United Way of Western Connecticut is launching a digital platform to address the needs of struggling families working paycheck to paycheck. The launch of this new platform, called Prosperi-Key, is the culmination of more than five years of dedication to finding innovative solutions to help the hardworking, struggling people called ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
Prosperi-Key connects hardworking people with services and supports to make their lives easier. Once users are income-qualified they can access services from nonprofits and businesses that are tailored specifically for them. It is the only platform to income-qualify users in this income bracket—through a friendly, confidential, and fast process.
These lower-income households, which account for more than 40% of households in western Connecticut, face financial hardships, but may not be eligible for federal and state safety net programs. Many are essential workers who helped us get through the pandemic—such as grocery store clerks, child care workers, and elder care workers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought the struggles of essential workers to the forefront,” said Kim Morgan CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut. “As a nation, we realized that the folks we depend on and who often risk their own health by going to work are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. This platform is for them.”
United Way of Western Connecticut decided to focus completely on this population in 2015 after the release of the first Connecticut ALICE Report. They conducted more than 25 community conversations and collected more than 500 surveys. Their research pointed to the most pressing needs of this struggling population—including affordable food, child care, and the need to save for emergencies. It also led to the realization that ALICE families are often too busy, working multiple jobs, to track down and apply for the services and supports that will help them in their daily lives, and that a digital, online platform could help them more effectively access supports.
In response to their research, United Way launched the quiet phase of the Pathways to Prosperity Campaign in 2018. It raised approximately $3.5 million dollars. Those dollars were used to find innovative solutions to food, child care, and emergency savings needs. They were also used to help develop Prosperi-Key, so that ALICE workers could access services online, during the limited hours when they are not working.
The public phase of the Pathways to Prosperity Campaign coincides with the launch of Prosperi-Key and will raise money to expand services and make them more accessible via the new digital platform.
“This campaign focuses on innovative solutions to issues that affect each and every one of us, because they affect people who are so important to the life of our communities,” said Eric Duenwald, Treasurer of Synchrony and Co-Chair of the Pathways to Prosperity Campaign. “I’ve made the commitment to the Pathways to Prosperity Campaign because I feel passionately that the needs of ALICE families must be addressed if we are to have strong, vibrant cities and towns in Western Connecticut.”
George Garrett, Partner at Deloitte, who co-chairs the campaign with Mr. Duenwald, echoed his sentiments. “Everyone in our communities deserves to live a fulfilled, safe, and stable life,” said Mr. Garrett said. “The people involved in this campaign have responded to a call to action to support this bigger vision of innovative long-term solutions for ALICE. Together, will continue to develop solutions, leverage every talent and gift, and care for the needs of those struggling in our communities, despite working hard.”
These campaign co-chairs are working closely with Pathways to Prosperity Cabinet Members and United Way of Western Connecticut staff to broaden the campaign with the goal of raising an additional $500,000 to address the needs of ALICE.