ALICE, a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a way of defining and understanding our families, neighbors, and colleagues (men and women) who work hard, earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
ALICE educates our children, keeps us healthy, and makes our quality of life possible. But these low-wage jobs, often in the service sector, do not pay enough for ALICE to live on. These families are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, which have long-term consequences for ALICE and our communities.
What is the United Way ALICE Project?
The United Way ALICE Project is a collaborative effort to improve the lives of vulnerable, low-income ALICE households. Based on the overwhelming success of the research in identifying and communicating the needs of ALICE households, the Project has grown from a pilot in Morris County, New Jersey in 2007, to the entire state of New Jersey in 2012, and to the national level in 2014 with Reports in six states representing one-quarter of the U.S. population. And the momentum is growing! Several new Reports are currently in development, with expected release in the fall of 2015.
The partners in this grassroots effort are working together to give ALICE a national voice. By sharing common language and understanding, stakeholders are better equipped to tackle crucial issues for ALICE and the wider community.
Why is the Project Important?
The United Way ALICE Project raises awareness about an essential but previously hidden part of our community. It also provides a framework, language, and tools for stakeholders to understand, measure, and ultimately implement changes that improve the lives of ALICE.
The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households. When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all face serious consequences. With as many as one-third of the population in the United States living in an ALICE household, many public and corporate policy issues must be reassessed and the scope of current solutions be reconsidered.
What Does the Project Do?
- Produces Current Research: Through state Reports with regular updates and special subject reports, the Project provides the highest quality, unbiased data at the local and national level. It is presented in a way that is easy to understand and make actionable for businesses, government, nonprofits, academia, the press, and citizens.
- Leads a Learning Community: The vibrant ALICE Learning Community provides a forum for participants to learn from each other and share best practices on a range of issues from presentation materials to legislative strategies. It also provides opportunities to dive deeper into the research, seek funding together, build on pilot programs, and partner on projects with a national scope.
- Builds Action: Armed with knowledge, best practices, and community partners, the ultimate goal of the Project is to stimulate action that will improve the financial stability of ALICE families. The Project identifies opportunities and works with local United Ways, community partners, and government officials on grant proposals and other impact opportunities. Click here to see some of our achievements to date!