Nonprofit News

Yolo Groups Team Up with Make It Happen for Yolo County

The West Plainfield 4H Club and Discovery Christian Church in Davis recently worked with nonprofit Make It Happen for Yolo County to conduct service projects to help transition age youth in need, generally defined as ages 18-24 and predominantly foster youth, furnish their homes and become successful first-time renters. Discovery Christian Church sent a volunteer group of 10 in late May to deep clean and reorganize the four Make It Happen furniture storage units in Davis. Two weeks later, four members of West Plainfield 4H Club purchased and assembled furniture as a life skills project to donate to transition age youth.

“We can’t thank the West Plainfield 4H Club and Discovery Christian Church enough for their generosity of time and resources to help the amazing youth we serve,” said Jan Judson, board president, Make It Happen for Yolo County. “Partnerships like these not only are vital to the work we do, they also show our clients that there is a community that cares about them and their success in life.”

The West Plainfield 4H Club life skills component is designed to help teens explore and learn skills for when they become independent. For the project, the club members, who range in age from 10th-12th grades and live in Woodland and Davis, secured funding, shopped according to a budget and assembled the furniture. 

“Because 4H also focuses on giving back to the community, many projects like this one have a service element,” said Laura Warner, co-leader, West Plainfield 4H Club. “The fact that the activity served their peer group made it all the more meaningful.”

Volunteers with Discovery Christian Church helped prepare the storage units for the furniture donation from 4H by cleaning them from top to bottom and reorganizing the furniture and household goods already being stored in the units.

Make It Happen for Yolo County is a volunteer-run nonprofit providing transition age youth in Yolo County with the furnishings, household goods and resources needed to move into their first apartments. The group 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. Since its founding in 2014, Make It Happen for Yolo County has helped more than 100 Yolo County transition age youth. To make a financial or furniture donation, visit mihyolo.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K From Union Bank

Society for the Blind recently received $15,000 from the MUFG Union Bank Foundation to provide alternative independent living and employment skills for youth and working-age adults with vision loss so they can continue their career paths or begin employment. The grant will fund the group’s employment services that include its core blindness skills program and its CareersPLUS program with tracks for youth and adults.

“Though unemployment skyrocketed during the pandemic, most people are surprised to hear that unemployment for people with vision loss has been a whopping 70 percent for decades,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “At Society for the Blind, we always say that people with vision loss can still do almost anything they want – they just have to adapt to do it another way. The same is true in the workplace. We are grateful to the MUFG Union Bank Foundation for helping us expand our employment training skills so we can raise the number of people with vision loss who are gainfully employed.”

Through its core blindness skills program, Society for the Blind offers orientation and mobility training to help people navigate with and without a white cane, computers and assistive technology training, Braille literacy, and alternative techniques for cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. Society for the Blind’s CareersPLUS program includes tracks for youth and adults, providing comprehensive, age-appropriate career readiness, career exploration activities, workshops and a mentor program for teens and young adults experiencing vision loss. Society for the Blind has been expanding its employment-readiness program for youth and working-age adults, even more rapidly when the pandemic hit and services became remote. In addition to its in-house programs, the group is now partnering with the Blind Institute of Technology in Colorado.

“Helping provide these adaptive skills greatly enhances the opportunities for success in career and life for these individuals,” said Ashley Abenoja-Bocek, MUFG Union Bank Foundation relationship manager for Northern California. “Additionally, this assists the business communities with developing qualified local talent to meet their growing needs.”

For 67 years, 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 nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The MUFG Union Bank Foundation strives to builder stronger communities around the world in providing financial and volunteer resources and business expertise in the areas of affordable housing, community economic and youth development, social services and environmental stewardship. Initiatives include strengthening diversity, inclusion and social justice programs in many communities served.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $45K in Grants from Kaiser and State Farm

Women’s Empowerment in Sacramento recently received a $25,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs and a $20,000 grant from State Farm to fund employment readiness and paid job training for Sacramento women experiencing homelessness. The grant from Kaiser also will support Women’s Empowerment’s recovery and domestic violence learning and support groups. The grant from State Farm also will fund financial literacy curriculum. Women’s Empowerment is celebrating 20 years of helping women experiencing homelessness find homes and jobs. The group celebrated its 1,700th graduate in March.

“This is a milestone year for Women’s Empowerment, and we would not be here without the generous funding of local companies and foundations that are committed to ending homelessness for women and children in Sacramento,” said Lisa Culp, founding executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are grateful to Kaiser and State Farm for recognizing the important work we do and for understanding that new barriers continue to arise for women experiencing homelessness. Our partners are ensuring Sacramento women and thir children can still rise from homelessness amidst a pandemic, high unemployment and housing crisis.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment provides a full eight-week employment-readiness and empowerment program, paid job training, childcare and support services so all women and their children can break the cycle of homelessness. 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 experiencing homelessness, and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,702 women and their 3,792 children. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

Local United Way President and CEO to Step Down

Stephanie McLemore Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region, will leave her position in mid-April as she transitions to her new role as chief engagement officer for Seattle Foundation in May. Amber Lovett, chief resource development and marketing officer at United Way California Capital Region, will transition to interim president and CEO on April 1 while the organization undergoes a nationwide search.

“It has been a privilege to lead United Way California Capital Region for the past seven years,” Bray said. “I am proud of our work to end poverty, starting at school, by removing barriers to student success for low-income children. Through our partnerships with nonprofits, government, school districts, donors and community members, we have helped many families move from crisis to thriving. Our local United Way is well-positioned for its next leader to continue that great work.” 

Bray launched United Way’s Square One Project in 2015, which continues to show improved education outcomes for low-income children in the region. She also completed a successful merger with Woodland United Way and brought in more than $16 million since March 2020, including a $10 million gift from renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

As chief engagement officer for Seattle Foundation, the Seattle region’s community foundation, Bray will oversee engagements and relationships with the organization’s hundreds of philanthropists, investors and donors. With more than $1 billion in charitable assets and committed bequests, Seattle Foundation awards more than $100 million annually to nonprofit organizations working to make Greater Seattle a stronger, more vibrant community for all.

“Stephanie has been a tireless advocate for people who are marginalized in the greater Sacramento area, and Seattle is fortunate to have her join the community,” said Steve Lins of SMUD and chair of United Way’s board of directors. “We are grateful for all she has done for United Way, and we know she is leaving us in an outstanding position to continue accomplishing important change in our community under a new leader.”

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.

Sac Life Center Receives $15K in Grants

The Sacramento Life Center has received grants of $10,000 from American River Bank and $5,000 from Kelly Foundation to provide free health care, resources and needed items for Sacramento-area low-income pregnant women and new moms as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021.

“Because of the pandemic and resulting unemployment, we are seeing double the number of patients needing items from our baby needs closet, as well as increased demand for our free maternal health care during and after pregnancy and Medi-Cal sign-up assistance,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are grateful to Kelly Foundation and American River Bank for recognizing the needs of pregnant women and new moms in our community during this trying time and giving so generously.”

The Sacramento Life Center provides free health care services, including pregnancy tests, STI tests, ultrasounds, well woman exams and more. Every woman who comes into the center meets with a patient advocate to determine resources and supports needed, from housing to food and clothing. For pregnant women who do not have health insurance, patient advocates help them enroll in Medi-Cal’s Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Women so they can have coverage when they go to a clinic for prenatal care. The center provides low-income pregnant women and new moms with supplies needed during pregnancy and for up to two years after birth, including prenatal vitamins, formula, diapers, wipes, baby clothing and more.

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 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.

Make It Happen Receives Save Mart Grant to Help Yolo Foster Youth

Make It Happen for Yolo County, a nonprofit serving at-risk youth ages 18-24, has received a grant of $2,500 from the Save Mart Companies C.A.R.E.S. Foundation to fully furnish five homes for local transition age youth in need, mostly foster youth, moving out on their own for the first time in 2021.

“When foster youth turn 18, California provides a stipend to them until they turn 21 to help pay rent when they move out on their own. However there is no support, financial or otherwise, that assists them with obtaining household goods or furnishing their homes,” said Jan Judson, board president, Make It Happen for Yolo County. “We are grateful to our community and generous partners like Save Mart for ensuring transition age youth in need have the resources to be successful first-time renters.”

Make It Happen for Yolo County works with county social workers to help clients complete a wish list of desired household items, and directly coordinates with clients to select items at the group’s storage units. Thanks to donated furniture from the community, it costs an average of $500 to fully provide for one home, including furnishings and appliances for a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area, as well as cleaning supplies.

Make It Happen for Yolo County is a volunteer-run nonprofit providing transition age youth (ages 18-24), predominantly foster youth, in Yolo County with the furnishings, household goods and resources needed to move into their first apartments. The group 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 for students who have experienced foster care. Since its founding in 2014, Make It Happen for Yolo County has helped more than 100 Yolo County transition age youth. To make a financial or furniture donation, visit MIHYolo.org.

Save Mart Companies C.A.R.E.S. Foundation supports community, arts, recreation, education and sports. The foundation was created by Save Mart Supermarkets and operates with a separate board of directors maintaining a separate focus on supporting the company’s principle of giving back to the communities it serves. For more information: www.savemart.com/save-mart-companies-cares-foundation.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $15K From Nationwide Foundation

Women’s Empowerment recently received a $15,000 grant from Nationwide Foundation to help women experiencing homelessness in Sacramento find employment and a safe home for themselves and their children. Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation are long-time partners of Women’s Empowerment, providing funding every year for the past 12 years.

“The Nationwide Foundation has been a steadfast and important partner in working to end family homelessness in Sacramento,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “This funding has allowed us to pivot our services over the years to meet the current challenges faced by women working to overcome homelessness. When the Great Recession hit, we created our paid job training programs to ensure our graduates would not fall back into homelessness. When the housing crisis intensified, we created our property management paid training program in a field that provides housing on the managed property. When the pandemic hit, we began creating new paid training programs in recession-resilient industries. Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation have always been by our side.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment provides a full eight-week employment-readiness and empowerment program, paid job training, childcare and support services so all women and their children can break the cycle of homelessness. 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 experiencing homelessness, and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,702 women and their 3,792 children. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

United Way Launches Literacy Effort, Needs Big Day of Giving Donations

United Way California Capital Region is launching a new literacy effort called STARS that pairs volunteers online with local kids learning to read. With the recent launch of the program, United Way California Capital Region will be raising funds for STARS on May 6, Big Day of Giving. Local residents are invited to participate by donating at various giving levels and sharing photos of themselves reading on social media.

“We know that if kids aren’t reading at grade level by fourth grade, they will have a hard time keeping up across multiple subjects for years to come,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Big Day of Giving is a great opportunity for community members to help local kids succeed in school and career and ultimately in life.”  

Though the STARS curriculum is funded by Union Pacific’s Community Ties, Big Day of Giving donations will help fund other costs of the program, including volunteer recruitment, background checks and supplies. To make a donation on Big Day of Giving or schedule a gift ahead of time starting April 22, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Big-Day-Giving. Participants also are invited to upload a photo reading a favorite book on social media using hashtags #BDOG2021 and #STARSLiteracy, and challenge friends to participate.

United Way’s STARS program already has paired nearly two dozen volunteers with children at Robla School District and CHOC housing sites in Yolo County to provide online tutoring through the platform Book Nook so kids struggling with literacy can reach grade level reading. Each student has already received an average of eight hours of tutoring and reading practice. The program will continue through the rest of the school year and will include a summer curriculum for children at the housing sites. United Way plans to expand STARS to additional schools in the fall and is in need of virtual volunteers year-round. For more information about STARS and to sign up to volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/STARS-0.

The local United Way has been helping children improve literacy for more than four years, most recently through its AARP Experience Corps program that paired retirees with children in schools before the pandemic hit.

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 Free Tax Help Shifts

United Way California Capital Region is shifting its free tax help program from virtual one-on-one assistance to virtual group assistance and a do-it-yourself option, due to a rise in demand and the new filing deadline of May 17. Eligible households can now visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org to file their taxes online for free by themselves or to sign up for a free April 10 Zoom webinar where United Way’s IRS-certified volunteers will assist the group in filing their taxes online. Space is limited in the Zoom session, so eligible residents should sign up as soon as possible. United Way’s virtual one-on-one appointments are booked through the rest of tax season.

Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $8,000 in credits. More households are eligible to participate in United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program this year, including those earning $65,000 or less in 2020. Qualified households can prepare tax returns online for free and claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC).

“After a year where many people lost employment and income, it’s more important than ever for households in our region to take advantage of this program that helps people save money on tax preparation fees and ensures they apply for the maximum refund and credits for which they are eligible,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This program is an important way for our community to jumpstart the local economy in 2021, and it’s a key element of our Square One Project that provides resources for local families so their children can graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or career.”

This year, more people are eligible to receive the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit, including qualifying ITIN holders, after Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1876. Households may be eligible for CalEITC if the taxpayer is at least 18 years old and the household earned less than $30,000 in 2020. 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.

Despite the deadline extension, experts recommend everyone files early, noting that many people do not realize that unemployment income may be taxable. Recent legislation exempts $10,200 of unemployment income received in 2020 for individuals with less than $150,000 of income. For those who have already filed, guidance will soon be provided by the IRS. Amended returns should not be filed at this time for these adjustments.

Filers also may qualify for the new Golden State Stimulus if they have filed their 2020 tax return and qualify for CalEITC or hold an ITIN and make less than $75,000. Filers must be California residents when the payment is issued and cannot be claimed as dependants.

United Way’s Free Tax Prep program was shifted online last year when the pandemic and stay-at-home order hit. Even with the pivot to virtual services, United Way’s Free Tax Prep volunteers filed 7,060 returns for the 2019 tax year and put $10.5 million back in the pockets of local families through federal refunds.

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 Announces First Wave of Community Funding From MacKenzie Scott Donation

United Way California Capital Region has approved a first wave of funding totaling $500,000 from the $10 million gift received in December from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The first wave of funding will help individuals and families in the region gain social and financial capital, support United Way’s digital equity work across the capital region, empower Sacramento residents to have a voice in a local redevelopment project and provide COVID-19 relief funding in Yolo County.

“We knew this gift from MacKenzie Scott would be a game-changer for our community, and I’m thrilled that we are able to begin distributing this much needed funding,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This first wave of funding will go a long way toward reaching the goals of our Square One Project that is working to provide family support and stability so kids can stay on track in school and graduate from high school prepared for success.”

$200,000 of the funding will go toward United Way’s Capital Region Independence Initiative that is providing direct investment in local individuals and families to amplify their financial and social capital. The initiative aims to address inequities in the region, increasing average monthly income, decreasing subsidies, improving children’s grades, increasing savings and improving families’ overall economic impact on the community through increased spending.

United Way is investing $150,000 of the funding in its digital equity work, with a match of $150,000 from SMUD over the next three years to fund local digital literacy and training programs, distribute laptops and hotspots to those in need, and address underlying factors that contribute to the digital divide. Working with community-based organizations, United Way will remove technological barriers to education and employment and build the digital capability of those in the community who are most acutely affected by the digital divide, prioritizing low-income households with children and senior citizens.

United Way will invest $50,000 in its work to give residents of Mirasol Village in Sacramento greater engagement and influence in its redevelopment and resettlement. United Way is working with residents to develop a comprehensive, results-driven plan based on a needs assessment and other data. The work will help residents self-advocate about how Mirasol Village is redeveloped, how the surrounding community is built and how they can reach their own life goals.

The first wave also is providing $100,000 in funding toward United Way’s Yolo County COVID-19 relief program, providing households in need in Yolo County with a one-time $500 payment. Local nonprofits will identify and qualify low-income families who are experiencing an increased financial hardship from unpaid leave due to isolation, care of a vulnerable or infected relative, loss of wages due to involuntary cancellation of work or unpaid leave due to school or daycare closures.

Scott chose the local United Way chapter to receive the $10 million gift in December because of the group’s work to fill basic needs while also addressing long-term systemic inequities that have deepened during the pandemic.

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.