United Way’s Women United to Celebrate 20 Years Helping Local Foster Youth

September Hargrove stands at a podium that says Women United in black and white while she wears a red shirt and skirt

United Way California Capital Region’s Women United action group is inviting community members to its 20th anniversary luncheon on March 25 from 11am-1pm at the Croatian American Cultural Center in Sacramento, where influential professional women from across the state will gather to raise awareness and funds to support local foster youth. The event, which takes place during Women’s History Month, will celebrate the power of women working together to prepare local foster youth for adulthood and will include stories of youth whose lives have been changed over the past 20 years. The event will include lunch, presentations by local foster youth who participated in a writing partnership with nonprofit 916 Ink called “Find Your Voice,” and information about how to get involved. Tickets and sponsorships will benefit United Way California Capital Region’s programs for foster youth. Ticket sales end on March 4: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/WU2022.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to celebrate what women in our community have done together for local foster youth over the past two decades,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “As we move into a new decade of work, we face new challenges, but we know that this powerful group of women will continue to find new ways to meet the most pressing needs of foster youth in our community so they are prepared for success in adulthood.”

United Way’s Women United, founded as United Way’s Women in Philanthropy in 2002 with 35 members, has grown to 250 members and is now part of a global United Way network of more than 75,000 women taking action and impacting change. Local members have raised $2 million for United Way’s foster youth programs, also offering hundreds of life skills workshops and holding special events to showcase career opportunities and bring foster care professionals together to address current needs in the California capital region. Since 2011, the group has helped nearly 1,500 foster youth open bank accounts called Individual Development Accounts, a type of matched savings account, so they can leave the foster care system with money they have earned. Learn more about Women United: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Women-United.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by helping kids excel in school, investing in families, creating meaningful partnerships and organizing to lift impacted families. For more information or to make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

File Taxes Online for Free with United Way, Earn Up to $8K in Credits

Local residents throughout the Sacramento region are eligible to file their taxes online for free through United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program through April 18. Households that earned less than $65,000 in 2021 can file for free and receive up to $8,000 cash back from state and federal credits, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). The local United Way’s Free Tax Prep program saves qualifying residents an average of $200 in preparer fees. When needed, the program provides free tax help virtually and in person in multiple languages. Two virtual tax workshops will be held on Feb. 26 and March 12 where certified volunteers will help participants prepare their own returns and answer questions before filing. To learn more about United Way’s Free Tax Prep program or begin filing, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org.

“Many families in our region have earned these tax credits, but often do not know they are eligible,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “These are important funds that local families can use to meet immediate needs and increase their household’s financial stability. Our Free Tax Prep program is a key piece of United Way’s work to help every family succeed so their community can too. That is square one for ending poverty in our region.”

Households may be eligible for the CalEITC tax credit if the taxpayer is at least 18 years old and the household earned less than $30,000 in 2021. Many CalEITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, but if they file, they can claim state and federal credits.

Families that received advance payments of the Child Tax Credit must file a tax return and could be eligible for additional Child Tax Credit payments. United Way’s Free Tax Prep program can help non-U.S. residents apply for their ITIN, as ITIN holders are eligible for some tax credits. Experts recommend everyone files early, noting that many people do not realize that unemployment income is taxable. Even if people owe money, it is not due until April 18 no matter how early they file.

In 2021, more than 4,000 households across the Sacramento region filed their taxes through United Way’s Free Tax Prep program, claiming a total of more than $7.5 million in credits and saving a total of $885,000 in tax preparation fees.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by helping kids excel in school, investing in families, creating meaningful partnerships and organizing to lift impacted families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Launches “United We Shine” Holiday Campaign

This holiday season, the local United Way is shining a light on its nonprofit partners working to end poverty in the Capital Region. Each day for 12 days starting Nov. 29, United Way’s United We Shine campaign will feature a different nonprofit partner that is working to build equity and end poverty in the region, including a specific need each is facing and how local residents can help. To participate, follow United Way California Capital Region on social media. For more: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/post/United-We-Shine.

“We are proud of the work we do at United Way to bring nonprofits together to work toward equitable systems and reduce poverty so all families in our region can thrive,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “After another difficult year, we can come together this holiday season to generously support the important work being done in our community. Over these 12 days, I hope everyone will join us in supporting as many of our local nonprofits as possible.”

Featured nonprofits include Community Housing Opportunities Corporation, St. Vincent de Paul Sacramento Diocesan Council, Urban Strategies Inc., Computers 4 Kids, Yolo County Children’s Alliance, Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency, Bless Child Community Association, YMCA, Sacramento County Gifts from the Heart, New Morning Youth and Family Services, and Empower Yolo. On Nov. 30, Giving Tuesday, United Way will share more about the work it is doing and how local residents can get involved.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by helping kids excel in school, investing in families, creating meaningful partnerships and organizing to lift impacted families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Seeks Free Tax Prep Volunteers

Volunteers are needed to help local families file their taxes and apply for refunds as part of United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program that will open again in early 2022. No experience is required, and training is provided through a combination of self-study and online live sessions to become an IRS-certified volunteer with the program. To learn more: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/freetaxprep-volunteer.  

“After a tumultuous year, it’s more important than ever that local families receive help applying for the maximum tax benefits for which they are eligible,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Our Free Tax Prep volunteers play a big role in ensuring families have the financial resources for their kids to succeed in school and career.”

Each year, United Way California Capital Region works with hundreds of volunteers to help households earning less than $66,000 annually file their taxes for free. Last tax season, the program helped more than 4,000 families receive $7.5 million in refunds.

“United Way’s Free Tax Prep program helps put tax dollars in people’s pockets,” said Katherine Green, program volunteer. “As a Free Tax Prep program volunteer, I look forward to meeting new people and helping them think beyond daily survival so they can have greater control over their resources and their life. I believe in strengthening vulnerable communities to reduce poverty, and this program opens doors for the community.”

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Local United Way Names New President and CEO

Dr. Dawnté Early has been named president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region. She will begin the position on Nov. 16, leading the local United Way chapter into its 100th anniversary year.

“I am excited to lead this amazing organization of passionate regional leaders committed to reducing poverty and investing in the education of our most vulnerable community members,” Early said. “As we near the 100th anniversary, I look forward to growing our partnerships to help the region emerge from the pandemic with an even sharper focus on increasing economic security and reducing disparities.”

Early joins United Way after serving as chief of research and evaluation for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, where she guided the commission’s statewide policy and evaluation initiatives on school mental health, suicide prevention and reducing justice involvement among those with mental health needs.  She previously led racial and gender policy reforms and evaluation of the Affordable Care Act at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. A resident and city councilmember of West Sacramento, she served on the city’s Aging Commission for seven years. She began her career as a public health researcher with the State of California after receiving her PhD in human development and master’s degree in child development, both from UC Davis. Early and her husband have two children, and she serves as a Girl Scout troop leader and basketball coach for the West Sacramento parks and recreation league.

“Dr. Early is a passionate, dedicated community leader and will bring a renewed, energized vision to United Way and the capital region,” said Oyango Snell, chair of the local United Way board of directors. “As an experienced researcher and statistician, Dr. Early has a unique ability to leverage data-driven research to address complex community issues and enhance outcomes.”

Stephanie McLemore Bray served as president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region for seven years until mid-April when she transitioned to her new role as chief engagement officer for Seattle Foundation. Amber Lovett, chief resource development and marketing officer at United Way California Capital Region, has been serving as interim president and CEO while the organization underwent a nationwide search.

“Dr. Early is a proven advocate who is committed to our square one approach of working to end poverty by tackling difficult issues that impact children and families,” said Carolyn Mullins, member of United Way California Capital Region’s board and chair of the search committee. “She has dedicated her life’s work to addressing issues that impact people from low-income and historically marginalized communities. We are proud to bring her on board.”

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Online Reading Volunteers Needed for United Way’s STARS

Volunteers are needed to help local kids learn to read through United Way California Capital Region’s STARS program that pairs volunteers and students up through sixth grade for online literacy tutoring so they can succeed in school. No prior tutoring knowledge is needed, as United Way provides training for its volunteers, all of whom commit to at least one hour each week split into two 30-minute sessions for three months. Volunteers are especially needed during the hours of 3-5pm. For more information or to sign up as a volunteer: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/STARS.

“We know that if kids aren’t reading at grade level by fourth grade, they will have a hard time keeping up across multiple subjects for years to come,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Our STARS volunteers make a world of difference in a child’s life by giving just one hour a week. Our tutors not only help them read, they act as positive role models that improve children’s overall confidence in school.”

United Way’s STARS, an acronym for Students and Tutors Achieving Reading Success, has 65 volunteers enrolled to work with nearly 100 students in Robla School District, CHOC housing sites in Yolo County and Woodland Joint Unified School District to provide online tutoring through the platform Book Nook so kids can reach grade level reading. Together, the tutor and student work through the literacy curriculum and build vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills through a variety of games, books and lessons provided in the online portal.

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

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Tickets on Sale for United Way Brews and Brains Fundraiser

Local residents can enjoy independent craft brews and trivia in an urban Biergarten at United Way’s 7th annual Brews and Brains fundraiser on Oct. 14, hosted by United Way’s Young Leaders Society and sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Tickets are on sale for the outdoor event at SacYard Community Tap House that also will include a raffle, commemorative pint glass, food and entertainment to raise funds for United Way’s work to create digital equity across the region. Tickets are expected to sell out. To purchase, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/YLS-Brews-Brains.

“Brews and Brains is one of the most anticipated trivia nights of the year,” said Eric Grabin, chair, United Way’s Young Leaders Society. “What can be better than trivia, brews and food while supporting the ongoing effort of United Way’s Digital Equity program and Young Leaders Society?”

United Way launched its three-year digital equity partnership with the City of Sacramento, SMUD, City of Rancho Cordova and community nonprofits in July to close the local digital divide – unequal technology and internet access – that has expanded during the pandemic. Building on its pilot project with the City of Sacramento in fall 2020, United Way and its partners are working to address the issue of digital equity long-term both inside and beyond the city limits. The program will provide internet access for up to 1,000 households a year, refurbished desktop computers for up to 500 people per year and digital literacy training through online resources and classes.

With 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. In Sacramento, there are neighborhoods where 25 percent of households have no internet access. To learn more, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Digital.

“The digital divide is not new, but it has expanded rapidly with the pandemic when so many parents began working from home and kids began learning remotely,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We need to address this issue immediately. We are grateful to United Way’s Young Leaders Society for recognizing that this is a critical program for achieving equity across the region, and for selecting this program for their fundraising work this year.”

United Way’s Young Leaders Society creates opportunities for young professionals who live or work in the California capital region to connect with peers and community leaders and give back through acts of service and volunteering. For more information or to join, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/YLS.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Seeks School Supplies for Twin Rivers Public Housing Students

Local residents can help students in the Twin Rivers Public Housing Community, formerly known as Dos Rios, return to school this month equipped and empowered to succeed by purchasing school supplies from the Amazon wishlist set up by United Way California Capital Region and Urban Strategies, Inc. From scissors and calculators to paper and pens, supplies are needed by Aug. 27 and can be purchased by visiting YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

“After a school year unlike any other, we want to make sure Twin Rivers students are equipped and empowered to succeed when they head back to school this month,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “As part of United Way’s work to end poverty in our region, we must start by ensuring that every family and community has what it needs to succeed, and that includes making sure all children have the supplies to be successful in school.”

United Way and Urban Strategies have been partnering with the Twin Rivers Public Housing Community over the past year during the redevelopment to the new Mirasol Village. Urban Strategies was contracted by Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency to provide family support services to residents during the redevelopment. United Way partnered with Urban Strategies to work closely with residents to build their capacity to lead and to advocate for their community and household. This partnership has resulted in tangible outcomes and results for families and youth. The school supply drive is the latest partnership with the Twin Rivers community.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way Launches 3-Year Digital Equity Partnership

In a press conference today, United Way California Capital Region launched its three-year digital equity partnership with the City of Sacramento, SMUD, City of Rancho Cordova and community nonprofits to close the local digital divide – unequal technology and internet access – that has expanded during the pandemic. Building on its pilot project with the City of Sacramento in fall 2020, United Way and its partners are working to address the issue of digital equity long-term both inside and beyond the city limits.

“The digital divide is not new, but it has expanded rapidly with the pandemic when so many parents began working from home and kids began learning remotely,” said Amber Lovett, interim president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We need to address this issue immediately, and we need to be looking at how we can continue working toward digital equity long after the pandemic ends. This program is doing exactly that, and we are grateful to have so many community partners who recognize that this is a systemic issue and critical for achieving equity across the region.”

United Way is partnering with select community-based nonprofits to identify and triage households eligible for broadband assistance, computers and devices, and basic digital literacy. These selected nonprofits will work with digital champions – community residents with technological skills who speak multiple languages – to provide outreach and case management in targeted geographic areas. Other partners, including local school districts, will provide outreach and referrals. Community hub partners, such as social service providers, will provide outreach, direct assistance and basic digital literacy and will work with the digital champions.

“Closing the digital divide is crucial to ensuring that everyone in our region can access educational and economic opportunity,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I’m proud that as a city, we have invested nearly $200 million over the past three years directly in community programs like these, working with dedicated partners like United Way, SMUD and our many nonprofits that work tirelessly to make Sacramento a more equitable place.”

With 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. In Sacramento, there are neighborhoods where 25 percent of households have no internet access.

“SMUD’s goal is to improve the lives of our customers, and we’re doing that through innovative partnerships that serve those in greatest need,” said SMUD Director Gregg Fishman. “Our Sustainable Communities program is working throughout the region to provide equity and access to under-resourced communities so everyone has the same opportunity to thrive. Closing the digital divide will play a key role in uplifting our community.”

Eligible households can complete an initial screening application, and once approved, will be considered for a variety of services, including internet access for up to 2,000 households a year, refurbished desktop computers for up to 500 people per year and digital literacy training through online resources and classes. Through the program, households will receive a year of free internet access either through Comcast Digital Essential Services’ broadband or through an AT&T hot spot, with priority given to low-income households with children and senior citizens. Those in need of digital literacy will receive a list of online sites or may be referred to partner nonprofits with access to virtual or in-person classes. The program’s digital champions will provide basic digital literacy support including web forms, email set-up, internet research and access to resources. For eligibility requirements: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Digital or 211.

Over the course of three months in fall 2020, United Way’s pilot program with the City of Sacramento, which was spearheaded by Sacramento City Councilmember Angelique Ashby, distributed 949 laptops and 266 hotspots and trained 115 participants, creating the foundation for the broader partnership.

“Bridging the digital divide is a moral imperative,” said Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby. “Championing this effort during the pandemic has been an honor and has created a path forward to continuing the work of connecting our neighborhoods to affordable, fast, reliable access to the internet.”

The program is funded through City of Sacramento, SMUD, City of Rancho Cordova and United Way California Capital Region. The portion of funding from United Way comes from the $10 million gift it received from renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in December 2020.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. With a mission to build stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities, the local United Way starts at square one: helping every family succeed so their community can too. Serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties, the local United Way is working to meet its 20-year commitment to significantly reduce poverty in the region by building capacity in undervalued communities, creating meaningful partnerships, seeking equity in education and making social justice investments in families. For more information or to make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned, not-for-profit electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for almost 75 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies and sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit SMUD.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.