Nonprofit News

Women’s Empowerment Receives $15K From Union Pacific

Women’s Empowerment has received $15,000 from Union Pacific’s Community Ties giving program to provide its job-readiness program, paid on-the-job training and other services for women who are homeless or recently have experienced homelessness.

“We are thankful to Union Pacific for providing much needed funds as we see a sharp spike in need from the pandemic,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “In addition to women who are currently experiencing homelessness, we are helping more than 150 graduates of our program who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and need additional training and services to compete for jobs during this time of high unemployment so they can stay in their homes.”

Women’s Empowerment’s programs combine employment readiness, self-esteem courses, health services and education, counseling, housing assistance, job placement and paid job training to help women overcome homelessness across diverse ages, races and cultures. 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 have experienced homelessness and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,697 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. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

Union Pacific’s Community Ties giving program works to build safe, prosperous and vibrant communities by investing in nonprofits and programs in the cities and towns in which Union Pacific operates and its employees live and work. For more than 150 years, Union Pacific has been committed to serving as an economic engine and improving the standard of life for millions across the country. For more information: www.up.com/aboutup/community/foundation/index.htm.

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott Donates $10M to Our Local United Way

MacKenzie Scott announced today that she has made a donation to United Way California Capital Region. The philanthropist chose the local United Way chapter to receive a $10 million gift because of the group’s work to fill basic needs while also addressing long-term systemic inequities that have deepened during the pandemic.

“This is a game-changer for our local United Way and our community as a whole,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “With a gift like this, we can expand our work to end poverty through our Square One Project so kids can succeed in school. This gift also will help us and our nonprofit partners provide more relief and forge a path toward recovery and resilience for our community. There truly are no words to express our gratitude to Ms. Scott. We are humbled and honored that she chose to invest in our work in the greater Sacramento area.”

Scott’s gift to United Way California Capital Region is part of the Giving Pledge she signed in 2019 to donate the majority of her wealth. Her donations to organizations across the country have focused in part on promoting economic parity, racial equity, public health and education. Scott is the former wife of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

“Last year I pledged to give the majority of my wealth back to the society that helped generate it, to do it thoughtfully, to get started soon, and to keep at it until the safe is empty,” Scott said in a Medium article she published in July. “There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people, and obstacles to countless others.”

United Way California Capital Region has invested more heavily in addressing inequities this year with the onset of the pandemic. The group raised $572,000 in three months through the United Way COVID-19 Local Relief Fund 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. Through a partnership with the City of Sacramento, United Way is working to bridge the digital divide that has widened during the pandemic, with a focus on low-income children and senior citizens. Through this Digital Equity Program, the partnership is providing free broadband access for up to 10,000 low-income Sacramento households, and free computers and digital literacy training for up to 1,000 Sacramento households. United Way also joined a partnership with the County of Sacramento to provide financial assistance to individuals and families in Sacramento County who are quarantined due to a positive COVID-19 test or are in isolation from being exposed to someone who has tested positive. 

“Our team has been working tirelessly to stretch our resources as far as possible to help families in our community through this difficult year,” Bray said. “We cannot thank our staff, donors and volunteers enough for their investment in our work that is now being recognized on a national stage. This gift has brought us to the next level, and we are grateful to have our community of supporters by our side as we expand our Square One Project to create stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities across the greater Sacramento region.”

United Way’s current work includes removing barriers to success in school for low-income students, helping families achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency, and providing support to youth who are transitioning out of foster care.  

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.

Women’s Empowerment Receives $75K From Wells Fargo

Women’s Empowerment has received $75,000 from Wells Fargo to provide workforce development skills, paid job training, job search assistance and housing support during the pandemic for women who are currently homeless or have recently experienced homelessness. Wells Fargo has been one of Women’s Empowerment’s longest funders, giving $442,450 since 2008.

“This profoundly generous gift from Wells Fargo will have a powerful effect on our community as we all work together to weather the storms of the pandemic, high unemployment and continued housing crisis,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “We are grateful to Wells Fargo for its longtime leadership in our community and for recognizing the essential role of nonprofits like ours in addressing this triple threat that has the most devastating impact on women and children without homes.”

Women’s Empowerment’s programs combine employment readiness, self-esteem courses, health services and education, counseling, housing assistance, job placement and paid job training to help women overcome homelessness across diverse ages, races and cultures. 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.

“Women’s Empowerment does more than provide women with the support, tools and resources needed to obtain a job and become self-sufficient,” said Kären Woodruff, Wells Fargo vice president of social impact and sustainability in Northern California. “It also – and perhaps most importantly – helps its clients open their eyes to see their strength, worth and potential, and that’s invaluable! We are honored to continue to support Women’s Empowerment and the work it does to lift women in their time of need.”

The award-winning organization has graduated 1,691 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. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

Donations Needed for Sac Life Center Baskets4Babies Drive

Local residents can help low-income new moms in Sacramento this holiday season through the Sacramento Life Center’s annual Baskets4Babies drive running through Dec. 31. The drive stocks the Sacramento Life Center’s baby needs closet so the nonprofit can provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2021. Donations can be made in any increment, but $50 guarantees a new mother has everything she needs to bring her baby home from the hospital, including diapers, clothing, bottles, formula, homemade blankets, bibs, bathing supplies and more. A pledge of $50 per month guarantees a mother can return each month to the center’s baby needs closet for additional necessities until her child is 2 years old. Donations can be made online at www.saclife.org.

“This has been a painful and isolating year for so many families, especially those with few resources who are expecting a new baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Our baby baskets not only give pregnant mothers practical and necessary items, they show them that they have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and a community surrounding them.”

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.

Holiday Gifts and Craft Supplies Needed at Women’s Empowerment

During this difficult year, local residents can bring joy to formerly homeless women and children in Sacramento this holiday season by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s Holiday Gifts and Crafts Drive. The group is seeking 300 unstuffed gift bags and specific fillers for children, teens and women. Gifts for teens and women are especially needed. Women’s Empowerment also needs craft supplies to provide a Craft Party in a Box for each family since this year the group cannot hold its annual craft party for women and children to make holiday gifts for their loved ones. For a list of gift and craft needs, visit Womens-Empowerment.org. Items are needed by Dec. 8.

“There is dignity in both receiving and giving gifts, so each year we provide an opportunity for the women and children in our program to receive holiday gifts and to make gifts for their loved ones,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “2020 has been at best difficult and at worst tragic for the women and children we serve. Providing gifts and our Craft Party in a Box will bring unspeakable joy and dignity to these women and children who have survived such a challenging year.”

Thanks to donations, Women’s Empowerment will include a warm hat, gloves and socks in each gift bag for the women and children. For those interested in making a financial donation toward a gift bag, the average cost is $40, but any amount helps. Women’s Empowerment also needs extra $15-$20 gift cards for Target, Walmart and grocery stores for emergency needs throughout the year.

Women’s Empowerment’s programs combine employment readiness, self-esteem courses, health classes and services, support services and paid job training to help women overcome homelessness across diverse ages, races and cultures. 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 1,691 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. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.

United Way Launches Shine Your Light Holiday Drive

At the end of a year that has been dark for many communities across the country, United Way California Capital Region is asking residents across the region to join its Shine Your Light holiday campaign, which includes opportunities for community giving and safe volunteering during the holiday season. Visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Holiday-Giving.

“This is a year no one will forget – a year filled with deep pain, division and hardship,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Children are being asked to attend school virtually and help younger siblings. Parents have lost jobs that support their family’s needs. Neighbors are struggling to stay afloat while small businesses close around them. During this dark year as we enter the holidays, we are asking residents across the greater Sacramento area to join our Shine Your Light campaign by contributing to our nonprofit partners’ gift drives, volunteering and making financial donations.”

For the Shine Your Light campaign, United Way has gathered the needs of nearly 50 local nonprofits across the region on its website, including which need clothing, blankets, shelf-stable food, hygiene items, winter items, holiday gifts, gift cards and volunteers this holiday season. Shine Your Light participants also can make a financial donation to United Way California Capital Region to help lift up neighbors who are struggling, including children, foster youth, students impacted by COVID-19 and families trying to make ends meet. As part of the campaign, United Way’s Women United action group that supports local foster youth is matching new donations to the group until they reach $35,000, giving donors the opportunity to double their gift.

“In these difficult times, your gift can be a much-needed light in someone’s life during the holidays and in the months to come,” Bray said.

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.

Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Maximus Foundation

The Maximus Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to Society for the Blind in Sacramento for its Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can stay independent.

“This year has been difficult for everyone, but for seniors losing their vision, it has been especially challenging,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We are grateful to Maximus for recognizing how critical our services are for seniors who are losing their vision and want to stay independent. We are now providing safe, socially distant training so our community’s seniors can continue to live life to the fullest.”

Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel, cook, clean, shop, maintain their home, conduct their personal finances and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

“During these extraordinary times, many organizations have stepped up to continue to be cornerstones of the community,” said John Boyer, Maximus Foundation chairman. “Not only is Society for the Blind providing essential services, but through their programming and leadership, they uplift the most vulnerable members of the community during particularly challenging and important times. Society for the Blind supports people, addresses their needs, and helps them keep reaching their goals and aspirations. With this award, we recognize Society for the Blind for their critical role in building a foundation of strength and support within our community despite the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For 66 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 more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to donate, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since 1975, Maximus has operated under its founding mission of Helping Government Serve the People®, enabling citizens around the globe to successfully engage with their governments at all levels and across a variety of health and human services programs. Maximus delivers innovative business process management and technology solutions that contribute to improved outcomes for citizens and higher levels of productivity, accuracy, accountability and efficiency of government-sponsored programs. As the philanthropic arm of Maximus, the foundation extends the mission of the company by identifying and awarding grants to partners with specialized expertise to deliver results within the same populations and communities served by the public programs the company operates. The Maximus Foundation is completely funded by Maximus and its employees, and provides grants to local community organizations with programs and projects in the areas of child and youth development, health and community development. For more information, visit Maximus.com.

United Way Launches REMIX Virtual Speaker Series for Young Professionals

United Way’s Young Leaders Society is hosting a virtual speaker series this fall to meet the most pressing work-related and mental health needs of young professionals during the pandemic. The REMIX speaker series will launch on Oct. 6 with a free virtual presentation by Celeste Sekigahama of the Yoga Seed and will be followed by a free virtual presentation on Oct. 27 by Nihal Satyadev, MPH, founder of The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s. The series will culminate on Nov. 17 with a virtual presentation by Isaac Serwanga, TEDx-featured speaker, best-selling author, and founder of Inform and Inspire. Tickets for Serwanga’s presentation are $15 for general admission and $10 for members of United Way’s Young Leaders Society. To get tickets to any or all of the three events, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org/YLSREMIX2020.

“The challenges of 2020 have tested our community’s creativity and resilience,” said Alison Leary, chair, United Way’s Young Leaders Society. “As we work remotely or differently in light of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important that young professionals continue to build professional and leadership skills while also taking time to support their personal well-being and health of communities. We hope young professionals across the region will join us as we work to REMIX our lives and the rest of 2020.”

On Oct. 6, Sekigahama will provide insight on prioritizing self-care to achieve work-life balance during the pandemic. Later in October, Satyadev will share his story and offer tips on amping up one’s role in the community and taking on more leadership. The series will end with Serwanga’s presentation on establishing a healthy professional network online, leveraging personal brand to establish more quality connections, and keeping motivated and inspired to take action.

United Way’s Young Leaders Society harnesses the passion and energy of the Sacramento region’s young professionals to create stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities. The group volunteers and holds fundraisers for United Way’s Square One Project, a 20-year project to significantly increase the number of students in the region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. To join or learn more, visit www.YoungLeadersUWCCR.org.  

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. 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 www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

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.