Family stability is vital to children’s success in school. A child is affected not only by their school environment, but also by what happens out of school, especially at home. Here’s how United Way of Erie County provides resources to help families become and stay stable.
ERIE FREE TAXES
—2019 was a milestone year for Erie FREE Taxes, achieving a program value over $100M. Free tax preparation for low- and moderate-income wage earners to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Why? Erie FREE Taxes ensures that every tax filer who is eligible to claim the EITC claims it. This tax credit boosts the income of low-income workers and helps them meet their basic needs. In many cases it allows them to save for emergencies and to invest in the future. It is an important community economic development tool.
Outcomes TY 2007-2018:
- 53,895 federal returns
- $101.7M estimated program value
- $13.3M estimated filer savings
United Way’s Erie FREE Taxes program for the 2018-2019 tax year was made possible through the generous support of the Internal Revenue Service, The Erie Community Foundation, The Corry Community Foundation, The Union City Community Foundation, The North East Community Foundation, Northwest Bank, Marquette Savings Bank and KeyBank.
FAMILYWIZE PRESCRIPTION DISCOUNT PROGRAM
—A free, anonymous program providing discounts for hundreds of prescriptions at drug stores throughout Erie County. Why? For low-income families, too often the choice is between getting their medication or paying for basic needs, including food.
Outcomes since August 2013:
- Savings: $992,904
- People helped: 17,010
PA 2-1-1 NORTHWEST
—A free, centralized and confidential service to connect individuals and families with social service assistance 24/7/365. A trained United Way Resource Navigator provides assistance for the immediate need but then spends time asking if there are other concerns or needs that should also be addressed. Why? When families are struggling and in crisis, they cannot focus on making sure their children are prepared for and succeeding in school.
Outcomes June 2018 – May 2019 for Erie County:
- 3,043 phone calls
- 3,379 contacts
—Services responding in times of emergency situations, including disaster relief, emergency financial assistance, emergency shelter and victims of crime. Funding is not intended to be directed to ongoing or long-term needs. Why? In times of crisis, families must address that situation, often neglecting their day-to-day needs in order to move through the crisis.
8,868 individuals served in 2018
SCHOOL SUPPLY PACK-A-THON
—Obtaining necessary supplies before each school year is a familiar struggle too many children in Erie County face. Students cannot succeed in school without the proper tools. That is why United Way is committed to helping students succeed and become excited to enter the school year ready to learn! This eagerness can go a long way in benefitting their future success. Nearly 200 volunteers gathered at Zurn Industries for the School Supply Pack-a-Thon, packing 1,500 backpacks full of school supplies for children in Erie County.
- 20 companies participating
- $3,625 raised
BEATING THE SUMMER SLIDE
—United Way’s Summer Slide Book Drive aims to get NEW books in the hands of children throughout Erie County each summer so they do not fall behind once the school year ends! In fact, studies show that reading just 6 books during the summer prevents a drastic loss (summer slide) in reading skills - especially for kids in need. As part of the 2019 Summer Slide activities, a Little Free Library was opened at United Way offices on West 6th Street with the generous support of the Erie Times News, organized labor and local artists Sara and Randy Harris.