A man and pregnant woman walking through the park holding hands with their small child

Project Lift

Removing barriers to help families achieve financial stability.

Meet Project Lift

Thousands of working low-income families in our region do everything right to make ends meet, holding down jobs and providing for their children. Many engage with social service organizations for job training and financial coaching, to access quality education for themselves and their children and improve their health. But setbacks such as car repairs, unexpected medical bills or a sudden threat of eviction—all things that have been compounded by COVID-19—can knock families off track and wipe out the progress they’ve worked so hard to make.

Families see bright futures with project lift

When his apartment building sold and the new landlord decided to renovate, Alexzander and his family were evicted, temporarily moving into a hotel during the global pandemic. Fortunately, he was an essential worker and had steady income, but finding a new apartment was difficult. The apartments he could find that were big enough for the family cost too much. “The ones that were big enough and we could afford were in bad neighborhoods,” he said.

He dreamed of a house but didn’t have enough for a down payment. He reached out for help and was soon connected to Project Lift and Saving Grace Community Church. Project Lift representatives identified flexible funds to pay for his stay at the hotel so he could save his paychecks toward a down payment. When he was able to identify a loan at 3.5 percent interest if he could come up with a 3.5 percent down payment, Project Lift added to what he had saved to help reach the needed amount.

Now, he is a homeowner and his future is bright. He is thankful to the many who helped him in his time of need, including Project Lift. “Without Project Lift’s help, I would have gone broke staying in hotels,” he said. “Without Project Lift, I wouldn’t have this home. This is not just our dream come true, it is a beacon to guide others to the reality of homeownership, faith, and community unity. It is a wonderful joyous feeling to know we did all this together.”


Project Lift is a public/private partnership that helps families remove barriers to securing sustainable income and achieving financial stability. Project Lift partners with sponsor agencies that families know and trust to provide a flexible, tailored, family-driven approach on their path to financial stability. The program offers critical short-term assistance and support, coaching, workforce development and other resources and applies learnings from each family’s experience to systemic solutions that support long-term success for all families.


Since April 2019, Project Lift has produced positive results, including:


Households enrolled since April 2019.

1 IN 5

Families reported a 20% increase in income.


Of families had significant barriers removed.


Of households increased income by one Federal Poverty Level.

How the program works

Families access Project Lift through sponsor organizations, including social service agencies, faith-based communities and others trained to manage the program and provide regular reporting on participants.

To enroll in Project Lift, families must live in Hamilton County with at least one child in the household and be working or on a path to employment. Each family agrees to participate in the program for at least one year.

Project Lift uses five strategies to remove barriers and provide ongoing support for families committed to building a stronger financial foundation. The program leverages both public and private dollars to meet individual needs so families become financially sustainable.

Project Lift Sponsor Organizations

One element contributing to Project Lift’s uniqueness is the diversity of its sponsor organizations, ranging from large social service organizations to small church congregations.

  • Cincinnati Works
  • Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency
  • Cornerstone Renter Equity
  • Easter Seals
  • Ekklesia Development Corporation
  • FamiliesFORWARD
  • Freestore Foodbank
  • Grad Cincinnati
  • House of Hope Fellowship Church
  • Islamic Educational Council
  • Legacy Pointe Church
  • Lincoln Heights Outreach, Inc.
  • Madisonville Mission Ministries
  • Mercy Neighborhood Ministries
  • New Prospect Baptist Church
  • Peoples Church
  • Santa Maria Community Services
  • Saving Grace Community Church
  • Talbert House
  • Urban League
  • Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center
  • Villages at Roll Hill
  • Whitewater Crossing Christian
  • Zion Global Missions

Additional information

In a thriving community, opportunities exist for all people to grow, connect, and achieve a quality of life that enables them to succeed in all areas. Countless agencies, organizations, and individuals in our community are doing great work in helping families improve their quality of life, and yet, families continue to face seemingly insurmountable barriers to progress. Project Lift is designed to fill in the gaps and remove some of these pressing barriers that hold families back from thriving.

This is a unique public/private partnership that puts in place efforts to improve the economic self-sufficiency for families in Hamilton County. Project Lift strives to enable children living in poverty and their parents to access solutions that enable them to escape from poverty.

Guiding principles

  • Family and individual drive solutions
  • Project Lift will operate on lean administrative costs
  • Majority of funds will go directly to individuals through trusted partners and won’t reduce existing United Way provider funding to agencies
  • Efforts will maximize public funding Project Lift is a partnership designed to improve the economic self-sufficiency for families in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Federal poverty guidelines

To qualify, you must have a household income 200% below the Federal Poverty Line. See the chart below and click to be redirected to the federal website for more information.

To qualify, participants must:

  • Live in Hamilton County, Ohio.
  • Be responsible for a child under the age of 18 (physically, financially, legally).
  • Be working or on a viable path to employment.
  • Agree to work with a sponsor agency for case management.
  • Agree to share income, employment, and barrier data for at least one year, preferably three years.
  • Have a household income below 200% the Federal Poverty Line.

Interested in applying?

For more information about Project Lift or to speak with someone about applying to enroll with a Project Lift Network Partner, please call 211 or 513-721-7900, the United Way Helpline, enter your ZIP code and language preference and then press option 0.


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