Literacy – Cathy Jones, Executive Director of Austin Partners in Education
Statistics reveal that the academic achievement gap falls hardest on ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged students, groups associated with lower academic achievement, reduced high school graduation rates, and diminished economic futures. If population projections prove accurate, Austin will become predominantly Hispanic, young, and under-educated in the near future. Low educational attainment and skill level in the majority of the workforce could lead to losses of economic opportunity and high social costs.
These rapid demographic changes are magnifying the need for community programs, like those Austin Partners in Education provides, to support Austin ISD students’ literacy and ensure a healthy, vibrant economic future for our city. Reading on grade level by third grade is the most important indicator of high school graduation and career success, and reading comprehension skills are essential in middle school for understanding increasingly complex content in all subjects. Community volunteers at these junctures have the power to boost students’ self-confidence and help them succeed academically and personally. The need for community engagement in schools is greater than ever.
Poverty/Basic Needs – Debbie Bresette, President of United Way for Greater Austin
On average, 140 people move to Austin each day. Of those, 30% are the working poor. United Way for Greater Austin asks our new elected officials to represent and serve ALL residents of Austin to be sure this great city offers everyone the opportunity to thrive.
There is still much to be done to remove barriers to economic opportunity in Austin, including early intervention for school readiness; high-quality, after-school programs for middle school students; and access to affordable, quality childcare, among others.
United Way for Greater Austin congratulates all of the newly elected officials. We look forward to working with you and assisting you.
Seniors’ Services – Dan Pruett, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels & More
Austin’s a great place to live. But while many people view our city as a community full of 20- and 30-somethings, the reality is Austin has the fastest growing ‘pre-senior’ population (age 55-64) in the country and ranks second nationally in senior population (age 65+) growth.
As the head of a nonprofit that serves thousands of older adults, and a member of the city’s Commission on Seniors, I see and hear every day of older adults in our community who struggle to survive, often living on as little as $700 a month. These are people who worked hard when they were younger, raised families, and played by the rules. Now, in their twilight years, they face an extremely tenuous existence.
I urge our city leaders to keep this oft-forgotten demographic in mind as they craft public policy so we can ensure older adults in Austin are productive, independent and healthy.