These are stories of hope, survival and change despite the odds. These are United Way stories of success – proof that when we work together, we can end poverty for our community’s children and families.
If you are interested in sharing your story please email firstname.lastname@example.org
On October 3, we had the honor of celebrating our merger as one United Way California Capital Region and were joined by many friends, neighbors, and local dignitaries. That’s really the beauty of the work we do, we get to bring so many people together into the same room united in service to our community
The United Nations declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme, “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty,” is exactly what United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project is all about. Our philosophy of bringing together stakeholders, including community members, to determine how best to ensure that more families are thriving has been our focus since 2016.
My name is Damon Leardini, Customer Service Rep with SMUD.
Each quarter our local United Way will coordinate themed donation drives to support local nonprofits in our community.
Last quarter, the generous employees of Nationwide, Cox Automotive, and Pitney Bowes employees donated back to school supplies and brand new backpacks for local kids in partnership with organizations like Saint John’s Center for Women and Children, Improve Your Tomorrow and the Robla School District. Thank you all so much!
Grade-level literacy is a predictor of future success in school. By fourth grade, children should be reading to learn. However, far too many students in our region are struggling to meet that milestone.
We’ve all heard the phrase find your bliss. But how do you do that? One solution Katherine Green has found is through volunteer work.
In 2016, United Way California Capital Region made a promise to children and families in this region that we would end poverty, starting at school. Behind this audacious goal is the philosophy that by bringing together funders, nonprofit organizations, government, and the business community, we can remove barriers to opportunity for low-income families. Since adopting this philosophy, we have not only served more individuals, but we have also seen promising outcomes.
Bayer Fund has awarded a $10,000 grant to Woodland United Way to support KinderCamp, a free summer program for incoming kindergarteners in Woodland who have not had the opportunity to attend preschool. Bayer Woodland employees nominated United Way for the grant from Bayer Fund, the philanthropic arm of Bayer that is focused on strengthening the communities where Bayer customers and employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education and community development projects.
One March afternoon, I received a call from LaVon Garcia of Elk Grove Farmers & Merchants Bank and long-time United Way supporter, asking if her son could speak to me about work with me to learn about how UW is making a difference in his community for a school project. Orlando, a 10-year-old student at the California Montessori Project, Elk Grove Campus was tasked by his teacher to find and report on a project or program surrounding activism. When he went home and told his mom about the project, she thought of United Way since her organization has a rich giving history.
The foster care system aims to safely reunify children with their parents or secure another permanent home. Too often this goal is not achieved. Instead, many children spend years in foster homes or group homes, often moving multiple times. These children are at increased risk for a variety of emotional, physical, behavioral, and academic problems, making it less likely that they will graduate from high school and go on to college or career training.
Philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
At our United Way, we strive to bring out the potential in everyone. Whether a child who is struggling to read, or an adult trying to make ends meet, we convene, we collaborate and we commit to helping people tap into their potential to live healthy, productive lives. This includes achieving financial wellness.
June is Internet Safety Month, and families across the country can benefit from a wealth of tools and resources to shore up their at-home technologies. To kick things off, we’d like to highlight one company in particular that is changing the way parents can help protect their kids from digital dangers.
Small Business, Big Impact: River City Printers
How local printer is using his strengths to make a difference
Kasey Cotulla spent his whole career learning every element of the printing industry. He started as a janitor at 18, and moved up to driving a forklift, running equipment, working in customer service, and now owns multiple printing companies in the Sacramento area. Cotulla made the leap into entrepreneurship 11 years ago and started his “small business collective” located in Sacramento, Placer, and Yolo counties.
United Way’s Healthy Meals Fueling Kids Success
After school meals program expanded to 18 locations in Fall 2019
1 in 5 students in the Sacramento region is food insecure. United Way’s Healthy Meals program increases children’s access to well-balanced, nutritious and free meals which fuels their ability to learn and grow.
At our United Way, we know that for the 1 in 4 children who live in poverty, summer creates uncertainties as they face food instability and potential learning loss over the summer, called the “summer slide.” This means that those children fall 2 to 3 months behind their middle-income peers who tend to advance by one month during the summer. By fifth grade, the summer slide can result in a reading level gap of three years, just as students are preparing to transition into middle school.
In 2016, our United Way made a promise to this region that we would end poverty starting at school through our Square One Project. This promise marked the scaling of our work to help more children achieve important milestones on their educational journey early on so that they are more likely to graduate from high school, college or career-ready. We announced our partnership with the Robla School District, the district with the highest poverty rate in Sacramento County.
Youth who spend their teenage years in foster care are likely to age out of care facing challenges as they move to early adulthood. Federal and state laws have mandated what county social services are required to provide, including counseling, housing, social services, development transition, and permanency plans.
March is Women’s History month, and at United Way, we are proud to salute the steadfast members of Women United. Now in our 17th year, Women United, formerly Women in Philanthropy, has raised over $2 million to support foster youth aging out of care in the greater Sacramento region. Those funds have provided matched savings accounts for foster youth who reach adulthood without the benefit of family support or a financial safety net.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child”
– Dr. Seuss
I Didn’t Spend a Dollar Filing My Taxes This Year and Neither Should You
Here’s how I saved $300 this tax season.
Like thousands of Americans, each year I spent hundreds of dollars to go to a stuffy, windowless office to get my taxes prepared – to determine the all-important question, would I owe the government money this year? Since this is such an important task, I was willing to make the costly investment to ensure that everything was processed correctly. I am a young professional, only out of college a few years now, and I don’t have a ton of money to throw at government forms that I, in theory, should be able to do myself. It wasn’t until last year when I started here at United Way and after I filed my 2017 taxes did I hear about our Free Tax program. Previously, I had been working part-time jobs and finishing up my education to make ends meet and the payment I used for the filing alone could have helped. My story isn’t unique, for many households, the large cost of paying for filing make a difference in their finances, something that could instead go into savings or pay off burdensome debt. This year, knowing that I qualified,* wouldn’t let that happen again this year.
So, I went online to make an appointment at www.myfreetaxes.org where you can decide if you want to file in person or online*. You could also schedule your appointment by calling 2-1-1. Since this is my first time filing my taxes alone, I wanted to make sure that it was correct, so I opted to do it in person with the Free Tax Prep volunteers. I saw that there was availability for a Tuesday at 11 a.m., set the appointment, and started collecting my paperwork.
Meet September Hargrove
The former foster youth advocate turned executive returning to Women United Luncheon
September Hargrove is a Vice President and Program Officer for Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., responsible for leading the firm’s $150 million commitment to Detroit across the firm’s priority areas: neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability, and workforce development.
United Way’s Young Leaders Society packed the Sacramento Masonic Temple with over 180 guests for the 2019 Brews & Brains Trivia Night. The sold-out event brought together trivia enthusiasts’ love for local beer, tacos, and making a difference in our community and raised over $7,500! The event proceeds will benefit the Sacramento Kindergarten to College Savings Program (K2C).
Founded in 2004, Digital Deployment is a leading provider of websites and platforms for local government and organizations that impact communities. Being located in heart of Sacramento, they have seen the region’s huge growth and many changes.
According to Prosperity Now (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development), a national nonprofit organization that is working to ensure that everyone in our country has a clear path to financial stability, wealth and prosperity, too many families continue to struggle. Prosperity Now projects that forty percent of households are liquid asset poor, meaning they lack the savings to weather a financial shock.
Going Above and Beyond, When Campaigns Turn into Life Changing Work
How Principal and United Way turned a partnership into action
Together, united, we can make an impact, every day. Through United Way’s workplace giving campaigns, we connect over 1,000 local companies with local non-profits to make our community stronger. Our impact together extends beyond just connecting employees with local causes.
This is a story about how one local company help transform an old barn into a state-of-the-art career center for the foster youth.
Happy New Year!
Our United Way is excited for 2019. While we can certainly look back and celebrate our accomplishments, we look forward to new opportunities to make a difference for children and families through our Square One Project.
Last week, United Way held it’s annual reception to honor major
donors and active volunteers in our community. Throughout the
year, our team gets the pleasure of working with so many amazing
individuals and companies.
However, at this event, we like to take the time to recognize leaders who have gone above and beyond the call of duty — leaders who exemplify the spirit of giving through their time, advocacy, spirit.
At United Way California Capital Region, our hearts are heavy with thoughts of those affected by the wildfires ravaging our great state. We keep in our prayers the families who have lost so much, including their loved ones. We pray for the firefighters battling the flames that continue to encroach on and destroy so many homes, including their own.
We are excited to welcome Tracy Jackson to the Women United leadership council!
I was born in October and every year I become quite pensive as my birthday approaches. I often reflect on my life up to this point, especially my childhood. I chuckle when I think about how I once believed that anyone older than 50 was really old and pretty much done with life.
My name is Danah Tedlos-Luzano, Customer Service Rep II with SMUD.
What do you enjoy most about working with the United Way Workplace Giving Campaign?
What I have enjoyed the most so far is learning about all the amazing organizations and nonprofits in our community that help and support children, individuals, and families in our region.
The ancient storyteller Aesop once said, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”
Back-to-school time was always bittersweet for me. My daughters are in college now, but I remember how it felt to drop them off on the first day of school. Each new school year was an opportunity for them to learn and grow. Central to their academic achievement was, and still is, the commitment that schools make to provide all kids with the quality education they need to reach and even exceed milestones on the path to high school graduation and beyond. However, for far too many from low-income families, success in school is a struggle.
On May 15, 2018, the AARP Experience Corps volunteers enjoyed an afternoon at Raley Field watching the River Cats and being recognized for their efforts in helping kids read this past school year. Over 65 people including volunteers, guests, representatives from UPS, and members from the school districts all came together.
Women United’s successful spring drive inspires hope for future youth
Hundreds of towels, toiletries, luggage collected for foster youth
Women United’s annual spring drive collected a striking 315 towel sets (one bath towel, hand towel, and washcloth) and hundreds of luggage and toiletry items benefiting local foster youth who are preparing to emancipate from the system. Members and community members from all over the region came together to support this cause.
Jennifer Minett had a lot of tax questions. With every answer she received, led to another question. After showing interest in understanding the nuances of tax law, coworker Diana Clay, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Coordinator, recommended that she take a free tax education course that certified her to do her taxes like a professional. Now three years later, she has dedicated every tax season as a VITA volunteer helping others like her once before, needed an extra hand with their finances.
Its Never too Early to Start Saving
Setting the expectation to achieve higher education starting as early as kindergarten
Say hello to the future graduating class of 2030! These kids pictured here from Robla, Taylor Street, and Bell Avenue Elementary Schools just opened college savings accounts through K2C.
A recent study of Millennials by Campbell Rinker, a market research firm, told us what we at United Way have known for some time: that those born from 1982 to 2000, are more engaged in philanthropy than anyone believed.
United Way’s early literacy program expands into two new schools
AARP Experience Corps to support 19 schools across the region
Only half of all third graders in our five county region are reading at grade level according to the 2018 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).
As part of United Way’s efforts to boost early literacy in our region, nearly 60 volunteers will tutor local students through the AARP Experience Corps program starting this fall. United Way has expanded the program and is partnering with two more schools for a total of 19 campuses to provide onsite reading support throughout the school year.
After only 1 year of operation, local data proves that Experience Corps works for students and for volunteers. Nationally during the 2016-2017 school year, 1,993 volunteer tutors helped 31,466 students in 241 schools in cities across 16 states.
For the same school year, United Way had 27 volunteer tutors helping 273 students in 9 schools across 4 school districts.
For students, external research by Washington University in St. Louis proves Experience Corps effectiveness in improving literacy. Students who worked one-to-one with Experience Corps tutors for a single school year saw more than 60% greater gains in critical literacy skills compared to students who were not served by the program. When you compare our local program with the National program, you can see how successful we were in improving children’s literacy skills.
Every new year brings an opportunity for reflection and renewal. Whether it’s to lose a few pounds or reconnect with old friends or get involved in the community, many of us pledge to make changes that make our lives and our communities better. As we look back on the past year, did we do the things that we resolved to do? Did it make a difference? What will we do with the year ahead?
It was a year of success for our Square One Project! Over the next 20
years, we will make a significant increase in the number of local
kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college
and beyond. With your donations and support, take a look at what
we’ve accomplished together:
Thanking and honoring United Way’s donors and volunteers
2017 United Way California Capital Region Impact Awards
We had an exciting 2017 as we built upon the Square One Project that launched in 2016 with the goal to significantly increase the number of kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Our goals could not be achieved without the help of our generous supporters, donors, and volunteers.
United Way honored these individuals and companies who are making a lasting impact in our communities at our recent donor celebration.
On November 30, more than 30 volunteers gathered at United Way to stuff stockings and wrap gifts for children in Sacramento County Child Protective Services and foster youth in United Way’s program. The holiday wrap party was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and unite women and young professionals around the needs of local foster youth during the holiday season.
At United Way California Capital Region, we have a 20-year promise to our community that we will end poverty starting in school. Together with the help of our generous donors, we can break the cycles that trap children in poverty and help them and their families toward better lives. Thank you, Todd, for your support in fulfilling our promise to our community!
The work we do at United Way California Capital Region would not be possible without the support of our generous donors. Thank you, Roberta, for your steadfast support and for making a difference in our community!
SOLD OUT 16th Annual Women United Luncheon was a BIG Success!
Members and guests raised over $75,000 in support of local foster youth
Last week, 450 Women United members and guests raised more than $75,000 at the 16th annual luncheon! The money raised will be used to support United Way’s foster youth program. Guests celebrated the amazing work that makes a difference in the lives of local foster youth and enjoyed hearing from special guest, Olympic gold medalist, Simone Biles. It was a real treat to see the teens in United programs walk with confidence down the runway during the fashion show.
Community comes together to plant gardens at Bell Avenue Elementary
Thank you to Principal, the Sacramento River Cats and Green Acres
When you volunteer with United Way, you are making a direct impact to help kids succeed in school. Volunteers help support the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.
Day of Caring also marked our first Stuff the Bus drive where we collected school supplies for each and every student in the Robla School District.
United Way California Capital Region is fortunate to have donors and volunteers who care deeply about their community, giving effortlessly and tirelessly of their time and finances to make a positive impact in our region. Thank you, Lynne, for your unwavering support and dedication to making a lasting change in our community!
Meet Terry Myrrdin, a long-time United Way supporter and great friend of the organization. We asked Terry to share how she became involved with United Way California Capital Region and what has motivated her to stay engaged for so many years. Thank you, Terry, for your support, advocacy and partnership!
Thank you UPS, you truly are determined to make a difference
Celebrating 35 years of partnering together
UPS has gone through many changes in its 110 year history, but maybe never more so than over the past few years. Yet, for all the changes the company has experienced, one thing remains the same, their commitment to the communities they live and work in. That commitment, and partnership with United Way California Capital Region, has now lasted for 35 years. UPS has always been and continues to be one of the largest givers in our five county region.
Our United Way has joined thousands of other women around the country in the next generation of a powerful movement. As leaders in that movement for nearly sixteen years, Women United in the Sacramento Region has invested over $1.9 million in support of emancipating foster youth, the most vulnerable among our children. That support includes matched savings accounts so that foster youth have a safety net when they exit the system. That is why I am a platinum member of Women United and I am humbled to be part of such a dynamic group of women.
A healthy support system is critical for children to succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program provides children with free, nutritious meals so they can stay on track. But, leading a healthy lifestyle goes well beyond what you eat. The children that receive food through our Healthy Meals program are learning to create healthy habits through nutrition education and enrichment activities.
Single mom gets hundreds back thanks to California Earned Income Tax Credit
Heidi qualified for more than $800 in Cal EITC credits
Heidi, a single mom of two children, qualified for the VITA program and received free tax filing assistance. This saved her hundreds of dollars in tax-preparation fees at a local VITA site a couple months ago.
Farm to Healthy Meals seed planting activity
Students at Main Avenue Elementary learn firsthand how to grow fresh produce
Healthy communities start at Square One – with healthy meals! By ensuring kids learn about good nutrition and healthy eating habits, we are helping establish a strong foundation to keep kids in school.
Serve with Liberty volunteers make BIG changes at North Country Elementary
Thank you to our volunteers who got the school spruced up
When you volunteer with United Way, you are making a direct impact to help kids succeed in school. Volunteers support the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.
Women in Philanthropy spring drive was a huge success
Hundreds of towels, toiletries, luggage collected for foster youth
United Way’s Women in Philanthropy spring drive was quite the success! Our Women in Philanthropy members and community donated 360 towel sets (one bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth), 100 pieces of luggage, and hundreds of toiletries for local foster youth preparing to emancipate from the system.
When I was a child, every weekday at noon during the summer, a truck would lumber down the street where I lived and many of my friends would run behind it until it stopped at the end of the block. My friends would come back up the street with a tray that had a sandwich, a small container of apple juice or milk, and a piece of fruit or a fruit cup. For many, it was the only meal they would have that day. I was fortunate: I did not know what food insecurity was. It saddens me to know that after all these many years, there are far too many children who are food insecure.
The success of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is not possible without the tremendous support of our VITA volunteers. They go through countless hours of training, dedicate their weekday and weekends to filing returns, and help families save hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees. While most volunteers have been filing their own taxes for years, Javier Romero began helping individuals and families long before he had to file his own taxes.
Research shows that having a mentor greatly increases a student’s potential for success so much so that children not only have higher self-esteem, they also perform better in school and our Experience Corps volunteers fit that role perfectly!
Back in December, more than 40 action group volunteers gathered at United Way to stuff stockings and wrap gifts for children in Sacramento County Child Protective Services and foster youth in United Way’s programs. The holiday wrap party was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and unite women and young professionals around the needs of local foster youth during the holiday season.
United Way would not exist without the tremendous support of our volunteers. From our board of directors and action group members to Experience Corps reading tutors and AmeriCorps VISTAS, volunteers provide a strong support system for children and families through United Way’s Square One Project.
The Square One Project is our promise to the community to end poverty starting in school. Over the next 20 years, we will make a significant increase in the number of kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and career.
This week, we are celebrating the work of AmeriCorps in communities across the nation. Specific to our Sacramento region, United Way California Capital Region acts as the intermediary site by partnering with other nonprofits to place AmeriCorps VISTA members in various sites. AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) serve a one-year term in underserved communities to fight poverty by building capacity. Currently, United Way has 15 active VISTAs serving throughout the region.
We’re in the midst of tax season and working hard to ensure that low-income, working families file their taxes for free through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).
The mission of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program is to employ direct service to build stronger communities and develop future leaders. United Way California Capital Region hosts NCCC volunteers each year to help with our annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Good health is critical for children to stay in and succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program works to ensure every child has access to nutritious meals so they can focus on learning.
As we looked to make menu updates, we figured we might as well go right to the source – the kids – and have them help Davis Joint Unified School District decide what goes on our Healthy Meals menus. Over the last month, we’ve been working with various sites to have the kids do taste testing.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s an inside look into the tastings:
By: Andrea Aguinaldo, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
When I graduated from college, I was hungry to be part of something bigger than myself. I knew that I wanted to do this through delving into not-for-profit work. I also knew that I had yet to discover the full scope of the nonprofit world, and understand the variables and skills necessary to turn my passion into concrete actions. So I decide to join the VISTA program, a national service project with a mission to eliminate poverty, because it presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn about the dynamics of social work.
It’s National AmeriCorps Week, and we’re excited to celebrate! This year through United Way, 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members, 20 Summer Associates and 12 National Civilian Community Corps members will serve the Sacramento region! These individuals dedicate a summer or a year of their lives to bringing change to local communities across the nation. Many are assigned to projects far from where they grew up, and they gain valuable experience through their service to communities in need.
United Way board & staff help celebrate Dr. Seuss
Thank you to volunteers who came out for Read Across America Day
Volunteers help provide a wonderful support system for children to succeed in school and beyond. It is people like you that can make all the difference in the world for these young, influential minds!
In celebration of Dr. Seuss, volunteers from our board of directors and staff visited Glenwood Elementary in the Robla Unified School District this morning to participate in Read Across America Day. Each person read their favorite Dr. Seuss book to students and shared what they do for work in hopes to inspire the children for their own future. What a special treat for all!
Young Leaders Society volunteers SPRING to action in the garden
Thank you to our volunteers who came out to Bell Avenue Elementary
When you volunteer with United Way, you are making a direct impact to help kids succeed in school. Volunteers support the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.
Lifeskills workshop teaches foster youth important lessons
Women in Philanthropy members teach foster youth about personal branding and etiquette
When foster youth emancipate from the system, their futures are bleak. The statistics speak for themselves:
• More than 50% have no earnings in 4 years
• Only 25% are consistently employed
United Way’s Women in Philanthropy is a group of women dedicated to making a dent in those numbers.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, Sacramento VISTAs joined the annual local MLK365: March for the Dream event. MLK365 aspires to uphold Dr. King’s message of collective progress by bringing together diverse groups and individuals to connect and build valuable bonds.
Research shows that having a mentor greatly increases a student’s potential for success so much so that children not only have higher self-esteem, they also perform better in school. Through United Way’s partnership with AARP Experience Corps, volunteers ages 50 and older, spend two hours a day two days each week in classrooms helping young children improve their reading skills so they succeed in school and beyond. Our volunteers not only help improve reading skills, but also form special bonds with the children.
United Way California Capital Region had an exciting 2016 as we launched the Square One Project with the goal to significantly increase the number of kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. We cannot achieve these goals without the help of our generous supporters, donors, and volunteers.
United Way honored these individuals and companies who are making a lasting impact in our communities at our recent Donor Reception.
On December 1, more than 40 volunteers gathered at United Way to stuff stockings and wrap gifts for children in Sacramento County Child Protective Services and foster youth in United Way’s programs. The holiday wrap party was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and unite women and young professionals around the needs of local foster youth during the holiday season.
Featured is Bob Baker, an Experience Corps volunteer tutor at Robla Elementary School. Bob is a super tutor! He volunteers for over 8 hours a week, which is double the standard amount of time! He tutors from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Featured are 2nd grade students Leo, Eva, and Darren practicing their literacy skills.
In a tutoring session, Bob uses the Reading A to Z curriculum, plays a word work game, and reads aloud from a storybook. He is helping struggling readers improve their literacy skills, catch up to their peers, and close the achievement gap. If you want to make a difference in the life of a child, consider becoming an Experience Corps volunteer.
Click here to find out more and attend an information session.
15th Annual Women in Philanthropy Luncheon was a BIG Success!
Members and guests raised over $47,000 for local foster youth programs
Women in Philanthropy members and guests came together for another successful Women in Philanthropy Luncheon! More than 250 guests raised money for United Way’s foster youth programs and celebrated the amazing work that makes a difference in the lives of local foster youth. It was a real treat to see the teens strutting their stuff and gaining confidence during the fashion show.
It started with a Rethink Your Drink lesson and turned into so much more
How one community is walking towards health.
Young Leaders Society members raised over $25,000 to provide a new hydration station at each school in the Robla School District and give each student their own reusable water bottle. Health Education Council also provided in-class Rethink Your Drink healthy beverage education in each classroom in the district to educate students about the importance of drinking water over sugary beverages.
Introducing the Square One Project
Find out what it is and how you can join us in changing our region.
We’ve kicked off our most ambitious project in our 90-year-history – a new approach to ending poverty and equipping schools with the resources to be a ground-level force for children’s success.
Coaches need coaching too
On June 6 and 7, thanks to support from Citi Community Development, our United Way hosted nationally-renowned financial coaching expert Saundra Davis of Sage Financial Solutions for a regional training event.
After we’ve flown a certain number of times in our lives, we tend to tune out the emergency instructions given by the flight attendants. Yes, yes, we think subconsciously – I already know that I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I try to assist others.
But how many of us apply this advice in our own lives on the ground? This is an especially important issue for people working in helping professions. How can we help others tackle challenges and pursue their goals and dreams if we’re not fully doing that for ourselves?
SacK2C program expands in Robla School District
Sacramento Kindergarten 2 College program helps parents save for college
Jennifer Wright knows a good deal when she sees one. Securing $200 for her daughter’s future college education was well worth three hours of her time, despite her especially hectic schedule. She’s been working two jobs and raising her three kids – 16- and 13-year-old boys, and 5-year-old Madison – by herself since separating from her husband due to his substance abuse problems.
Women in Philanthropy spring drive breaks records
Hundreds of towels, toiletries, luggage collected for foster youth
United Way’s Women in Philanthropy spring event was quite the success! Our Women in Philanthropy members and community donated 497 towel sets (one bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth), 92 pieces of luggage, and hundreds of toiletries for local foster youth preparing to emancipate from the system – a new record for this drive. Last year, the group collected 253 towel sets and 48 pieces of luggage.
The towels and toiletries will be included in baskets that Sacramento County prepares as part of its Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program. The donated luggage is given to foster youth in United Way’s financial stability initiative that is working to ensure more households in the region, including foster youth living on their own, are financially literate and able to save for the future.
Last year at about this time, I was thrilled that our United Way decided to take on the leadership role for Sacramento’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) coalition at the request of Community Link, which ran it for its first decade.
VITA is an amazing program that saves thousands of local low-income families lots of money by offering free filing by IRS-certified volunteers, and also helps them claim (collectively) millions of dollars through the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits. Households who file through VITA get average refunds of more than $2,000, and some get as much as $6,000. My job is to help people build financial stability, and that money goes a long way toward that end.
Sounds great, right? And it is. But while I was thrilled, I was also a bit daunted to say the least. VITA is a very complex endeavor and I knew we needed to bring in the right expertise. While I was immediately thinking about the fundraising I’d need to do, I got an invitation to last year’s tax season wrap-up and debrief at our local IRS office. It was there that Diana Clay introduced herself to me.
A couple that saves together
VITA helped Kristina and Alex save more than $160 in tax-preparation fees
Kristina and Alex, both students at Sierra College in Rocklin, qualify for the VITA program and received free tax filing assistance, saving them more than $160 in tax-preparation fees at the Super Saturday VITA kick-off event on Jan. 30.
We’re celebrating all we are thankful for in 2015
During this season of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for!
During this season of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for! Children at risk of falling behind in school are reading at grade-level. Low income families are becoming more financial stable. Hungry children in afterschool programs in low income communities are being fed. We could not do this work without the support of donors and volunteers like you.
We are especially thankful for those we are honoring this year for outstanding service and support of our United Way.
Health Education Council and Young Leaders Society Ask Students to Rethink Their Drinks
In Sacramento County, 30 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.
Unless you’ve been reading this blog with your eyes closed lately, you likely already know about the outstanding work the Young Leader’s Society (YLS) has done to raise more than $25,000 to support United Way’s Hydration Station Initiative in the Robla School District. What you may not know is that in order to support the use of the hydration stations, United Way has teamed up with the Health Education Council to ask Robla students and their families to Rethink Your Drink.
Hard-working volunteers rarely see themselves as heroes or anything more than someone trying to make a small difference in their community. It came as no surprise that when I sat down with United Way’s Retiree Giving Club volunteer, Roger Stoughton, and used the word “hero,” he balked at the idea. However, as our conversation unfolded and I learned about all that Roger and his wife Carol have contributed over the last 30 years, both in time and financially, it’s clear that the Stoughtons are true examples of community heroes.
Roger worked for the State of California for more than 30 years. He was always active in the state’s giving campaign, designating some of his donations to his church, St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Sacramento and United Way. When I asked him why United Way, he explained that United Way covers a lot of organizations that make an impact in the community. As a long-time resident of Carmichael, it’s important to Roger and Carol that money stays local and supports the region where they live and have raised a family.
In Roger’s words, “charity begins at home.”
For many low-income families, every dollar has to be stretched in order to put food on the table. Buying books for their children just may not be possible for some families. However, as studies show, nourishing children’s minds with literature greatly improves their performance in school. And there is no better place to start than at home.
Shared success moments of glee
Amy Williamson, Program Officer, Financial Stability Community Impact
My mother did a great job raising me in the vast majority of ways, but one area in which her parental advising turned out to be not so helpful was regarding finances.
One week into my first post-college job, my old Toyota Corolla gave up the ghost while I was driving home from work. With 500 miles between me and my parents, and with most of my close friends having moved away for other opportunities, I had to brave the car dealership on my own.
“Just tell them you’re not going to pay more than $150 per month!” was my mom’s sole piece of advice.
There are some fundamental success indicators we look for in financial stability work. On the quantitative side, we want to know if our participants are increasing their income, savings and credit scores, and decreasing their debt and use of predatory financial services. Qualitatively, we work with them to improve their sense of capability and confidence when it comes to their relationship with money.
We measure all of these things, and we file our reports, and you can see our collective success on paper. But out in the world, we love when spontaneous things happen that fall outside the usual evaluative box and exceed our expectations.
One such thing occurred on Feb. 5 at our Family Assets Count press conference, where we released data about liquid asset poverty in the California Capital Region. (Click here for a great explanatory article from The Sacramento Observer.)
Over 200 volunteers from the CarMax Foundation, United Way, the Mack Road Partnership and KaBOOM! built a brand new playground in just six hours! Thank you to all of the dedicated volunteers who braved the rainy weather to build a vibrant community gathering space. We could not have done it without your support!
Parker was a serious basketball fan. At just 8 years old, he saw the Sacramento Kings in the newspaper and started looking up their scores after the games. Soon he had the basketball bug and wanted to learn to play.
Parker joined YMCA Superior California’s after-school program, which is funded by United Way’s health initiative that includes our Fit Kids project. He learned a hard lesson: It’s hard to get the ball in the basket. Fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to keep practicing.
Marina learned the hard way that the old saying is true: Sometimes you can’t go home. Marina’s childhood was marked by addiction – her parents’ addiction and her own. Fortunately, her probation officer saw her perseverance and determination and sent her to Koinonia Homes for Teens.
As a foster youth at Koinonia, Marina turned her life around, due in part to Koinonia’s participation in United Way’s financial stability initiative, which includes our $en$e-Ability project that helps foster youth become financially literate and build savings accounts for when they move out on their own.
Ryleigh loves finding a book and seeing what it’s all about. When asked what this second grader’s favorite book is, she rattles off a list.
“I like reading because you get to go on new adventures and sometimes they’re animals and sometimes they’re real stories that actually happened,” Ryleigh said.