A Guest Post by Delores Hurst, Director of Income Stability
What is Income Stability? As one of Capital Area United Way’s priority areas, people often look at these terms and automatically think job stability or gainful employment. Though job stability and gainful employment are key elements, we take a broader approach to what income stability really means for a community.
For an organization like CAUW, it is establishing people on the right path to becoming financially stable for the long term. It is important to realize that financial stability is in every aspect of our lives. Income has an impact on the decisions we make around food, housing, transportation, health, and education. Finance and income level is what helps us measure ALICE, the demographic that we serve at CAUW. ALICE is those individuals who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households would get the most benefit from income stability services because the goal is to assist those who are ALICE to build those assets that are limited to them. That is why we focus our grant Request for Proposals (RFP’s) and accept proposals to fund income stability programs that are focused on teaching financial wellness and job stability/readiness. Both are fundamental for someone to build assets and gain a solid financial future. We are proud that the Income Stability Programs that we support have incorporated financial coaching, financial literacy education, and workforce development.
In our internal work, we have taken on the role to fulfill needs in that area in taxes, workforce development, financial coaching/ education, and banking knowledge to meet the needs of the ALICE population. Through taxes, we have the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) where we assist over 6500 low to moderate income clients with free tax services. We have also been supporters and have signed petitions as advocates of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit while also working to make sure the homeless, prior incarcerated individuals, and families of the incarcerated received stimulus payments to support their households. Through the VITA program, we were able to pilot free financial coaching services in 2021 where we assisted 35 clients with setting goals for budgeting, saving, tax liabilities, and retirement. We found a need for the veterans in workforce development, so we implemented the United4Vet Initiative with the goal of getting veterans hired. In October 2021, we hosted an in-person employment readiness workshop, in partnership in NextOp. We connected 11 veterans to five companies through mock interview. Four of those veterans were hired on the spot and 2 left with interviews scheduled for the next week. The remaining vets continued case management through NextOp and will be assisted until hired. The goal for 2022 is consistent employment workshops where we hope to get more vets hired. As a final initiative, we welcomed Bank On Baton Rouge to be housed officially under CAUW. In 2020 and 2021, Bank On Baton Rouge, a coalition of banking partners, reached over 25,000 households with financial literacy education workshops, table sits and webinars. Bank On’s goal for 2022 is to promote alternative banking option to get more people banked, to host financial literacy education workshops quarterly, and to explore financial coaching options using financial technology.
For 2022, Capital Area United Way’s overall goal for income stability is to work closely with partners in expanding their programs, to stabilize and build out our own initiatives, and to dip our hats in more advocacy efforts around tax law, predatory lending, and financial technology. We want to make a real and lasting impact towards moving the needle of households living as ALICE.
To get involved reach out to me, Delores Hurst at firstname.lastname@example.org.