Empower U - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Empower U

Empower U – Building Confident Futures is a financial empowerment program that helps participants increase their knowledge, tools and access to resources to meet their financial goals. It combines financial education, one-on-one financial coaching and matched savings.

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For more information about Empower U, contact:


Building Confident Futures

A Need for Specialized Services

There is compelling evidence that women and the families they care for have more barriers to achieving financial security. This can result from a variety of circumstances.

  • 53% of those experiencing poverty are women, 11% identify as Indigenous and 42% identify as visible minorities. (Source: A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton 2019 – Edmonton Social Planning Council, May 2019)
  • Women tend to live longer, have had fewer years in paid work and have lower average earnings than men. (Source: Prosper Canada Centre for Financial Literacy – Financial Literacy and People Living in Low Incomes, November 2015. )
  • Banking can be particularly challenging for marginalized people who have limited experiences with mainstream financial institutions because they feel intimidated, unwelcome, or that products and services do not meet their needs. Source: Prosper Canada Centre for Financial Literacy – Financial Literacy and People Living in Low Incomes, November 2015.)

Program Overview

Through Empower U, participants will learn how to:

  • Save money
  • Reduce debt
  • Improve credit
  • Budget
  • Set short term and long-term financial goals
  • Become a homeowner
  • Invest money for you or your children’s education
  • Access government benefits and subsidies

Program Delivery

Empower U includes nine two-hour modules delivered over 10 to 14 weeks, depending on the agency.

The modules covered by Empower U are:

  • Exploring our relationship with money
  • Income and taxes
  • Budgeting
  • Banking and financial services
  • Savings
  • Credit basics
  • Credit reporting
  • Debt
  • The wise consumer

Matched Savings

Savings are matched in the Empower U program at a 2:1 ratio. For example, if a participant saves $250 over the five-month period, the program matches the savings by adding $500, for a total of $750. These savings can be used as an investment in their children’s education through an RESP; TFSA (GIC) towards a specific financial goal or as an emergency fund. Emergency funds can be used to cover unexpected expenses, job loss or sudden illness.

Empower U partners with financial planners and practitioners to provide one-on-one financial coaching support. After completing the financial modules, a volunteer financial coach helps participants identify, plan for and achieve their financial goals.

Program Impact (2012-2023)

In 2023, Empower U graduated 231 participants in the program, an increase from 2022. 131 participants took part in the matched savings, saving over $100,000 in total. "Participants were able to gain confidence, knowledge and skills in their financial literacy, empowering them to be take control of their financial lives. This liberation had a positive impact on their lives, beyond finances, with reported growth in all five asset areas: financial, personal, human, physical and social. Participants reported being better able to meet their basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), while also reducing debts and saving money each month. Early indications suggest that many of these improvements can be sustained up to six months after program completion." - 2023 Empower U Evaluation Report, prepared by Three Hive Consulting.


participants have graduated from Empower U.


combined participant savings and matched savings dollars through Empower U.


people have enrolled to participate in Empower U.

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