In recent times, we've all witnessed an unprecedented surge in the cost of living, significantly impacting essentials such as groceries, fuel, utilities, rent, childcare, and healthcare. These rising expenses have placed a considerable strain on households across our community, with the average family now spending $400 more per month than just a year ago. Amid these challenging times, wages for many have not kept pace with inflation, underscoring a critical need for support.
In response to the growing need, United Way of Greater Kansas City (UWGKC), supported by our generous donors, has launched a direct inflation relief initiative. Over the past year, we have distributed pre-paid debit cards, averaging $1,028, to 787 households, totaling an investment of over $809,000. This assistance was identified through 211 and a collaboration with 19 partner nonprofits in the Kansas City region. Recipients have utilized these funds in various ways, such as securing transportation for employment, purchasing food and clothing, covering housing costs, and addressing healthcare needs.
"United Way is more than a fundraising organization," said Precious Stargell Cushman, United Way Chief Impact Officer. "We are a community-centered, solution-oriented, problem-solving organization dedicated to serving those who need it most, where they need it most, and when they need it most."
Once this program is fully completed, an estimated 1,000 families will have benefitted from this initiative, supported by the generosity of our donors. It is important to highlight that there are no restrictions on how these funds can be utilized. This approach is part of our commitment to trust-based philanthropy—the belief that our community can steward resources to best meet its needs. We are diligently monitoring the utilization of funds through this initiative and plan to issue a report on the significant impact we anticipate this investment will make.
Among those benefited, Tashema from KCK has been able to secure a new home and provide for her educational and familial needs, embarking on a journey toward securing her college degree and a promising future. Similarly, Keisha from KCMO is transitioning to a new apartment with her four children, overcoming challenges with the support of United Way’s dedicated 211 community resource navigators.
The work of UWGKC is a part of a global endeavor by United Way Worldwide to enhance economic mobility and ensure financial security for all. Across the globe, United Way is committed to empowering individuals and families by facilitating access to essential services, job training, job coaching, credit counseling, and money management programs. Our objective is to support every individual in every community toward financial empowerment and upward economic mobility.
To continue supporting this vital work and to be a part of the global movement toward economic empowerment, we encourage you to reach out to your local United Way. Your involvement can make a profound difference in the lives of individuals and families in need. Together, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity for increased wages, career advancement, and a path toward financial security.