United Way Helps Sacramento Region Claim $10M in Tax Refunds

Nearly 8,500 households in the Sacramento area took advantage of United Way-led free tax help programs for the 2017 tax year, resulting in more than $10 million in money claimed through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), other credits and refunds. The in-person Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development, helped 7,422 local households, and United Way’s MyFreeTaxes.com helped 1,066 users file taxes. Thanks to two-year funding from Citi Community Development, free tax help was significantly expanded across the region in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties this year, increasing the number of households helped by more than 2,500 and resulting in more than a $3 million increase in refunds for the region compared to last year.

A limited number of appointments are still available this summer for households looking for help with late filing and which earned $54,000 or less in 2017. IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing and will help local households claim tax credits, including federal and state EITC, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state EITC, including those who are self-employed. To make an appointment, call 2-1-1 in Sacramento, or (916) 498-1000 if living outside the city, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

“This free tax help is crucial to ensuring our local families are financially healthy, and we are grateful to our funders and partners and 433 volunteers who have already served more than 16,000 hours to help local families,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region.

Funding support from Citi Community Development is enabling United Way California Capital Region to increase the capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand this year and next. The funding is helping to expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and to increase the number of volunteer tax preparers.

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and helping to build their financial resiliency.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 were eligible to file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provided households with free tax help so they could maximize refunds and credits and save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block.

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax help programs as part of its 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. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. 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 for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citi, http://Blog.Citi.com, Facebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi. 

Free Tax Help Across Sacramento Region Through United Way

VITA volunteer helps a local resident file her taxes through United Way-led programs

Local households throughout the Sacramento region that earned $54,000 or less in 2017 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) effort led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development. The program will kick off at the first Super Saturday event on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. For more Super Saturday events and weekday sites available during tax season, call (916) 498-1000 or visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/FreeTaxPrep. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.

Through VITA, the national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns, local IRS-certified volunteers will help Sacramento-region households claim tax credits, including federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state Earned Income Tax 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 do file, they can claim the state and federal credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until Feb. 27.

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of using refund advance products that can end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free VITA services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 can file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides households with free tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. As with VITA, the site helps people save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address, income forms and Adjusted Gross Income from 2017.

Funding support from Citi Community Development will enable United Way California Capital Region to increase capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand over the next two years. The funding will help expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and increase the number of volunteer tax preparers.

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and help build their financial resiliency.”

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax preparation programs as part of its 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. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. 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 for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citi, http://Blog.Citi.com, Facebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi.

 

 

United Way Receives $31K from U.S. Bank

United Way California Capital Region recently received a $31,000 grant from U.S. Bank Foundation’s Community Possible program to help fund United Way’s Square One Project. The project is the local United Way’s 20-year promise to end poverty by significantly increasing the number of students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.

“Our Square One Project is about bringing the community together to make it possible for kids to succeed in adulthood,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We are honored that U.S. Bank Foundation has recognized this important work through its Community Possible program and provided the funds to make it happen.”

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.

“At U.S. Bank, we are focused on being a good corporate citizen and closing the gap between people and opportunity in local communities across the country,” said Pamela Maxwell, vice president of corporate social responsibility at U.S. Bank. “We invest our time, resources and passion in economic development by supporting efforts to create stable jobs, better homes and vibrant communities. On behalf of all of our employees in the region, we are so proud to partner with United Way California Capital Region to help fund the Square One Project.”

Community Possible is the corporate giving and volunteer program at U.S. Bank, focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play. The company invests in programs that provide stable employment, a safe place to call home and a community connected through arts, culture, recreation and play. Philanthropic support through the U.S. Bank Foundation and corporate giving program reached $54.2 million in 2016. Visit www.usbank.com/community.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, with $464 billion in assets as of June 30, 2017, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates 3,088 banking offices in 25 states and 4,826 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at www.usbank.com

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.

Volunteers Needed for United Way’s Day of Caring Sept. 22-23

More than 1,000 local residents are needed to spend a day caring for the community Sept. 22-23 by signing up for one of dozens of volunteer projects happening at nonprofits, schools and community parks across the region during United Way’s Day of Caring. The event, sponsored by Nationwide, will begin with a kickoff breakfast and rally at Cal Expo. To sign up for Day of Caring: http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/day-caring.

Last year, volunteers gave 5,450 hours through the event, which equated to more than $128,000 in volunteer time that many nonprofits, schools and groups could not have otherwise afforded.

“This is the single largest volunteer day in our region, and we hope people will be as enthusiastic about it as they are about Big Day of Giving,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This our chance to give big through our time and energy as we dig our hands in to help the hardworking nonprofits, parks and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

As part of Day of Caring, United Way is holding its Stuff the Bus campaign to collect school supplies for Robla School District in Sacramento through Sept 22. All donated school supplies will be placed in a school bus and driven to Robla School District at the end of the day. To donate to Stuff the Bus: http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/StufftheBus2017.

Nationwide is the presenting sponsor for Day of Caring and Stuff the Bus, and Cal Expo is the kick-off rally sponsor. Project sponsors include 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 include Entercom Radio’s ESPN Radio 1320 AM, 98 Rock, Eagle 96.9 FM and 106.5 The End. To sponsor: www.yourlocalunitedway.org/day-caring.

Day of Caring and Stuff the Bus are 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.

One More Week of Free Summer Meals for Sac Area Kids Through United Way

Local kids through age 18 have been enjoying free lunches this summer at locations across Sacramento County, thanks to United Way California Capital Region’s summer meals program. Several Sacramento-area sites will continue to serve free summer meals through Aug. 11:

  • Washington Square Apartments, 4018 10th Street, Sacramento
  • Glen Ellen Mutual Housing Community, 2394 Glen Ellen Circle, Sacramento
  • Mutual Housing on the Greenway, 6311 Sampson Boulevard, Sacramento
  • Mutual Housing at Lemon Hill, 6000 Lemon Hill Avenue, Sacramento
  • Fruitridge Community Collaborative, 4625 44th Street, Sacramento
  • West Sacramento Recreation Center, 2801, Jefferson Boulevard, West Sacramento
  • Arthur F. Turner Community Library, 1212 Merkley Avenue, West Sacramento (through Aug. 10)

“We already have too many kids struggling with food insecurity in our region, and that number gets even higher during summertime when kids don’t have after-school meals as an option,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We’re encouraging all families to take advantage of this great opportunity to make sure kids have enough to eat this summer.”

United Way and its partners are providing summer literacy activities at the meal sites to ensure kids do not experience what Bray refers to as “summer slide.”

“Kids who don’t read during the summer can go back to school in the fall up to three grade levels behind where they were when they left for summer break,” Bray said. “So we’re working with our summer meals sites to also provide educational activities while kids are already there for food. With bellies full of healthy food, and brains full of fun learning activities, kids will return to school in the fall ready to keep learning.”

In the capital region, one in five children struggles with food insecurity. United Way’s healthy meals program increases local children’s consumption of well-balanced, nutritious meals after school and throughout the summer. Meals are made with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients that are nutrient dense, low-sodium, have minimal preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. The focus on local produce helps expose kids to a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. For more information about United Way’s summer meals program: www.yourlocalunitedway.org/summermeals.

United Way’s healthy meals program is part of its Square One Project, United Way California Capital Region’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 or make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

United Way Receives Tech Grant from IBM

United Way California Capital Region has received a SafetyNet technology grant from IBM valued at $300,000 that will help improve services to the people of the greater Sacramento area. The local United Way was one of only a handful of organizations selected in 2017 by IBM for its new SafetyNet grant program. IBM SafetyNet provides customizable software, pro bono consulting and training services, and hosting in the digital cloud to store information securely, conveniently and reliably.

“As a United Way board member, I know the value that donors place on demonstrable outcomes in choosing where to give. SafetyNet is a foundational tool for evaluating the progress of United Way’s work toward achieving desired outcomes,” said Kim Hewitt, IBM executive in Sacramento. “As an IBMer, I am proud that we are making assets such as SafetyNet available to support the essential work of nonprofits in the communities where we live and work.”

United Way California Capital Region will use IBM SafetyNet to measure outcomes 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 or make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

IBM SafetyNet is helping nonprofits document and evaluate the success of their programs more quickly and effectively – a prerequisite for receiving essential funding from the public and private sectors. Collecting and analyzing client, program and funding contract data can be a time-consuming and arduous task for many organizations. Data analysis offered by IBM SafetyNet enables social service providers to pinpoint and address possible gaps in services, and lead to better programming in support of their clients. To learn more about IBM SafetyNet: www.ibmsafetynet.org.

 

 

 

United Way Offers Free Summer Meals to Sacramento Kids

Local kids through age 18 can enjoy free lunches this summer at locations across Sacramento County through mid-August, thanks to United Way California Capital Region’s summer meals program. For a list of sites serving summer meals, text FOOD to 877-877, call 2-1-1 or visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/summermeals.

“We already have too many kids struggling with food insecurity in our region, and that number gets even higher during summertime when kids don’t have after-school meals as an option,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We’re encouraging all families to take advantage of this great opportunity to make sure kids have enough to eat this summer.”

United Way and its partners will be providing summer literacy activities at the meal sites to ensure kids do not experience what Bray refers to as “summer slide.”

“Kids who don’t read during the summer can go back to school in the fall up to three grade levels behind where they were when they left for summer break,” Bray said. “So we’re working with our summer meals sites to also provide educational activities while kids are already there for food. With bellies full of healthy food, and brains full of fun learning activities, kids will return to school in the fall ready to keep learning.”

In the capital region, one in five children struggles with food insecurity. United Way’s healthy meals program increases local children’s consumption of well-balanced, nutritious meals after school and throughout the summer. Meals are made with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients that are nutrient dense, low-sodium, have minimal preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. The focus on local produce helps expose kids to a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

United Way’s healthy meals program is part of its Square One Project, United Way California Capital Region’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 or make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

United Way Women’s Action Group Becomes Women United

United Way California Capital Region’s Women in Philanthropy group is now United Way’s Women United, joining the global Women United network of more than 70,000 women leaders taking action in their communities. The local Women United action group is a force of 350 local women and supporters making sure local foster youth are prepared for success in college or career.

“The name Women United is a clear call to action for women of all ages and backgrounds to come together for an important cause,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region. “This makes it clear that we need all of women’s gifts, from donations to volunteer time. While our focus will remain the same, we will now be part of a global group of women, all working on their local community’s most pressing issues, most of which are related to children.”

The local Women United action group raises funds for special bank accounts that help foster youth leaving the system save for necessities such as rent, transportation and textbooks. Members and supporters also lead life skills workshops and trainings to help foster youth understand how to manage finances, navigate the college system, prepare for interviews, cook and more, and they participate in volunteer experiences and networking events. To learn more about Women United, become a member or make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org/WomenUnited.

Women United’s local members and supporters focus on foster youth as part of the Square One Project, United Way California Capital Region’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of 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 to prepare for success in college or career. To make a donation, visit www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Free Tax Help for Sacramento and Placer Families

VITA volunteer helps a local resident file her taxes through United Way-led programs

Local households that earned $54,000 or less in 2016 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance effort led by United Way California Capital Region in Sacramento and Placer counties. The program will kick off with a Super Saturday event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. Volunteers will inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

For information and a list of Super Saturday events and weekday tax help sites, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA or call (916) 498-1000. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1. VITA is a national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns.

Local households that made $64,000 or less in 2016 can qualify to file their state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides local residents with free, easy tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. The site helps people save an average of $200 in tax preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address and income forms. The nine-year-old program is available in all 50 states.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.

Both the in-person and online filing opportunities are designed to help households receive the maximum credit of $6,000 through EITC and Cal EITC. This is the second year that California is offering a state Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit California’s working families. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim state and federal EITC credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or the Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed, as a law requires the IRS to hold those refunds until Feb. 15.

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of signing a refund anticipation loan that will end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Sponsors of United Way’s tax help programs include the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, United Way California Capital Region and Wells Fargo. For a list of partners, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these tax help programs to ensure more households are financially healthy. This work is part of United Way’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, the local United Way now believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.