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Pay it Forward This Giving Tuesday

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Local nonprofits host meaningful end-of-year fundraisers to catalyze support for Austin women.

austin-woman-giving-tuesday-dress-for-success
Photo by Christine Torres

By Stacey Ingram Kaleh

Holiday shopping season is upon us. It’s the time of year we often spend thinking of creative ways to bring joy to our loved ones through gift giving. Immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Giving Tuesday. A day that reminds us that we can put the spirit of giving to work for our greater community. On Giving Tuesday, we are invited to pause and think about how we can spread joy. Not only among our inner circle, but to all of our neighbors, especially those in need. It’s a day to ask ourselves, “How can we put our dollars and talents to use for the greater good?”

A worldwide generosity movement, Giving Tuesday ignites people to actively make a lasting impact. Helping sustain the vital work of local nonprofits, the leaders and innovators that serve Austin’s most vulnerable community members. In 2020, Giving Tuesday reported that at least $2.47 billion were donated in just 24 hours in the United States. According to I Live Here I Give Here, a local nonprofit helping to lead the movement in Central Texas, thousands of Austinites collectively performed more than 20 million “actions for good” in 2020. These actions included dollars raised for hundreds of local nonprofits. Also volunteer hours donated and social media posts advocating for local causes.

We’ve lived through nearly two years of a global pandemic. Accompanied by major transitions in schools and the workplace, as well as cultural paradigm shifts. These challenges have exacerbated the preexisting inequities facing women. Women have exited the workplace in greater numbers than men. Creating what some call the “she-cession” and often resulting in women taking on more child care and household responsibilities. Increased anxiety has taken a serious toll on the mental health of women and girls. In general, women are psychologically taxed and financially strained.

Profound Need

“As Austin’s wealth continues to increase exponentially, the opportunity gap continues to widen. Leaving many Central Texas women behind and disproportionately impacting women of color,” says Misty Whited, VP of marketing and communications at the Austin Community Foundation. “Locally, 59% of women of color are housing cost-burdened—meaning they spend more than a third of their income on rent. A single head of a household with two children needs at least $50,000 annually in order to make ends meet. Only 25% of jobs in the Austin Metropolitan Area pay enough for women to attain the necessary annual income.”

The need women face this year is profound, and we have an opportunity to help address it. “In an effort to close this widening opportunity gap, we must invest in women,” says Whited. “Research consistently shows that economic growth for women has a proven ripple effect—when women flourish, so do cities. Women invest 90% of their income back into their families and communities.”

Giving back to your community may be easier than you think. Monetary donations are always needed and appreciated. However, you can also get involved by volunteering. You can organize a food or clothing drive with your friends, donate your skills by serving on a nonprofit board or committee. Send thank-you notes to health care workers, offer a ride to a neighbor and much more. We all have something to give.

These five local nonprofit organizations are hosting fundraisers to support local women, girls and the LGBTQIA+ community. Read on to learn how to give and make an impact on Giving Tuesday.

Dress for Success Austin

Advancing its mission to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and life, Dress for Success Austin (DFSA) is centering its Giving Tuesday campaign on giving confidence. Throughout the month of November, DFSA hopes to raise $10,000 to support Central Texas women as they return to work to support themselves and their families.

In addition, they will share an Amazon Wishlist. Community members can easily donate the items their clients need the most. Leading up to Giving Tuesday, DFSA has partnered with several companies to host a live social media series about building and maintaining confidence through difficult times. Topics include leveling up your skills, taking care of your mental health and preparing to re-enter the workforce.

“When most people think of Dress for Success Austin, they think of the professional clothing aspect. It’s in our name after all!” says Teal Garth, DFSA communications manager. “We find that many Austinites don’t know that providing professional clothing is only one out of seven workforce development programs we offer. A new outfit can give our clients the extra confidence they need to nail the interview. But the tools and support we provide through our additional programs help women build the lifelong skills they need to continue growing their careers. Even during difficult times like these.”

Additional programs include offering services like one-on-one resume and cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile building and mentoring. Ninety-five percent of DFSA’s clients actively seeking employment find a job after graduating from Path-to-Employment. A six-week mentoring program that gives women the tools to succeed long-term.

How to Support Dress for Success

When you give to Dress for Success Austin, you help local women in need go after their dream jobs, change career paths, go back to school, pay off debt, increase their salaries and more.

Make a donation at secure.givelively.org/donate/dress-for-success-austin/give-confidence-for-givingtuesday or purchase a much-needed item on the Dress for Success Austin Amazon wishlist. You can also donate professional clothing, organize a clothing drive and help spread the word by sharing their social media campaign.
austin.dressforsuccess.org

Flo Code

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Photo courtesy of Flo Code.

Launched in 2017 as an effort to provide underserved women, girls and members of the LGBTQIA+ community with access to menstrual products in Central Texas, Flo Code has expanded its mission to advance health, education and reproductive justice in our community. Over the past four years, they have battled stigma and rallied the community to donate over 600,000 menstrual products to nonprofits, shelters, schools and natural disaster victims.

“The pandemic seems to have increased focus to need in local communities, which is a positive,” says Lamanda Ballard, founder and executive director. “We are more aware than ever about how people are struggling even while many of us have been dealing with our own battles. It’s essential not to lose sight of that as [we hope]the pandemic winds down. Because menstruation happens monthly for most, the need for getting menstrual products in the hands of those who wouldn’t otherwise have them is still, and will continue to be, a critical need until they are freely available to all menstruators.”

The Flo Code Mission

This Giving Tuesday, Flo Code amplifies the issue of reproductive health care for women and girls by advocating for social change, educating on reproductive health care issues and donating to underserved individuals, including those experiencing homelessness. Their goal is to raise $10,000 to help eradicate period poverty, which is defined as lack of access to menstrual products, reproductive health education, bathrooms and clean water. They will also host collection drives for period products at various sites throughout our region.

Flo Code aims to donate one million menstrual products by the end of 2022. “With our partners, volunteers and the community’s support, we can achieve our goals,” says Ballard.

Donate to Flo Code’s online fundraiser at secure.givelively.org/donate/flo-code/flo-code-week. Drop off product donations at Nina Berenato Jewelry at the Domain. Volunteer to become a Flo Ambassador or Board Member by emailing info@flocode.org.

flocode.org

Future Front Texas

Future Front Texas (formerly Boss Babes ATX) envisions a Texas where everyone has access to creativity and leadership skills. To provide direct support to the creative leaders manifesting positive change across our community, the nonprofit aims to raise $20,000 for its Creative Future of Texas (CFOT) Fund and Community Leaders of Color Mental Health Initiative this Giving Tuesday. The CFOT Fund offers $10,000 in micro-grants to women and queer creatives each year. And the Community Leaders of Color Mental Health Initiative will provide $10,000 in pro-bono therapy sessions to women and queer BIPOC leaders annually.

Facing a long road to recovery after the COVID-19 shutdown, and coming off the heels of an organizational rebrand, giving to Future Front Texas on Giving Tuesday will help the organization build momentum and carry their mission forward. Donating to Future Front Texas is a way to support the creative projects, organizations and small businesses you want to see succeed.

“Small businesses, independent creatives and grassroots organizations and projects have all been hit hard,” says Eunice Bao, communications associate. “Many of us didn’t qualify for the same kinds of funding, grants and loans as larger organizations. And we don’t have the same kinds of major benefactors or investors helping us. In our case, we were only able to reopen thanks to the community’s support. It’s a privilege we don’t take lightly. We determined that when reopening we needed to put our best food forward too. That’s why our name changed as well. We want to continue showing up for the work we’ve done, as well as a vision for our future.”

Future Front at Work

At the most recent Front Market and Festival, Future Front Texas welcomed 3,500 guests and raised $2,245 in donations for the Creative Future of Texas Fund. Joining in at one of their dynamic community events is a fun way to show your support. Every ticket purchased and donation made ensures Future Front Texas can continue to help local artists, performers, entrepreneurs and other creatives make our community a more vibrant place to live.

Get involved at futurefronttexas.org.

Girls Empowerment Network

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Photo by Chelsea Dean Martinez

Through a range of programs, the Girls Empowerment Network teaches girls the skills to thrive and to believe in their ability to be unstoppable. One of those programs is Girl Connect. A weekly, groups-based program that meets on girls’ elementary, middle and high school campuses to foster self-efficacy and social well-being. It’s also the focus of the organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign this year. Girl Connect offers a reliable space for girls to bond. They learn to cope and to gain skills like stress management, assertive communication and self-compassion while practicing a growth mindset.

The constant change and uncertainty that’s accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavily on girls who have had to navigate social isolation, school closures, grief, technology issues, family issues, barriers to the identification and treatment of mental health concerns and more. Girls are already at higher risk for social-emotional health issues. The pandemic has only deepened the problems that can have long-lasting implications.

“Our direct service staff have been hearing from their school contacts that Girl Connect is needed now more than ever before, as a place for girls to connect with one another and positive role models and tend to their social and emotional health,” says Ami Kane, chief development officer. “They’re sharing that many girls are struggling to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, making friends and advocating for themselves at school.”

Supporting Girls Empowerment Network

When you support the Girl Connect program, you help increase local girls’ self-efficacy. This in turn improves their school attendance and performance. Some of the new skills girls learn by taking part in the program include understanding the media and social media’s impact on women and girls’ feelings of self-worth, tangible stress and anxiety reduction techniques such as mindfulness and breathing exercises, and practicing healthy communication, self-advocacy and building positive relationships. Girls Empowerment Networks meets girls where they are to foster this supportive environment of peers and adult role models. And girls also receive a Spark Kit “girl power” activity box to take home with all the supplies needed for the weekly Girl Connect sessions.

You can help Girls Empowerment Network celebrate its 25th anniversary and reach 1,600 girls in grades 3-12 weekly by donating at girlsempowermentnetwork.org. You can also sign up to volunteer. Or you can join a giving circle for adult gender justice advocates called Girl Advocacy League.

Latinitas

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Photos courtesy of Latinitas

Latinitas is creating courageous leaders through innovation in media and technology. Founded in Austin in 2002, they provide media and technology programs for girls throughout Central Texas. This Giving Tuesday, they plan to use funds raised through their “The Future is Chica” campaign to secure a pipeline from their programs to Austin’s most lucrative and creative jobs by strengthening their college scholarship endowment fund. Achieving their campaign goal of $5,000 would help ensure that Latinitas can provide scholarship opportunities indefinitely for its impressive 93% of program alumni who graduate high school.

“Latina and youth of color are Austin’s biggest and most underestimated intellectual resource,” says Laura Donnelly, founder and CEO. “Less than 1% of our city’s tech workforce is Latina. Yet 91% of those who graduate Latinitas’ Code Chica Certification programs say they want to explore computer science in college. Less than 2% of Austin’s newsrooms or production studios employ women of color in a city that is 47% non-white.

Girls and teens, and girl-identifying and nonbinary students enrolled in Latinitas’ clubs, camps, conferences and teen certifications are learning hands-on skills in coding, filmmaking, podcasting, writing, virtual and augmented reality and robotics, [which are]powerful tools for innovation but also social change and celebration of identity and culture.”

The Latinitas Impact

Latinitas’ impact doesn’t stop there. Donnelly continues, “[As] Austin’s only 100% bilingual STEM education nonprofit, Latinitas serves girls others can’t. Latinitas Startup Chica Conference, in its twelfth iteration this year, is the city’s largest annual gathering of girls of color exploring entrepreneurship. Same for video game making and Latinitas Game Chica Conference. Of the hundreds of robotics league teams statewide, Latinitas is the only all-Latina team. And 90% of Latinitas Code Chica coding boot camp is Latina. No other coding school in the city, and few nationwide, show that makeup.”

Want to see a future with more Latina and women of color in STEM fields and leadership positions? Support Latinitas by donating at latinitasonline.org. Spread the word about their programs on social media and volunteer to be a program helper or career presenter.

Interested in supporting several organizations that uplift local women? Consider these giving options:

Austin Community Foundation Women’s Fund

The Austin Community Foundation Women’s Fund is an investor-led collective giving funds to people who are passionate about improving life for women and children in Central Texas. More than 200 leaders in Austin work together to improve outcomes for all women. Fund distribution is driven by data and community voices. The Women’s Fund makes nonprofit grants in the areas of housing, child care, education and women’s health to support the economic security of women in Central Texas.

Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issues affecting women, especially women of color, the Women’s Fund took deliberate steps to center its grantmaking and funding strategies on racial equity. Through the fund, the Foundation aims to bridge the racial wealth and health divide facing women of color.

Invest in the 2022 Women’s Fund at austincf.org/womensfund or volunteer to participate in the grant review and fundraising process.  

I Live Here I Give Here’s amplifyatx.org

Give to multiple nonprofits with a single click at amplifyatx.org. You can search by cause category and keyword to discover organizations doing work that is important to you.

If you need more inspiration or want to get involved to make generosity a lifestyle 365 days a year, Giving Tuesday posts monthly calendars with daily ideas to make a positive difference in your hometown and beyond. Follow along @GivingTuesday.


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