United Way and City of Sac Partner to Offer Free Broadband, Computers and Training During Pandemic

Up to 10,000 Sacramento households affected by the pandemic, particularly low-income households with children and seniors, will receive free broadband access this fall through a new pilot program launched by the City of Sacramento and United Way California Capital Region. Funded through the federal CARES Act, the Digital Equity program also will provide free computers to up to 1,000 households as well as digital literacy training on how to use the technology. To qualify, an applicant must be a City of Sacramento resident and eligible for public assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Medicaid or WIC. To apply and learn more, call 211 or visit  sacramentocovidrelief.org/digital.

The Digital Equity program aims to address unequal access to technology, known as the digital divide, which has expanded during the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected our low-income communities and made it even more crucial that we close the digital divide,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Providing reliable Internet access to families in Sacramento means more children can learn and more adults can work or take advantage of education and retraining that will help them succeed in today’s job market.”

Participating households will receive broadband at no cost through December and will be offered service through the Comcast Internet Essentials program at a discounted rate after that. Households receiving computers will be offered refurbished Dell Chromebooks. The program will contract with community-based nonprofits and school districts to provide outreach, identify households in need and house “digital champions” who will work on outreach, case management and training in targeted geographic areas. Digital champions are community residents with technology skill sets who are trained to help households with broadband application and provide basic digital literacy education.

“The pandemic has brought the digital inequities in our community to the forefront, and I am happy to see our city working to provide residents with access to Internet and computers to be able to learn, work and stay connected with others,” said Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby. “This program will help close these digital gaps by providing equipment, connection and digital literacy to those most in need.”

Of the more than 24 million unconnected households nationwide, the digital divide  disproportionately affects minority and low-income populations. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 35 percent of adults who do not use broadband at home are older, poorer, less educated, more likely to be a racial or ethnic minority, and more likely to have a disability than those with a home connection.

 “We are honored to partner with the city to provide Sacramento residents in need with equal access to the technology necessary to succeed during the pandemic,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This project is an important element of United Way’s Square One Project that is working to make sure families have the tools and resources they need so kids can graduate from high school ready for success in college or career. There is no doubt that Internet access and technology will play an increasingly vital role in kids’ success in school.”

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.

Six Women Graduate From Women’s Empowerment During Pandemic

Six women once homeless gathered with staff at Women’s Empowerment for a ceremony earlier this month to celebrate their graduation from the seven-week employment-readiness and empowerment program for women experiencing homelessness in Sacramento. Most Women’s Empowerment graduation ceremonies include nearly 100 guests – family members, friends, donors, volunteers and more – but despite the lack of audience and much smaller class size, the ceremony still meant the same for each individual. Each of the women had risen from homelessness and is now in housing – half having already secured jobs, despite the pandemic raging across Sacramento County.

“For many of us, the world feels upside down with the pandemic and stay-at-home order,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, in her ceremony speech. “But when the women here today were homeless, their world felt more than upside down. They thought their world was over. Homelessness is isolating in a way no one can understand who is quarantining in a safe home. But the women of Session 79 found each other and lept over the obstacles of being homeless during a pandemic to emerge triumphant.”

Session 79 was originally scheduled to begin in April but was postponed due to the stay-at-home order. Adhering to social distancing recommendations, Women’s Empowerment accepted only a third of its usual number of participants into the session that began in late June. Each participant worked one-on-one with a master’s level social worker and employment specialist, both on staff at Women’s Empowerment. She attended a range of classes on job-readiness, financial literacy, computer skills, empowerment and more – many taught virtually by skilled volunteers from the community. She received health services and could join support groups and receive legal help, as needed. All graduates of Women’s Empowerment are eligible for its graduate services, which include paid job training programs.

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 1,687 homeless women and their 3,792 children. Last year, 70 percent of graduates found homes in the midst of the housing crisis, and 79 percent secured jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes, support services and paid job training to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.  

United Way COVID Relief Fund Helps 1,145 Local Families

In a span of three months, United Way California Capital Region’s COVID-19 Local Relief Fund raised $572,000 to provide 1,145 families in need across the region with a one-time $500 distribution to help offset costs of rent, bills and other basic needs. United Way worked with 11 nonprofit partners in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties to identify low-income families whose lives were disrupted by the pandemic and ensure they received the help they needed. The fund closed at the end of June, but the structure remains in place in case of a second wave.

“Stories continue to pour in from families across our region who have received help through our Local Relief Fund,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “The vast majority of those we served lost income during the stay-at-home order and needed help paying rent and bills. With so many families in our region just one paycheck away from homelessness, gifts to our fund helped avert an immediate crisis for these families and our community.”

The fund’s nonprofit partners included 3 Strands Global Foundation, Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency, Birth and Beyond, Black Child Legacy Campaign Neighborhood Centers, Empower Yolo, International Rescue Committee, Kids First, Lighthouse Community Counseling, Opening Doors, RISE Inc. and Yolo County Children’s Alliance.

In addition to individual and corporate donations to the fund, all dollars donated to Donate4Sacramento’s Support Families area were distributed to Sacramento families through United Way’s fund. For a full list of donors to the Local Relief Fund, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

“It’s very meaningful to me to receive this funding because I can continue paying my bills and provide food and clothing for my children,” said Nayely, a Local Relief Fund recipient in Sacramento. “When I learned that the funds come from people in the city, I was very grateful to see how they care about the community and that they are always willing to help others during hard times.”

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.

Koinonia Teaches Laser Cutting to Foster Girls Thanks to Soroptimist Greater Sac

Koinonia Homes for Teens in Loomis has received the $10,000 Big Dream Endowment Grant from Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento to teach laser cutting to girls in foster care. Koinonia, a residential program for foster youth, has used the grant to purchase a Universal Laser System laser cutter for its onsite Tech Center that is teaching foster youth in-demand job skills so they can compete with peers who have not experienced foster care.

“We are so grateful to Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento for recognizing the amazing potential of the girls in our program,” said Bill Ryland, director, Koinonia Homes for Teens. “This laser cutter is an essential piece of equipment that allows our Tech Center to teach teen girls a viable occupation in the manufacturing, trades and engineering fields. Given all they go through at a young age, our young ladies are capable and worthy of an opportunity to achieve.”

The laser cutter uses a laser beam to create patterns and designs in a variety of materials including glass, wood and metal – technology that is used in a variety of industries. Participating foster youth receive creative assignments to learn how to use the design program CorelDRAW, a universal control panel and the laser cutter.

“This is the largest Endowment Fund grant our club has awarded to date, and the club membership was delighted to have the funds go to such a worthy organization,” said Carol Little, CEO of Corporate Design Group, and past president and endowment fund volunteer with Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento. “We have been aware of the good work Koinonia does with foster youth, and we are excited to award funds for hands-on skills training toward job readiness to support the future success of these young women.”

Through Koinonia’s Tech Center, foster youth also take classes on networking, professional presentation and life skills, and are introduced to certificate programs, degree programs and job training.

“We have foster youth who come through our doors and have never stopped to think about what they will do in their future,” Ryland said. “We find the teens who come to us are concentrating on survival rather than what they would like to do as a career. Teaching teens career choices creates the basis of self-reliance, improving overall outcomes.”

Koinonia Homes for Teens, a division of Koinonia Family Services, has eight homes located in Placer and Sacramento counties, a Placer County Office of Education WASC-accredited School and a 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. For more information and to make a donation, visit http://teens.kfh.org.

Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento is an organization of business and professional women who strive to improve the lives of women and children domestically and internationally through grants and community outreach programs. For more information, visit www.sacramentosoroptimists.org.

Sac Life Center See Dad Run Event Raises Nearly $13,000

Local residents raised $12,915 for Sacramento’s low-income pregnant women and teens on Father’s Day weekend through the Sacramento Life Center’s See Dad Run virtual fundraiser that gave people the chance to walk or run where and when they wanted as individuals or teams.

“This was such a fun event and a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise while honoring dads and helping pregnant women in need,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Thank you to everyone who participated. Even as we face this pandemic, the Sacramento region still knows the importance of community coming together to help those most in need.”

Some participants and teams chose to hike their favorite trails at William Pond Park in Carmichael or Tahoe National Forest, while others walked around their neighborhood. Dr. Timothy Phelan ran 25 miles from his practice in Folsom to the Sacramento Life Center in the Arden area. Teams that raised $200 or more received ice cream for four at Leatherby’s Family Creamery.

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.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $10K from SMUD

Women’s Empowerment recently received $10,000 from SMUD’s Sustainable Communities initiative to provide workforce development skills, paid job training and housing search assistance for women experiencing homelessness. 

 “We are grateful to SMUD for recognizing that communities are only sustainable when women and their families have a safe home and a stable income,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “SMUD’s generous donation will help us ensure women and their children have homes and jobs, especially during this pandemic.”

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 1,681 homeless women and their 3,792 children. Last year, 70 percent of graduates found homes in the midst of the housing crisis, and 79 percent secured jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes, support services and paid job training to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

“Our goal is to enhance the lives of those living in our community, and our Sustainable Communities Initiative focuses on those with the greatest need,” said Shiloh Costello, SMUD manager of Sustainable Communities.  “We are proud to help an organization that directly impacts hundreds of women and families in our area as they work to become self-sufficient.”

SMUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative aligns with SMUD’s core purpose and vision to enhance the quality of life for all customers through innovative energy solutions. The program helps bring environmental equity and economic vitality to communities in SMUD’s service area, with special attention given to historically underserved neighborhoods. For more information, visit SMUD.org.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $15K From State Farm

Women’s Empowerment recently received $15,000 from State Farm to provide financial literacy and paid job training for women experiencing homelessness. Women’s Empowerment is one of the only nonprofits in Sacramento providing paid job training to women who are homeless.

“Paid job training is essential for women trying to rise from homelessness who need extra skills but also need a paycheck,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are grateful to State Farm for recognizing the critical gap these paid training programs fill, and for ensuring women are already financially literate when they receive their first paycheck.”

Women’s Empowerment’s Get A Job Kit paid training program is geared toward women with high barriers to employment and includes education and training in the field, assembly work, sales, customer service and job search assistance. The nonprofit’s REstart paid job training program provides training in property management, a field that often includes housing onsite. In partnership with the Institute of Real Estate Management Sacramento, Women’s Empowerment provides trainees with professional curriculum, job shadowing and property management certificates upon passing the exam.

Women’s Empowerment’s financial literacy program is woven into the group’s job-readiness program and provides financial empowerment courses, including budgeting, improving credit score and second chance checking. Classes focus on six financial capability behaviors: spending, saving, borrowing, visioning, protecting and maximizing income.

“Providing women with the opportunity to reach their full potential is key to building strong communities,” said State Farm Agent Moira Little. “We are honored to join Women’s Empowerment and help bring real change and stability to women and their families.”

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 1,681 homeless women and their 3,792 children. Last year, 70 percent of graduates found homes in the midst of the housing crisis, and 79 percent secured jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes, support services and paid job training to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.  

State Farm and the State Farm Companies Foundation focus charitable grants on nonprofit initiatives that build safer, stronger and better-educated communities. For more information about State Farm’s community involvement: StateFarm.com/About-Us/Community-Involvement.

See Dad Run to Benefit Sac Life Center

Local residents can walk or run where and when they want on Father’s Day weekend and raise funds for Sacramento’s low-income pregnant women and teens through the Sacramento Life Center’s See Dad Run fundraiser. The event will take place on June 20 and will allow for social distancing by giving participants the chance to hike their favorite trail or walk around the block, either as an individual or a team. Those who raise $200 or more will receive ice cream for four at Leatherby’s Family Creamery. Registration is $10 per individual or $25 per team. To sign up and create your personal fundraising page – or to make a donation – visit SeeDadRun.com.

“This is such a great way to honor the dads in our lives while getting out in the fresh air and doing some good for our community,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Together, we can do so much for the pregnant women and teens in need in our community.”

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.

Sac Life Center Partnership Receives $75K From Dignity Health

Sacramento Life Center, WellSpace Health and Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home have created a partnership to provide a continuum of care for women and teens from the Arden area who are low-income and pregnant, resulting in a recent $75,000 grant from Dignity Health. The collaborative will help approximately 450 pregnant women and teens in the Arden area have the care they need to transition to parenthood, including a healthy pregnancy, safe home and parenting support. As needed, women will receive pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, assistance signing up for Medi-Cal presumptive eligibility, prenatal and postnatal medical care, pediatric care, housing, parenting education, diapers, clothing, formula and more. Sacramento Life Center and WellSpace Health will receive $30,000 each, and Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home will receive $15,000.

“This partnership has found an innovative way to quickly help pregnant women and teens in need receive an array of services,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Through this collaborative, we will significantly increase the number of pregnant women in the Arden area who have access to prenatal care and other wraparound services that will ensure each woman has a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery and support system in place once the baby is born.”

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 SVPClinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit SacLife.org.

WellSpace Health is a nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center that has provided care and support to individuals and families since 1953. WellSpace Health offers a full range of high-quality medical care, dental care, behavioral health and supportive services to everyone. WellSpace Health is accredited by The Joint Commission for Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health and certified by the Joint Commission as a Patient Centered Health Home and a Behavioral Health Home.

Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home in Sacramento is a home for women over the age of 18 who are pregnant and in need of shelter, food, safety, comfort and support during their pregnancy and for a short time afterward. For more information or to make a donation, visit BGMHSacramento.org.

Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health care systems, is a multi-state network of 10,000 physicians, more than 60,000 employees, 41 acute care hospitals and 400-plus care-centers including neighborhood hospitals, urgent care, surgery and imaging centers, home health and primary care clinics. Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health is dedicated to providing compassionate, high-quality and affordable patient-centered care with special attention to the poor and underserved. In fiscal year 2019, Dignity Health provided more than $1.1 billion in patient financial assistance, unreimbursed costs of Medicaid, community health improvement services and other community benefits. For more information, visit DignityHealth.org.

United Way Offering Virtual Free Tax Help

With the tax deadline extended to July 15, households throughout the Sacramento region are still eligible for free virtual 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 is partnering with GetYourRefund.org to provide virtual assistance. More households are eligible to participate through the partnership – those earning $66,000 or less in 2019. Qualified households can upload documents online and a United Way IRS-certified volunteer will call  them to help claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible before submission, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). To get started: GetYourRefund.org/?s=UWCCR.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region were a paycheck away from homelessness before the pandemic hit – that number is going to rise in the coming months,” 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.”

Age qualification for CalEITC 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 CalEITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits.

This tax year, California introduced the new Young Child Tax Credit. To qualify for the credit, taxpayers must be able to claim a child under age 6 on their 2019 tax return and have earned less than $30,000 for the year. The Young Child Tax Credit can increase the state refund by an additional $1,000.

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 CalEITC refunds. With new increases to CalEITC 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.