Page 14 - Scene Magazine 44-12 December 2018
P. 14

Non Profit Scene
place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
According to the most recent ALICE report from the Michigan Association of United Ways, 29% of Michigan households are ALICE; another 14% fall below the Federal Poverty Level. In Calhoun County alone, 14,185 households – that’s 1 in 4 – are in the ALICE category; regionally, that number exceeds 41,244.
of Michigan jobs pay less than $20 an hour; two-thirds of those jobs pay under $15 an hour. It’s simply not possible to build a financially stable life in these circumstances.
That’s the daily challenge for ALICE in our regional community, too.
Fortunately, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, along with partner agencies across our region, are targeting needs specific to ALICE:
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. AL- ICE represents hard-working people who nonetheless struggle to make ends meet financially. They’re people you encounter every day. With limited income, their lives are in a state of financial stress. They face tough de- cisions to use what little money they have to pay rent, keep food on the
You might be puzzled to hear these numbers. You might ask, “If the econ- omy is doing well, why aren’t ALICE families doing well?”
• United Way currently invests $1,005,171 each year in financial stability programs, including the Battle Creek Employee Resource Fund (MichiganWorks! Southwest), Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (Goodwill Industries of Central Mich- igan’s Heartland), income emergency services (Community Action), and 15 other programs.
In Lewis Car- roll’s classic book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Red Queen informs young Alice, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in
table, keep the lights on, maintain a car to get to work, or buy medicine to stay well.
– two adults plus one preschooler and one infant – must generate a full-time income of $30.68 an hour just to meet a bare-bones budget, with no room for savings or building assets. Yet 61%
Running Twice As Fast: The Challenge for ALICE
In short, ALICE families run as fast as they can to avoid sliding into poverty.
The reality is this: Low wages, re- duced work hours and depleted savings, combined with increased costs of living, have created an uneven economic recovery in Michigan. A family of four
• In 2017-18, United Way supported programs resulted in 346 individuals receiving workforce training toward a credential (such as a GED, high school diploma, Registered Nurse, etc.); 166 of them earned that creden- tial and gained employment.
• Also in 2017-18, 160 people who re- ceived workplace supports increased their wages.
While these efforts help ALICE families build a stronger financial future, much more work is needed. In the year ahead, United Way will spot- light ALICE so community members better understand the challenges and opportunities to strengthen ALICE families. Our goal is to recruit more people and resources to drive AL- ICE-related initiatives. We invite you to learn more, and discover how you can help, by visiting our website,
Together, we can help ALICE “run faster” to achieve a better life by be- coming financially stable.
Chris Sargent is President & CEO of United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

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