Women’s Empowerment Receives $15K from Union Pacific

Women’s Empowerment has received a grant of $15,000 from Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program to help women experiencing homelessness in Sacramento find jobs and safe homes during the housing crisis.  

“We are proud to once again partner with Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program to ensure unhoused women can find and retain employment so they can afford a safe home for themselves and their children,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. 

Women’s Empowerment provides a two-month employment-readiness and empowerment program, paid job training, childcare and support services so women and their children can break the generational cycle of homelessness. Women’s Empowerment offers the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women experiencing homelessness and their children. In 2023, 165 jobs were secured by graduates, and 189 women either secured or maintained housing. Since 2001, 1,870 women have graduated from the program with their 4,002 children. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To make a donation: Womens-Empowerment.org.

“Union Pacific proudly supports organizations that improve the quality of life where our employees live and work,” said Liisa Stark, vice president of public affairs, Union Pacific. “Investing in high-quality, nonprofit programs puts our communities in a position for future growth and prosperity.” 

For more than 160 years, Union Pacific has been committed to Building America – serving as an economic engine and improving the standard of life for millions across the country. Building upon this heritage, the Union Pacific Community Ties Giving Program’s mission is to build safe, prosperous, vibrant and inclusive communities by investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs in the cities and towns in which Union Pacific operates and its employees live and work. For more information: www.up.com/aboutup/community/foundation/index.htm

United Way Launches Guaranteed Income for Former Foster Youth at Sacramento State

Two former foster youth wearing evening gowns are surprised to learn they will receive $500 a month for a year

Ten students from the greater Sacramento region who are participating in Sacramento State’s Guardian Scholars Program for former foster youth will receive $500 a month of guaranteed income for 12 months beginning in May through United Way California Capital Region’s new Collegiate Guaranteed Income Program. The new program was announced at United Way’s United in Purpose Gala fundraiser on Saturday night to the surprise of the 10 students who were all in attendance. 

“I was once a foster youth myself, so I understand firsthand the immense challenges this population faces in pursuing higher education,” said Sacramento State President Luke Wood. “Too often, students who were in the foster care system lack the financial and emotional support structures that many of their peers take for granted. This groundbreaking partnership with United Way reflects our community’s deep commitment to empowering these resilient scholars and ensuring they have the resources to not just survive but thrive on their academic journeys. This program will alleviate some of the financial burden, allowing our students to focus wholeheartedly on their studies and personal growth.”

According to a CalYOUTH study from 2020, one quarter of former California foster youth surveyed experienced being unhoused between the ages of 21 and 23, with an additional 28% saying they couch surfed. That same study also found that 28.2% of former foster youth attending college would be qualified as being food insecure according to the USDA measures.

“Selecting Sacramento State as the pilot for this program was a natural choice, given the inspiring journey of Dr. Luke Wood, from dealing with extreme life pressures as a foster youth to his recent appointment as the university’s ninth president. His story resonates deeply with the work United Way has been doing for decades,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Earlier this year, Dr. Wood said his goal is for Sacramento State to have the largest enrollment of former foster youth in the country and be known for serving them. That commitment aligns with our longtime pledge to support foster youth in and out of the classroom. Together with Dr. Wood, United Way’s aim is to create an environment where these students can focus more on their studies and less on basic needs like housing, food and transportation.”

Funding for the Collegiate Guaranteed Income Program will come from United Way’s action group, Women United. This philanthropic network of women has been leveraging their passions, ideas, expertise and resources for more than 20 years to focus on their signature issue – ensuring foster youth are prepared for a successful transition to independence and adulthood. Since its founding more than two decades ago, Women United has raised more than $2 million for foster youth programming.

“As a member of Women United and a former foster youth myself, I know this new Collegiate Guaranteed Income Program will be a huge benefit to these students who have faced adversity throughout their lives,” said September Hargrove, United Way California Capital Region board liason for Women United, and JPMorgan Chase executive director of community banking for Northern California. “Obtaining your degree isn’t easy, however doing so while under extreme life pressures, whether it be food, housing, transportation or family issues, makes that such a challenge. For every former foster youth like Dr. Wood and myself who obtained their degrees, there are many more who drop out due to those life pressures causing economic insecurities. The hope is that this program will give these students a helping hand in dealing with those pressures.”  

The Collegiate Guaranteed Income Program brings together United Way’s experience working with foster youth with its expertise in guaranteed income. United Way launched the first Guaranteed Income Program of its kind in the California Capital Region in July 2021, following that up with a second round of funding for additional recipients in March 2023 with the City of Sacramento, and again in November 2023 with County of Sacramento Supervisors Phil Serna (District 1) and Patrick Kennedy (District 2) and Sierra Health Foundation. 

“I feel blessed, thankful and cherished, and a lot of foster youth don’t get to feel that way from many people, so to feel that from strangers is an amazing and surreal feeling,” said Jaliyah, one of the former foster youth who will benefit from United Way’s Collegiate Guaranteed Income Program. “I’m going to use these funds to pay for groceries because they’re expensive, and to fix my car because I need it to get to school. It will also help me pay for classes for next semester, so I’m ecstatic.”

California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State), is a four-year, regional comprehensive university located in the capital of the state with the fifth-largest economy in the world. As part of the California State University system, which is the largest public university in the world, Sacramento State is the sixth-largest campus with over 31,000 students, 91% of whom are undergraduates. Sacramento State’s mission is to “transform lives by preparing students for leadership, service, and success.” Sacramento State is a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI).

Founded in 1923, United Way California Capital Region has been a transformative force in the Sacramento community for more than a century, serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way’s Square One approach to ending poverty is grounded in a public health model and uses a threefold strategy to address community needs from birth and beyond: helping kids excel in school, investing in families and strengthening schools. At United Way’s core is the philosophy that families possess the blueprint for their success. United Way supplies books to young children, provides literacy tutoring, addresses housing and food security, leads the region’s largest tax preparation initiative and launched Sacramento’s first guaranteed income program. United Way works across diverse school districts, providing case management for foster youth and leading the Community Schools initiative in West Sacramento. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org

Mikuni Donates $5K to Make It Happen for Yolo County

Taro Arai of Mikuni Charitable Organization tours Make it Happen for Yolo County’s storage units in Davis

Mikuni Charitable Organization recently donated $5,000 to ensure local under-resourced transition age youth can successfully live independently through services provided by nonprofit Make It Happen for Yolo County. The donation will help Make It Happen provide furniture, appliances and other essential household items needed to establish a first home.  

“Mikuni continues to be one of our most steadfast donors and ardent advocates for youth in Yolo County,” said Cathi Schmidt, executive director, Make It Happen for Yolo County. “We are so thankful to Mikuni for using its important profile as one of our region’s top restaurants to provide support for the youth in our community who need it most.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Make It Happen for Yolo County provides local transition age youth ages 18-24, many of whom have been in foster care or experienced homelessness, with furniture, appliances and household items needed to move into their first apartments. The nonprofit receives furniture donations from the community and purchases new appliances and household items to help youth involved with the Yolo County child welfare, mental health and probation divisions, as well as the UC Davis Guardian Scholars program and other local nonprofits. Since its founding in 2014, Make It Happen for Yolo County has helped more than 250 transition age youth. To make a financial or furniture donation, visit MIHYolo.org.

“I am deeply moved by the challenges impacting the lives of youth who face homelessness or foster care,” said Taro Arai of Mikuni Charitable Organization. “Providing these resilient young adults with essential household items as they embark on their journey to independent living is not just a gesture of support; it’s an investment in their future. We are profoundly grateful to Make It Happen for Yolo County. Their commitment reflects a shared belief in empowering our youth and fostering a community where everyone can thrive.”

Mikuni Charitable Organization maintains an ongoing focus on helping to improve and enrich the lives of people who live locally. Mikuni regularly sponsors events to raise funds for nonprofits, donating more than $4.5 million to more than 500 nonprofits. For more information, visit MikuniSushi.com/Community

Sip and Paint to Benefit Make It Happen for Yolo County

Local residents are invited to Sip and Paint, a wine and painting fundraiser at the Pence Gallery in Davis on April 6 to benefit Make It Happen for Yolo County. The local nonprofit works with transition age youth ages 16-24 across Yolo County, many of whom have been in foster care or experienced homelessness. Funds raised will help the local nonprofit provide furniture, household goods, cleaning supplies and essential items needed to establish a first home.

Sip and Paint guests will enjoy wine, beer and other beverages as they create a painting guided by Davis artist and teacher Joanne Andresen from 2:30-6:00 p.m. Small bites also will be served. Cost per ticket is $75, and tables of four are available for $300. Seating is limited, and tickets can be purchased at MIHYolo.org.

“We are excited to bring the community together for this fun event that will ensure we can serve even more under-resourced transition age youth in Yolo County who are moving out on their own this year,” said Cathi Schmidt, executive director, Make It Happen for Yolo County. “We hope to meet new friends and raise awareness as we gather for an afternoon of wine and painting with the incomparable Joanne Andresen. Everyone will go home with a beautiful painting in hand and a warm heart knowing that they have invested in the future of this particularly vulnerable population that is often overlooked.”

Event sponsors include the Pence Gallery, Nugget Markets, Holly’s Hill Vineyards and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Make It Happen for Yolo County receives furniture donations from the community and purchases new appliances and household items to help transition age youth referred from Yolo County child welfare services, mental health and probation divisions, as well as the UC Davis Guardian Scholars program and other local groups involved with this population. Since its founding in 2014, Make It Happen for Yolo County has helped more than 250 transition age youth. To make a financial or furniture donation, visit MIHYolo.org.

Tickets on Sale for United Way Gala in April

Dawnte Early of United Way wears a sparkly dress and pulls a confetti burster with a child in front of balloons

 Community members are invited to come together on April 20 for an evening of impact at United Way California Capital Region’s United in Purpose Gala, presented by U.S. Bank. The event, which will take place at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, will raise funds toward United Way’s Anniversary Goal to raise $3 million to help 10,000 local children excel in school by 2025. The evening will include dinner, an inspirational program, fund a need, silent and live auctions, Golden Ticket Raffle, VIP reception with a chance to win a trip to New Orleans, and more. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities: http://www.uwccr.org/gala.

“The United in Purpose Gala is more than just a celebration; it’s an opportunity for us to come together as a community and make a tangible impact on the lives of local children,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “With your support, we know our ambitious goal of raising $3 million to help 10,000 children excel in school by 2025 is entirely achievable. Together, we can create a brighter future for our children and build a stronger, healthier, more compassionate community.”

More than 450 community members came together last spring for United Way’s inaugural gala to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary and to raise $640,000 to help local children succeed in school.

Founded in 1923, United Way California Capital Region has been a transformative force in the Sacramento community for more than a century, serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way’s Square One approach to ending poverty is grounded in a public health model and uses a threefold strategy to address community needs from birth and beyond: helping kids excel in school, investing in families and strengthening schools. At United Way’s core is the philosophy that families possess the blueprint for their success. United Way supplies books to young children, provides literacy tutoring, addresses housing and food security, leads the region’s largest tax preparation initiative and launched Sacramento’s first guaranteed income program. United Way works across diverse school districts, providing case management for foster youth and leading the Community Schools initiative in West Sacramento. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $55K from U.S. Bank

Women’s Empowerment has received a $55,000 grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation to provide Sacramento women experiencing homelessness with job-readiness programs and paid job training so they can secure employment and safe housing for their families.

“U.S. Bank has been one of our most steadfast partners, and we are grateful that they continue to prioritize ending homelessness in Sacramento, one woman and one family at a time,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment.

Women’s Empowerment provides a two-month employment-readiness and empowerment program, paid job training, childcare and support services so women and their children can break the generational cycle of homelessness. Women’s Empowerment offers the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women experiencing homelessness and their children. In 2023, 165 jobs were secured by graduates, and 189 women either secured or maintained housing.

“Supporting the development of small businesses and a dynamic workforce is an investment in today and our future,” said Ashley Bocek, community affairs manager for Sacramento, U.S. Bank. “We’re proud to work with organizations like Women’s Empowerment to help people succeed in their careers and build thriving communities.”

U.S. Bank is committed to powering human potential and creating lasting change in communities through its Community Possible platform that includes philanthropy, community investments and team member volunteerism.

Since 2001, 1,854 women have graduated from Women’s Empowerment with their 3,837 children. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To make a donation: Womens-Empowerment.org.

U.S. Bancorp, with approximately 75,000 employees and $668 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, 2023, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company serves millions of customers locally, nationally and globally through a diversified mix of businesses including consumer banking, business banking, commercial banking, institutional banking, payments and wealth management. U.S. Bancorp has been recognized for its approach to digital innovation, community partnerships and customer service, including being named one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies and Fortune’s most admired superregional bank. U.S. Bank is committed to powering human potential and creating lasting change in communities through its Community Possible platform that includes philanthropy, community investments and team member volunteerism. To learn more, visit the U.S. Bancorp website at usbank.com and click on “About Us.”

Local Residents Can File Taxes for Free Through United Way

A woman who is a Free Tax Prep volunteer looks at forms on a table and takes notes

Local residents throughout the Sacramento region are eligible to file their taxes online or in person for free through United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Preparation program, which runs through April 15. Households that earned less than $66,000 in 2023 can file for free, and trained tax volunteers will help maximize cash back from state and federal credits, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). United Way’s Free Tax Preparation program saves participants an average of $200 in preparer fees. The program provides free tax help virtually and in person in multiple languages and locations. For more information or to begin filing, visit www.YourFreeTaxPrep.org or call 2-1-1 in Sacramento.

“Our Free Tax Preparation program is more than just a service, it’s a crucial lifeline for families, providing significant financial relief that can be used for immediate needs such as housing, food security, healthcare or even invested toward building long-term financial stability,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This program assists thousands of families in identifying and claiming tax credits they often don’t realize they’re entitled to, while also saving them more than $1 million in tax preparation fees, allowing them to put the money to use for their family’s needs.”

United Way recommends filing as early as possible to receive tax credits sooner. In 2023, more than 6,000 households filed their taxes through United Way’s Free Tax Preparation program and collectively received $8.8 million in tax credits. More than 200 program volunteers donated nearly 11,000 hours of their time helping people file taxes online or at more than 20 in-person sites across Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. More volunteers are needed this year. For more information about becoming a United Way Free Tax Preparation volunteer, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Founded in 1923, United Way California Capital Region has been a transformative force in the Sacramento community for more than a century, serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way’s Square One approach to ending poverty is grounded in a public health model and uses a threefold strategy to address community needs from birth and beyond: helping kids excel in school, investing in families and strengthening schools. At United Way’s core is the philosophy that families possess the blueprint for their success. United Way supplies books to young children, provides literacy tutoring, addresses housing and food security, leads the region’s largest tax preparation initiative and launched Sacramento’s first guaranteed income program. United Way works across diverse school districts, providing case management for foster youth and leading the Community Schools initiative in West Sacramento. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Seeks Gifts for Foster Family Holiday Market

Community members can help foster youth and their families in San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento by purchasing gifts and other needed items for United Way California Capital Region’s upcoming San JUANderful Holiday Party. Families attending the invitation-only event will have the opportunity to choose from gift cards, household items, shelf-stable groceries, toys and children’s clothes. Items are needed by Dec. 11 and can be purchased through United Way’s wishlists: www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org/HolidayGiving.

“At United Way, we believe families know what they need to thrive, and we are here to provide support,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We have been providing academic support to foster families in the San Juan Unified School District this year, and we are thrilled to offer this holiday market so the families we have worked with can choose gifts and other items that will best prepare their foster youth for success in school and later in life. We hope our community will join us in supporting these wonderful families during this holiday season.”

United Way’s Foster Youth Support program with San Juan Unified School District provides academic intervention and supportive services to district foster youth in kindergarten through eighth grade. Primarily funded through a grant from the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services, program staff works with each student and their team of caregivers, family, teachers and counselors to connect youth and caregivers to school and community resources, including transportation support, academic assistance, health services, behavioral health support, housing, food, clothing and more. United Way also provides literacy tutoring and homework support outside of school hours.

“Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, foster youth have shown remarkable resilience facing hurdles in academic achievement, lack of family support and challenges accessing necessary resources at school,” Dr. Early said. “Our local United Way has a long history of working with foster youth, providing literacy support and working in schools. This joint effort with the San Juan Unified School District adopts a whole-child focus that builds social and emotional wellbeing and provides trauma-informed support for youth and their families so they can succeed academically.”

Founded in 1923, United Way California Capital Region has been a transformative force in the Sacramento community for more than a century, serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way’s Square One approach to ending poverty is grounded in a public health model and uses a threefold strategy to address community needs from birth and beyond: helping kids excel in school, investing in families and strengthening schools. At United Way’s core is the philosophy that families possess the blueprint for their success. United Way supplies books to young children, provides literacy tutoring, addresses housing and food security, leads the region’s largest tax preparation initiative and launched Sacramento’s first guaranteed income program. United Way works across diverse school districts, providing case management for foster youth and leading the Community Schools initiative in West Sacramento. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Women’s Empowerment Holds Holiday Gift Drive

Local residents can provide joy and winter items to Sacramento women and children who have experienced homelessness by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s annual Holiday Gift Drive. The nonprofit is seeking winter hats, socks and gloves for all ages from infant to adult, as well as teen gifts, $25 Target and Walmart gift cards, holiday candy, and empty medium and large gift bags. For those who prefer to make a financial donation, the average cost of a gift package is $40, but any amount is helpful. Women’s Empowerment especially needs gift cards, gifts for teens, and winter hats for teens and adults. Items are needed at Women’s Empowerment, 1590 North A Street in Sacramento, by Dec. 11. For more information, visit www.womens-empowerment.org.

“The holidays can be especially challenging for the women and children we serve who are working to overcome homelessness,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We want the women and children in our program to experience joy this holiday season, as well as warmth in the face of a cold, wet winter. Our annual Holiday Gift Drive not only gives people the chance to provide care and hope for those who have been unhoused, it tells each woman and child in our program that they are important to their community.”

Items will be distributed to families at Women’s Empowerment’s upcoming Holiday Craft Party in mid-December where women and children will create gifts for family and friends. At the event, mothers also will have the opportunity to choose gifts for their children, thanks to a toy drive being held by California State Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, District 6.

“At Women’s Empowerment, we believe there is dignity in giving,” Culp said. “So often unhoused women and children do not have the resources to give gifts to their loved ones. We are grateful that this community helps us ensure they have that joyful and proud experience of giving.”

Women’s Empowerment provides a two-month employment-readiness and empowerment program, paid job training, childcare and support services so women and their children can break the generational cycle of homelessness. Women’s Empowerment offers the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women experiencing homelessness and their children. Last year, 121 graduates secured employment or enrolled in paid training or education. Since 2001, 1,837 women have graduated from the program with their 3,894 children. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To make a donation: Womens-Empowerment.org.

United Way Takes on Sacramento Housing Crisis

United Way California Capital Region is now directly addressing Sacramento’s housing crisis with the formation of its new Community Support Services department that will include housing navigation services through the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal program (CalAIM) for people on Medi-Cal who are unhoused or at risk of losing housing.

“Our local United Way has always focused on our community’s biggest needs, and currently the housing predicament we are in is so great that we know we have to do our part to help those impacted by rising rent costs and increased risks of being unhoused,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We are investing in our families and utilizing this program as another tool in our box, ensuring those who are unhoused, or at risk of being unhoused, and on Medi-Cal, can get the help and resources they need to find or maintain housing.”

United Way’s housing navigation program works with local individuals and families currently unhoused or at risk of being unhoused to help them find housing, receive deposit assistance and sustain their housing. Through referrals, the program’s housing navigator works with each eligible client to identify barriers and housing needs, find housing options, assist in the application process, and obtain assistance for move-in costs such as security deposits, first and last month’s rent, utility deposits and medically necessary aids. Once suitable housing is determined, United Way works with newly housed clients to identify the root causes of them being unhoused or at risk of being unhoused, and then address their needs and goals to maintain stable housing, including health care, education, substance use treatment, financial literacy or counseling services.

“United Way is proud to enter this important space helping Sacramento residents embark on a path of sustainable housing,” Early said. “We understand that to eliminate poverty, education is key to building a stronger, healthier and more compassionate Capital Region. For kids to excel in school, they cannot be worried about where they are going to sleep at night. That’s why this investment in local families is important both in the fight to end this housing crisis and to build future opportunities for children to break the cycle of poverty.”

Housing navigation program participants must live in Sacramento County, be unhoused or at risk of losing housing, and be a Medi-Cal member with Health Net, Molina Healthcare or Anthem Blue Cross. For more information or to make a referral, visit https://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/our-work/invest-in-families/housing-navigation/.

Founded in 1923, United Way California Capital Region has been a transformative force in the Sacramento community for more than a century, serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. The local United Way’s Square One approach to ending poverty is grounded in a public health model and uses a threefold strategy to address community needs from birth and beyond: helping kids excel in school, investing in families and strengthening schools. At United Way’s core is the philosophy that families possess the blueprint for their success. United Way supplies books to young children, provides literacy tutoring, addresses housing and food security, leads the region’s largest tax preparation initiative and launched Sacramento’s first guaranteed income program. United Way works across diverse school districts, providing case management for foster youth and leading the Community Schools initiative in West Sacramento. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.