Society for the Blind Receives $20K from Wells Fargo for Seniors

Wells Fargo recently awarded Society for the Blind in Sacramento a $20,000 grant to provide education, training and assistive devices to 500 Sacramento-area seniors who are blind or have low vision. The funding will support the group’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older who have vision loss with alternative non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform daily tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase independence.

“With Sacramento’s rapidly growing senior population, requests for our services are higher than ever,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Thanks to Wells Fargo’s generous funding, we can provide even more seniors who are blind or have low vision with the support they need to age safely, preserve their independence and connect with their community.”

Society for the Blind is the sole provider of comprehensive rehabilitative services for people who are blind or have low vision throughout 27 counties in northern California. The group’s Senior IMPACT Project includes a monthly eight-day retreat that gives seniors an immersion experience to learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year. The project recently expanded services to the Asian community, offering a monthly support group for Asian language speakers.

“As our loved ones age, one of the highest priorities is to ensure they can navigate the world around them with dignity, even if they experience declines in health or mental and physical agility,” said Kären Woodruff, community relations associate manager, Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is proud to continue support for Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project, which provides tools for seniors facing changes in their vision or vision loss, allowing them to remain self-sufficient and independent into their golden years.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The Wells Fargo Foundation is the company’s primary philanthropic funding arm. As part of Wells Fargo’s long legacy of investing in community impact, the company has increased its philanthropic giving 25 times over the past 28 years. In 2018, Wells Fargo reached a new milestone of donating $444 million to directly benefit nearly 11,000 nonprofit organizations. To learn more, visit WellsFargo.com.

Get Your Tickets to United Way’s Brews & Brains Trivia Night Fundraiser

Sacramento-area residents can show off their trivial knowledge and enjoy local brews at United Way’s Young Leaders Society’s annual Brews & Brains trivia night on Oct. 18 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Sacramento Masonic Temple, 1123 J Street. Funds raised will benefit United Way’s Square One Project that is helping kids graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career. Guests must be age 21 or older. For more information or to purchase tickets: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/YLS-Brews-Brains.

“Brews & Brains is an opportunity for those who care about our community to show off what they know and to raise funds for the Square One Project,” said Al Goldberg, member of United Way’s Young Leaders Society council. “I can’t think of a truer way to help children achieve in school than a fun test of knowledge.”

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Needs Seniors to Help Kids Read

Local residents age 50 and up are needed this fall to help kids in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading through AARP Experience Corps, managed locally by United Way California Capital Region. To learn more and sign up to volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Experience-Corps-Literacy-Program.

“Kids who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are more likely to fall behind in all subjects, including math and science, making them less likely to graduate from high school,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This corps of volunteers is essential to ensuring our community’s kids are successful.”

Volunteers serve at local schools approximately two days per week for two to three hours a day throughout the school year, tutoring and tracking progress for groups of two to three students for the year. Volunteers meet monthly to share best practices and receive literacy and classroom management experience. They receive training to become mentors and role models and to hone their skills to help students reach their reading goals.

Last year, United Way’s AARP Experience Corps helped 415 students with reading – 62 percent of those who were reading below grade level improved their reading and literary performance. In 2018, program participant Robla School District reported more students meeting and exceeding standards in English Language Arts compared to 2017 – the rate of annual increase was three times higher than state and county averages.

“The results are encouraging and worth the work,” said Experience Corps volunteer Mary Ann Rider. “I never felt like I was cut out to be a teacher, but I felt prepared by the curriculum I had learned in our training. Plus getting to know the kids is fun. If you’re looking for volunteer work, what’s more important than helping a child learn to read?”

United Way California Capital Region is one of only seven nonprofits across the country helping to grow Experience Corps, the evidence-based AARP Foundation literacy program that improves the reading skills of children, enriches the lives of volunteer tutors and strengthens schools in local communities.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Chronic Absenteeism Down, Grade Level Reading Up in United Way’s Square One Project

Three years after United Way California Capital Region launched its Square One Project, more students at its partner Robla School District are attending school consistently and improving their reading, according to United Way’s recently released annual report. These are key indicators of success toward the project’s 20-year goal to decrease poverty in the region by increasing the number of kids graduating from high school ready for success in college or career.

United Way’s Square One Project aims to end poverty by focusing on the one place that reaches all families – schools. With a focus on education and a community-based approach, United Way is working with community partners, schools and families, to help kids attend class every day, stay on track with educational milestones, set high expectations and have strong support for their community.

“If we are to make progress on this audacious goal of ending poverty in our region, then we need to work together to address the systemic issues that our communities face,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Schools often are the center of communities, so Square One starts there. But our work and support go beyond education and the school campus to address the whole family. By focusing on our next generation, we are creating lasting change for our region.”

Kids who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are more likely to fall behind in all subjects, including math and science. Last year, United Way and its partners helped 415 students with reading – 62 percent of those who were reading below grade level improved their reading and literary performance. In 2018, Robla School District reported that more students were meeting and exceeding standards in English Language Arts compared to 2017 – the rate of annual increase was three times higher than state and county averages.

One in five students in the Sacramento region is food insecure – higher than the national average – making them less healthy and less likely to attend school every day, which is key to academic success. Since the Square One Project began, United Way has served 935,772 free meals to students after school and in the summer. Last year, Robla School District saw a drop in the rate of chronic absenteeism by 26 percent.

“We know that Robla students experience barriers to learning before they even set foot inside the classroom,” said Erica Lee, coordinator of student wellness and nutrition, Robla School District. “Daily stressors including inadequate nutrition, unstable housing and limited access to medical care can all impede a student’s ability to learn and be successful in the classroom. United Way understands the whole child approach and works collaboratively with the district to draw upon resources from the whole community in order to serve the whole child.”

Other results announced included helping 9,000 families with free tax preparation this last year – resulting in $11.3 million in refunds and $1.8 million in tax preparation savings – and an expansion of United Way’s Kindergarten to College savings program helping families of local kindergarteners start saving for college. To view the full report: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/post/square-one-philosophy.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Sacramento Life Center Receives $50K Grant from Irwin Foundation

The William G. Irwin Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to the Sacramento Life Center to help pay off the mortgage on the group’s medical facility. The grant will allow Sacramento Life Center to free up funding for current programs, as well as future programs such as prenatal medical care and well-woman exams for low-income pregnant women and teen girls. Since moving to the expanded medical facility in 2016, the Sacramento Life Center has seen a 30 percent increase in women, teen girls and couples seeking services.

“We are incredibly grateful to the William G. Irwin Foundation for its generous investment in the health of low-income women and teens in our community,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “This capital grant will help the Sacramento Life Center fund current and new programs for the next two decades, helping thousands of mothers and their children receive free medical care – especially those who have nowhere to turn.”

The Sacramento Life Center serves some of the most vulnerable women and children in Sacramento County. The majority of patients face serious financial challenges, and increasing numbers are battling unemployment, domestic violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol problems, mental illness, sexually transmitted infections and more. Fifty percent of the group’s patients have no medical coverage.

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women who have experienced reproductive grief. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

Koinonia Breaks Ground on Construction Workshop for Foster Youth

Dozens of community members joined local foster youth and staff at Koinonia Homes for Teens and representatives from Beazer Homes and its Trade Alliance to break ground on the Dream Builders Workshop in Loomis on Aug. 9. The workshop, which is being constructed by Beazer Homes and its Trade Alliance, will provide foster youth at Koinonia with hands-on training in construction disciplines, including concrete, plumbing, framing, electrical, roofing, heating and air.

“This is going to be an incredible opportunity for the kids in our program to train in a growing field so they can leave the foster care system ready to work and earn a living,” said Bill Ryland, director, Koinonia Homes for Teens. “Too many foster youth leave the system unprepared and become homeless. We are grateful to Beazer Homes and its Trade Alliance for recognizing the amazing potential of these kids and for their generosity in building this workshop.”

The Dream Builders Workshop will stand alongside Koinonia’s Tech Classroom, which was funded by Principal Financial and is training foster youth in 3D modeling, music engineering and more. When Beazer Homes representatives toured the career center, they began talking with Koinonia about building a career pipeline into the construction industry and the idea of the Dream Builders Workshop was born.

“We’re proud to invest in our community’s youth by partnering on the Dream Builders Workshop,” said Laura Stickelman, president, Beazer Homes Sacramento division. “By learning important life and job skills, they’ll be poised for successful careers in the construction industry.”

Koinonia Homes for Teens, a division of Koinonia Family Services, has eight homes located in Placer and Sacramento counties, and a Placer County Office of Education WASC-accredited School and Treatment Center in Loomis. Koinonia is one of the premiere adolescent mental health and trauma-informed treatment programs in the state. Each home is staffed with caring professionals that bring a home-like atmosphere and quality treatment during this difficult out-of-home placement. Visit http://teens.kfh.org.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) is one of the country’s largest homebuilders. Every Beazer home is designed and built to provide surprising performance, giving more quality and more comfort from the moment of move-in, saving money every month. With Beazer’s Choice Plans™, owners can personalize primary living areas – giving a choice of how to live in the home, at no additional cost. And unlike most national homebuilders, Beazer empowers customers to shop and compare loan options. Beazer’s Mortgage Choice program gives resources to compare multiple loan offers and choose the best lender and loan offer, saving homeowners thousands over the life of a loan. Beazer builds its homes in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Visit Beazer.com or check out Beazer Homes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

16,000+ Diapers Donated to Sacramento Life Center

Local residents who brought an unopened pack of diapers to any Leatherby’s Family Creamery location on July 20 received a $5 gift card to Leatherby’s, resulting in donations of more than 16,000 diapers for the Sacramento Life Center. Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive, which took place during National Ice Cream Month, provided diapers for low-income moms in the Sacramento area and honored the life of the ice cream shop’s founder Dave Leatherby Sr. who passed away earlier this year and supported the Sacramento Life Center for decades.

“It was heartwarming to see the Sacramento community come together to support local moms and babies in need, as well as to honor my dad who believed so much in this cause,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Thank to you everyone who brought diapers or donated online – these diapers mean the world to families in our community.”

The Sacramento Life Center accepts diaper donations all year at its primary clinic at 2316 Bell Executive Lane in Sacramento. Families in need of diapers can call the clinic at (916) 451-4357 to learn if they qualify to receive free diapers.

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and mobile clinic that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, 24-hour hotline and program for women who have experienced reproductive grief. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

Diaper Drive at Leatherby’s to Benefit Sac Life Center

Local residents who bring an unopened pack of diapers to any Leatherby’s Family Creamery location on July 20 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. will receive a free scoop of ice cream as part of Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive, benefiting the Sacramento Life Center. The drive, which takes place during National Ice Cream Month, will provide diapers for low-income moms in the Sacramento area and honor the life of the ice cream shop’s founder Dave Leatherby Sr. who passed away earlier this year and supported the Sacramento Life Center for decades.

“This is a really special drive, as it not only fills an important need, but honors my late father who was so beloved in this community and who had such a heart for helping low-income pregnant women and teens in the Sacramento area,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We hope everyone comes out on July 20 to help women in need and enjoy a free scoop of Leatherby’s ice cream in honor of my dad.”

According to The Nation, a third of American families struggle to afford enough diapers. The 2018 article quoted a study that found families would leave a child in a diaper too long, risking diaper rash and urinary tract infections, and others would bleach a wet diaper, dry it and reuse it. The Sacramento Life Center’s diaper drive will ensure that every mother who walks into its main clinic can receive free, clean diapers for her children.

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women experiencing reproductive grief. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

Society for the Blind Receives Grant to Expand Literacy for Kids

The ECMC Foundation’s GO! Program recently awarded Society for the Blind in Sacramento a $25,000 grant to expand its academic program for children who are blind or have low vision and increase their educational outcomes. Grant funding will help Society for the Blind provide Braille literacy classes, an After-School Academy and accessible STEM workshops through its CareersPLUS Youth Program that works to combat the 70 percent unemployment rate for people who are blind. The grant will help expand the program’s reach beyond high school to elementary and middle school students.

“Society for the Blind is truly grateful for this grant funding from ECMC Foundation,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Literacy is vital to improving the academic futures of visually impaired children, yet today less than 10 percent of children with vision loss are literate, meaning the majority cannot read, write or comprehend. This grant funding provides necessary programs to help kids succeed in school, college and career, and it helps us reach kids even earlier.”

More than half of high school students who are blind drop out before graduating, and without access to Braille education, they cannot read or communicate effectively, Roeseler said. Through literacy classes, assistive technology such as screen readers and video magnifiers, and accessible STEM workshops, Society for the Blind is improving academic outcomes for children and ensuring they can access the information they need to succeed, starting in elementary school.

Brenda Anderson, an employee from Mather-based ECMC, nominated Society for the Blind for the grant provided through ECMC’s affiliated organization ECMC Foundation.

“I am thrilled that Society for the Blind will be receiving this grant,” Anderson said. “Knowing that the dollars will be used to help students receive the specialized tutoring and Braille skills development they need so that they can continue to be educated and succeed is amazing.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes – especially among underserved populations – through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas – college success and career readiness – and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. For more information, visit ECMCFoundation.org.

Free Tax Help Still Available This Summer for Late Filers

Households that missed the April 15 tax deadline can still receive free help filing their 2018 taxes this summer at several locations across the Sacramento region, thanks to United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program, supported by Citi. IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing and help guests claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, saving filers an average of $200 in preparer fees and often earning thousands of dollars in credits.

Help is available by appointment only at South Natomas Community Center, Yolo County Children’s Alliance in West Sacramento, and three Asian Resources locations across Sacramento. To receive help, households must have earned $60,000 or less in 2018. Services are available in several languages. To make an appointment, call 2-1-1 or (800) 500-4931 (toll free). For more information, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org.

More than $11 million in credits have already been claimed across the Sacramento region this year through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from last year. More than 9,000 local households have received free help from nearly 500 volunteers, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees.

“It’s not too late to take advantage of this service that can help families receive hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in refunds to help them become financially stable,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region.

Households that earned $66,000 or less in 2018 are eligible to file their taxes for free online at MyFreeTaxes.org through a partnership with United Ways of California. The site provides households with free tax help they can trust and guides users through federal and state filing, including tax credits, with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address, income forms and Adjusted Gross Income from 2018.

This year, more households are eligible to claim federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. Age qualification for Cal EITC has been expanded to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn up to $6,500 in credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to very low incomes; however if they do file, they can claim the state and federal credits for which they are eligible. For more information about available tax credits, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit is a vital tool that provides families with a much-needed cash infusion, one that can help them pay down debts, cover expenses, and even get on the road to saving and planning for the future, ” said Mary Hogarty, vice president, Citi Community Development. “Through our support for United Way California Capital Region, we aim to help them expand access to tax credits like the EITC and free tax preparation for eligible people that help enable more working families to build resilient financial futures.”

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2019 Free Tax Prep program include the IRS, the State of California Department of Community Services and Development, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending generational poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.