United Way THRIVE: Building Strong Families
Houston is often called an Opportunity City. And yet, it's not true for everyone. Despite hard work, thousands of families in the Greater Houston area are struggling to make ends meet.
  • About 115,000 working families with children in our area live on annual incomes of $20K - $35K 
  • One in three families has trouble buying groceries each month
  • More than one million people in Houston have no health insurance
To help these families gain financial independence, United Way of Greater Houston launched and is leading United Way THRIVE, a collaborative aimed at helping low-income, working families achieve what every family wants: good jobs with good wages, safe and affordable housing, financial security and success for their children.

"For families who are working 60-80 hours a week just to make ends meet, changing their situation can seem impossible," says Stefanie Lopez, senior program manager at United Way. "THRIVE gives families a wide range of tools to make their hard work pay off and opens possibilities for achieving their dreams."

THRIVE proactively addresses the immediate obstacles and systemic barriers that prevent low-income families from succeeding and helps families acquire sufficient income and build responsible financial habits so they can meet their current needs and save for their future goals.

THRIVE helps families achieve financial stability by focusing on three key strategies:

Increasing Income: through workforce development and employment services, free income tax preparation, access to public benefits and small business development assistance

Building Savings: through financial education, including budgeting, home ownership and credit/debt counseling, financial coaching and matched savings accounts

Acquiring Assets: through savings, help achieving English language proficiency, and assistance with home ownership, higher education and small businesses

United Way THRIVE's approach to delivering services is based on sound research conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which found that families who receive bundled services—like help with employment, benefits, budgeting, and financial services—are three to four times more likely to achieve a major economic outcome than clients receiving only one type of service.

"United Way THRIVE is changing the orientation of a family from one perspective (finding and receiving social services) to another (building their own financial skills to better obtain financial stability)," says one THRIVE partner. "It takes time for families to save enough money to acquire assets. But, once families have the financial habits and the assets they need, they often won't need help again."

We are proud of THRIVE's Year Two accomplishments:
  • Over 28,000 families were helped to gain greater financial stability
  • Nearly 1,900 families increased their savings
  • 2,200 families have increased their level of financial education
  • Free tax preparation helped more than 22,000 families claim $32 million in tax refunds
  • United Way THRIVE achieved a 12:1 return on investment
United Way THRIVE gives hardworking families a better chance of becoming financially stable, allowing them to contribute back to the local economy and create a stronger future for themselves and their children. United Way is committed to helping hardworking families achieve their dreams, for they are the hands that hold us together and keep our community strong.

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