Client News

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 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.

Make It Happen Receives $7,500 From Union Pacific

Make It Happen for Yolo County recently received a grant of $7,500 from Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program. The grant will help ensure transition age youth in Yolo County ages 18-24 who are at risk of becoming unhoused can be safe first-time renters during the ongoing housing crisis.

“Transition age youth are at high risk of homelessness due to low resources compared to teens and young adults leaving traditional living environments,” said Cathi Schmidt, executive director, Make It Happen for Yolo County. “If they have no resources to purchase new appliances, they are more likely to find used appliances with higher risk of fire or short-circuiting. If they are unable to furnish and care for their homes, they are more likely to be evicted or develop a poor rental history, especially during the housing crisis. We are grateful to Union Pacific for prioritizing these youth so they can be successful in college or career.”

Make It Happen for Yolo County provides local transition age youth, many of whom have been in foster care or experienced homelessness, with the furnishings, household goods and resources 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. Since its founding in 2014, Make It Happen for Yolo County has helped more than 200 transition age youth. To make a financial or furniture donation, visit MIHYolo.org.

“I was able to meet the caring people who started Make it Happen for Yolo County, and their work is at the core of Union Pacific’s objective to provide programs that focus on equity in access for underserved populations,” said Peggy Ygbuhay, senior director of public affairs, Union Pacific. “Union Pacific has a longstanding commitment to improve quality of life in the communities we serve and where our employees live and work. I am a Yolo County resident and take pride in my company’s civic leadership and philanthropy.”

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.

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.”

United Way Receives $150K from Sierra Health

United Way California Capital Region has received a grant of $150,000 from the Sierra Health Foundation’s Community Economic Mobilization Initiative to ensure future green job opportunities and training in the region are attainable and accessible for all communities, and to create a strategic housing fund.

“Historically, vital opportunities have passed by underserved and underresourced communities,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “With California’s unwavering focus on addressing the climate crisis, a pivotal moment has emerged for the Greater Sacramento community. United Way is dedicated to securing pathways to green job training and access, ensuring that this surge in employment leaves no community member behind. Through our partnership with Sierra Health Foundation and other statewide partners, we are supporting entry into the growing green job sector, a cornerstone in our efforts to uplift local families from the cycle of poverty. We are excited to work with our partners to promote a plan to develop sustainable industries and create equitable opportunities for all, and we are grateful to Sierra Health Foundation for entrusting us with these critical funds.”

Funding from the grant also will be used to address the Sacramento region’s immediate need for housing. United Way recently formed the new Community Support Services department that includes 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. Funding from Sierra Health will allow United Way to explore additional ways to take on the issue of housing in the capital region.

The Community Economic Mobilization Initiative by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation works to empower and uplift community organizations through inclusive economic development in their communities, cities and regions. The initiative’s goal is to help strengthen the ability of underserved and BIPOC-led community organizations to leverage public investments to address economic disparities. United Way joins 43 statewide partners in the initiative that has awarded $14 million toward community development and centering community in decisions.

“Economic progress is only meaningful if it’s equitable,” said Chet Hewitt, president and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation. “These partners will be at the forefront of California’s recovery and climate resilience efforts for years to come.” 

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 Teams with PNC to Expand Yolo Childhood Book Program

One thousand more Yolo County children will receive a free book every month from birth through age 5 from United Way California Capital Region, which manages the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Yolo County. The expansion is thanks to United Way’s corporate partner PNC and a $95,000 grant from PNC Foundation that will be matched dollar-for-dollar with funds from the California State Library.  

“PNC has done an incredible job with its PNC Grow Up Great® initiative to ensure preschool children get the skills they need to succeed later in life,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Part of our work at United Way is to create deep partnerships that ensure caring corporations like PNC can extend their mission into the community. Thanks to this partnership, a thousand more kids in Yolo County will start build a passion for reading and learning.”

According to the Yolo County Office of Education, only 5% of elementary and middle school students test at or above reading proficiency level. Nearly 45% of students are economically disadvantaged.

“We understand that achieving or surpassing early childhood literacy benchmarks is closely linked to a successful academic career, paving the way for improved employment prospects and the ability to disrupt the cycle of poverty,” Early said. “Through our partnership with PNC, we are dedicated to instilling a love for reading early in a child’s life. Research shows that children who struggle with reading proficiency by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. We make this investment in our community’s youth to not only foster a love for learning but to break the cycle of poverty in our region.”

Since 2004, PNC Grow Up Great  has helped prepare children from birth through age 5 for success in school and life, supporting programs, resources and experiences that plant the seeds for a lifetime of opportunities.

“As a community-focused bank and one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, we’re proud to partner with United Way to support Yolo County’s young readers and their families,” said Megan Schoettmer, PNC regional president for Northern California. “At PNC, we know early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make for our children and our communities.”

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through PNC Grow Up Great®, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life. For more information, visit www.PNCGrowUpGreat.com.

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.

Society for the Blind Announces Blindness Awareness Month in October

Nonprofit Society for the Blind in Sacramento is encouraging local residents to honor Blindness Awareness Month throughout October by participating in activities and supporting people with vision loss so they can gain the skills they need to stay independent and thrive.  

“Our clients tell us all the time that they thought their life was over when they began losing vision, but they discovered it was the beginning of a new chapter,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “During Blindness Awareness Month, we want to make sure everyone knows that people can live their best lives with vision loss or blindness when they have the right tools. If you are losing your vision, or you know someone who is, we have a wide array of classes and support that will help you build the skills you need, whether you are a child, working-age adult or senior.”

For nearly 70 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. Based in Sacramento, 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 and the state of Nevada. 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.

In addition to its onsite Low Vision Clinic and assistive technology store, Society for the Blind offers four core classes – orientation and mobility, independent living skills, computers and technology, and braille – to ensure people with vision loss can stay active, employed and living life to the fullest. The nonprofit also provides a program for seniors that includes retreats, support groups and activities such as yoga and cooking classes. For youth, Society for the Blind offers a job readiness program, after-school center and podcast team. The nonprofit also offers support groups for caregivers and parents of children with vision loss, as well as events open to the public.

To learn more or make a donation, visit www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

United Way Opens 3rd Round of Guaranteed Income

Local residents can apply for a third round of funding through United Way California Capital Region’s Guaranteed Income program, which will provide an additional 130 eligible households with $500 of unconditional guaranteed income each month for a year. Eligible applicants must live in Districts 1 or 2 in the County of Sacramento and meet household income requirements. The online application will be open until Oct. 31 at 11:59pm. Qualifying households will be selected randomly and confirmed by the end of November. First payments will begin in January 2024. For more information or to apply: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Guaranteed-Income.

“We know that $300 to $500 can mean the difference between staying in your home and becoming unhoused,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region. “Locally, families are losing their homes, wondering how to feed their families and who is going to watch their children while they work. They cannot afford to wait for assistance – they need it urgently. In collaboration with the County of Sacramento and Sierra Health Foundation, we are delivering this vital income support to county residents, safeguarding them from becoming unhoused, ensuring food security and relieving childcare burdens.”

United Way announced the new round of funding at a press conference with Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy (District 2) and community partner Sierra Health Foundation. County of Sacramento Supervisors Phil Serna (District 1) and Kennedy allocated $1 million in American Rescue Plan dollars, and Sierra Health Foundation made a donation to United Way, to help expand United Way’s Guaranteed Income program to Sacramento County residents for the third round.

“I am thrilled to join Supervisor Serna in supporting 130 Sacramento County families through our partnership with the local United Way’s Guaranteed Income program and Sierra Health Foundation,” Kennedy said. “These recipients are hardworking families often juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet. With this funding, we hope to provide them with more opportunities to lift themselves and their families up.”

United Way’s Guaranteed Income program is the first of its kind in the California Capital Region. United Way launched the program in July 2021 with a portion of the $10 million gift it received from renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in December 2020. In March, United Way announced a second round of funding, thanks to a $750,000 allocation of American Rescue Plan dollars from the City of Sacramento. The 80 households in the second round began receiving $500 a month in July and will continue to receive funding through June 2024.

“Today marks a celebration of community, inclusivity and hope as Sacramento County government, our local United Way and Sierra Health Foundation unite to forge a new path toward well-being for marginalized populations, especially those within BIPOC communities,” said Chet Hewitt, president and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation. “At Sierra Health Foundation, we are committed to reducing health disparities, and understand the toll that managing bills and supporting a family with insufficient resources can take on a family’s mental and physical health. This is why we recognized the importance of new policy frameworks that demonstrate how families that participate in path setting programs like this can create a healthy trajectory for their future.”

United Way is partnering with Sacramento State University to conduct a detailed study of the second and third rounds of households, including a comparative analysis. Data will be used to improve and expand the program.

For 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has been working to end poverty by creating stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities. Since 1923, the local United Way has raised more than $500 million to fight poverty in the region and help families succeed. The group now has a goal to raise $3 million to help 10,000 kids excel in school by 2025 as part of its work to end poverty for local families. The local United Way has found one place in each community to reach the most families in need: School is square one for ending poverty. United Way uses its Square One approach to end poverty for local families by helping children excel in school, investing in families, and strengthening schools with resources to address increased poverty and deep roots of racial inequality. For more information or to make a donation: www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.