United Ways of Texas (UWT) has been fortunate enough to work with a variety of national partners and foundations regarding the ever-important topic of education. For several years, United Ways of Texas has focused much of its efforts on the “bookends of education,” advocating for programmatic and policy-driven solutions to support a child’s education from pre-kindergarten through post-secondary. The economic implications of a public education system that fails to produce the workforce needed to sustain an advanced global economy are critical, thus UWT has engaged thought-leaders from both private and public sectors to solve these important issues. United Ways of Texas’ goal remains to bring these different groups together to address the concerns that will encourage the changes needed to make Texas communities better places to live and do business.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Pew Charitable Trusts, Pre-K Now
Passionately believing in the importance of early childhood education, UWT has consigned much of its efforts in education to expanding access to voluntary pre-k programs to all Texas children. UWT’s advocacy efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed, as they have had continued success at the Capitol advocating for expanded access group by group rather than taking an all or nothing approach. UWT is making great strides with each passing legislative session, first gaining free program access for children of active military personnel and then later for children in the foster care system, and now advocating for children of civil servants and children who were premature at birth.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION AND COLLEGE READINESS
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
From 2006 until 2009, United Ways of Texas was been a grantee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What started in 2006 as a simple project involving ten partners blossomed into the Community Advocacy for Education initiative, a community engagement project which achieved dramatic milestones in only the first year of its two year grant cycle. UWT partnered with seven (7) local United Ways and seven (7) other community-based organizations.
- UW of Southern Cameron County,
- UW of Metropolitan Dallas,
- UW of El Paso County,
- UW of Greater Tarrant County,
- UW of Greater Houston,
- UW of Laredo and
- United Way of South Texas
invested a great amount of time into this project bringing forth excellent outcomes and developing several replicable models that UWT hopes will be taken to scale with future funding. Discussing high school graduation rates with business, legislative and nonprofit stakeholders has allowed each of these communities to refocus their educational efforts on preparing students for college, work and life in Texas’ current global economy.