Tag: united way for greater austin

2-Gen Network Focuses on Economic Mobility for Next Generation & Parents Too

Austin faces challenges in creating a community where all children and families have the opportunity to succeed. Social mobility in the U.S. is significantly lower than in most developed countries (about 8% compared to 11% in Denmark and 13% in Canada) (Corak, 2013) and in Austin we’re behind two-thirds of metro areas in the U.S in economic mobility. To extend opportunities to all kids regardless of zip code, we need to look at how we can help children and parents, together. That’s why United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and our partners are diving head first into cultivating 2-Gen programming in Austin. “2-Gen” refers to two generations. It’s a paradigm for the coordinated approach to services, policies and systems that addresses the needs of low-to-moderate income children and their parents. In Austin there are individual programs addressing parents’ economic opportunities from workforce to post-secondary education, children’s education and especially high quality early childhood education, and the wrap-around support to make the impact lasting, but few have put them together in an intentional, intensive, coordinated way, yet. We want to impact families of all kinds, but we know that families with young kids are uniquely poised to benefit from 2-Gen interventions. Research shows that increases in a parent’s education or income during the first few years of a child’s life have a powerful effect on a child’s development (Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 2014; Kaushal, 2014; Sommer et al., 2012). In addition, high quality early childhood education programs provide a safe, nurturing place […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Cecily Gordon

Cecily Gordon volunteers with UWATX in many capacities and brings along a fantastic group of philanthropic and fun co-workers from eBay!  Cecily is currently serving on our Logistics committee, planning the inaugural year of Ruthless Good: The Great Austin Scavenger Hunt.  She brings tons of passion and great ideas to everything she touches and she personally coordinated a holiday meal kit drive at eBay in November to ensure that families at Webb Middle School would have access to a delicious Thanksgiving meal.  From Family Volunteer Days to community clean-ups throughout Austin, eBay is a valued partner of UWATX and Cecily is leading the charge to make Austin Greater! Get to know more about Cecily and eBay’s volunteer engagement in our Q and A below. How long have you been involved with UWATX? I have had the pleasure of partnering with UWATX since early 2015. What kind of volunteer projects has eBay done? Being involved in the community is something eBay holds very dear. By partnering with UWATX, we have been able to provide our employees with opportunities to serve in a variety of ways over the past year, from community beautification projects, charity fun runs, working with the elderly & youth, family volunteer days & our Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive which supports the families of Webb Middle School. What reactions have you seen from fellow employees regarding eBay’s volunteer efforts? We have an exceptional group of people who work at our Austin Campus, service & charitable giving is ingrained in what we […]

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HB4 impact in Central Texas and how you can help advocate for quality Pre-K

As the 2017 Texas Legislature is about to begin, UWATX is focusing efforts on advocating on behalf of children and their families. Pre-K has been an important issue area during past legislative sessions, and is poised to be an important issue area during this session. During the 2015 legislative session, the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 4 (HB4) as part of Governor Greg Abbotts’ emergency early education initiative. Over the last 6 months, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX), in conjunction with Texans Care for Children and Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, has worked to better understand Central Texas school districts’ interest in and experience with the State’s new HB 4 High Quality Pre-K grant by looking into the level and scope of district demand, the application process, the opportunities HB 4 funds bring to local Pre-K quality improvement efforts, implementation challenges, and policy opportunities for the State to strengthen support for local Pre-K priorities. The bill aimed to implement high-quality education standards for Texas Pre-K students by establishing a grant funding program of $118 million for the 2016-2017 State fiscal biennium. Under the program, funds were awarded to eligible school districts and open-enrollment charter schools who applied and agreed to meet certain enhanced quality standards. These include: curriculum requirements based on updated Pre-K guidelines; implementation of a progress monitoring tool; additional teacher education requirements; the implementation of a family engagement plan to encourage and maintain family involvement; and working towards teacher-to-student ratios of 1-to-11. HB 4 also requires […]

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Play To Learn: Filling Gaps in the Digital Divide

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) is committed to developing innovative programs that enable low income families to have access to quality educational tools for their Pre-K3 children. Since 2011, UWATX’s Success By 6 program has been partnering with several community organizations (such as Austin Travis County Integral Care’s First Steps program, Austin Public Library Camp Fire Central Texas, KLRU and the YMCA of Austin) to offer Play To Learn (PTL) in some of the higher-need areas of greater Austin. This year alone, PTL served approximately 240 families through 15 partner locations and plans to partner with additional host sites in 2017. Play To Learn Technology By introducing tablet technology to the children and parents, PTL has been helping to decrease the “digital divide” that exists between lower-income families and their higher-income peers. Throughout the 10-week curriculum, parents learn skills to help their young children prepare for success in school. Additionally, PTL programming extends past the 10-week curriculum. Parents who attend at least eight sessions receive a tablet loaded with children’s books, songs, apps, PBS videos and bookmarked websites with helpful parenting resources to further aid and foster their children’s social and cognitive development. Program Impact Since the program’s inception, hundreds of parents in Austin have learned how to better connect and engage with their children. Likewise, PTL children are gaining the confidence and social skills to better participate in learning and with each other. Post-testing of families who completed PTL in 2016 showed great success: 99% of parents reported […]

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United Way for Greater Austin Awards $120,000 to Fund 2-Generation Programming in Austin, TX.

On November 17, 2016, five Austin non-profit agencies were awarded grants to fund initiatives created to propel 2-Generation Programming (2-Gen) in Austin, TX. American YouthWorks, Jeremiah Program and Saint Louise House were each awarded $30,000 grants and Goodwill Central Texas and SSP Learning Center were each awarded $15,000 grants. Leah Meunier, Chief Programs Officer at United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) adds, “These five funded programs help parents pursue education and pathways to superior employment opportunities while also ensuring that their young children have access to high-quality early education. We know early education fosters key developmental needs for school readiness—in turn, embedding anchors of opportunity for upward economic mobility across generations. UWATX is privileged to support these organizations during a period when Austin’s families and communities may depend on their work more than ever.” Over the last two years, UWATX and Austin’s 2-Gen Advisory Committee, have worked to demonstrate the value of the two-generation approach in service provision, bringing together local service providers and top researchers from around the country in 2-Gen community forums. The result of these discussions is a “Two-Generation Vision for Austin” which states, “Intergenerational poverty is a major problem in the United States. Economic mobility across generations (or the ability for children to do better financially than their parents) has diminished over time, and Austin is no exception, with lower mobility rates than many major cities. Chronic poverty produces toxic stress that affects adults’ abilities to perform well in the workplace and to provide a high quality […]

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You Have the Power to Make Change for a Neighbor in Need this Holiday Season.

We all love this community we call home, but what if I told you that you have the power to Make Austin Greater? This Holiday Season, Make Austin Greater with a gift to the United Way for Greater Austin. Your gift to UWATX has the power to dramatically change our community for the better: Your gift can make sure every child is ready for kindergarten through our Success By 6 program;                Your gift can positively impact middle school students through YES! (Youth Engaged in Service);        Your gift can provide quality services and education to low-income families through UWATX’s Economic and Social Opportunity program;   And your gift can make sure our community is connected to much-needed health and human services through UWATX’s 2-1-1 Navigation Center. I truly believe that no matter what size the gift, we all have the power to make change for someone in need. Won’t you join us in making Austin greater this Holiday Season?

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GAVA Early Childhood Team Provides a New Refrigerator at Little Dudes Learning Center

GAVA (Go Austin Vamos Austin!) is a resident-led health initiative working in Austin’s neighborhoods (78744 and 78745) with highest incidence of childhood obesity to promote family wellness, increase physical activity and improve nutrition and access to healthy food. The initiative works in different areas, called sectors, to address the key factors impacting childhood obesity: parks, schools, food service/quality/availability, out-of-school time and early childhood education. Laura Olson, Family Support Service Coordinator for United Way for Greater Austin’s Success By 6 team, serves as the Early Childhood Sector Manager for GAVA. She works across the early childhood community to form teams made up of: childcare providers and early childhood teachers, nonprofit providers serving families with young children, home daycare providers, and parents of young children. Teams meet monthly to develop plans and take action toward improving the health of their families and neighborhoods. One of the childcare providers Olson works with is Little Dudes Learning Center. Little Dudes opened it’s doors in 1961 when Mrs. Ellen Smith recognized the need for childcare in South Austin. Consequently, Little Dudes was the first childcare center to open in Austin, south of the river. Little Dudes has long been seen as providing high quality early education and has been recognized as a Texas Rising Star Four Star Center, a statewide quality certification program. This past summer, Little Dudes had an old refrigerator that was not cooling properly during their annual health inspection. As a result, they had to pour out gallons of milk and throw away […]

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The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and One of our Own

Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) at United Way for Greater Austin coordinates corporate volunteer activities as team-building projects and each year they help hundreds of businesses engage their employees in community-changing volunteerism. On Saturday, Sept. 24., the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation teamed up with HOCT to give back at their annual Coke Scholars Service Summit. The Coke Scholars Service Summit is an opportunity for Scholars to gather from different parts of the country to build strong relationships, adventure in a new city, and continue to be inspired about community change. Austin’s Zavala Elementary School, where Coke Scholar Tim McCallum attended in 1991, was chosen as the volunteer project venue for the 2016 Summit. View photos from the Summit here. In attendance was Madison Springgate, who in addition to being a Coke Scholar, is also one of our very own Campaign Associates. Madison was chosen as a Coke Scholar in high school and said, “I was thrilled to be a part of the project at Zavala, from the Scholar perspective, as well as part of the United Way staff.” To get to know more about the Coke Scholars program and the impact it had on Madison, read the brief Q and A below.   What does it mean for you to be a Coke Scholar? When looking at my personal journey, specifically when it comes to my passion for community impact work, much of it goes back to my experience as a Coke Scholar. Though I was very involved with volunteering and philanthropy in […]

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All Hands on Deck at Fall Day of Caring

Each fall, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) welcomes corporate volunteer teams and individuals from the community to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism through a one day service extravaganza called Fall Day of Caring (FDOC). This year’s Fall Day of Caring  presented by NXP Semiconductors was held on Sept. 23 and brought close to 800 volunteers to over 30 volunteer projects at nonprofits and schools all over Austin. Volunteers cleaned out gardens, prepped materials for teachers, built play structures and much more. UWATX believes that anyone can be a philanthropist by giving their time to make their community stronger, smarter, safer, and more beautiful for everyone. Through events like Fall Day of Caring, we invite everyone to be a part of making Austin greater! FDOC wouldn’t be possible without our amazing sponsors: Austin Coca-Cola, Broadway Bank, JE Dunn, Kerbey Lane Café and NXP Semiconductors. These companies empower not only their own employees, but hundreds of other Central Texans to give their time to causes they’re passionate about at FDOC projects. In addition to sponsoring the event, each of these companies send their own workers– from executives to entry level employees – out to work together to accomplish huge projects for nonprofits in need of a little help. JE Dunn volunteers utilized their construction expertise to make the playground at Trinity Child Development Center safer by building a raised deck over a frequently flooded area on the playground. Trinity CDC, part of UWATX’s Center Project initiative, provides high quality early child education […]

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Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Tracy, IBM

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.” Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. […]

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