In Illinois, access to sustainable income and socioeconomic resources are critical to the advancement of low and moderate income households. Across the State, 1.2 million people are living below the poverty line and “38% of Illinois households live in asset poverty.” In the city of Chicago, neighborhood poverty rates are as high as 50% in some South, West, and Southwest neighborhoods. There is an immense need for accessing trustworthy, viable resources to and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and its partners are responding to this ongoing need.
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s four pillars are Income, Education, Health and Safety Net. The Income portfolio ensures financial and programmatic support for career and training pathways, financial education and opportunity and no-cost tax assistance and related financial products. The needs are interdependent yet our work is integrated. Each day our funded partners ensure access to high-quality programs and services. Across the region people are able to access pre-employment supportive services, increase their in-demand skill sets with opportunities for demand driven, sector based employment such as Advanced Manufacturing Training (AMT). There is a growing demand from manufacturers for applicants with modern skills such as computerized numerical control (CNC) credentials and even the construction trades are experiencing a resurgence and actively seeking out minority and women job seekers to fill the skilled labor shortage for tradesmen and tradeswomen. As sectors and their companies modernize, they are in search of trained, motivated, and supported employees to take on advanced roles in high tech, and computerized positions and our partners are working with communities to respond to this need. Cultural diversity is an exciting aspect of life in the Chicago metropolitan region and when families relocate, there is an integrated network with which to seek out resources. Individuals arrive with advanced degrees and skill sets prepared to contribute to our local economic success. Whether transitioning directly into employment or undertaking upskilling and placement in middle-skill employment in industries such as healthcare or finance, our partners ensure an accessible, viable pathway.
Clients are also setting and achieving financial goals utilizing evidence-based and promising practices such as financial coaches or comprehensive asset-based programs. With the assistance of non-profit professionals, people are setting financial goals, improving credit, accessing public and private benefits, and reducing or eliminating debt.
United Way plays a critical role in leveraging leading practices and strong partners to collectively address the most pressing issues facing the people and neighborhoods that comprise our region. It is through our collective impact that we are truly investing in comprehensive programs and partnerships that are readily accessible to people across the region and providing opportunities to achieve and live healthy, stable lives.
Blog post submitted by: Ayom Siengo, Senior Manager Financial Stability