Community Income Goal: To increase the percentage of central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient to 75% by 2020. 

One out of every three families in central Iowa can barely cover basic daily expenses. And low wages force many families to go without—or to go into debt. In today's economy, families need enough income to cover rising costs of food, housing, health care, transportation, childcare and clothing—or face painful financial choices.

One of the clearest paths to economic self-sufficiency is education and training. Job training and readiness programs remain critical to advancing low-wage, low-skilled workers into self-sustaining jobs (UW Metrics report, p. 24). United Way and its community partners work to strengthen central Iowans' education and skills to prepare them for the better-paying jobs in the local economy.


View-Scorecard.pngResults Scorecard is a tool used to measure progress toward goals and strategies. Click the scorecard icons to see specific measures.

Since 2015, nearly 25,000 more central Iowans are financially self-sufficient.

The percentage of central Iowans who were financially self-sufficient increased to 67% in 2017, up 1.1% from the previous year and up 1.8% since 2015, according to the latest U.S. Census data released this December.

“Our efforts as a community are working,” said Elisabeth Buck, president of United Way of Central Iowa. “After a six-year downturn, the number of families who are thriving in Polk, Warren, and Dallas Counties is increasing, and that especially means more children are having their basic needs met and are having greater opportunities for healthy development.”

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Income Focus Area


Income: What's Working

Who is ALICE?

With the cost of living higher than what most wages pay, ALICE families – an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – work hard and earn above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. ALICE households live in every county in Iowa – urban, suburban, and rural – and they include women and men, young and old, of all races and ethnicities.

The study and report reveal key statistics around Iowans in need, including detailed analysis by county. Click the image of the report to access the Executive Summary or the full report.


Example Income Programs

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Bridges to Success is helping 10,000 central Iowans achieve a high school equivalency diploma (HSED) by the end of 2020. The program's innovative approaches, including supportive coaches who help students overcome barriers and free test-prep classes, lead individuals onto a sustainable career pathway.

Learn More About BRIDGES to SUCCESS

Opportunuty-new-color-no taglineOpportUNITY unites central Iowans to fight poverty together. We are tackling our community's toughest challenges to eliminate barriers and ensure all central Iowans have a path to financial stability. OpportUNITY has released an updated plan to reduce poverty in Polk, Dallas, and Warren Counties—with action steps in eight focus areas to implement over the next 18 months.

Learn More About OpportUNITY

Skills2Compete_Logo.pngSkills2Compete is a coalition serving as a voice for adult education and workforce advocacy that helps increase financial stability for working families to grow Iowa’s economy.

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Central Iowa Works aims to close the skills gap and meet the needs of employers by helping them to recruit and hire qualified workers for jobs in central Iowa. They also address the needs of job seekers by helping them get trained and hired for jobs with pathways for growth.

Learn More About Central Iowa Works

Financial Capability Network

The Financial Capability Network is located at Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, and provides low to moderate income individuals and families a pathway of financial literacy and financial inclusion that leads to financial stability. Implementation of the program expands participants' knowledge and develops the skills necessary to help them understand their financial situation in addition to motivating them to take action.

Learn More About Financial Capability Network