United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

 What if a better life was just around the corner?

Thanks to you, individuals and families who are living on the edge of financial disaster are on a path out of poverty and toward financial opportunity. United Way helps those who are struggling to regain their footing and supports their continued climb toward self-sustainability and victory over their circumstances. Our approach focuses on:

  • Job training and placement
  • Budget coaching and financial education
  • Affordable housing and homelessness prevention
  • Emergency assistance with food, heat, housing and access to benefits

Point of impact

This simple approach to reducing poverty may surprise you

For many, poor credit is the biggest barrier standing in the way of financial opportunity. In fact, more than 250,000 people in Suffolk County have either no credit scores or poor credit scores. That’s more than a quarter-million people who have no savings buffer for income ups-and-downs or emergencies, which can very quickly lead to a financial crisis.

Joan’s crisis began with a layoff from her job. With no income and no health insurance, Joan was on the brink of eviction and homelessness. She came to the Lynn Family Success Center, operated by United Way and Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development in March of 2015, where she was referred to employment counseling and financial coaching.  Read more.

Innovative Partnerships

Boston Builds Credit, the first-ever citywide credit building initiative, is an effort to use credit building to promote financial resilience in Boston.  BBC has an ambitious goal of supporting an estimated 25,000 individuals (approximately 5% of the population) to attain a prime credit score — defined as a 660 — by the year 2025.  Learn more.

The Family Fund provides much-needed emergency assistance during the winter, when struggling families need it the most. Gifts to this fund go toward fuel, utility and basic needs support, which are often the difference between a family keeping their heads above water and grappling with the real threat of homelessness.

The Financial Empowerment Learning Institute (FELI), established in partnership with Citizens Bank, builds the capacity of local non-profit agencies to deliver high-quality financial coaching and financial education services. FELI has evolved into a regional hub for financial capability professional development with one goal: to help low to moderate-income residents strengthen their financial management skills.

Financial Stability Centers, a trailblazing network of “all-under-one-roof” centers, help low-income families get back on their feet and stay there. Located in Lynn, Lawrence, Chelsea, Boston and Quincy, the centers offer financial education and budget coaching, job skills training and adult education. In 2014, 77% of participants achieved a financial milestone such as improving their credit score (some by as much as 31 points), net worth and/or net income. Learn more.

Free Tax Preparation, provided by volunteer tax preparers who sit with individuals and families to navigate tax returns, offers financial tips and helps clients claim their available tax credits. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in particular has delivered the most relief to lower-income taxpaying workers. In 2014, over $8.8 million in refunds and credits were returned to eligible workers. Learn more.

The Thanksgiving Project, the annual United Way and volunteer-powered event, gives full meals for Thanksgiving to those who need it the most. Learn more.