Removing barriers to help families achieve financial stability.
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 were compounded by COVID-19—can knock families off track and wipe out the progress they’ve worked so hard to make.
Project LIFT (Lifting and Investing in Families Thriving) is a coordinated effort by United Way of Greater Cincinnati to activate community-driven solutions through a connected network of partner organizations working to financially empower families through family-driven goals, longer-term relationships, and access to flexible resources. Project LIFT 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:
Families access Project LIFT through partner organizations that they know and trust, including social service agencies, faith-based communities and others across the region. Project LIFT partners work with families and share collected data with United Way of Greater Cincinnati to help inform systemic solutions.
To be eligible to access Project LIFT at one of the partner organizations, families must live in Hamilton County or Northern Kentucky 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 partners use best practice approaches, such as family-centered coaching and access to flexible funds, to remove barriers and provide ongoing support for families committed to building a stronger financial foundation. The initiative leverages both public and private dollars to meet individual needs so that families can continue their path to financial empowerment.
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.”
One element contributing to Project LIFT’s uniqueness is the diversity of its partner organizations, ranging from large social service organizations to small church congregations.
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 the barriers holding families back from thriving.
This unique public/private partnership puts in place efforts to improve the economic self-sufficiency of families in our region. Project LIFT strives to enable children experiencing poverty and their caregivers to access solutions that enable them to pursue a financially empowered future.