This month, we onboarded a new cohort of grantees for our inaugural 2-year grant cycle. For the first time since the launch of our competitive grant-making model, we’ve awarded funding to local nonprofits for a 24-month cycle. We are excited to make a funding commitment to these community partners for a two-year stint, with our grant application process now shifting to an every-other-year cadence.

These nonprofits serve our community tirelessly every day and your investment in United Way helps their programs serve even more individuals and families. Your local giving has local impact.

Join us in giving a warm welcome to our new Funded Partners in each of our three impact areas:


Education Programs

Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children – Prevention & Education, Victim’s Center

Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas – CIS Model Programming Expansion

Girl Scouts of Central Texas – Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

Inspiracion – Inspiracion

Mentoring Alliance – Afterschool Program

The Arc of McLennan County – School-Aged Childcare for Children with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

The Cove – Senior Youth Advocate


Education Programs

Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas – Emergency Baby and Maternity Assistance

Family Abuse Center – HOPES Program

Greater Waco Legal Services – School-Legal Partnership

STARRY, Inc. – STARRY Fatherhood

Financial Stability Programs

Christian Women’s Job Corps of McLennan County – GED Track

Grassroots Community Development – Financial Literacy

Health Programs

Community Doulas of Waco – Birth & Postpartum Doula Support

La Puerta – La Puerta Affordable Counseling Services


Safety Net Services Programs

Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children – Victims Center

American Gateways – Immigration Legal Services for Families in McLennan County

CASA of McLennan County – Court Appointed Special Advocates

Community Cancer Association – Disease Maintenance

Community Cancer Association – Survivorship

Family Abuse Center – Safety Shelter

Mission Waco Mission World – My Brother’s Keeper/Social Services

Financial Stability Programs

Greater Waco Legal Services – Legal Services for Empowered Property Owners

Click on any of the agency names above to learn more about the work our Funded Partners do for residents of McLennan County.

If your nonprofit has been interested in applying for a United Way grant, stay tuned for our next round of eligibility opening up in the Fall of 2024.

We’d also like to recognize the 2023 Community Investment Council and Financial Review Council members for their volunteer work to review submitted grant applications and make funding recommendations to our Board of Directors. Each grant cycle, these community volunteers bring a diverse array of lived and professional expertise to these decision-making tables, carefully deliberating to ultimately select non-profit programs to receive United Way funding. Their work is rooted in our strategic commitment to authentic Community Engagement, by allowing residents of McLennan County to shape our investments into our local community, ensuring that United Way giving makes an impact on our children, families and communities.


Funded Partner Spotlight

Pursuing Goals

Tonya is a strong, independent mother of three adult children who came to us seeking assistance in obtaining her Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certification as part of the case management program. She was driven and determined to achieve her goals; she took seriously the responsibilities that came with the program. She attended financial literacy classes that we offer and met the McLennan Community College CNA program requirements. She is currently employed in the healthcare field fulltime while taking LVN classes. Even with a hectic schedule, Tonya does not let anything get in her way when it comes to furthering her education and achieving her goals, one at a time.

Parenting Wins

A client recently relayed to their Parent Educator how she had the opportunity to successfully use some of the discipline/parenting tips she learned in our program with her child and then got to share them with another parent! As it was time to leave the store, her child protested. She remembered how children often can feed off of parents and mirror their reactions/responses, so instead of raising her voice or responding negatively, she calmly talked with him until he, in turn, calmed down. A mom nearby had witnessed the whole thing and came over to explain how impressed she was by how my client handled the situation so peacefully, noting that she had never thought that would work. The client then shared some of the tips and information that had shaped her parenting and encouraged the mom that “it really works!”

First Time for Everything

Jessica moved here 8 years ago and decided at the beginning of 2020 she was ready to officially call Waco home for her and her boys. She decided it was time for her “to take a leap of faith into homeownership” and she decided to enroll in our financial literacy and homebuyer program. She began taking financial literacy classes, going to homebuyer coaching sessions with our staff, and started the process of picking out house colors and designs.

Then the unexpected happened, the pandemic began and the unusual snow and ice disrupted things more. Everything was put on hold. Jessica shared that “it was discouraging but I never gave up. I kept my faith high and prayed my way through. Your team was also there to encourage me to trust the process and not give up.”

We are so grateful to work with determined clients like Jessica who don’t give up on their dreams of becoming homeowners. We are here to support you through the process of buying your home whether it takes a few months, 2 years, or even longer. We want to be there for the moment that you, like Jessica, get to shout, “I’m a homeowner!”

*all agency and client names have been altered to protect client privacy


88th Texas Legislative Session

At the end of May, the 88Th Texas Legislative Session came to a close. This was our first session dipping our toes into the waters of advocacy on behalf of McLennan County children and families. Our team took two trips to the Capitol to strengthen relationships with our regional elected officials and learn about what work is being done in our legislature to take care of Texans.

Our work as an Early Matters Texas region took us to the Capitol in March to advocate for some key bills pertaining to early childhood education, per the community’s wishes outlined in our Community Action Plan. While our Early Matters network did not have an official legislative agenda this session, we supported the agendas of some other statewide early childhood partners like Children at Risk and Texans Care for Children.

Spearheaded by Early Matters Greater Austin board members, Tom Hedrick and Sandy Dochen, our network worked with partners to draft a letter to state leadership from the business community calling for greater support for child care. We collected 200 signatures from leaders across the state in only 8 days, which opened the door for conversations with the Governor’s, Lt. Governor’s, and Speaker’s offices. Many thanks to our local partners who signed the letter adding key voices from our local business and government community.

Here’s a recap of the bills we tracked and engaged with and how they fared this session.

Later on in March, we joined the Waco delegation from the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce to be recognized in the House and Senate Chambers and hear a legislative briefing from our legislators about the priorities they were working on this session.

Meanwhile, our statewide entity, United Ways of Texas, worked really hard this session to advocate for the health, education, financial stability for all Texans, and support for the nonprofit sector. Local United Ways across the state joined forces to engage in advocacy efforts on behalf of the local communities they serve. For a recap on the United Ways of Texas priority bills and their outcomes, check out this recap report.

Over the upcoming interim period, our goals are to continue to build relationships with our local representatives and cultivate bipartisan champions of early childhood education. We are excited to continue to partner with local residents and the greater Early Matters network to develop creative, bipartisan solutions to solve some of the most critical challenges facing McLennan County children and families.


Community Building in McLennan County

Think about a time where you’ve felt seen by and connected to the people around you. Maybe it was a meal dropped off by friends after the loss of a loved one, a parking lot conversation with a stranger at the grocery store, a case manager connecting you to a community resource, receiving sound advice from a parenting workshop, or your friends and family showing up to celebrate your child’s first birthday.

It may be easy for you to recall meaningful interactions with your fellow community members, but for others, these moments of connection and belonging may be fewer and far between. Believe it or not, McLennan County ranks in the bottom 20% nationally in overall social capital. Social capital refers to the available supports and resources in a community that can greatly benefit its residents, and the health of the community overall. The Social Capital Project developed rankings which include several indicators related to family stability, community cohesion, and social organization. Our low county ranking combined with insights from area families tells us that there is still room for improvement in these areas.

In the Are the Children Well? report, connectedness showed up in a variety of different ways and meant different things to different people. Families shared a number of ways that they could be better connected to each other and to the community in order to support their family’s ability to succeed. Overall, parents want to live in a community that offers greater connection to a network of social supports and is conducive to their family’s safety and well-being (check out the report for more specific insights from residents about what connection and belonging means to them).

Parents who participated in our child well-being research rated “having a social support network” as the #1 aspect that most impacts their family’s well-being. Parents recognize that their own social and mental health directly impacts their family’s ability to be well. This longing for connection was true across parents of all races, genders, and economic backgrounds. We must hear this as a call to action and begin creating spaces where all community members can feel connected to each other.

We at United Way, along with our area partners, are thinking intentionally about how to implement strategies that residents shared with us to help in creating a community of connection and belonging. Some of these strategies include: ensuring community events and information are available in Spanish, increasing access to community-specific news outlets, providing supportive classes and groups for caregivers of children, and hosting community gatherings and activities to promote connection and belonging, such as coffee for new parents, family park playdates, and neighborhood events. What are some ways, big or small, that you can build more community connection? It could be as simple as bringing a cold treat to a neighbor you haven’t met yet, striking up a conversation with someone at the park, starting a book club, or joining your neighborhood association. So many people in our community long for meaningful interpersonal connection and it just takes one person to ask or initiate.

“As a United Way CIC member, I’ve had the opportunity to champion the way forward at increasing the equity in grant-making. Collectively, we strive to move the dial in a direction whereby funded programs are representative of the communities they serve.”

Paula Solano, 2021 Community Investment Council Member

1227 N. Valley Mills Drive,
Suite 212,
Waco, TX 76710