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Many individuals and families living in our communities are walking a financial tightrope barely surviving let alone trying to save for a home, college, or retirement. United Way is working to identify and solve the underlying causes of financial hardship. We support programs that help people save money, such as the Earn It! Keep It! Save It! program and help reduce homelessness and increase affordable housing in our areas.
Through the community aspirations process held two years ago, 300 community participants identified education and economic self-sufficiency as the most important issues facing our five-county region. This information was valuable to United Way's Board of Directors in the identification of core priorities, the development of our strategic plan and clear definition of goals in the areas of education, income and health. In income, the goal is to cut by half the number of families lacking financial stability by 2020 by supporting programs and initiatives promoting financial stability by working with families and individuals to increase income and build savings and stabilizing individuals and families in crisis by providing homelessness prevention and basic needs supports and services.
The following investments are being made through the 2011 volunteer-led Strategic Fund Investment Process:
Committee on the Shelterless (COTS):Rent Right program in Sonoma County - this rigorous nine-week course in financial literacy and housing search is taught by volunteer professionals from the banking, real estate, mortgage, financial advisement, and property management sectors. Program participants are mentored by a community volunteer. Budgeting, credit repair, housing search are part of the curriculum offered to participants with the goal being to move families into stable housing and take control of their finances. Funding from United Way will allow COTS to expand this important service to Santa Rosa by partnering with Catholic Charities in providing services to 90 individuals and families.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: Coach-2-Career in Sonoma County empowers clients to accomplish employment goals, foster a long-term sense of self-confidence and self-capacity, establish and sustain employment, and to ultimately reduce client reliance on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other state-subsidized benefits. With support from United Way, 75 individuals will improve employment readiness by building confidence, recognize strengths, improve communication skills, develop resumes, practice for interviews, and seek and obtain employment.
Lake Family Resource Center:Rural Economic Empowerment Program in Lake County seeks to build financial literacy for community members through targeted workshops on credit awareness and management, budgeting and the importance of banking, savings and planning for retirement. This program will be coupled with their Earn It! Keep It! Save It! tax preparation sites and offered to all eligible individuals. Funding from United Way will allow them to extend and expand their reach to empower individuals and families to take steps toward financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Junior Achievement's Project EXCEL: Expanding Confidence and Economic Leadership will empower 200 fifth and sixth grade students in Mendocino County to apply these targeted lessons to make them more financially stable adults and equip them with the capacity to increase their earning potential. With United Way funding, they will be able to bring this program to Fort Bragg and expand the program in Ukiah.
North Coast Opportunity (NCO) to support Food For All Mendocino: A local coalition working to reduce hunger and encourage healthy eating through the promotion of food stamps and local food resources. The program will significantly add to the purchasing power of food stamp recipients at the farmers' markets in Ukiah, Willits, and Laytonville. At the same time, this program will increase the economic prosperity of local farmers by expanding and diversifying their customer base. In addition, Food For All will work with NCO partners in Lake County to establish the Food Stamp Match Program at a Lake County Farmer's market.
When families are financial stable, the resulting benefits ripple out to good health and receiving a quality education, helping to make a stronger community.
Your contribution creates real, lasting change, by supporting United Way's efforts to help individuals and families become financial stable.
Lend your voice in supporting key issues affecting income. Advocate for important policies and legislation. Share what you know with key business and community leaders who can influence public policy as well as getting your friends and family involved.
Donate your time and expertise to tutor children. We can help you find great opportunities to make a difference.