United Way Priority: Spotlight on Income

United Way Priority: Spotlight on Income
By Amanda Michaelis, Executive Director

Simply put, financial stability is having a monetary safety net. When I read that 19% of Kansas Children are in poverty (from the 2014 Kids Count Profile) and that The Urban Institute estimates that 30% of American households live from paycheck to paycheck, I was shocked. Most of the time, we think of those who fall into our work in the “income” sector as those who are ‘in poverty.’ However, if 30% of us are living from paycheck to paycheck, we have to broaden our scope. We cannot go on thinking that we need only to identify and “fix” those who are in the grips of poverty. We have to assume that there are many others who don’t fit our traditional definition of poor and at any minute could have a life-changing event and are no longer able to live the life they are accustomed to. If there is no monetary safety net for 1/3 of our population, another economic downturn could literally wipe out entire communities.

A recent report by FSG details some of the projects that are happening in the Pacific Northwest which aim to disrupt poverty by building financial security using multi-sector, collaborative initiatives. Each of these projects has two focuses: strengthening individual skills, knowledge and capabilities to earn, save, invest and protect PLUS permanent changes in the community itself which allows for additional opportunities to build financial security. We must ensure that our communities have the elements needed for individuals and the community as a whole to thrive. These elements include good schools, equitable land use, civically engaged residents, affordable housing and transportation, access to healthcare, and living-wage job availability.

But, how do we do it? With an issue that is so large and complex, how can we possibly tackle it? What I DO know is that we can’t go it alone. We can’t assume that individual social service agencies and government entities can continue working in their silos and have any real, meaningful, long-lasting effect. We must come together and work in a collaborative, systematic way. We must have many partners at the table. We must be open to new ideas and solutions, and we must be willing to work intentionally for the long-term to make a real difference. The Salina Area United Way is committed to this work. We are seeking out many and varied partners to work on these issues. We are interested in addressing these problems from the root-causes, and not simply band-aiding when symptoms arise. We are working hard each and every day to ensure we ALL have a chance at living the live we envision for ourselves and our families.

Salina Area United Way Income Goal: To create lasting solutions for families to become financially stable.

Click here for a printable PDF with financial literacy tips.