Strong Families

A 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.

Check out the Center for Strong Families Impact Report

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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.


Special thanks to our Funding Partners:

Bamford Foundation
The Boeing Company
CHI Franciscan Health
City of Tacoma
Commencement Bank
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)
Key Bank
MultiCare Health
Pierce County Human Services
Sequoia Foundation
State Farm

Key Outcomes

Since 2016, 725 families enrolled in services

4 sites connected 349 people with employment or advanced them toward better paying jobs

929 people are getting occupational skills training

176 people have been placed in jobs

$807 is the average increase in monthly income

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

Centers for Strong Families Partners
  • Goodwill
  • Sound Outreach
  • Sound Outreach at Bethel School District
  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Pierce County Housing Authority