After wrapping up a banner year with two Success By 6 VISTAs, we are welcoming five new AmeriCorps VISTAs to the Strategic Programs team.
As one of several high-performing projects across Texas, we gained the opportunity to bring on two additional VISTA members to support Financial Opportunity and the Navigation Center‘s outreach work, while continuing to support Success By 6. The addition of new VISTA members means that UWATX will have capacity to take on new projects and the staffing to support increased systems building.
Continuing support for Success By 6:
VISTAs have been crucial to building capacity in early care and family support systems. In order to continue and expand this work the Success By 6 VISTAs, Jeffrey King and Rebecca Nawls-Walker, will support data collection and analysis for the School Readiness Action Plan 2-year update, create and facilitate processes to incorporate parent input into the SRAP, coordinate programs for the Success By 6 Center Project, and manage our digital outreach programs, Text4Baby and Ready Rosie.
New efforts in Financial Opportunity:
Building upon the early care and education work, the Financial Opportunity VISTA, Willy Raedy, will play a pivotal role focusing on 2-Generation strategies: an approach to early interventions that combines workforce training with high quality child care. Building capacity around 2-Generation efforts improves outcomes for the whole family by focusing on improving parent’s job readiness while providing early interventions for their children.
Additionally, Willy will facilitate the blending of financial literacy into workforce development services and manage the deployment of financial literacy training for employment-related social workers. Bringing on the Financial Opportunity VISTA position allows UWATX to integrate financial literacy with other UWATX programs such as Success By 6 and access other community partners. As a result of Willy’s work, we expect 25 case managers trained in financial literacy impacting at least 500 social service clients per week.
System-building through Target Graduation:
VISTAs provide support for the entire education continuum. In order to build upon the work being done in early care and education systems, the Target Graduation VISTA, Katherine Aus, will be responsible for supporting the implementation of an OST (Out-of-School Time) system that will include the coordination of activities among OST providers, tracking and organizing data related to the quality of youth programs and facilitating professional development activities. A coordinated system is a critical need for our community as research indicates that youth spend of 75% of their hours outside the classroom.
Creating a coordinated OST system focused on increasing quality and access will help Target Graduation push the needle forward to ensure students are well-equipped to graduate from high school and be successful in college, work and life.
Spreading the word about the Navigation Center:
Our first-ever Navigation Center VISTA, Ashley Bamigbola, is tasked to spread awareness about 2-1-1’s role in healthcare navigation and specifically, to increase access to 2-1-1’s resources in rural areas of UWATX’s 10-county service region. These efforts will help ensure that all Central Texans have access to streamlined, updated, and comprehensive community information.
Ashley will reach thousands of Central Texas through attending resource and community fairs, providing presentations to agency staff and other direct service providers, and coordinating 2-1-1 promotional mail outs to key community organizations. She will also update information for at least 100 rural agencies in the 2-1-1 database and add at least 15 new resources.
Our new VISTA team means that UWATX can take on more projects, streamline our work and integrate our services within our own agency and our community partners.