Financial Empowerment has been on United Way’s radar since 2006, when we started exploring financial literacy and asset building as mechanisms to support families living in low income. United Way and the City of Edmonton have been part of the Edmonton Financial Empowerment Collaborative (EFEC) from the get-go. Our Financial Empowerment framework (EARN, SAVE, BUILD) speaks about the importance of applying multiple interventions to help boost household income, reduce debt, increase savings and grow assets. EFEC and United Way have adapted Prosper Canada's Financial Empowerment framework to improve the financial security of people who are financially vulnerable through:
Financial Information and Education -Tools and training for front line service providers and onward delivery of tailored, high quality financial information and education
Financial Coaching - Free financial coaching/counselling to help clients build and follow a personal financial plan that will enable them to increase savings, reduce debt, build their credit score and invest in their future
Boosting Income (through tax filing and help accessing benefits) - Expanding access to free community tax clinics and offering screening and assistance to help clients access income benefits they are eligible for but not receiving
Assisting Families to Open RESPs and RDSPs - Informing families about the benefits of saving for their children's education and assisting them to open RESPs/RDSPs and to access related savings grants and incentives
Facilitating Access to Basic Banking - Helping low-income people to open bank accounts and access financial services that support effective money management (e.g. direct deposit) and reduce reliance on payday loan services
In 2012, we launched the Empower U Building Confident Futures which is a poverty reduction initiative aiming to improve the economic security of individuals living with low income. The program supports primarily women who may have experienced personal traumas – historical and intergenerational, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, poverty and/or involvement with the justice system. This program provides financial literacy education and 2:1 matched savings.
In 2016, United Way launched the Financial Pathways Collaborative, which is a partnership with eight financial institutions, United Way, E4C, and City of Edmonton that collaborates to provide financial literacy education to individuals and families living with low income in the Alberta Capital Region. The Each One Teach One program was born from this unique collaboration, this program provides financial education to community members and help build their knowledge, skills and confidence to make the right financial decisions for themselves. All sessions are FREE and facilitated by trained professionals from local financial institutions.
e4c Make Tax Time Pay (MTTP) funded by United Way since 2015 is a free tax preparation program that files taxes for people with low income all year round. In 2017, there were 31 MTTP sites, 5,370 tax returns were filed and 4,230 unique participants were served. In addition, the anticipated refund was $1.7M, anticipated GST $1.8M and anticipated Canada Child Tax Benefit $8M. Over $11.5M money back in the pockets of low income individuals and families.
United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is proud to partner with government, businesses and local agencies and will continue to do so to address economic insecurity and financial instability for low income households. If you would like more information, please contact the department of Community Building & Investment at 780-990-1000.