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.

The Need

There is compelling evidence that women and the families they care for are more vulnerable to poverty. 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.)


The Program

Throughout the program, participants 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

Empower U includes nine two-hour modules delivered over 10 to 14 weeks, depending on the agency. The modules covered by the program are:

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

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.

Latest Impact in 2021

23 Empower U groups were held with 218 participants enrolled.

Program Results

169 participants completed the program, a 77.5% completion rate. 80 participants cashed out their matched savings accounts.

Total program savings

Participants saved a total of $42,660 and purchased 80 assets.

Participant Outcomes

92.9% and 88.9% report increased self-esteem and self confidence, respectively.

Collaborative Partners