Our Work

Imagine the Possibilities

Thriving communities begin with thriving families!



Do you believe that every one of us deserves to live in a community that is prospering, safe, clean, educated, united, culturally diverse and inclusive, progressive, and healthy? Do you believe that no child should go hungry and that every senior citizen should be able to grow old with grace and a strong quality of life? Do you believe that hardworking families should do more than just survive? Do you believe that every young person deserves a quality education that prepares them for the future? So do we.

Sadly, our vision for a healthy, vibrant community does not align with our reality today. Right now, many of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet. Child poverty and hunger are on the rise. Many communities are unsafe and a quality education is not available to all. Our elderly neighbors are living on shoestring budgets and cannot afford basic necessities of life. 
At Lake Area United Way, we believe that thriving communities begin with thriving families. The harsh truth is that one in four hardworking families in Lake County is on the edge of survival. They can’t seem to make ends meet, despite their best efforts. They struggle to afford healthy food, quality childcare, safe housing, and more.
After 18 months of intensive research which included community convening, data review and analysis, environmental scan, donor surveys, and case study analysis, our Lake Area United Way board voted unanimously to focus on the issue of ALICE households in Lake County. ALICE, a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation. Through a series of new, standardized measurements, United Way is quantifying the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially and the reasons why. These measurements provide a broader picture of financial insecurity than traditional federal poverty guidelines.
In Lake County, ALICE represents 1 in 4 households. These individuals and families are faced with difficult choices daily. Put food on the table or gas in the car? Take a sick child to the doctor or pay the utility bill?
We’re working to change that. Lake Area United Way is taking a bold, new approach to tackling tough challenges facing our community. We’re attacking problems at the root and driving solutions that will make lasting, sustainable change.
We believe one setback should not sink a family into financial ruin. We know every family deserves their fair shake at the American Dream, so we work for equality and justice in our community.
We believe people should have a safety net and a support system so they can get ahead, not just get by.
We believe we’re all in this together. Will you be part of the change?
Lisa Daugherty
President / CEO


How many working families in Lake County are on the edge of survival?

1 in 4 households /  43,860 -------- 25%


What happens when ends don’t meet?

To manage their day-to-day survival, families on the edge of survival often use short-term strategies that are detrimental in the long run. These families are our neighbors and they have to make difficult choices to reduce their expenses—such as missing a visit to the doctor, skipping meals, or not making critical bill payments—any of which may have long-term consequences such as poor performance in school, poor health, major debt, and larger bills in the future.


Why are working people financially unstable?

“Indiana’s cost of living is beyond what most jobs in the state can provide to working households.”

– ALICE™ Study of Financial Hardship


Low wage jobs do not allow families to save for emergencies, save for the future, or build financial stability. The cost of living has increased and wages haven’t kept pace. The hardworking person you may know on the edge of survival could be working as a childcare worker, a retail salesperson, a housekeeping staff person, a cashier, a fast food worker, a stock clerk—or one of many other positions.


What does it take for a family in Lake County to survive?

In Lake County, affording the basic necessities—housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes cost a family of four $51,156 per year—or $17,184 per year for a single adult.




Community Outreach

United Way is in the development stage of an innovative technology tool specifically targeting ALICE households – “Resource Round Up.” The Resource Round Up app will allow ALICE families to quickly locate community programs/services that they qualify for, find a quality child care provider and connect to critical early learning supports if they have children under the age of 5. Additionally, the app will provide an immediate notification system through SMS text messaging that can be utilized to inform ALICE households of new resources, community programs and/or events.


Laying the Foundation: United for Families Network

Lake Area United Way is a collaborator, a convener and a catalyst for community change. As a backbone organization, Lake Area United Way will guide the collective group in developing vision and strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices, build public will, advance policy, and mobilize funding. We will fuel solutions that drive measurable, lasting change that benefits the entire community.

The United for Families Network (UFF) will serve as United Way’s vehicle to form a cross-sector group. UFF is a coalition of social service agencies, government entities, and faith based organizations that deliver services to Lake County ALICE households. Lake Area United Way will utilize the United for Families Network to identify and connect cross-sector partners that impact ALICE households, build the capacity of said partners, and finally create a Research/Analysis Team to collect and analyze additional data regarding the ALICE population.At the close of this phase, Lake Area United Way in collaboration with the United for Families Network members will identify long-term outcomes and indicators that will impact the ALICE population.

Key objectives

United for Families Network is focused on fulfilling four key objectives:

1) Convene: Break down cross-sector silos by providing a structured environment in which providers and organizations can come together to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue.
2) Communicate: Create information and data sharing systems that result in consistent and continuous communication among providers and organizations.
3) Collaborate: Foster mutually beneficial collaborations among providers and organizations that build a stronger system of care for ALICE households.

4) Coordinate: Facilitate improved service delivery systems among providers and organizations in an effort to reduce duplication of services, maximize existing community resources, and improve access to support services and programs.


Supporting strategies

Lake Area United Way will deploy the following strategies to support the United for Families Network objectives:

1) Create a shared measurement system by linking and tracking the units of service delivered to ALICE households by providers and organizations through the implementation of CharityTracker, a web application for shared case management used to gather and report statistical data for resource development, strategic planning, measuring outcomes, reducing duplication, and coordinating disaster relief response.
2) Create an online searchable database of services and programs available to ALICE households through the development of the Resource Round Up app. The Resource Round Up app will provide ALICE households with a free easy to use interface to quickly identify local programs and services that can provide immediate assistance such as food, shelter, or clothing. ALICE households can also utilize the Child Care Locator and search for Paths to Quality certified child care centers, ministry and home based providers within a user specified mile radius of their home or place of employment.
3) Address service delivery gaps by assessing and improving the organizational capacity of program providers and faith based organizations delivering services to ALICE households.
4) Create universal client intake and referral process and procedure to reduce system inefficiencies.

5) Leverage network collaborations to attract new revenue streams to provide increased support to ALICE households.


impact & results

At this stage in our process, it will be premature for Lake Area United Way to select an indicator such as “Reducing the ALICE population by X%, until additional data has been collected and analyzed and the capacities of the partnering organizations have been significantly enhanced.
Lake Area United Way anticipates Phase Two concluding by the close of 2017. That being said, the outcomes/indicators identified below correlate to the activities of the United for Families Network and the ALICE Resource Round Up App.