United Way of North Central Florida serves people from all walks of life. We often talk about our great programs such as ReadingPals, or the Weekend Backpack Hunger program through Catholic Charities. However, another one of United Way of North Central Florida’s main areas of focus is financial stability. Our Community Investment Fund currently supports six local programs working towards these goals in financial stability.
To achieve our community goals in financial stability, we fund programs providing low-income families with increased access to education and workforce skills, financial literacy and nutritious food. Additionally, we strive to ensure community members have the opportunity to secure and maintain safe and affordable housing.
One such program is the Financial Literacy and Economic Empowerment program through Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network. This program aims to increase domestic abuse survivors’ literacy in financial concepts, including budgeting, banking, credit and savings. The program offers classes for individuals and families to give the survivors the opportunity to grow their money management skills, while simultaneously continuing to address the effects of abuse.
Another program funded in the financial stability bucket is the Legal Services program through Three Rivers Legal Services. This program provides legal assistance to low-income community members who are facing housing loss or housing-related legal issues, such as eviction and foreclosure. The goal of the program is to help families maintain stable housing. Additionally, the Three Rivers team provides advocacy in state courts and in negations with landlords and banks.
In addition to the programs funded through United Way’s Community Investment Fund, we offer the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This United Way direct-service program provides free tax preparation to community members within our six-county footprint. Our IRS-certified volunteers prepare taxes throughout tax season.
Earlier this year, VITA completed tax returns for 2,191 community members. Participants in our VITA program received $1,934,638 in refunds and saved a total of $598,143 in filing fees, creating a total community impact of $2,532,781.
With tax season just around the corner, we will soon be taking appointments for tax preparation, but we will also need volunteers. No prior experience is necessary to volunteer with VITA and trainings will begin in January. To volunteer with VITA, please contact Marilyn Taylor at MTaylor@unitedwayncfl.org.
To learn more about United Way of North Central Florida’s financial stability funding and for a full list of Community Investment Fund programs, please visit www.unitedwayncfl.org.