The Path to Prosperity for Children and Families

Blog Stephanie McLemore Bray
February 2019 Blog Post

According to Prosperity Now (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development), a national nonprofit organization that is working to ensure that everyone in our country has a clear path to financial stability, wealth and prosperity, too many families continue to struggle. Prosperity Now projects that forty percent of households are liquid asset poor, meaning they lack the savings to weather a financial shock. Another study, the Real Cost Measure commissioned by United Ways of California, found that in the Sacramento region, too many families do not earn enough to pay rent, feed their families, or afford childcare. 

Because of our Square One Project partnerships, we know that many of these families are one financial emergency away from not having enough resources to sustain them and we have been on the front lines of fighting this crisis.

Our work on anti-poverty programs like Free Tax Prep (formerly VITA), and our partnership with businesses, funders, and local government to provide financial coaching for low-income families, is moving the needle on financial stability and self-sufficiency. We are also helping children and families plan for the future by investing in matched savings accounts for education beyond high school, and for foster youth aging out of care.

This month we launched our annual Free Tax Prep program, which removes the cost of tax preparation and helps eligible families claim the tax credits they are entitled to. Last year, over 8,000 families received assistance, resulting in over $10 million in refunds in the form of State and Federal Earned Income Tax Credits. Our goal is to reach 10,000 families!

Through strategic partnerships with funders, our United Way has provided training to nonprofit partner agencies to become financial coaches for their clients. Presently, we are assisting the City of Sacramento with establishing Financial Empowerment Centers to provide free financial coaching that will teach city residents how to reduce their debt, improve their credit scores, increase their savings and end the use of predatory lending. We see this as an important next step to scaling our work in this area.

And finally, with the help of our United Way volunteer action groups, Women United and the Young Leaders Society, we are supporting the dreams and aspirations of students. Whether the entire kindergarten class in the Robla School District or foster youth aging out of care, our volunteers believe that every child has the potential to succeed. We thank them for their gift of time as mentors, and their financial support as investors. 

As I have said time and again, United Way cannot do this alone. We are grateful to partners like SAFE Credit Union, Citi Community Development, Internal Revenue Service, State of California Franchise Tax Board, SMUD, HealthNet, and others, along with the many volunteers who give so much to help break the cycle for children and families.

We hope you will join us by supporting the Square One Project. It will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.