Strong Families

Centers for Strong Families photographA job is not enough. That’s the reality facing the tens of thousands of under- and unemployed residents who are walking a financial tightrope. Even among those who are employed and often have more than one job, they struggle with monthly expenses that exceed their income. They are fighting an uphill financial battle that, without room to build savings, grows more unsustainable.

That’s why we’re creating a strong network of organizations working together to implement proven strategies that respond to the problem of persistent povertyfinancial instability and low-wage stagnation among families.

Welcome to the Center for Strong Families

No family should struggle to make ends meet. Yet, 1 in 3 working families in Pierce County can’t afford the basics.  Fortunately, United Way of Pierce County and community partners are developing a plan to help families in need by providing the tools and resources they need to thrive.

When we help families in our local community avert financial crisis, and improve financial stability, we can prevent much more costly consequences that affect our entire community.

In 2016, we launched an innovative model that brings together a strong network of partners to implement proven strategies to address struggling families called Centers for Strong Families. By focusing on improving the financial bottom line for low- to moderate-income families so they can become more self-sufficient, more families are able to increase their income, decrease expenses, build credit and acquire assets.

Improving Family Economic Success

  • Learn – Families achieve a level of post-secondary education and/or training that prepares them for higher paying jobs while building employment skills that lead to better jobs or a smooth transition to a new job.
  • Earn – Families earn a sufficient family income for daily expenses, asset accumulation and minor emergencies.
  • Keep – Families have a savings equal to three months’ worth of living expenses; have good credit and manage debt in balance with income. They also build a realistic opportunity for retirement at age 65.
  • Grow – Families grow their credit as an asset and develop smart debt, with market-rate interest, that leads to appreciating assets (such as a house) through mainstream banking.

Thanks to our generous supporters

Funding for this work has been provided in part by a recent grant from State Farm to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), $200,000 of which will support efforts in Tacoma. Additional funding has also been provided by City of Tacoma, Pierce County, Workforce Central, The Bamford Foundation, CHI Franciscan Health, MultiCare Health System, Washington State Employees Credit Union, Weyerhaeuser and Commencement Bank.


Key Outcomes

In 1 year, 329 families enrolled in services

3 sites connected 100 people with employment or advanced them toward better paying jobs

146 people are getting occupational skills training

Nearly 200 people have received extensive employment, financial and income supports counseling

110 people have been placed in jobs

More than $100,000 in debt has been reduced and credit scores are on the rise