Did you know that one-third of Austin residents are classified as low-income?
United Way for Greater Austin’s Financial Stability program helps those who are struggling get the guidance they need through three targeted core strategies: learning, saving and thriving. We recognize that in order to create community-wide changes, individuals and families struggling to become financially stable need the help and support of agencies, social workers and volunteers.
The national Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) supports UWATX’s Financial Stability program and sought to develop a workplace-based savings program for low-wage employees. The savings program helps them save a portion of their paychecks through direct deposit through their employer. UWATX partnered with Open Door Preschools to implement a pilot of this workplace-based savings program and then worked with consultants from OpportunityTexas and Raise Texas to help evaluate the program.
The goals of the pilot program were to get employees to sign up for a savings account if they did not have one and to also sign up for direct deposit.
Although the savings program is still ongoing at Open Door Preschools, the pilot phase was eight weeks long and had three components aimed to decrease barriers to signing up:
1) Employees were prepared – Employees initially learned about the savings program through an email from their executive director. The email included information on what the employees needed to bring to prepare for the meeting.
2) Employees attended a facilitated meeting – Through a facilitated kickoff meeting at each preschool location, the executive director gave employees an opportunity to sign up for the program.
3) Employees interacted with trusted workplace leaders – Employees interacted with their executive director and site managers – individuals they trust and know – to sign up for the program.
In just six months, employees have collectively saved $8,000 while still earning just above minimum wage. In total, 27 employees signed up to participate in the savings program, and of the 21 who signed up at the kickoff meeting, 18 also opened a savings account.
This savings program is showing positive results for hardworking employees; Open Door Preschool employee, Erikka, is proof of this. In just eight months, Erikka saved $900.
“I never thought about it [saving] as being hard or can’t do it. That’s what happens, you think you can’t do it. I would take my money aside and think ‘yeah this may cause me to be a little, you know, worried.’ But I think of my kids. Even though my mom and my dad have my back, I’m not going to run to them, because these are MY kids. I tell my kids, you can do it. You can save, it doesn’t matter how much you make. You can save, put a little aside, and it will grow.”
Learn about the other ways our Financial Stability program is helping families and individuals get the tools and knowledge they need to overcome tough times.