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Author: Meg Costa

A Vote for Proposition 2 Supports Quality Childcare in North Texas

As you head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7 or vote early now through Nov. 3, you’ll find 14 proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, including Proposition 2, which would change Texas’ constitution to establish a tax exemption to support childcare providers.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re advocating for passage of Proposition 2 because extra support for childcare centers would bring some relief to our state’s childcare crisis—which is especially challenging for households with a low income. Expanded access to quality childcare directly supports our mission to improve access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—in North Texas.

Read on to learn more about Proposition 2, how United Way works to expand access to childcare in North Texas and what you need to know about the Nov. 7 election.

The Basics of Proposition 2

Proposition 2 is one of 14 constitutional amendments under consideration in this year’s election. The proposal provides a pathway to offer licensed childcare providers some relief from increasing taxes, and it can reduce property taxes regardless of whether providers own or rent the property in which their business operates.

This tax break would be a lifeline for childcare providers in our region, which would in turn benefit local families who require childcare. Childcare in our state is in crisis, due to the following factors:

  • Many childcare providers are struggling to find and keep employees. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare centers across the country have had difficulty retaining quality employees, in part because the pay is often around $12 per hour without benefits. This causes childcare centers to be in direct competition for staff with retail companies and the food service industry.
  • Providers are reluctant to raise their tuition rates (which would pay for more employees), since many parents already can’t afford the sky-high cost of childcare. As a result of this financial squeeze, some childcare providers are closing classrooms or shutting down altogether. This leaves North Texas parents with even fewer options for quality childcare.
  • Pandemic-era federal funding for childcare is beginning to run out, leaving many childcare centers on the brink of closure. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children found that more than 1 in 4 childcare programs are likely to close as federal funding ends, which could lead to more than 300,000 Texas children losing childcare, according to a report by the Century Foundation. If families cannot locate childcare they will be forced to leave the workforce, which could have a drastic impact on local economies.
  • During this year’s legislative session, Texas lawmakers declined to pass a $2.3 billion proposal that would have maintained funding for childcare as the federal funding expired. The legislature also did not address the waitlist for Texas’ childcare subsidy program, which currently exceeds 80,000 children.

Fortunately, the legislature did address the childcare crisis through one important bill: SB 1145 was passed to offer financial support in the form of a tax cut to childcare providers. However, the tax cut will only go through if voters approve Proposition 2 this November.

If Proposition 2 passes, North Texans will see five key benefits:

  • Reduced childcare costs for families.
  • Expanded childcare options.
  • Strengthened wages for childcare educators.
  • Access to high-quality early education for children.
  • Parents can remain in the workforce or attend post-secondary job training

How, exactly? The proposition will allow cities and counties to cut property taxes from 50% to 100% for childcare providers voluntarily participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s childcare scholarship program for working parents (CCMS). If a childcare provider rents their facility, the constitutional amendment would require landlords to pass tax savings on to the provider. To ensure a good return for taxpayers, providers must maintain an enrollment of at least 20% of children from working parents participating in the state’s program.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we are advocating for passage Proposition 2 because it aligns with our goal to improve and expand childcare access in North Texas by ensuring more providers can offer their services to local families. It will also help childcare centers keep costs down, so parents don’t have to contend with rising tuition costs.

United Way Expands Access to Childcare

As part of our mission to improve access to education, income and health, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas leads and supports initiatives that expand the availability of quality, affordable childcare in North Texas.

For example, through our Strong Start initiative, United Way works with child development centers across our four-county footprint to improve quality and access to childcare programs and early education. Strong Start staff lead local initiatives alongside 40+ early learning partners to ensure all children in North Texas have the opportunity to thrive.

Research shows that access to quality early education creates a foundation that positively impacts an individual throughout their entire life. Here’s how childcare can affect the rest of a child’s life:

  • Kids who enter school ready to learn—thanks in part to quality childcare—are more likely to read proficiently by third grade.
  • Students who read proficiently by third grade are 5x more likely to graduate from high school ready for college or career.
  • College graduates earn up to $36,000 more a year, enabling them to save for the future.
  • Financially stable adults can cover the costs of health care, helping them lead longer, healthier lives.

By supporting quality, affordable childcare, we can encourage a lifetime of success for all North Texans.

Make Your Plan to Vote in the Nov. 7 Election

Prop 2 would benefit both North Texas families and childcare providers by lowering taxes on childcare centers. By improving access to affordable, quality childcare, the amendment would benefit a child throughout their life, as well as support the overall education, income and health of entire families.

Election Day is coming up fast! If you haven’t already, make a plan to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7, or during early voting, held Oct. 23 to Nov. 3. Read our Election Day Guide for everything you need to know about casting your ballot this year.

6 Ways the Passage of Proposition 8 Would Benefit North Texas

This year’s general election, held Tuesday, Nov. 7, includes an important proposed amendment—Proposition 8—which would change Texas’ constitution to expand broadband infrastructure in our state.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re advocating for passage of Proposition 8 because expanding broadband internet directly supports our mission to improve access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—in North Texas.

Read on to learn more about Proposition 8, how United Way works to close gaps in digital technology and what you need to know about the Nov. 7 election.

The Basics of Proposition 8

Proposition 8 is one of 14 constitutional amendments under consideration in this year’s election. If voters approve the measure, Proposition 8 will create the Broadband Infrastructure Fund, which would release $1.5 billion in state funds to the Texas Comptroller to support broadband.

The great thing about these funds is that they don’t require a new tax; the funds have already been set aside by the Texas Legislature through a bipartisan measure. Now, voters must approve the funds to be used to expand broadband.

6 Positive Impacts of Proposition 8

By approving Proposition 8, voters can help build a stronger, more equitable Texas. Here are six of the top benefits of passing this amendment:

  1. We would narrow the “digital divide.” Right now, nearly one in four Texans, or 7.4 million people, don’t have access to high-speed internet. Low-income people in both rural and urban communities are more likely to lack broadband internet, which limits their ability to access vital digital tools, like remote learning resources, online job opportunities and digital healthcare. By expanding broadband services, we can reduce this digital divide that limits opportunities for far too many of our neighbors.
  2. Students would be better equipped for success. As we saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s students need access to digital technology in order to truly thrive. By expanding high-speed internet, we can ensure that all students, regardless of income level, race or ZIP code, have equal opportunities for online learning, which will improve college and career readiness across the state.
  3. Workers would have greater job opportunities. A growing number of today’s careers require high-speed internet access and proficiency. And at the very least, workers need broadband internet to be able to complete workforce training programs and search for and apply for jobs. Approving funding for expanded broadband will bring a greater supply and diversity of good-paying jobs to North Texans.
  4. Digital healthcare would be accessible for all. In recent years, the availability and use of telehealth and other digital health resources has exploded—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of our neighbors in North Texas are unable to benefit from the convenience and time-savings of digital healthcare because they lack broadband internet. Proposition 8’s passage would make important tools like telehealth available to more communities, which could contribute to better overall health outcomes.
  5. Our economy would grow. Access to broadband internet is vital for Texas’ economy, both in rural areas and urban centers. With more students achieving college- or career-readiness, more workers accessing higher-paying jobs and more families tapping into easy-to-access and affordable digital healthcare, our local and state economies would soar.
  6. Texas would be better prepared for the future. Our region and state continue to grow at a rapid pace. It’s important that we have the digital infrastructure that will support the people, businesses and services that are the lifeblood of Texas. Passing Proposition 8 is surefire way to ensure everyone has access to high-speed internet—including business owners, schools, hospitals, police officers and more—so that our state remains a safe and prosperous place to live.

United Way Expands Access to Digital Technology

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re spreading the word about Proposition 8 because expanding broadband directly supports our Aspire United 2030 goals in education, income and health.

One of the other ways in which we expand access to digital technology is through Digital Bridges, a partnership with AT&T, Richard and Mary Templeton Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation and The Eugene McDermott Foundation.

Launched in 2022 through generous support from AT&T, Digital Bridges distributes laptops and provides digital literacy training across Southern Dallas to provide students in grades K-12 and opportunity youth (ages 18-24) with the capacity and resources needed to access education, further their learning and stay connected in the classroom and beyond.

In the program’s first year, together with partners, we distributed 2,123 laptops, enabling students in Southern Dallas neighborhoods to engage in online learning and setting them up for success in today’s digital school and job environments. The program continues to deepen and broaden its impact this year.

Make Your Plan to Vote in the Nov. 7 Election

Expanded broadband adoption would benefit all North Texans, and we hope that every change-seeker will vote “yes” on Proposition 8. This bipartisan measure is focused on expanding internet service to areas of the state that are unserved or underserved. And as our state continues to grow, we need this type of digital infrastructure to keep up with the demands of new residents, businesses and visitors.

Election Day is coming up fast! If you haven’t already, make a plan to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7, or during early voting, held Oct. 23 to Nov. 3. Read our Election Day Guide for everything you need to know about casting your ballot this year.

Your Guide to the Nov. 7 Election

It’s time to cast your ballots! Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and early voting runs through Friday, Nov. 3.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re encouraging every eligible North Texan to turn out for our community and vote. Casting your ballot during every election is one of the easiest, most effective ways to have a meaningful impact on life in our community.

Why vote this year?

Voting is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, duties we as citizens hold. It’s important for every citizen to be an informed voter. While many people only vote during presidential election cycles, every election directly impacts various factors of your life.

Want to have a say in how property taxes are spent? Eager to help decide who is on the local school board? Be sure to cast your ballot—every election.

Your vote has the power to improve the quality of life in North Texas and drive positive changes that affect the education, income and health of our community.

Importantly, this year voters will decide the fate of 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution. Several of these propositions have the power to impact the lives of our neighbors right here in North Texas, and we’re calling on all voters to support two propositions that would expand broadband infrastructure and childcare availability in our region. Read on for more details.

What’s on the ballot?

During this year’s election, voters will decide on numerous local races, including school boards, municipal governments and local ballot measures. Many local jurisdictions may also have a bond election.

There are several proposed amendments to the state’s constitution have the power to directly affect our focus areas of education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—making it even more important for all voters to exercise their constitutional duty this election. At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’re closely tracking two propositions:

  • Proposition 2 provides a pathway to offer licensed childcare providers some relief from increasing taxes. It can reduce property taxes regardless of whether providers own or rent the property in which their business operates. This aligns with our goal to improve and expand childcare access in North Texas by ensuring more providers can offer their services to local families.
  • Proposition 8 expands broadband infrastructure in rural and urban areas of the state that are unserved or underserved by internet providers. Expanding the use digital technology is one of our priorities, because it enables North Texans to more readily access education, financial security and health resources.

There are an additional 12 proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this year that could also impact infrastructure, recreation and higher education in our state. Click here to learn more about them.

And, to see all the races and issues on your ballot, visit Vote411.org and type in your home address.

Know Before You Go

Verify your registration: If you’re unsure whether you’re registered to vote, you can check on the Texas Secretary of State website. (Not registered? Unfortunately, you missed the Oct. 10 deadline. But you can visit VoteTexas.gov to register now for the spring elections.)

Bring a photo ID: You must present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification before you can vote:

  • Texas driver’s license
  • Texas election ID certificate
  • Texas personal ID card
  • Texas handgun license
  • U.S. citizenship certificate with photo
  • U.S. military ID card with photo
  • U.S. passport (book or card)

Your voter registration card is not mandatory to vote, but it’s a good idea to bring it if you have it. If your name is spelled differently on the official voter list than on your ID, showing your registration card may resolve the issue.

Voting locations: Polling locations may be different for early voting and Election Day, so visit your county’s election website—Dallas, Collin, Rockwall or Denton—to make sure you’re headed to the right location.

Be an educated voter: Save yourself time at the polls by being prepared. Do your research on candidates and propositions, and determine how you want to vote before getting to the voting machine. You can bring notes or a sample ballot with you to vote, but you’re not allowed to have partisan flyers with you in the voting booth. Create your own personalized ballot by visiting Vote411.org.

Encourage your network: Make a plan to vote and invite your neighbors and friends to go vote with you.

Vote by mail: To be eligible to vote early by mail in Texas, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be 65 years old or older
  • Be disabled
  • Be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance
  • Be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible

You can request the application for a mail-in ballot from the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The deadline to submit a vote-by-mail application is Friday, Oct. 27. To learn how to request a vote-by-mail application and to submit your application, visit your county’s Elections Office website: Dallas, Collin, Rockwall or Denton.

Know Your Rights as a Texas Voter

As a voter, it’s helpful to understand your rights so that you feel comfortable and confident in voting this year. Check out our Texas Voter Bill of Rights before you cast your ballot.

Skeptical of the Power of Your Vote? Read This.

Election Day, Nov. 7, is fast approaching, and the team here at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is encouraging every eligible North Texan to cast their ballot.

As we work to improve access to education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity—we recognize that the only way to create meaningful, systemic change is to address problems from every angle. And voting is a particularly powerful step that we can all take to improve North Texas.

As Hillary Evans, vice president of policy and advocacy at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, underscored, “Every election counts. So, it is critical to cast your ballot, and make your voice heard to create lasting change. As the late American civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis said, ‘The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.’”

Despite the importance of voting, every election, far too many North Texans do not cast their ballots—and this has a profound impact on every facet of our democracy, from who sits on your school board to how much you pay in property taxes.

Your Vote Is an Investment in Our Community

Camila Correa Bourdeau, Executive Director of March to the Polls

To better understand how voting impacts our community at large—as well as United Way’s focus areas of education, income and health—we sat down for a Q&A with Camila Correa Bourdeau, executive director at March to the Polls, a Social Innovation Accelerator alumnus that works to increase the rates of voter turnout across North Texas.

Check out our conversation to learn more about the state of voter turnout in North Texas, the outsized importance of voting in every election and how voting can help improve our community—for everyone.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas: What is the mission of March to the Polls?

Bourdeau: Our mission at March to the Polls is to substantially increase electoral participation in underrepresented communities.

United Way: How do you work to increase voter turnout?

Bourdeau: We do this through three primary methods: in-class voter education and registration across eight major North Texas school districts in 70 high schools, on-campus civic engagement clubs led by students on 30 of our 70 partner campuses, and intentional community outreach in neighborhoods that have low propensity voter engagement. In these ways, we are creating a more representative democracy, which leads to better outcomes for communities.

United Way: Why focus on voter registration and engagement?

Bourdeau: In order to meet our mission, we must provide access to the ballot box. Access begins with registration. We like meeting communities where they are and one of those key places is in school communities, where we can make voter registration accessible to students, and by extension, their families and neighbors. Once we register eligible voters, we can then roll up our sleeves to engage the newly registered voters so they can confidently make it to a voting center. Through texting, emailing, door knocking and peer-to-peer student outreach, we share actionable resources so they can make their voices heard.

United Way: At United Way, our focus areas are education, income and health. What does voting have to do with these pillars?

Bourdeau: “Research and lived experience shows that when a city has strong civic health, inclusive of high voter participation, it has better outcomes in health, education and income. We see voting as the foundation for a community to thrive. Some of our Dallas neighborhoods have as low as 2% voter participation when electing leaders who make decisions about housing, health and education. We know that we can do better, and we are happy to serve as a bridge to any tools that can facilitate this process for our community.”

United Way: At a high level, how does North Texas do in terms of voter turnout?

Bourdeau: “At a high level, North Texas unfortunately ranks among the bottom of U.S. cities when it comes to voter participation. Some of this can be attributed to laws in Texas that are different from other states, making Texas rank last on a ‘lowest ease of voting’ index, and some of it can be attributed to local decisions about our election calendar where voters have to keep up with multiple election dates across the year compared to other communities. The good news is there is only one place to go from here: up! March to the Polls will work to make sure that North Texas is better represented through increased electoral participation among our neighbors.”

United Way: Many people only vote in presidential elections. Why is it important to vote in every election?

Bourdeau: “One of our mantras at March to the Polls is that the most important election is always the next election. So no matter if it’s a school board election, constitutional amendments election or presidential election, it is critical for all voices to be heard at each and every election. When comparing the choice between a president or a city mayor, we have to put in perspective that even though the media attention may differ, the local elected leaders are making decisions that we will see and feel on an everyday basis. Don’t like the pothole on your street? Local election. Want renovations for your community school? Local election.”

United Way: If you were speaking with someone who was doubtful about voting in the next election, what would you say to them?

Bourdeau: “I would tell them that they are an expert in what’s best for them and that no other voice can do them justice by voting on their behalf if they themselves choose not to vote. If they have doubts on whether their vote will make a difference, they can be assured in knowing that the Constitutional Amendments elections typically only bring 7% voter turnout, which means a handful of people will determine what’s best for 93% of our neighbors. And if someone doesn’t get the result they were hoping for after they vote, it doesn’t mean that their participation did not matter. It just means you can’t win them all. But the only chance at winning is by continuing to show up—otherwise, you are surrendering. March with us and don’t give up on yourself or your community—exercise your power to vote!”

Get Ready to Vote on Nov. 7

Visit our voting page to find everything you need to know about our upcoming election, including:

  • How to find out if you’re registered
  • What will be on your ballot this year
  • What documentation you need with you to vote
  • Local voting locations and how to vote by mail
  • Your rights as a Texas voter

Every Vote Counts, Even in Off-Year Elections

Election Day is right around the corner, and even though this is an off-year election, it’s important that you make a plan to vote. Casting your ballot during every election is one of the easiest, most effective ways to directly impact education, income and health in our community.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we encourage you to spend a little time in the next few weeks familiarizing yourself with the races and candidates in your jurisdiction, as well as some of the key issues that are driving this election cycle.

Why vote this year?

Voting is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, duties we as citizens hold. It’s important for every citizen to be an informed voter. While many people only vote during presidential election cycles, every election directly impacts various factors of your life.

Frustrated by an increase in your property taxes? Want to help decide who is on the local school board? Be sure to cast your ballot—every election.

Your vote has the power to improve the quality of life in North Texas and drive positive changes that affect the education, income and health of our community.

Election Day Basics

First thing’s first, make sure you are registered to vote. You can verify your registration status on the Texas Secretary of State website. If you’re not registered, you can still register to vote before the deadline on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Visit VoteTexas.gov to register online or request a printed application.

This year’s General Election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 23 and ends Friday, Nov. 3.

During this year’s election, voters will decide on numerous local races, including school boards, municipal governments and local ballot measures. Many local jurisdictions may also have a bond election.

To see the races and issues on your ballot, visit Vote411.org and type in your home address.

Know Before You Go

Bring a photo ID: You must present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification before you can vote:

  • Texas driver’s license
  • Texas election ID certificate
  • Texas personal ID card
  • Texas handgun license
  • U.S. citizenship certificate with photo
  • U.S. military ID card with photo
  • U.S. passport (book or card)

Your voter registration card is not mandatory to vote, but it’s a good idea to bring it if you have it. If your name is spelled differently on the official voter list than on your ID, showing your registration card may resolve the issue.

Voting locations: Polling locations may be different for early voting and Election Day, so visit your county’s election website—Dallas, Collin, Rockwall or Denton—to make sure you’re headed to the right location.

Be an educated voter: Save yourself time at the polls by being prepared. Do your research on candidates and propositions, and determine how you want to vote before getting to the voting machine. You can bring notes or a sample ballot with you to vote, but you’re not allowed to have partisan flyers with you in the voting booth. Create your own personalized ballot by visiting Vote411.org.

Encourage your network: Make a plan to vote and invite your neighbors and friends to go vote with you.

Vote by mail: To be eligible to vote early by mail in Texas, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be 65 years old or older
  • Be disabled
  • Be out of the county on Election Day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance
  • Be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible

You can request the application for a mail-in ballot from the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The deadline to submit a vote-by-mail application is Friday, Oct. 27. To learn how to request a vote-by-mail application and to submit your application, visit your county’s Elections Office website: Dallas, Collin, Rockwall or Denton.

Voter Rights in Texas

As a voter, it’s helpful to understand your rights so that you feel comfortable and confident in voting this year. Check out our Texas Voter Bill of Rights before you cast your ballot.

Meet Our Newest Social Innovation Accelerator Fellows

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas was founded nearly 100 years ago. Being around for almost a century means we have a rich history—and a bright future. Today, our work is more relevant than ever, and we continually innovate to ensure we are addressing North Texas’ current challenges and opportunities.

That’s why social innovation is part of every aspect of our impact work. We’re constantly looking for and implementing innovative solutions to systemic problems in our community so that we drive change in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

Embracing innovation allows us to stay nimble as we lead a movement to improve education, income and health in North Texas. It’s one of our strategies for driving progress toward our Aspire United 2030 goals, which include:

  • Increasing by 50% the number of local students reading on grade level by third grade
  • Increasing by 20% the number of North Texas young adults who earn a living wage
  • Increasing to 96% the number of individuals with access to affordable health insurance

Growing Our Impact Through Social Innovation

As we make progress on our Aspire United 2030 goals, part of our social innovation work involves partnering with nonprofit and for-profit social ventures that creatively address systemic challenges impacting North Texans in the areas of education, income and health.

Our longest-running social innovation program, the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator in collaboration with Accenture, is celebrating 10 years of impact this year. The program encourages innovative solutions to social issues by providing entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship and community connections to grow their ventures and amplify their impact.

Since its creation in 2013, the Social Innovation Accelerator has created a significant impact across North Texas:

  • 74 local social entrepreneurs have completed the Accelerator
  • 345,564 clients served by Accelerator alumni
  • $7,071,449 invested in funding, training and professional mentoring
  • $61,437,564 in additional funding raised by Accelerator alumni
  • 1,962 partnerships formed with the support of United Way’s community connections and credibility

Meet This Year’s Accelerator Fellows

As we continue to build on this success, we’re proud to announce the fellows selected to participate in the 2023-2024 Social Innovation Accelerator in collaboration with Accenture:

Abide Women’s Health Services

A Black-led nonprofit that offers culturally informed prenatal and postnatal care. Abide offers low-cost access to healthcare with the goal of reducing infant and maternal mortality among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) folk.

Delighted to Doula

Social Innovation Incubator Graduate

A nonprofit offering anti-bias-based, judgment-free education and postpartum support to mothers in communities that traditionally receive the lowest quality of care. Delighted to Doula seeks to reduce maternal mortality rates and increase the number of mothers who have access to healthcare.

EntryWay

A national nonprofit that transitions individuals and families out of homelessness to economic self-sufficiency. EntryWay provides full-time employment, housing and career training opportunities in partnership with the real estate industry.

Healthy Hip Hop

A platform that seamlessly integrates hip-hop culture, literacy and social-emotional learning to elevate student learning environments.

Pasos for Oak Cliff

This organization’s Pasos All Stars Program is a four-week summer intervention program that works to close the learning gaps of rising ninth graders in literacy and math by combining academics with the fundamentals of sneaker design.

Preserve Owner Prosperity

An organization that works to stabilize and strengthen historically under-resourced neighborhoods, preserve and elevate their unique histories, and ensure that as revitalization advances, legacy homeowners can participate in the prosperous future of their communities

Reading Huddle

Social Innovation Incubator Graduate

Seeks to increase the number of kindergarten-ready preschoolers who have achieved an age-appropriate level of literacy development through family-led, at-home story time sessions.

Somos Tejas Community Initiative

Addresses education through civic engagement and community development

Tech Savvy DFW

Creates access to STEM education in lower-income communities in Dallas-Fort Worth area. Tech Savvy DFW has a mission to ensure that students in minority communities have a chance to future proof their own lives.

Wholly Informed Sex Ed

Social Innovation Incubator Graduate

A nonprofit community outreach program that delivers life-saving comprehensive sexual health education based in the acclaimed Our Whole Lives curriculum to K-12 students in the Dallas area, serving in schools and community spaces.

What’s Next for the Fellows

The Social Innovation Accelerator fellows are already going through an intensive bootcamp, with expert instruction that will help them refine their business plans and set important organizational milestone goals. They are also receiving one-on-one mentoring and coaching from a team of Social Innovation Accelerator mentors.

Early next year, five of the 10 fellows will be selected to participate in The Pitch, our annual social innovation competition, where they will compete for tens of thousands of dollars in additional seed funding.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of these incredible organizations as they go through the Accelerator and compete for a spot at The Pitch. Stay tuned!

6 Ways to Improve Your Financial Stability

Over the last three years, many North Texans have struggled to recover financially from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and several years of record inflation. This summer, gas prices have spiked and the cost of food has remained high. Meanwhile, our region has had months of record-setting heat, which means most North Texas families are seeing higher-than-average utility bills.

If you’re one of the many folks in our region who are trying to make ends meet, know that you’re not alone. And in many cases, there are systemic forces at play that prevent North Texans like you from accessing financial stability.

Consider these statistics:

  • Seventy-four percent of young adults in our community don’t earn a living wage.
  • In Dallas County, more than 40% of families are working hard but don’t earn enough to cover basic needs.
  • North Texans face some of the highest payday loan rates in the country, with typical annual percentage rates (APRs) running as high as 664%—more than 40 times the average credit card interest rate.

These and other obstacles keep many neighbors from achieving financial security, which can also impact educational opportunities and health.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’ve identified education, income and health as the building blocks of opportunity that enable all individuals and communities to thrive. That’s why we create, lead and invest in programs that enable North Texans to get and keep better jobs, build savings and hold on to more of what they earn. Our financial stability programs are designed to support individuals and families with free education, resources and guidance.

Here, we count down six steps you can take to improve your financial position:

1. Enroll in a program that will lead you to a higher-paying job.

Through initiatives like Pathways to Work, digital skills training and Women’s Workforce Initiative, United Way makes it easier for hard-working North Texans to earn the education and certification necessary to get a better-paying job.

Pathways to Work provides comprehensive training and employment for displaced and under-employed workers in healthcare, IT, construction, transportation, manufacturing, and business and finance. Last year, our Pathways to Work programs served 21,452 North Texans, leading to 1,656 certifications and 4,118 job placements. Click here to see a current list of available job training and certification programs.

“I wanted to upgrade myself and my computer skills, so this is a golden opportunity for me. My job outlook is going even better. I’ve been to some job fairs, and I’m expecting that phone call any day.” Kay, a Pathways to Work client who enrolled in a program to learn new skills and expand her job opportunities

Our free digital skills training programs offer adults and families an opportunity to learn the basics of Google Suite, financial literacy, job readiness, resume building and online safety. These classes enable you to learn with the support of a team and connect directly with employers upon graduation. Click here to sign up an upcoming class.

“The program has motivated me to be mobile. I want to get into forensics and work in laboratories. I am thinking bigger.” Skyylita, a 34-year-old who completed digital skills training through our partnership with CARDBoard Project and AT&T

Women’s Workforce Initiative is the workforce development component of Southern Dallas Thrives and includes the Women in Construction program. This initiative provides women in Southern Dallas with job training in high-growth industries, while also delivering support services and assisting graduates with industry certifications. As of last year, 67% of Women in Construction participants were employed in the fast-growing field. To learn more and sign up, click here.

2. #GetBanked.

If yours is one of the 7.1 million U.S. households that lacks a bank account, it can be difficult to build and maintain financial stability. By establishing a relationship with a bank that you trust, you can access important benefits that allow you to make progress on your finances:

  • You’ll know your money is safe and FDIC insured up to $250,000.
  • You’ll avoid check-cashing fees.
  • You can use ATMs to withdraw cash.
  • You can shop online and pay bills from anywhere.
  • You can keep an eye on how much money you have.
  • If you qualify for a tax refund, you’ll receive your money electronically, which is faster and more secure than waiting for a check from the IRS.

We’ve made it easy to find a bank account that offers low or no fees, no overdraft charges, no minimum deposits and other important benefits. Our Affordable Loans page has a list of trusted banks that offer affordable, easy-to-use checking and savings accounts. Or, visit the FDIC’s website at fdic.gov/GetBanked to learn more about the benefits of getting banked and to view a helpful checklist that will guide you to the best bank account for your individual needs. (All resources on this page are also in Spanish.)

3. Avoid predatory loans.

Every year, thousands of North Texans get trapped in a cycle of debt with predatory loans, and many borrowers end up owing a payday or auto loan business more than the original loan amount. That’s why it’s important to know about alternatives to predatory loans that allow you to borrow money through organizations that are affordable and fair.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we partner with several trusted organizations that offer low-cost loans, allowing borrowers like you to quickly access funds and build credit. For example, our partner Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers Predatory Conversion Loans that are designed to pay off payday and auto title lenders by allowing you to convert to a low-interest, one-year loan of up to $4,000 at 3% interest. Capital Good Fund offers another option, the Credit Builder Loan, that enables you to improve your credit score over 12 months.

For more information and to apply for a loan through one of our partner organizations, visit our Resources page.

4. Take advantage of free financial education and guidance.

Finances can be complicated, which is why it’s so empowering to learn more about things like personal finance, buying a home and saving for retirement.

To get a better understanding of key financial topics, consider signing up for a free financial education class; you might be surprised how helpful the information is for your own financial situation. These organizations offer a variety of free financial education classes and resources:

  • Building Wealth (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas): An overview of wealth-building strategies for consumers, as well as community leaders, students and teachers
  • First United Bank: Financial education materials and resources, including a “Get Out of Debt Coach” and an online budget calculator
  • Jump Start Coalition: Financial education resources for students and teachers
  • Money Smart (FDIC): Engaging games, podcasts and parent resources that help people of all ages enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships
  • Ready, Set, Bank.: (Hosted by Capital One) Video guides and step-by-step tutorials that make online banking easy. Also available in Spanish

Then, get free financial guidance from a qualified financial coach, who can help you set and meet your financial goals. To get started, contact one of our partner agencies:

  • Catholic Charities Dallas: Financial coaching and education, HUD counseling and more
  • Metrocrest Services: Teaches individuals how to pay off debt, increase savings, improve credit and achieve personal financial goals
  • The Senior Source: Financial assistance and education, help with frauds and scam, and more
  • WiNGS Dallas: Financial education, individualized financial coaching, credit-building, benefit screening and more.

5. If you have children, open a college savings account—today!

A little financial planning can go a long way toward your children’s future. College savings accounts are especially important: With at least $500 saved, your child is three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. And that has a huge ripple effect throughout their life, putting them on a path to a good-paying job, career advancement and financial security.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and our partners offer a simple way to save for your child to go to college through a my529 account with Dollars for College. Worried that you don’t have enough to put aside for savings? Even saving a relatively small amount each month for your child’s college fund can add up. For example, putting $100 a month in a 529 savings plan can grow to $43,323 in 18 years.

Click here to open a free account today. (If your child attends Lancaster or Richardson ISD, the district will make an opening deposit of $50 in your child’s account.)

“The Dollars for College program is helping my family prepare for the future. Saving for my son’s college was always something I knew I wanted to do but never made the time to start. This program took all the work out of it and made it easy for me. Plus, the program’s saving incentive savings match creates motivation to keep saving for my son’s future.” Ms. Gonzalez, a parent from Lancaster ISD, who opened a Dollars for College savings account for her son to increase the chances that he earns a higher degree

6. In the spring, get free assistance with your taxes.

For more than 10 years, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has provided North Texans with access to free income tax assistance so working families can receive all eligible tax credits and refunds. With the help of volunteer tax experts, the average filer gets a refund of almost $2,000 and saves an average of $200 in tax prep and filing fees. As a result, the IRS distributes millions of dollars in refunds back into our community every year.

Next year, as tax season begins, be sure to explore your options for free tax services. To get started, visit our Free Tax Prep resources page.

Take Control of Your Financial Future

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we want to ensure that every North Texan has access to the resources necessary to get and maintain a good-paying job, save money, reduce debt and plan for the future.

We understand that factors like how much you get paid, whether you’re able to save money and your level of debt can have a huge impact on your quality of life, your health, your family and more. Although financial topics can be daunting, community resources like these can put you and your family in a much better position for a lifetime of financial security.

Homelessness, Housing and Affordability in North Texas

This summer is on track to be among Texas’ most extreme seasons on record, with scorching temperatures throughout the day and little relief at night. The unrelenting heat has raised concerns among community organizations and housing advocates about unhoused individuals and families across North Texas.

Extreme heat can be dangerous for our unhoused neighbors, because they are often unable to escape the elements. In the North Texas summer, people experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness, which can damage vital organs and even result in death.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we understand that preventing homelessness and encouraging housing stability are foundational to our mission of improving access to education, income and health—because all North Texans need a safe, stable home environment in order to thrive in these three interconnected areas. We work in partnership with community organizations and our supporters to prevent homelessness, encourage the development of affordable housing and lift up our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

This summer, the dangerous weather conditions make it the perfect time to check in on the state of homelessness and housing in North Texas, with a look at key insights from two recent reports that dive into these interconnected issues. Read on to learn more about homelessness and housing accessibility in North Texas, how United Way improves housing stability and ways you can support our work in these areas.

The State of Homelessness in North Texas

Each year, nonprofit organizations, community organizers and volunteers come together for the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, an effort that is led by Housing Forward. Over the course of a single evening, participants take to the streets of Dallas and Collin counties to manually count every individual experiencing homelessness at that moment in time.

By regularly counting the unhoused neighbors in our community, Housing Forward (formerly Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance) collects vital data on a population that can be difficult to quantify. These insights allow us to understand the extent of homelessness in North Texas, factors that are impacting current homelessness rates and the effectiveness of programs that seek to end homelessness.

In 2023, the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which was held Jan. 26, revealed several positive trends, including:

  • Year over year, there was a 4% decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness and a 14% decrease in unsheltered homelessness.
  • Compared to 2022, there was an 18% increase in people exiting to permanent housing, and 92% of that group remained housed after 12 months.
  • Chronic homelessness decreased 32% since 2022.

These numbers indicate that our community is making progress by implementing permanent solutions that prevent homelessness—such as housing stability programs and support of more affordable housing—while also serving people who are already experiencing homelessness.

Unfortunately, this year’s count also revealed some ongoing challenges:

  • Veteran homelessness increased 21% since last year.
  • Homelessness among youth and families also increased, by 18% and 15%, respectively.
  • Homelessness still affects Black North Texans more frequently. This year’s count found that while Black households make up 20% of the general population of Dallas and Collin counties, they account for 59.5% of the homeless population in those areas.

These numbers indicate that there is still plenty of work to be done to address the inequities that many North Texans—including individuals, families and people of color—face.

Housing Affordability and Accessibility

A lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest contributors to our region’s homelessness situation. And unfortunately, our supply of affordable housing is only getting more limited, according to a new report.

“The State of Dallas Housing: 5-Year Comparison Report”—which was prepared by buildingcommunityWORKSHOP and sponsored by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, The Dallas Foundation and The Meadows Foundation—focuses on the ways in which Dallas’ housing landscape has changed over the last five years.

The report found that multiple factors are making homeownership significantly challenging for North Texans with incomes at or near the median (around $58,000 a year). For example:

  • Dallas has 38,642 fewer homes valued at or around $100,000 when compared to 2016, which marks a significant decrease in the amount of housing stock available to homebuyers making $25,000 to $35,000 a year.
  • Dallas is losing housing stock that would typically be associated with “naturally occurring” affordable housing (homes that become more affordable as they get older). The majority of housing stock lost was built between 1940-1990, which commonly provides housing affordable to low- to moderate-income households.
  • Compared to 2016, Southern Dallas has 40,215 fewer homes valued at $150,000 or below. In 2021 only 12% of home sales in Southern Dallas were in the $150,000 or less price range.

Meanwhile, as the cost of buying a home puts ownership out of reach for many North Texans, rental prices reached an all-time high in 2021. Although average rents have started to stabilize over the last year or so, the average one-bedroom rental is still more than $1,350 and the average two-bedroom is more than $2,000—far beyond what many local families can afford.

When people don’t have access to affordable housing, they often struggle to balance rent, bills and other financial responsibilities. For many North Texans, it becomes impossible to keep up with a high rent or mortgage payment, which can lead to homelessness. That’s why at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, our work includes improving housing stability and preventing evictions so we can keep people from entering the cycle of homelessness.

United Way Prevents Evictions and Supports Affordable Housing

Homelessness is a complex problem that requires multifaceted solutions and broad community involvement.

“Homelessness does not exist because of one, single factor—rather, it’s a series of forces that manifest as homelessness,” said Ashley Brundage, executive director of housing stability and senior vice president of community impact at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

In the 2022 State of Homelessness Address, Brundage explained that the systems in place to help prevent and end homelessness are just as complex. But they can essentially be broken down into four parts:

  1. Prevention programs that stabilize individuals to make sure they don’t fall into poverty
  2. Housing creation to actively expand affordable housing
  3. Rehousing services, where organizations engage with people experiencing homelessness, bring them into shelters and then rehouse them
  4. Street services to manage and care for individuals living on the streets

Many of our community partners, such as Housing Forward, excel at services such as rehousing and care for people who are already experiencing homelessness. At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we work further “upstream,” with a focus on preventing homelessness by improving housing stability for North Texas families and advocating for affordable housing.

One successful prevention initiative is the Dallas Rental Assistance Collaborative (DRAC), which provides rental and utility assistance so people can stay in their homes. In the early days of COVID-19, as federal relief dollars began flowing to our region to prevent an eviction crisis, the City of Dallas chose us as a trusted partner to help lead DRAC and unite the community around the issue of housing stability.

Working with more than a dozen partner organizations, we served more than 7,000 households throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in March 2020, DRAC provided more than $30 million in rental and utility assistance, helping to prevent an eviction crisis in our communities.

In 2021, we also helped launch the Targeted Eviction Prevention Program (TEPP), which provides comprehensive case management to families on the verge of eviction to help stabilize their lives.

Meanwhile, we advocate continually for policy changes that will increase the supply of affordable housing in North Texas. During the most recent Texas legislative session, our team provided a unique perspective to the housing policy landscape based on our experience providing rental assistance. Through testimony and one-on-one meetings, we provided insight into the efficacy, administration and benefits of certain policies to help give legislators a well-rounded understanding of the obstacles facing tenants, and benefits and disadvantages of varying solutions.

You Can Improve Housing in North Texas

If you’re interested in working with us to improve housing stability in our community, here are three ways to get involved right now:

  • Give: Donate to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to support housing stability and eviction prevention initiatives.
  • Advocate: Call or email your representatives and tell them you support affordable housing throughout our community. (Click here to find your elected officials and their contact info.) And be sure to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts to receive information on our top policy priorities, such as affordable and equitable housing.
  • Volunteer: We frequently host volunteer events that support housing stability and homelessness prevention. Fill out our general volunteer interest form, and we’ll let you know about upcoming programs that fit your interests.