United Way of SWVA to empower region’s families to get on stable financial ground

$2.25 million investment creates Financial Empowerment Network

Abingdon, VA (December 5, 2017) – United Way of Southwest Virginia announced Thursday they plan to invest and leverage over $2.25 million dollars over the next five years in a new initiative that will provide bundled financial services across the region.

The organization, which covers approximately fifteen percent of the state of Virginia, announced the new Financial Empowerment Network at a press conference on Thursday, November 30.

Travis Staton, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “We’ve been working with several partners over the last two years to develop this initiative to help families and individuals get on stable financial ground. We are excited to launch the Financial Empowerment Network with services to begin in January.”

The Network is aimed at assisting ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE, a term coined by United Way, represents hard-working individuals whose paycheck does not meet the cost of living. As many as 59% of Southwest Virginia households cannot afford the basic costs of living, according to the ALICE Report commissioned by United Way agencies across the commonwealth in 2017.

Travis Staton, President and CEO, United Way of Southwest Virginia speaks at the press conference held on November 30, 2017 at United Way of Southwest Virginia.

Staton quoted an Association of Small Foundations article entitled “Helping Rural Families Build Economic Success: Earn It, Keep It, Grow It” which said, “Many mainstream institutions have pulled out of low-income areas, and high-cost predatory lenders are filling the void. Rural residents are increasingly the target of exploitive services—payday lending, check cashing, car title loans, rent-to-own, refund anticipation loans—that result in excessively high rates for mortgages, loans and cash.”

The United Way of Southwest Virginia Financial Empowerment Network will provide a set of bundled skills-building services including budgeting, work support, financial education and asset building for families and individuals across the region.

The members of the Network are the Grayson County office of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) located in the G.A.T.E. Center in Independence, and the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board’s Appalachian One Stop Workforce Center located in Richlands. Services will be offered on-site at VCE and the Workforce Development Board and in workplaces across the region.

Staton said, “Employers across our region have been telling us for years that their employees need to learn skills to better manage their paychecks. We created the Financial Empowerment Network as a response. We want our community to have every opportunity to be secure and successful. We’ll empower them to get on stable financial ground by helping them build their ability to manage money and use financial services that work for them. We know it’s not always feasible to visit a financial center, so with this Network, we can take services directly to our workforce and meet them where they are.”

More information about the Financial Empowerment Network can be found online at netnswvarelief.wpengine.com/fen.

The United Way of Southwest Virginia Financial Empowerment Network exists to provide a set of bundled, skills-building services for the region’s workforce.  United Way of Southwest Virginia is empowering our hard-working Southwest Virginians to get on stable financial ground by helping them build their ability to manage money and use financial services that work for them. Current members of the network are Virginia Cooperative Extension and Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board. To find out more, visit netnswvarelief.wpengine.com/fen.

United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit netnswvarelief.wpengine.com.