fatigue, making it harder to keep their doors open and serve local children and families. Help us give a little extra joy to early childhood educators who are helping children build a strong foundation for lifelong learning! Each holiday care package will include: $25 Alamo Drafthouse gift card Pair of fun patterned socks 2-3 colorful pens Puzzle or party game Check out our volunteer website for all the details, including shopping lists, delivery details, and more! Want more information before signing up? See our FAQ. Have additional questions about this opportunity? Please email our volunteer team at Happy holidays from the United Way team. We look forward to making the season brighter with you!

woman smiles at child at an event

Free Thanksgiving meals and gift programs in Greater Austin

Each year, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center sees a spike in calls during November and December, many from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. To help Central Texans find these resources, we’ve created a calendar of free Thanksgiving meals happening throughout the month. This year’s events range from in-person Thanksgiving meals, to meal deliveries, drive-thru meal options, meal kits, and more. Several organizations are also offering free toys, books, and gifts for kids. Some December gift programs have application deadlines in November–be sure to read each program’s eligibility requirements, as several events require registration to participate.  View the calendar in Spanish For more than 25 years, United Way for Greater Austin’s Navigation Center has helped people navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. Anyone can contact the Navigation Center by dialing 2-1-1. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call to get connected to resources in our community.  

Kimberly McCarver and her family smile on a bench

Parents are Powerful: Meet Kimberly McCarver

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!

The history of Children’s Optimal Health

This blog was written by United Way for Greater Austin’s Model Community Data Manager Dan Brown. In early 2008, thirteen lead community agencies and institutions organized as the Charter Members of Children‘s Optimal Health (COH) and formed a Texas Unincorporated Non-Profit Association (TUNA). Five of the Charter Member organizations committed to the initial funding of COH, while others committed data, time, and their knowledge surrounding the Central Texas community. The COH Board of Directors reflected the diverse organizations that impact children’s lives: healthcare, housing, education, economic development, and agencies addressing social and emotional development. This variety in Board representation allowed COH to look at a broader definition of health that included educational factors as well as the social determinants that play an important role in shaping outcomes for children. COH was created as a “Utility” to help our community visualize issues related to children’s well-being. Partners included municipal entities, healthcare organizations, non-profits and corporations. With the neighborhood-level geographic (GIS) maps of locally held data that COH produced, the community was able to gather together to study issues and find solutions to the problems we face in ensuring children are healthy. COH joined the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership as part of a learning community focused on increasing visibility and action around neighborhood disparities. COH served as a collective leadership initiative that united the efforts of Central Texas organizations in promoting community change to help our children reach a brighter future. COH strived to give agencies and communities access to […]

Children's Optimal Health merged

United Way for Greater Austin and Children’s Optimal Health have merged!

United Way for Greater Austin and Children’s Optimal Health (COH) have joined forces and merged! Access COH Maps and Data here Through this merger, we are streamlining our business and operational infrastructure to more efficiently serve the Greater Austin community. This will allow us to focus more on research and evaluation, and ultimately increase our impact as a data-driven organization. Both organizations share a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the necessary restructuring of power to ensure that the voices of those with lived experience guide our work. Together, we can do more. This merger will support Model Community, a structured collaborative building a more effective, person-centered system of health, education, and social services. The goal of Model Community is that everyone in our community has the opportunity to be healthy and thrive, organizations can more effectively serve clients, and the community achieves equitable health and wellness outcomes. COH team members will be supporting the development of a cross-sector community information exchange (CIE), a crucial part of Model Community, allowing our community to shift to more proactive, holistic, and person-centered care. COH Board member Dr. Anjum Khurshid, formerly with Dell Medical School and currently with Harvard Medical School, has joined the United Way Board. The COH Board included local leaders across our health, education, and social services sectors. These partners will continue to provide guidance to United Way as the CIE Community Advisory Board. Since the onset of COVID-19, COH has been creating monthly community needs reports and maps with […]

Program spotlight: paces project tax credit

PACES helps nearly 11,000 local families access life-changing tax credits

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the largest federal anti-poverty program in the country, yet one in five eligible families with low income in our community are not receiving it. Alongside our partner Foundation Communities, United Way for Greater Austin is helping thousands of local families take advantage of this credit and reducing hesitation around tax filing through PACES.