United Way Offers Free Tax Prep Starting Jan. 21

Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program will begin taking appointments on Jan. 21. Participating households must have earned $60,000 or less in 2019. Free Tax Prep community events will occur throughout the region during tax season, and help also will be available at dozens of sites during the week in multiple languages in Amador, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. For appointments or to learn more, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org or call 2-1-1 or toll-free to (800) 500-4931.

The program kicks off on Feb. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free tax return preparation with electronic filing and help guests claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, American Opportunity Education Credit and the new Young Child Tax Credit.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region are a paycheck away from homelessness,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets. For others, it seeds a child’s college savings account, buys a car to take children to school or provides for a future emergency.”

Age qualification for Cal EITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits. Regardless of who prepares their taxes, those who claim EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until end of February, due to federal law.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from Cal EITC refunds. With new increases to Cal EITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

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, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way to Provide Free Healthy Meals Over Holiday Break

Over holiday break, kids who rely on United Way’s Healthy Meals after-school supper program can still receive free meals at six locations across Sacramento through United Way’s partnership with Sacramento Public Library and Mack Road Partnership.

“One in five kids in our region is food insecure,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “While schools are closed over the holiday break, we want to make sure kids continue to have access to healthy food. United Way is helping to fill in the gaps. We are committed to providing year-round support so kids can succeed in school. They need that support even when school isn’t in session over the holidays and during the summer.”

Five Sacramento Public Libraries will be providing meals over the holidays. The North-Highlands Antelope Library and North Sacramento Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Del Paso Heights Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Sylvan Oaks Library in Citrus Heights will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. The Southgate Library will serve meals at 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Mack Road Partnership also will provide meals at 7833 Center Parkway in Sacramento at 3 p.m. on Dec. 23, Dec. 26, Dec. 27, Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, as well as at noon on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. For more information, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way expanded its Healthy Meals program this fall through its partnership with the Sacramento Public Library’s eight branches, which served 183 meals in the first two days of the school year.

“At the library, we see kids who are hungry every day,” said Christie Hamm, youth services manager, Sacramento Public Library. “They can’t focus on homework or reading when they are hungry. This provides a way to give kids something nutritious to eat, and while they’re at the library, our resources are available to them such as books, computers and homework help.”

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, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Baby Basket Drive for Sac Life Center to Run Through December

Local residents can help low-income new moms in Sacramento this holiday season through the Sacramento Life Center’s annual Baskets4Babies drive running through Dec. 31. The drive stocks the Sacramento Life Center’s baby needs closet so the nonprofit can provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2020. Donations can be made in any increment, but $50 guarantees a new mother has everything she needs to bring her baby home from the hospital, including diapers, clothing, bottles, formula, homemade blankets, bibs, bathing supplies and more. A pledge of $50 per month guarantees a mother can return each month for additional necessities as her baby grows. Donations can be made online at www.saclife.org or by texting saclife to 56651.

“One of the most overwhelming feelings is learning that you’re pregnant and fearing you won’t have the resources to care for your vulnerable baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Sometimes something as simple as a gift of diapers and newborn clothes can give expecting mothers the confidence that they have a support system to help raise their child. Baskets4Babies gives expecting mothers proof that they will always have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and supporters out in the community rooting for their family.”

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, patient advocacy 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 pregnancy loss. 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.

Filled Holiday Stockings Needed for Formerly Homeless Women

Local residents can bring smiles to formerly homeless women and children in Sacramento this holiday season by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s annual Holiday Stocking Drive. The group is seeking 250 unstuffed stockings and specific fillers for local infants and toddlers, children, teens and women by Dec. 11. Stockings for teens and women are especially needed. For the list of items needed to fill each stocking, visit Womens-Empowerment.org.

“The women and children in our program have experienced such pain and isolation and are ready to start a new decade filled with hope and the comforts of a warm home,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “These stockings not only provide warm clothes for winter, they provide fun toys and gifts that help these amazing women and children experience joy this holiday season.”

Those interested also can donate $35-$40 to have a volunteer elf fill a stocking or donate $15-$20 gift cards for Target, Walmart and grocery stores. Items can be dropped off at 1590 A Street in Sacramento, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,611 homeless women and their 3,701 children. Last year, 82 percent of graduates found homes and 76 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’sEmpowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org .

United Way Seeks Holiday Gifts for Low-Income Families and Foster Youth

Volunteers stuff holiday stockings at United Way

This holiday season, Sacramento-area residents can donate and volunteer with United Way California Capital Region to make sure all families in their community have the support they need for kids to have a bright future. The local United Way is seeking gifts for its upcoming holiday markets for families in need, as well as local youth in foster care. Gifts are needed by Dec. 6 and can be purchased through United Way’s Amazon Wish Lists at YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Holiday. 

 “We talk a lot about the holidays being merry and bright, but for too many families in our community, it’s hard to feel merry when your future is uncertain and your kids don’t even have a warm coat to get through the winter,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “All children deserve a bright future, and that’s why our Square One Project works to ensure all kids in our community have the support they need year-round so they can focus on school and succeed in life.”

United Way also is seeking volunteers to help with the holiday markets for families in need where parents can shop the market and select gifts for their children. Volunteers are needed for shifts at the Robla Elementary School holiday market on Dec. 10 from 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-4:30 p.m., and at St. Luke’s Church in Woodland on Dec. 12 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3:30-7 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help set up the markets, assist parents with shopping, wrap gifts and close the events. For more information and to sign up, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Holiday.

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.

Sacramento Life Center Raises Record $310,000 at Dinner

Sacramento Life Center’s A Knight for Life Dinner and Auction raised a record-setting $310,000 with 720 guests on Nov. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. This year’s event, which honored the Knights of Columbus, raised vital funds for the organization’s free medical care, counseling and education for low-income pregnant women and teens. The gala included a gourmet dinner, auction packages, raffle baskets and inspiring stories from some of the 2,000 people who received medical care from the Sacramento Life Center this year.

“This was our most successful dinner ever, with the highest amount of funds raised and the most number of guests in attendance,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are so grateful for this community’s financial support that will expand our services and reach even more low-income pregnant women and teens.”

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, patient advocacy 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.

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.

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.