Jobs, Homes and Financial Stability: See What Our Income Quarter is All About

Career Life Expo
More than 500 jobseekers visited the Career Life Expo last winter in search of employment and other resources.

When more than 530 jobseekers walked into United Way’s Career Life Expo last February, they found 83 employers ready to talk about job opportunities.

But day to day, many people can’t pursue such opportunities because of barriers such as lack of identification, incomplete education, lack of housing and no transportation. That’s why the Expo also featured a wealth of nonprofit resources ready to address those barriers to employment.

Likewise, United Way’s work to increase economic stability covers many bases.

Many people face a large challenge. Employment is up since the Great Recession, but mostly in the low-salary sector. The result is a large population of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed)—people who work but don’t earn enough to afford basic necessities or manage a major crisis. The effect is especially felt among ethnic minorities; local unemployment for African-Americans and multi-racial residents is high at 15.65 percent, compared to 6.75 for whites.

Our community goal in Income is to transition 8,500 households to economic stability by 2025. To get there, we’re focusing on stable and affordable housing as well as programs that help low-income and working families earn more income.

In 2018, United Way invested $1,378,045 in 35 programs at 23 agencies across the region focused on financial stability. United Way partnerships and programs help working individuals earn credentials (skill building, advanced education, etc.) and compete for jobs and wage growth. This strengthens workforces and increases the number of workers. We also help remove barriers to employment, educate business owners and policymakers on better processes, and equip vulnerable residents to gain economic stability.

Over the next three months, you’ll hear a lot about why Income is one of our four main focus areas, what kind of work we’re doing in this area and what has resulted. We’ll highlight stories, issues and events that shed light on what financial instability looks like in our region.

On our website, as well as our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, you’ll find stories of impact, agency spotlights, volunteer profiles and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to join us for several Income-centered events.

Get Involved

We encourage you to learn more, and challenge you to find a way to plug in. Here are a few ways to do so:

Pop Up Giving: Join us to make an instant impact. Our next event will be held March 12. Follow us on Facebook or visit our Pop Up Giving page for more information.

Impact Tours: Ride along and experience impact as we visit agencies in Kalamazoo on Feb. 26 and Battle Creek on Feb. 28. Email for registration details.

Career Life Expo: More than a job fair. Email to find out how you can participate in the March 26 event.