- About Us
- Our Work
- Find Help
- News & Events
- Day of Action
- Campaign Toolkit
- Contact Us
PROMOTING FINANCIAL STABILITY AND SELF SUFFICIENCY
United Way of Western Connecticut seeks to identify and address underlying causes as an effective way of tackling issues and transforming communities. Yet, community issues stemming from personal, economic, and environmental factors are growing increasingly more complex. The rising costs of housing, healthcare, utilities, and education, coupled with changes in the economy, have left many hardworking individuals struggling to support themselves and their families.
United Way is not in the business of providing direct services, but we do work with our community partners to find ways that we can help people achieve greater, long term success.
One way to help the community in the near term is to increase awareness around tax credits. One of these is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. Some 20 to 25 percent of people are unaware that they are eligible for the tax credit!
Community Impact Initiatives
Community impact initiatives focus clearly on both the lives they aim to benefit and the community conditions they must change in order to improve lives.
United Way's Financial Stability Partnership™, a national initiative focused on financial stability and independence, is designed in steps to help individuals and families to get off the financial tightrope. It helps them to overcome basic subsistence needs, and plan for the future. Some of the beneficial results of this initiative include homeownership, retirement planning, an established saving account, access to credit, small business development, effective financial management, and access to quality childcare and education programs. Through this kind of initiative, we bring our resources and partners to the table so the community as a whole can achieve the vision it sets.
United Way of Western Connecticut creates opportunities for all people to secure safe and affordable housing, acquire skills and training to maintain employment and achieve financial stability leading toward independence.
An adequate income is essential to pay for today’s necessities, save for the future and establish a secure financial foundation. Yet economic stability is quickly getting farther out of reach for many:
- Connecticut has one of the country’s greatest income gaps between the poorest and the wealthiest families
- Median household income in the US had declined by a total of 6.8% (accounting for inflation) since December
- 15.1% of Americans – or 42.5 million people - are now living in povety. The poverty rate is 9.9% in Danbury, 12.3% in Stamford and 6.9% in Litchfield County.
- 9.1% of CT residents were without health insurance in 2010
As the economy continues to sputter, we are seeing a whole new category of people seeking assistance: individuals who are on the financial brink due to job loss, housing foreclosures, crushing medicals costs or personal crisis. Since many of these individuals have never needed help before, they don’t know where to turn and end up seeking help from multiple sources, getting overwhelmed in the process.
In late 2010, United Way assembled volunteers and representatives from the business and nonprofit sectors to determine an effective way to connect financial literacy resources to low-to-moderate income families in Northern Fairfield County. During the review sessions, the team realized that while many area agencies already offer a variety of fiscal literacy or support services to the community, there is a lack of coordinated efforts; little effort to reach out to area businesses to provide economic education; no central intake and management point that individuals seeking financial help can tap; and a lack of follow-up guidance and financial coaching after individuals receive direct assistance.
To remedy this situation, UWWC is launching the Financial Resource Center. Its mission will be to teach residents fundamental economic skills, link them to existing financial services, improve coordination among financial agencies, and help families navigate their way to economic stability. Knowing the financial basics empowers people to move beyond economic hardship and into prosperity.
While the Resource Center will initially focus on light case management and referral work, long-term plans include a wider array of financial security services and financial coaching. United Way intends for the Resource Center to connect residents to savings programs, help resolve credit issues, offer money management assistance, deliver information on benefits, provide education and job assistance and offer free income tax filing services.
To connect with the Finacial Resource Center, contact Karen Mello at 203-297-6674
The Financial Resource Center is at the center of Strong Home, UWWC’s initiative to help low-to-moderate income families become financially stable. In addition to the Partnership, UWWC already offers a wide array of financial assistance:
• UWWC supports Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) centers which help increase awareness of available Earned Income Tax Credits for low-to–moderate income individuals and families.
• We offer FamilyWize prescription cards to those without prescription drug coverage to help reduce the cost of select medicines.
• United Way’s 24-hour hotline – 211 - along with the 211 Navigator online tool (both operated through a partnership with the State of Connecticut) connect those looking for quick answers with available agencies and services. Assistance is offered for everything from basic needs to child care services, crisis intervention, senior and veterans’ services and healthcare.
• UWWC invests in a range of programs that provide job training, literacy skills and job support for those disabilities
• We fund agencies that offer homeless services and housing aid, including homeless shelters, security deposit assistance, affordable housing programs and foreclosure prevention.
Because sometimes people’s needs are immediate, UWWC funds many local programs that offer basic and emergency assistance to those in financial distress: food pantries, clothing distribution and emergency housing to name just a few.
Danbury Food Collaborative
The Danbury Food Collaborative, a group spearheaded and led by United Way of Western Connecticut, is currently comprised of 16 non-profit agencies, including local food pantries, soup kitchens and agencies that deliver meals to the homebound in Danbury. Our mission is to improve access to food, quality of food and sustainability of food for all members of our city.
Danbury Food Collaborative Summary
The Danbury Food Collaborative assures that every member of our community has access to quality food. In the Spring of 2013, United Way of Western Connecticut began gathering the city food programs together for the first time to discuss the needs of the community. From this process, the Danbury Food Collaborative was born. Since that time, the Danbury Food Collaborative has partnered with Community Plates, a non-profit organization that rescues fresh food from local grocery stores and restaurants and currently delivers the food to ten of Danbury’s local pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. The Danbury Food Collaborative has released A Guide to Accessing Food in Danbury, which lists available food pantries, congregate meals sites and opportunities for home delivered meals in Danbury, including days and times of operation and qualifications necessary to receive these services. This Guide is also available in Spanish. In addition, we will issue a survey in the winter of 2013/2014 so that we may learn how best to serve our community going forward.
How to Support the Danbury Food Collaborative
To donate food, contact the pantries directly or call United Way at 203-792-5330. To make a monetary donation, please make check payable to United Way of Western CT, 85 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810 noting “Danbury Food Collaborative” in the memo section of your check.
Danbury Food Collaborative Members
Association of Religious Communities
City of Danbury
Community Action Committee of Danbury
Daily Bread Food Pantry
Danbury Farmer’s Market
Danbury Senior Center
Hispanic Center/Multicultural Center
Hillside Food Pantry
Interfaith Aids Ministry
New Hope Baptist Church
The Salvation Army
United Way of Western Connecticut