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.

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.

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.

United Way to Provide Free Healthy Meals Over Holiday Break

Over holiday break, kids who rely on United Way’s Healthy Meals after-school supper program can still receive free meals at six locations across Sacramento through United Way’s partnership with Sacramento Public Library and Mack Road Partnership.

“One in five kids in our region is food insecure,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “While schools are closed over the holiday break, we want to make sure kids continue to have access to healthy food. United Way is helping to fill in the gaps. We are committed to providing year-round support so kids can succeed in school. They need that support even when school isn’t in session over the holidays and during the summer.”

Five Sacramento Public Libraries will be providing meals over the holidays. The North-Highlands Antelope Library and North Sacramento Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Del Paso Heights Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Sylvan Oaks Library in Citrus Heights will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. The Southgate Library will serve meals at 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Mack Road Partnership also will provide meals at 7833 Center Parkway in Sacramento at 3 p.m. on Dec. 23, Dec. 26, Dec. 27, Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, as well as at noon on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. For more information, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way expanded its Healthy Meals program this fall through its partnership with the Sacramento Public Library’s eight branches, which served 183 meals in the first two days of the school year.

“At the library, we see kids who are hungry every day,” said Christie Hamm, youth services manager, Sacramento Public Library. “They can’t focus on homework or reading when they are hungry. This provides a way to give kids something nutritious to eat, and while they’re at the library, our resources are available to them such as books, computers and homework help.”

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.

Chronic Absenteeism Down, Grade Level Reading Up in United Way’s Square One Project

Three years after United Way California Capital Region launched its Square One Project, more students at its partner Robla School District are attending school consistently and improving their reading, according to United Way’s recently released annual report. These are key indicators of success toward the project’s 20-year goal to decrease poverty in the region by increasing the number of kids graduating from high school ready for success in college or career.

United Way’s Square One Project aims to end poverty by focusing on the one place that reaches all families – schools. With a focus on education and a community-based approach, United Way is working with community partners, schools and families, to help kids attend class every day, stay on track with educational milestones, set high expectations and have strong support for their community.

“If we are to make progress on this audacious goal of ending poverty in our region, then we need to work together to address the systemic issues that our communities face,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Schools often are the center of communities, so Square One starts there. But our work and support go beyond education and the school campus to address the whole family. By focusing on our next generation, we are creating lasting change for our region.”

Kids who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are more likely to fall behind in all subjects, including math and science. Last year, United Way and its partners helped 415 students with reading – 62 percent of those who were reading below grade level improved their reading and literary performance. In 2018, Robla School District reported that more students were meeting and exceeding standards in English Language Arts compared to 2017 – the rate of annual increase was three times higher than state and county averages.

One in five students in the Sacramento region is food insecure – higher than the national average – making them less healthy and less likely to attend school every day, which is key to academic success. Since the Square One Project began, United Way has served 935,772 free meals to students after school and in the summer. Last year, Robla School District saw a drop in the rate of chronic absenteeism by 26 percent.

“We know that Robla students experience barriers to learning before they even set foot inside the classroom,” said Erica Lee, coordinator of student wellness and nutrition, Robla School District. “Daily stressors including inadequate nutrition, unstable housing and limited access to medical care can all impede a student’s ability to learn and be successful in the classroom. United Way understands the whole child approach and works collaboratively with the district to draw upon resources from the whole community in order to serve the whole child.”

Other results announced included helping 9,000 families with free tax preparation this last year – resulting in $11.3 million in refunds and $1.8 million in tax preparation savings – and an expansion of United Way’s Kindergarten to College savings program helping families of local kindergarteners start saving for college. To view the full report: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/post/square-one-philosophy.

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. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Announces Summer Meals, Launches Summer STARS

Summer can bring food instability and learning loss for low-income students. This summer, United Way California Capital Region will help local kids fuel their summers with free healthy meals and fun educational activities to prevent the learning achievement gap known as “summer slide.”

Starting in June, United Way will operate 16 summer meal sites throughout the region, providing nutritious meals for children who may otherwise not have access while they are out of school. Local students will get an added boost with the Summer STARS program at select summer meal sites. Summer STARS will offer free early literacy curriculum and fitness activities designed for kids in addition to healthy meals.

On average, kids can fall behind by two to three months over the summer unless they have learning opportunities to help close the gap. By the time they reach fifth grade, this achievement gap compounds and low-income students can fall up to three years behind their peers.

“Our Square One Project is working to make sure all kids are able to graduate from high school, college or career-ready. We know that grade-level literacy is key to reaching those milestones. Our AARP Experience Corps volunteers tutor students to help them read at or above grade level. We’ve been successful in improving literacy during the school year, but summer is critical to maintaining that momentum,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “With Summer STARS, we’re able to nourish kids’ minds and bodies and ensure they are ready for school in the fall.”

United Way leads the Healthy Meals program throughout the school year, as well as the Summer Food Service Program. Since 2014, United Way has served 935,772 meals during the school year and summer to help kids learn, play and grow. For summer meal locations across the Sacramento region, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/fuel-your-summer.

Summer STARS builds upon this foundation by offering educational enrichment programming at select summer meal sites from June through August. For more information, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/SummerStars.

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 Brings Together 130 Leaders for Foster Youth Summit

United Way California Capital Region gathered 130 foster youth and community leaders working on foster care issues for its inaugural Foster Youth Summit on April 5 at the Sacramento State Ballroom. Participants in the summit identified opportunities to increase the number of foster youth who graduate from high school and go on to complete post-secondary education. Initial opportunities identified include a need for trauma-informed training for service providers, permanent relationships that last into adulthood, financial resources to assist with housing, employment training, and mental and physical health care. United Way is convening an action group from interested attendees and will release a summary report of findings in late spring that will determine the direction of United Way’s foster youth programs.

“This summit uncovered significant gaps between the needs of Sacramento-area foster youth and the services being provided,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We heard reoccurring themes from former foster youth about the challenges they face when they age out of care. We need to disrupt the systems we are currently using to care for our foster youth, and the outstanding participation in this summit was an important first step in our action plan to bring our community together on this issue.”

Nonprofit service providers, state and county foster youth advocates, school districts, foster youth and other supporters came together for a deep dive into community level data, a foster youth panel on real-world implications of the data, breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Jennifer Rodriguez, JD, executive director of Youth Law Center and a former foster youth.

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: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Day of Caring

Since United Way California Capital Region held its inaugural 2013 Day of Caring, 3,692 volunteers have spent one day caring for their community over the last five years. Volunteers donated 18,054 hours of service, valued at $366,572, for 182 projects with nonprofits, parks and schools across the region, including on United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring that took place Sept. 22-23.

“In just five years, Day of Caring has become the single largest volunteer day in our region,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Thousands of volunteers have dug their hands in to help hardworking nonprofits, parks and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

Hundreds of volunteers donated time for United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring at dozens of volunteer projects, including building garden beds at schools, painting nonprofit program facilities and cleaning up parks. The event began with a kickoff breakfast and rally at Cal Expo that included an appearance by Mayor Darrell Steinberg. As part of this year’s Day of Caring, United Way held its inaugural Stuff the Bus campaign, which raised more than $11,000 in school supplies for Robla School District in Sacramento.

Nationwide has been the presenting sponsor for Day of Caring since it began in 2013. Project sponsors for 2017 included Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, ESM Prep, KPMG, Law Offices of Deon R. Stein, Nelson Staffing, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, Social Interest Solutions, Sutter Health, Syzmanowski Orthodontics, TaxAudit.com and Zurich. Media partners included Entercom Radio’s ESPN Radio 1320 AM, 98 Rock, Eagle 96.9 FM and 106.5 The End.

Day of Caring is part of United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

United Way Women Collect Hundreds of Towels for Local Foster Youth

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy and members of the community donated 360 towel sets, 100 pieces of luggage and hundreds of toiletries for local foster youth preparing to move out on their own. The items from United Way’s Women in Philanthropy Spring Drive were donated to Sacramento County’s Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program for more than 260 local foster youth getting ready to leave the system. More than a dozen volunteers came together in late April to package the towel sets and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth who will receive an emancipation basket

“It was incredible to see so many people from the community come together to support local foster kids, many of whom are getting ready to move out with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said Romy Cody, member of United Way’s Women in Philanthropy Leadership Council. “Luggage, toiletries and towels are tangible items that many of us take for granted but will mean a better start for these resilient kids transitioning to adulthood.” 

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy brings local women together to end poverty for local foster youth by helping them become financially prepared for life after foster care. This focus is part of the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To learn more about United Way’s Women in Philanthropy, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org

United Way Launches 20-Year Project to End Poverty

Through a Facebook Live video this morning, United Way California Capital Region announced that all of its work for the next 20 years will focus on ending poverty by increasing the number of local kids who graduate from high school prepared for success in college and beyond. United Way’s Square One Project will bring together the organization’s work over the last decade as the project focuses on educational milestones for children and the resources they need to succeed in school, including early literacy support, access to nutritious food, stable homes, support systems and more.

“This is our most ambitious project in our 90-year-history,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “If we want to see real change happen in our community, we have to break the cycle of poverty that’s passed down from one generation to another. There is one place in the community where we can do that best – and that’s school.”

Sacramento-area kids who graduate from college are 62 percent less likely to live in poverty than those who drop out of high school, according to United Way and the nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development. United Way’s Square One Project is bringing together community leaders, schools, government, nonprofits, volunteers and donors across five counties to make sure kids stay in school, stay on track, have high expectations for what they can achieve, and have strong support systems.

United Way is launching the Square One Project through a partnership with Robla School District in Sacramento. To make sure kids can come to school every day, United Way and Robla School District are providing case managers at schools through a grant to help the 500 homeless families in the district secure stable housing and other support. United Way’s Healthy Meals ensures kids have enough to eat in their after-school programs so they have fuel for their brains. United Way also is providing tutors to help kids meet reading and math milestones so they stay on track. United Way’s Young Leaders Society is helping families start saving for higher education by raising matching funds for college savings accounts so that kids have high expectations of continuing school.

“We’re excited to be one of the first school districts where the Square One Project has launched,” said Ruben Reyes, superintendent, Robla School District. “This is a district with a lot of need, but a lot of awesome kids who are going to do amazing things in our community, thanks to our work with United Way.”

Through the Square One Project, United Way also will work with school districts throughout Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties to fill gaps in resources so kids have the best chance at success.

“We know ending poverty starts in school, but it’s going to take whole communities to make this happen across our region,” Bray said. “I hope everyone will find their way to join us at Square One so kids can create a better life for themselves, their community and the next generation.”

To donate or volunteer for United Way’s Square One Project, visit www.squareoneproject.org.