We give people the education, resources and opportunities they need to improve their lives and the lives of their children—because a better future begins with financial stability.
Saving Money and Time During Tax Season
For Atnafseged Legesse, an employee of the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, filing his taxes has always been a hassle. Last year, Atnafseged—his friends call him “Nate”—had them prepared at a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site during a “Super Saturday” event for immigrants and refugees. It was a time-consuming and arduous process. And then he discovered MyFreeTaxes.
Powered by H&R Block, MyFreeTaxes gives people making less than $64,000 a safe and easy way to file their taxes without bearing the cost of a professional tax preparer. Since 2009, the program has generated more than $10 billion in refunds for more than 800,000 taxpayers like Nate, with the toll-free helpline providing support to ensure that people claim every credit and deduction they earned.
Nate was one of more than three dozen MetroHealth employees who chose to prepare their 2016 taxes through the United Way program. Having heard from some of his fellow porters that MetroHealth employees could file their taxes on site and for free through MyFreeTaxes, Nate decided to set up an account during his work break. Unlike in previous years, the process was quick and efficient. When asked what he would do now that his taxes were done and he had more free time, Nate said he tries to stay involved with Cleveland’s growing Ethiopian population.
“They come here from Gondar, Adama or Addis Ababa—that’s where I’m from. They are all wanting something big,” said Nate. “And for some of them, it doesn’t feel that way at first. But that’s why I like being there. To show them that even though its different from what they thought, it’s good.”
As for getting much-needed tax support? Nate is eager to share his MyFreeTaxes experience with his neighbors. “I think other members of my community would like this, too. And now I feel like I could show them how to do it.”
To learn how you can take advantage of MyFreeTaxes, visit www.MyFreeTaxes.com.
Making Money Management Easier
Life is full of stress. But managing your money could be less stressful with the right information at hand. That’s why United Way partnered with the SunTrust Foundation to launch My Smart Money™, a free and easy online tool that can help anyone become smarter about their finances, regardless of their income level or circumstance. Designed to help people assess their financial health, this website offers interactive quizzes, helpful calculators and the information people need to strengthen their financial foundation.Learn More
Overcoming Barriers to Youth Employment
Finding employment in a turbulent economy is challenging. For refugees struggling to find their financial footing, that challenge is multiplied. That’s what Taniel Taneilian was facing when he fled war-torn Syria to start a new life in Toronto.
In 2014, Taniel and his family were forced out of their hometown in Kessab by rebel forces opposing the Syrian government. As the rebellion worsened, Taniel decided to seek a better future. With support from his parents, and sponsorship assistance from a family friend in Toronto, Taniel and his older brother left Syria for a fresh start.
Although Taniel arrived in Canada with a background in IT, finding work proved difficult. He struggled to find his way, working as a laborer and relying on family for financial help. Taniel had the determination and skills to succeed—he just needed an opportunity.
Enter United Way Toronto & York Region’s Career Navigator program. Career Navigator is an education-to-employment program that helps young people facing barriers find jobs and achieve financial stability by offering job training, paid internships and social support systems, all of which help them secure the credentials and experience required for in-demand jobs.
Thanks to Career Navigator, Taniel was able to build on the skill set he acquired in Syria. Now a graduate of the program, Taniel is working full-time for Accenture as a software engineering associate. “Joining the Career Navigator program was a life-changing decision,” said Taniel. “It’s been a bridge to opportunities I didn’t think were possible.”
United Way is improving access to critical social services that help with basic needs like employment. This year, more than 37,000 people throughout Toronto received employment counseling, training and certification, mentorship, and networking opportunities that helped them build skills, find jobs and excel during times of transition. For young people like Taniel, that kind of support is priceless.
Lending the Homeless a Helping Hand
A healthy meal, warm bed and safe shelter is something many of us may take for granted. For the 12,000 people in Washington, D.C., who are living without a home, that’s not the case. With a goal to give residents the building blocks for a good quality of life, United Way of the National Capital Area hosted Project Homeless Connect in October, an annual event that unites community volunteers and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. From medical and dental care, to haircuts and healthy meals, more than 300 volunteers supported 357 individuals in the region. Project Homeless Connect is one of the many ways United Way is fighting to give everyone a better life.