Income | Orange County United Way



Over the past decade, local job growth has been led by low-paying service sector jobs that often don’t include comprehensive health insurance or other benefits. This leaves many families walking a financial tightrope here in Orange County.

  • 1 in 4 of our residents live in poverty
  • More than one-third of our neighborhoods are financially unstable
  • A minimum-wage worker must work 110 hours per week to afford a one-bedrooom unit at fair market rent in Orange County

Startling on their own, these statistics are often bellwethers for greater, systemic problems. There is a direct link between financial hardship and the poor health and academic prospects of those living in poverty.

Pathways Out of Poverty

We’re helping solve the equation of getting more families on the path to becoming financially independent by focusing on the most important tools to gain financial stability:

  • Sparkpoint OC – Financial empowerment centers help hard working low-income residents to increase income, improve their credit and manage debt
    - Provides access to a full range of free financial resources and coaches to create a step-by-step personal finance plan to escape financial hardship
    - Savings and asset planning to help families reach goals like buying a home or paying for college
  • Free Tax Prep Campaign – Free tax prep services to help identify available tax credits and return thousands of dollars to hard-working families—refunds that would otherwise go unclaimed – so that these families can build towards a self-sufficient life
    - 400 volunteer IRS-certified tax experts at over 60 OC locations advise eligible individuals and families about tax matters and unclaimed tax credits
  • Job training programs connected to local businesses to create a pipeline of skilled workers
    - Low-income individuals can find a path to decent jobs that pay living wages through job skills development, placement, and/or employment training and retention services using Orange County’s Workforce Development Programs

Reducing generational poverty and lessening the burden on public resources contributes to a thriving local economy.

United Way At Work

United Way is helping local families achieve financial stability, breaking the cycle of poverty. Financial security is having a monetary safety net—the assurance of living beyond the next paycheck. Even more than income, financial security is what moves individuals and families out of poverty.

Increase Earnings

In 2014, nearly 1,200 job seekers took the steps to better jobs thanks to training, coaching and placement opportunities in careers with sustaining wages

Financial Literacy

300+ adults accessed financial empowerment tools and coaching at SparkPoint OC Financial Empowerment Centers to reduce their debt and increase assets—steps on the path to becoming financially self-sufficient

Access to Mainstream Financial Services

16,000 individuals and families earned their ability to become self-sufficient and gained income tax credits through the OC Free Tax Prep services, positively impacting our local economy

“Although I am a college graduate, I found myself without a job. I attended an Employment Readiness Program, where the workshops equipped me with a refined resume, gave me confidence in interviewing skills, and a renewed appreciation for my real-world experience...I found the best job I have ever had with an opportunity to build my career.” — Samuel, former client of WHW
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People with financial security can think past their immediate needs to a broader horizon by creating achievable goals and investing resources for a brighter future. It’s one of our FACE 2024 goals: to reduce the percentage of financially unstable families by 25% by 2024.

Together, we can ensure the current and next generation has access to a sustainable income. Wouldn't you like to help break the cycle of poverty?

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Free Tax Prep

Financial Literacy Program

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