Professional headshot of a white appearing woman smiling wearing a black blazer

YLS Welcomes a New Chair Alison Leary

United Way California Capital Region’s Young Leaders Society is pleased to welcome Alison Leary as the new chair. Hear more about Alison in her own words:

Welcome to a new year of philanthropy and fun! I am honored to serve as your chair for the upcoming year.

Women United Continues to Support Foster Youth

Women United Continues to Support Foster Youth
From Luncheon to Lead On! (March 26)

Although the 18th Annual Women United Luncheon has been canceled amid COVID-19 concerns, the needs of local foster youth continue. 

For eighteen years the Women United Luncheon has cultivated lasting change in the lives of foster youth in our region, and we intend to keep that going. We are taking our 400-person event in real life to a larger venue – social media – to raise support and awareness for the urgent needs in our community. 

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Tune in from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for videos and updates. Please share our posts and chime in with comments!


Planting the seed for a love of reading

When Wayne Ginsburg of Woodland first heard about Ashland Reads from his daughter who lived in Ashland, Oregon, he wanted to bring the program to Woodland. So he connected with Lori Ross, a former student of his at the helm of Woodland United Way, to create Woodland Kids Read and Dream.

“I thought that maybe I could leave the idea with Lori and run away, but somehow that didn’t work, so I’m still heavily involved,” Wayne said laughing.


Experience Corps provides strategic support for students
Early literacy program helps children become successful confident readers

When Sal Garcia became principal at Elkhorn Village School in West Sacramento two years ago, he was immediately intrigued with the school’s partnership with United Way’s Experience Corps program.

“Experience Corps very quickly struck me – what a phenomenal way to get kids some additional support,” he said. “I was sold on the program very early on.”

Blog Tom Bennett

We are the Children of King

January 20, 2020

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King

Yet poverty remains. It pervades with almost 20 percent of Californians living in poverty – that is roughly eight million of our brothers and sisters. While my generation and the preceding one lived through the turbulent changes in the 60’s and 70’s and were privileged to hear Dr. King’s messages, we are all to some extent children of King’s movement.


Filing your taxes doesn’t have to be complicated
How United Way volunteers helped one client get his finances in order


Reginald Crisp had years of complicated taxes to sort through when it was time to file his 2018 taxes. A retired state employee, Reginald was trying to get his financial affairs in order when the Franchise Tax Board referred him to United Way’s Free Tax Prep program. When he learned there was a Free Tax Prep site at the Oak Park Community Center near his house, he made an appointment and soon found himself face to face with four women he now affectionately refers to as the Four Amigos. 

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray

Creating an impact in 2020
Building stronger communities where every child has access to a high quality education, and every family is financially stable and self-sufficient.

January 2020 

There are just too many nonprofit organizations in this region! 
I hear this all the time. From donors. From volunteers. And even from nonprofit leaders. What I don’t hear about as often is the impact of nonprofits on the economy and the role that they play in addressing poverty in our state. 


Robla Holiday Market delivers holiday spirit to families in need

On December 17, United Way hosted a holiday market at Robla Elementary for local families in need. Parents were invited to shop the market for free and select from donated gifts for their children. 

Due to the generosity of local donors, a team of 15 United Way volunteers helped deliver holiday presents to more than 150 local kids. 


Woodland Holiday Market delivers holiday spirit to families in need

On December 12, United Way hosted a holiday market at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Woodland for local families in need. Parents were invited to shop the market for free and select from donated gifts for their children. 

Due to the generosity of more than 25 local donors, a team of 20 United Way volunteers helped share over 300 holiday presents to 70 local kids. 

Success Story

United Way’s Healthy Meals Available Over Holiday Break

During the holiday break, United Way’s Healthy Meals program will continue serving suppers to local children ages 18 and under at the following 6 locations.

Mack Road Partnership
7833 Center Parkway
Sacramento, CA 

  • Monday 12/23, 12/30
  • Thursday 12/26, 1/2
  • Friday 12/27, 1/3
  • Saturday 12/28, 1/4

Meals served at 3 pm Monday -Friday and at Noon on Saturdays.

North Highlands – Antelope Library ​
4235 Antelope Road
Antelope, CA 

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray

Volunteers are the heart of United Way
One heart and many hands can make all the difference for communities in need.

December 2019 


The heart of United Way is our volunteers. They help kids who are struggling to read. They provide free tax prep for low-income families. They are the steady hand that guides our Square One Project. They help raise funds to support nonprofit organizations in our region as well as across the state. The hours that volunteers give are priceless.


2019 Young Leaders Society Member of the Year Award
Honoring Ken Imwinkelried

The Young Leaders Society Member of the Year award is presented annually to a young professional who exemplifies the work of United Way within the Young Leaders Society, an action group working towards improving the lives of children, and engaging young professionals in the United Way mission. Our award winner has made a significant impact on the success and growth of United Way’s Young Leaders Society, increasing our capacity to serve the community.


2019 Women United Members of the Year Award
Honoring Rocio Cepeda-Espinoza and Tracy Sambrano

The Women United Member of the Year award is presented annually to one who exemplifies the work of United Way within Women United, an action group working toward improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The award winner has made a significant impact on the success and growth of United Way’s Women United, increasing our capacity to serve the community.


2019 Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award
Honoring Ruth Miller

The annual Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award is is presented to a community trailblazer, who embodies our founder -  Frances Wisebart Jacobs’ leadership and philanthropy, and personify the mission of United Way. This award recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in longevity of service, generosity of giving and passion to address pressing societal issues, thereby making our community a better place – today and tomorrow.

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray

Volunteers are the heart of United Way
One heart and many hands can make all the difference for communities in need.

December 2019 

The heart of United Way is our volunteers. They help kids who are struggling to read. They provide free tax prep for low-income families. They are the steady hand that guides our Square One Project. They help raise funds to support nonprofit organizations in our region as well as across the state. The hours that volunteers give are priceless. Every year, our local United Way honors those exemplars of what it means to be in service to others. This year, we celebrate the following partners for the time and talent they give to our United Way.

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray

The Season of Giving Thanks
Help United Way make it the most wonderful time of the year for everyone

November 2019 

 Like so many nonprofit organizations, we are ringing in the holiday season by offering a variety of ways to give. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the many requests that flood our mailboxes and inboxes during this time of the year, I am always humbled by how fortunate I am. I have a home to go to, food I can put on my table, and gifts I can share with family and friends. 

United Way Hero

Bringing the Play

October 21, 2019

Last week, we were joined by 20 of our friends from Principal for a volunteer activity at Bell Elementary School.


Eradicating Poverty in Our Region is Possible

October 2019 Blog Post

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. 


Quarter Drive: Back To School
Local companies are making a difference.

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!

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray
United Way Annual Report 18-19

The Square One Philosophy

August 2019 Blog Post

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.

Woodland Bayer Grant Presentation

United Way receives $10,000 Bayer Fund Grant For Woodland KinderCamp Program

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.

Post Stephanie McLemore Bray
Ribbon Cutting

United Way California Capital Region Merges with Woodland United Way
Merger will increase community impact throughout the region

After a year of exploration, community meetings and preparation, Woodland United Way and United Way California Capital Region have officially merged.
The new organization operates under the United Way California Capital Region name. Both groups’ boards of directors unanimously approved the merger earlier this month. The merged United Way California Capital Region maintains offices in Woodland and Sacramento. Woodland United Way executive director Lori Ross is now a staff member at United Way California Capital Region directing its Yolo County programs from the Woodland office.    

“Our organizations have a long history of collaboration and shared common goals. We approached United Way California Capital Region nearly a year ago to discuss a potential merger as a way to enhance our ability to serve our community,” said Mike Jansen, board chair, Woodland United Way. “Together, as one local United Way we are stronger and better equipped to improve the lives of residents throughout our region.”

“We are thrilled that our longtime partnership with Woodland United Way takes on an even stronger form today,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This merger ensures we are using our resources wisely and efficiently as we work to increase the number of kids across our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college or career.”


September Hargrove
Former Foster Youth and Volunteer

As a foster youth in Del Paso Heights who was about to graduate from high school, September Hargrove felt like her only opportunity to succeed was if she ran away – so she did.

“When things turned bad in my foster home, my social worker said she couldn’t help me,” September said. “I was one of the good kids, and when you have a caseload of 30 kids, you prioritize the kids in trouble.”


Becoming a Community Activist at Any Age
How to start your leadership journey in the classroom

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.


Looking Ahead After the Foster Youth Summit

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.

Blog Stephanie McLemore Bray

Charting a Path to Financial Wellness
How United Way's programs are different than most out there.

June 2019 Blog Post

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. 

Bark Provides Peace of Mind During Internet Safety Month

Bark Provides Peace of Mind During Internet Safety Month

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.


Help Our Summer STARS Shine!
Summer is coming! 

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.

Blog Stephanie McLemore Bray

It’s All About Outcomes
Three Years into the Square One Project is yielding results.

April 2019 Blog Post

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.


Foster Youth Summit
Bringing everyone to the table

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.

Post 17th Annual Women United Luncheon

Women United Leading the Way
How our local female leaders are taking the charge for foster youth

March 2019 Blog Post

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.


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 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.

Visit Sacramento, 2019 Brews & Brains Champions

Brews & Brains Winter 2019
February 8, 2019

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). 

Click here for photos from the night.

Blog Stephanie McLemore Bray

The Path to Prosperity for Children and Families

February 2019 Blog Post

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.

United Way staff at career center ribbon cutting

Going Above and Beyond, When Campaigns Turn into Life Changing Work
How Principal and United Way turned a partnership into action

A simple act of caring creates an endless ripple.

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.


2018 Reception Awards

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.


The Season of Gratitude

November 2018 Blog, Stephanie Bray 

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.

Blog Stephanie McLemore Bray

Another Year Older, Another Year Wiser

October 2018 Blog, Stephanie Bray 

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.


Meet Danah Tedlos-Luzano
2018 Leaders United Participant from SMUD

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. 

Success Story Stephanie McLemore Bray

The Power of Partnerships

Published August 15, 2018

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.

United Way Hero

Books and Baseball
Thanking our AARP Experience Corps Volunteers

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.  

Success Story

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. 

Square One Project
Jennifer Minett

Volunteer Spotlight
VITA: Jennifer Minett

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.

United Way Hero

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. 

Success Story

AARP Experience Corps Truly Makes an Impact

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.  

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

United Way’s 2018 Goals
With a new year comes resolutions, see what ours are!

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?


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.

Success Story

Bringing Holiday Cheer to Foster Youth
Annual Holiday Gift & Stocking Drive a Success!

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.


Donor Spotlight: Todd Habets

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!


Donor Spotlight: Roberta Turner

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!

Success Story

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.


Donor Spotlight: Lynne Cannady

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!


Donor Spotlight: Terry Myrrdin

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.

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

Women United!
I am excited to announce that Women in Philanthropy is now Women United!

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.


‘You Art What You Eat’ drawing contest
Students at Healthy Meals sites show off drawing skills

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.

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

Food for Thought
Showcasing the importance of nutritious meals and engagement during summer

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.

United Way Hero

Meet VITA Volunteer Javier Romero
Helping people one tax return at a time

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.

Success Story

Heartfelt thank yous from foster youth
Annual Holiday Gift & Stocking Drive touches lives

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.


Firsthand look at the Square One Project in action

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. 


Wonder Women Wednesday
Highlighting the amazing women in our AmeriCorps VISTA program

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.


Students help craft Healthy Meals menu

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:


Something bigger than myself

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.


Saluting our AmeriCorps VISTA members
We are proud to lead the VISTA program in our region

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!


AmeriCorps VISTAs Help Build Our Community

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.

Success Story

Help kids read by starting your next chapter with Experience Corps

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 volunteers and donors honored
2016 United Way California Capital Region Impact Awards

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.

Success Story

Bringing Holiday Cheer to Foster Youth
Annual Holiday Gift & Stocking Drive a Success!

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.


United Way’s AARP Experience Corps program has officially launched!

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.

Success Story

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.

Success Story

It started with a Rethink Your Drink lesson and turned into so much more
How one community is walking towards health.

Last fall, United Way’s Young Leaders Society partnered with the Robla School District and Health Education Council to implement the Hydration Station Initiative

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. 

Success Story Written by: Amy Williamson, Financial Stability Program Officer

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?

Success Story Kindergarten to College Savings Program

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.

Success Story

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.

United Way Hero Written by: Amy Williamson, Financial Stability Program Officer

Spotlight on VITA Coordinator, Diana Clay

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.

Post Written by: Stephanie M. Bray

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.

Success Story Written by: Erica Lee, Health Education Council

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.

United Way Hero By Allison Moore
Carol and Roger Stoughton at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle

Roger Stoughton, Volunteer
Connecting Retirees to Causes

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.”

Success Story

Westfield Village Elementary School
Read about the the success of Cady's book club

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. 

Success Story

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.

Success Story

Susan A. from Women’s Empowerment
A brave voice for previously homeless women

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.)


200 Volunteers + 6 Hours = 1 New Playground!

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!

Success Story

Parker from YMCA Superior California

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.

Success Story

Marina from Koinonia Homes for Teens

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.

Success Story

Ryleigh from Boys & Girls Club of Placer County

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.