A Year of Uniting – Moving Families Out Of Poverty

This time of year, many of us take stock of our financial well-being and plan for the year ahead.  But according to Prosperity Now, 46% of families in Boston and 33% of families in Massachusetts do not have enough savings to weather an unexpected financial crisis without falling into poverty. What’s more, families who are living paycheck to paycheck are at greater risk of slipping into homelessness or falling prey to predatory lending products that will make their financial situations even worse.

But with your support, our partnerships throughout the region helped create more opportunity for thousands of families last year.  In 2019, United Way funded 63 nonprofit community organizations working to provide financial coaching and credit-building services.  Our investment of more than $5.1 million paid off – helping more than 15,734 families access financial coaching and services that helped them reach important milestones such as creating a budget, saving money and building credit – and more importantly, planning for their future. Here are three more ways United Way brought together the right partners in the community to improve the financial well-being of families in 2019.

We celebrated our first year of Boston Builds Credit,  a first-in-the-nation partnership to help more than 25,0000 Bostonian’s achieve a prime credit score and greater financial resilience.

With support from partners like Citi, Bank of America and the Kraft Family, Boston Builds Credit helped over 1,560 people access one-on-one financial coaching and helped over 520 people increase their credit scores by 30 or more points.  We’re proud to partner with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the City of Boston’s Office for Financial Empowerment and LISC Boston on this unique and groundbreaking initiative to address income inequality in our city. Stay tuned in 2020 for the launch of a new city-wide public information campaign and an expansion of the City’s Youth Credit Building Initiative.

We took our passion for credit building to the State House…and to the airwaves.

This summer, we joined Senator Jamie Eldridge, WinnCompanies and community partners like Jewish Community Relations Council and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) to offer testimony on legislation that would help create upward economic mobility for individuals and families by allowing for credit building through reporting on-time rent payments. The legislation is currently under review by the Joint Committee on Housing.

We also partnered with WCVB-TV to host a first ever Project CommUNITY “televent,” where volunteers fielded calls from over 350 viewers with basic financial questions. “This CommUNITY initiative is a chance to shed light on the important topic of financial literacy and its integral role in combatting poverty here in the Boston area,” said Bill Fine, WCVB President and General Manager. “Along with our longtime partners the United Way, our goal of the televent was to provide tangible resources and tools people can use to help alleviate the daily stresses of providing for their families and making ends meet.”

We focused on closing the skills gap facing workplaces across our region and at the same time provide new career pathways to unemployed and underemployed workers. 

Last year, through funds raised in workplace campaigns and from individual donors, United Way invested over $2 million in 17 community-based organizations that focus on job skills training that is connected to a defined career pathway and driven by regional employer needs.  United Way also funded eight financial opportunity centers including JVS Boston, Lawrence CommunityWorks, Quincy Community Action Programs, Community Teamwork, and more to provide job training and readiness programs with resume building and interview skill development. The results:  nearly 2,000 people were placed in industry-specific jobs with career pathways, over 1,000 workers earned an industry-recognized certificate, credential or degree. 

Stay tuned for more posts this month looking back on how together, we are leveraging the power of our region’s nonprofit and business community to create change that lasts for children and families.