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.

United Way COVID Relief Fund Helps 1,145 Local Families

In a span of three months, United Way California Capital Region’s COVID-19 Local Relief Fund raised $572,000 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. United Way worked with 11 nonprofit partners in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties to identify low-income families whose lives were disrupted by the pandemic and ensure they received the help they needed. The fund closed at the end of June, but the structure remains in place in case of a second wave.

“Stories continue to pour in from families across our region who have received help through our Local Relief Fund,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “The vast majority of those we served lost income during the stay-at-home order and needed help paying rent and bills. With so many families in our region just one paycheck away from homelessness, gifts to our fund helped avert an immediate crisis for these families and our community.”

The fund’s nonprofit partners included 3 Strands Global Foundation, Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency, Birth and Beyond, Black Child Legacy Campaign Neighborhood Centers, Empower Yolo, International Rescue Committee, Kids First, Lighthouse Community Counseling, Opening Doors, RISE Inc. and Yolo County Children’s Alliance.

In addition to individual and corporate donations to the fund, all dollars donated to Donate4Sacramento’s Support Families area were distributed to Sacramento families through United Way’s fund. For a full list of donors to the Local Relief Fund, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

“It’s very meaningful to me to receive this funding because I can continue paying my bills and provide food and clothing for my children,” said Nayely, a Local Relief Fund recipient in Sacramento. “When I learned that the funds come from people in the city, I was very grateful to see how they care about the community and that they are always willing to help others during hard times.”

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 Offering Virtual Free Tax Help

With the tax deadline extended to July 15, households throughout the Sacramento region are still eligible for free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program is partnering with GetYourRefund.org to provide virtual assistance. More households are eligible to participate through the partnership – those earning $66,000 or less in 2019. Qualified households can upload documents online and a United Way IRS-certified volunteer will call  them to help claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible before submission, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). To get started: GetYourRefund.org/?s=UWCCR.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region were a paycheck away from homelessness before the pandemic hit – that number is going to rise in the coming months,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets.”

Age qualification for CalEITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many CalEITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits.

This tax year, California introduced the new Young Child Tax Credit. To qualify for the credit, taxpayers must be able to claim a child under age 6 on their 2019 tax return and have earned less than $30,000 for the year. The Young Child Tax Credit can increase the state refund by an additional $1,000.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from CalEITC refunds. With new increases to CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

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 Finds Innovative Way to Help Foster Youth Through COVID-19

Citing the profound needs of local foster youth during the COVID-19 crisis, United Way California Capital Region has created a way for the 400 women who were supposed to gather for today’s Women United Luncheon to instead support local foster youth through United Way’s social media channels. From videos of local leaders and former foster youth to important facts and inspiring messages, participants can join in celebrating the accomplishments of Sacramento area foster youth, while meeting their most pressing needs during this health crisis so they can succeed in college and career. Local foster youth who were set to perform in a fashion show of their career outfits sponsored by guests – a favorite among longtime luncheon guests – have created a video in its place.

Participants can join the virtual Women United Luncheon on United Way’s social media channels: Facebook.com/UnitedWayCCR, Twitter.com/unitedwayccr, Instagram.com/unitedwayccr and LinkedIn.com/company/unitedwayccr.

“We are profoundly grateful to the vast majority of our sponsors and ticketholders who recognize that foster youth needs continue as we battle COVID-19, and therefore converted their sponsorships and ticket costs to donations, “ said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Our United Way will take the magic of a room filled with hundreds of women and make just as big of an impact online. This virtual event will showcase the foster youth who are benefiting from the support of women across our region through our Women United action group. We hope that our supporters and friends will be inspired and uplifted by these young people during these challenging times.”

United Way’s 18th Annual Women United Luncheon was scheduled to be held today at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, but was converted to an online event after the statewide shelter-in-place directive took effect. United Way’s Women United action group will discuss its history working with local foster youth, highlight its policy work resulting from United Way’s Foster Youth Summit held last spring and offer opportunities to join United Way’s Women United action group.

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 Offers Free Tax Prep Starting Jan. 21

Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program will begin taking appointments on Jan. 21. Participating households must have earned $60,000 or less in 2019. Free Tax Prep community events will occur throughout the region during tax season, and help also will be available at dozens of sites during the week in multiple languages in Amador, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. For appointments or to learn more, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org or call 2-1-1 or toll-free to (800) 500-4931.

The program kicks off on Feb. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free tax return preparation with electronic filing and help guests claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, American Opportunity Education Credit and the new Young Child Tax Credit.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region are a paycheck away from homelessness,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets. For others, it seeds a child’s college savings account, buys a car to take children to school or provides for a future emergency.”

Age qualification for Cal EITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits. Regardless of who prepares their taxes, those who claim EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until end of February, due to federal law.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from Cal EITC refunds. With new increases to Cal EITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

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.

United Way Seeks Holiday Gifts for Low-Income Families and Foster Youth

Volunteers stuff holiday stockings at United Way

This holiday season, Sacramento-area residents can donate and volunteer with United Way California Capital Region to make sure all families in their community have the support they need for kids to have a bright future. The local United Way is seeking gifts for its upcoming holiday markets for families in need, as well as local youth in foster care. Gifts are needed by Dec. 6 and can be purchased through United Way’s Amazon Wish Lists at YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Holiday. 

 “We talk a lot about the holidays being merry and bright, but for too many families in our community, it’s hard to feel merry when your future is uncertain and your kids don’t even have a warm coat to get through the winter,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “All children deserve a bright future, and that’s why our Square One Project works to ensure all kids in our community have the support they need year-round so they can focus on school and succeed in life.”

United Way also is seeking volunteers to help with the holiday markets for families in need where parents can shop the market and select gifts for their children. Volunteers are needed for shifts at the Robla Elementary School holiday market on Dec. 10 from 8 a.m.-noon and 12:30-4:30 p.m., and at St. Luke’s Church in Woodland on Dec. 12 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3:30-7 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help set up the markets, assist parents with shopping, wrap gifts and close the events. For more information and to sign up, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Holiday.

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.

Get Your Tickets to United Way’s Brews & Brains Trivia Night Fundraiser

Sacramento-area residents can show off their trivial knowledge and enjoy local brews at United Way’s Young Leaders Society’s annual Brews & Brains trivia night on Oct. 18 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Sacramento Masonic Temple, 1123 J Street. Funds raised will benefit United Way’s Square One Project that is helping kids graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career. Guests must be age 21 or older. For more information or to purchase tickets: YourLocalUnitedWay.org/YLS-Brews-Brains.

“Brews & Brains is an opportunity for those who care about our community to show off what they know and to raise funds for the Square One Project,” said Al Goldberg, member of United Way’s Young Leaders Society council. “I can’t think of a truer way to help children achieve in school than a fun test of knowledge.”

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 Needs Seniors to Help Kids Read

Local residents age 50 and up are needed this fall to help kids in kindergarten through third grade improve their reading through AARP Experience Corps, managed locally by United Way California Capital Region. To learn more and sign up to volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/Experience-Corps-Literacy-Program.

“Kids who are not reading at grade level by fourth grade are more likely to fall behind in all subjects, including math and science, making them less likely to graduate from high school,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This corps of volunteers is essential to ensuring our community’s kids are successful.”

Volunteers serve at local schools approximately two days per week for two to three hours a day throughout the school year, tutoring and tracking progress for groups of two to three students for the year. Volunteers meet monthly to share best practices and receive literacy and classroom management experience. They receive training to become mentors and role models and to hone their skills to help students reach their reading goals.

Last year, United Way’s AARP Experience Corps helped 415 students with reading – 62 percent of those who were reading below grade level improved their reading and literary performance. In 2018, program participant Robla School District reported more students 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.

“The results are encouraging and worth the work,” said Experience Corps volunteer Mary Ann Rider. “I never felt like I was cut out to be a teacher, but I felt prepared by the curriculum I had learned in our training. Plus getting to know the kids is fun. If you’re looking for volunteer work, what’s more important than helping a child learn to read?”

United Way California Capital Region is one of only seven nonprofits across the country helping to grow Experience Corps, the evidence-based AARP Foundation literacy program that improves the reading skills of children, enriches the lives of volunteer tutors and strengthens schools in local communities.

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.

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.