Change a girl, change the world. These nonprofits know that. They know that when a girl or woman is lifted up, she lifts up her whole family, maybe even her whole community.
According to the 2017 Status Report on Women & Children in Central Texas, commissioned by the Women’s Fund of Austin, “Ensuring the economic security of women in Central Texas is key to alleviating poverty across our community.” Unfortunately, according to the report, despite the fact that Central Texas women have a higher educational attainment level than men and women entrepreneurs in Austin are in many ways thriving, they continue to be paid less than men and are in fewer leadership positions, which means they have less economic security – especially if they’re the head of their household. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Austin-area single mothers and their children live in poverty compared to 10 percent of the general population.
Programs that work to make sure women have access to higher education, better jobs, child care, healthcare, safe environments, and leadership training put more Central Texas women on a path to financial security. When they can do better for their families, they do better for their community.
The following nonprofits focus mostly on girls and young women, and unabashedly so. They’re looking for volunteers who can be role models, mentors, support staff, childcare helpers… anyone who can fill a role for a woman temporarily so she can have some space to improve herself and her family. Remember, if you’re working around women, you’ll probably be working around kids, so more will require a background check and some training.
AVANCE Austin is a parenting and early childhood education program that creates an environment where mother and child can both thrive. It focuses on Latina women who might be feeling isolated and fustrated, offering language and culturally appropriate services, and empowers them to lift up their kids and lift up themselves. Graduates of the AVANCE program often become the most engaged parents at their children’s schools, and leaders in their communities. We’ve witness first-hand the power of their programs and have heard AVANCE moms evangelize about their work. AVANCE is looking for volunteers who can help in the classroom, help in the toy-making class (super fun!), help with special events, and help in the office.
Con Mi MADRE ensures a young Latina’s educational success by supporting her and engaging her mother. They know getting the mom involved is the secret, and they have proven success with a 100 percent high school graduation rate and a 54 percent college graduation rate.
Dress for Success sounds a little too simple. Can you really change a woman’s life by providing her with an interview suit? Well, it’s definitely a start. Changing her look changes her attitude, and more importantly, changes the way others see her. Once she has an attitude that makes her ready for success, Dress for Success offers her financial literacy education, helps her perfect her interview skills, healthy relationship lessons, and more. Plus, it offers women a network of support with a lot of that help coming from volunteers. They’re looking for image consultants, career advocates, mentors and life coaches, plus general office support.
GENAustin exists to build girls’ self-esteem. It’s programs, camps, and events empower girls to celebrate themselves and lift each other up. We’ve been to several of their events and always feel like taking on the world when we leave. Volunteers of all skills and talents are welcome, especially those who can be a role model for girls, teach them a skill, or just share your confidence and experience.
Girl Scouts Central Texas is a girls-empowerment giant. Having been a scout and led a troop myself, I know the transformational power this organization can make on a girl’s life. Just giving her the opportunity to test herself, explore her community, have women role models, and ask certain questions – all in a safe, supportive space – can make a big difference. This is a volunteer-heavy organization, but you don’t have to be a mom to get involved. Learn what you can offer.
Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center is a shelter that serves victims of family violence, sexual assault, and child abuse in the San Marcos area. Through a number of services, including a 50-person shelter, the Women’s Center is stretching to meet the needs of this rapidly growing community. Volunteering can range from direct-service, which requires substantial training and background checks, to special project or administrative volunteers.
Jeremiah Program is another two-generation model that supports both the children and the single mother. It creates a supportive community around the family by providing an affordable place to live, early childhood education, life skills, and more. Volunteers can help prepare meals, care for children, guide women through life-skills training, tutor women working to get their degree, help welcome new families, and more.
Latinitas empowers girls and young women you generally don’t hear from enough – Latinas. This organization is near and dear to our hearts since our founder is a Latina in media and tech, and understands the need for more representation in the media world. With hands-on instruction and giving them the opportunity to explore, Latinitas teaches them how to use media and technology to express themselves and experiment in a growing professional field. Many of its graduates go on to careers in tech and media, then come back and mentor other girls. Volunteers might help at one of their many events for girls, might find themselves speaking to a enthusiastic after-school group, or working alongside a group of girls for a semester.
Mama Sana Vibrant Woman offers free, culturally appropriate pregnancy and birth support to Black and Latina women in Austin. Studies have shown that Black and Latina women are less likely to receive prenatal care and often have poor maternal outcomes, as well as a higher infant mortality rate. Mama Sana programs take place across the city, so you might find one near you. They need help with children’s activities, meal preparation, marketing support, and more.
SAFE Alliance is the merger of the Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, recognizing that they often serve some of the same families – and that abuse can be passed down to the next generation. It offers a number of volunteer opportunities for those who wish to offer their professional skills as well as those looking for a direct-service opportunity. Big hearts and lots of training required for some of these programs.
St. Louise House serves very low-income single mothers who are seeing the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their children. It provides affordable housing and overall support to these families to put them on a path toward success. And they need all the help. They’re always looking for individual and group volunteers who can help with one-time special projects like setting up apartments for new families or preparing a welcome meal to regular gigs like working in their office or helping with childcare.
Who are we missing? Let us know in the comments.