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United Way Bay Area

Ending the Cycle of Poverty

We take an innovative, holistic approach to ending the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area through advocacy and programs that support all ages—providing free access to family support, financial stability, job opportunities and basic needs. 

Financial Stability
  • SparkPoint enters offer free one-on-one coaching to help people attain better jobs, improve their credit, and create a personalized financial plan. 
  • Last year, 13 SparkPoint centers assisted 5,504 individuals, with more than 80% of the participants making progress towards their goals. Six SparkPoint Community Schools were established in K-12 schools with in-house SparkPoint services.
  • Our Earn It! Keep It! Save It! (EKS) program provides free tax preparation for low- and moderate-income households and puts millions of dollars back into the local economy.
  • In 2016, more than 3,500 EKS volunteers at 250 locations filed 80,970 tax returns, equating to $84 million in refunds. 
Job Opportunities
  • Innovative programs like MatchBridge help young adults identify their interests, stay engaged in school and find a path to well-paying jobs.
  • Working with programs such as Mayor’s Youth Jobs+, we connected 7,937 youth with jobs, internships, and job training in 2015.   
Basic Needs
  • Through our partnership with 211, we create a system that protects the most vulnerable individuals and families by providing a helpline for urgent needs like food and shelter.
    • Last year, our eight counties answered 191,626 calls and provided information to 132,048 visitors online. 211 operates 24 hours a day, in more than 150 languages.
    • The Emergency Food and Shelter Program distributed federal and state funds to assist social services programs in providing 1.5 million meals, 70,000 bed nights of shelter, and 244 rent bills for FY16. 
  • Emergency Assistance Network (EAN) Santa Clara County: United Way’s program that creates a safety net of essential services for all Santa Clara County residents.
    • Last year, 12,000+ local households were helped by safety-net agencies, including the Emergency Assistance Network partners, with food, rental and utility assistance, medicine or transportation-- helping to keep them in their homes and avoid eviction or utility shutoffs.
    • The Labor-United Way partnership combines the power of more than 12.5 million working families and their communities toward a shared vision where all have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. 
    • Last year, our labor liaisons helped 575 Bay Area families receive direct hardship assistance with housing, health, utilities, job access issues, and other emergencies. 
the Big Picture
  • Our giving and volunteer programs allow everyone in our community to be a philanthropist, regardless of how much they earn or where they live.
  • In addition to running our poverty-cutting programs, we raise funds for other nonprofits in the community through workplace campaigns and individual efforts—more than they could raise on their own. Last year, we fundraised $42.4 million for 2,000 other nonprofits.
  • Recognizing the importance of policy in ending the cycle of poverty, we also advocate for a variety of poverty-cutting measures. Last year we successfully advocated for increased minimum wage in San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville—and a California state Earned Income Tax Credit that will support struggling, low-income families throughout the region, among others.
  • Recognizing the importance of systems change in ending the cycle of poverty, we also advocate for a variety of poverty-cutting policies. In 2015, our efforts supported the reauthorization of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and California’s adoption of its own State EITC. Another key victory was achieved on children’s health care, with the expansion of full-scope Medi-Cal services to all children under age 18, regardless of immigration status.