Empowering Financial Freedom

Financial stability impacts every aspect of our lives. We’re investing in partners and solutions that help people increase income, build credit and savings and reduce debt.
As we work to realize an economically just region, we envision fostering community ecosystems that help families achieve and maintain stability and create pathways for upward economic mobility. We will equip individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed financial decisions through financial empowerment and coaching program strategies. We will partner with them throughout their financial journeys by creating inclusive spaces that amplify community voices to push for positive policy changes. We will strive to break down the systemic barriers that hinder individual progress, and design supports and financial resources to help working individuals increase earned income, build savings, reduce debt, and ultimately, accumulate personal wealth.

Our Network of Wealth Building Partners

Our financial empowerment program strategies and partner networks have developed over 15 years of best practices and experience helping individuals and families to gain financial knowledge and skills and achieve economic stability and upward mobility. By collectively and purposely working together to address a common problem, multi sector players can leverage their efforts and adapt practices that are more impactful and effective than when working alone.

Amplifying the Community Voice 

United Way is redirecting our community strategies for greater impact. We recognize that one of the best sources of ideas and solutions is the people we intend to assist. During the spring of 2022, we engaged in a series of town halls and community surveys that revealed the richness of experiences and aspirations when it comes to defining financial wellbeing. Participants identified 532 unique indicators. Most described financial wellbeing in the future tense, with goals such as homeownership, debt freedom, and ability to afford luxuries, demonstrating their aspirations to improve their quality of life. Twenty-eight percent also described financial wellbeing in terms of meeting immediate needs such as having enough food and keeping up with housing costs. Fourteen percent cited a combination of future aspirations and immediate needs. This rich and varied feedback reminds us that our vision and strategy must remain human-centered—financial wellbeing is just as much an experience as it is an outcome.  

Building financial empowerment ecosystems in focus communities.

Our work with municipalities toward building financial empowerment ecosystems in focus communities has led to proven strategies such as individual development accounts, credit builder loans, lending circle programs, and other matched savings strategies are modernizing in design and receiving financial support to scale. By leveraging our financial empowerment and financial opportunity center networks, UW can provide technical assistance and strategic investments to build community ecosystems of wealth building programs that scale into population level solutions that tackle the racial wealth gap.

Engaging the banking and philanthropic sectors.

Financial institutions and their respective foundations have been a traditional source of support for financial empowerment programs. Several institutions have recently announced commitments to racial equity and systems change, including Eastern Bank, TD Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Santander Bank, and Citi.

Matched Savings

Matched Savings provide individuals with incentives to save money toward specific financial goals (such as homeownership, small business, auto purchase or education) by providing an additional match amount (usually on a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio) upon completion of the program, applied toward the investment or asset purchase. Co-led by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and The Midas Collaborative, the Matched Savings Coalition brings together advocates, practitioners, and those with lived experience to advocate for the Matched Savings Bill, SB.628; HB.1023, which allows participants to save up to $20,000 with a 4:1 match. Matched Savings empowers participants to be financially independent.

Guaranteed Basic Income

Guaranteed basic income is a direct cash benefit that provides people with a monthly payment/stipend without restriction of use, under the theory that individuals should be trusted to use the resources productively to improve their financial position. The idea was first tested in a partnership with the Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the Shah Family Foundation to launch Chelsea Eats, the largest guaranteed income pilot of its kind in the country. The evaluation found that even a small amount of money per month yielded statistically significant improvements in food security, and that providing these cash transfers did not negatively impact residents’ willingness to work. In fact, those who received the cash assistance were more likely to be working than those who did not receive the assistance.