On a recent grant application, Women’s Resource Center was asked how our organization builds inclusive pathways to economic prosperity, and as we shared our story, we realized how important it was to share this information with you, too.

WRC offers employment counseling for all women – regardless of education level or socioeconomic status. We believe that employment opportunities lead to empowerment. At WRC, we provide our clients unbiased, accurate information that will lead to improved career opportunities, and better decisions concerning their finances and health.  We also offer individual and group sessions to help our clients build self-esteem and gain confidence in decision making.

It is important to note that thanks to our NEW client tracking software we have now learned these key facts that relate to improving economic prosperity opportunities:

• 39% of our employment clients identify themselves as homeless
• 23% of our peer referral clients identify as homeless
• 80% of our clients live below ALICE limits (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed; which is approximately $54,000 per year for a family of 4)

Project UpLift is a unique WRC initiviative targetting the ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) population. ALICE is a term coined by the United Way after a research study conducted by Rutgers University in 5 states, including Florida. ALICE represents those who are working but struggling financially. ALICE lives above the Federal poverty line, but below the ALICE threshold, a level based on the actual cost of necessities. This demographic has great potential to benefit from the WRC services helping them be lifted from the educational, emotional and career restraints, which limit their earning potential.

Each participant is guided to establish career, financial, relationship and wellness goals to improve their lives and increase their earning potential. Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for the majority of low-income women, under-employed and single parent moms. Through case management and mentoring, we are able to build a relationship with our clients and identify the underlying issues contributing to their financial and emotional unrest.

As part of our 2Gen approach, we launched Project UpLift in 2015 at Visible Men Academy (a Title 1 charter school located in Manatee County). We know that when mothers are stable, making healthy decisions and have the tools and coping skills necessary, the families of our community are stronger. Last year we expanded Project UpLift to the Sarasota Housing Authority and Alta Vista Eagle Academy.

We also provide the program to women and families who come to one of our three Center locations in Venice, Sarasota or Bradenton.

The first step for clients in Project UpLift is to meet with a case manager or peer advisor to identify their needs. They then work to create goals and develop strategies to meet their goals. These strategies could include WRC’s trademark programs including case management, mental health counseling, financial empowerment, career counseling, legal services, wellness/stress reduction, and mentoring. If WRC does not have a program that addresses their needs, referrals will be made to one of our community partners.

Through all of these services, our clients are able to work toward financial self-sufficiency and empowerment.