Facing Challenges Together
United Way Suncoast recently partnered with the Foundation For A Healthy St. Petersburg to illuminate the challenges facing families that live paycheck to paycheck. At the ALICE Data Walk earlier this month, a diverse group of more than 120 participants came away from the foundation’s Center for Health Equity with more insight about ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households and how the community can help address the issues impacting these families.
United Way Suncoast’s 2023 ALICE Report indicates that 45 percent of the families in our five-county region live paycheck to paycheck, and that a family of four with an infant and a toddler must annually earn $88,000 a year to make ends meet.
The event sought to deepen the understanding of such numbers. The group, which included various nonprofit staff, civic leaders, community members, legislative aides and elected officials, participated in three phases: a table simulation, data exploration and a community conversation.
Meet The Johnson’s Simulation
A palpable energy emerged during the “Meet the Johnsons” table exercise, a simulation that allowed participants to take on the monthly financial decisions a family of four might endure. While recognizing the simulation had limits, participants asked questions, and brainstormed innovative solutions beyond the exercise.
The data walk itself became a forum for inquisitive minds, with participants strolling around the room and engaging with interactive television screens featuring different data points. The group posed insightful questions about data from the ALICE report. Their enthusiasm to delve deeper into charts underscored a collective desire to understand the WHY and HOW behind the statistics. The audience’s interest extended to exploring disparities across different groups and family types, showcasing a commitment to comprehending the nuances of the challenges.
Questions & Answers From Audience
The event didn’t stop at awareness; it inspired ideas for the future. The subsequent Q&A session revealed a community eager to move beyond awareness, with audience members suggesting ideas on translating insights into policy changes. Attendees provided suggestions on how to utilize the ALICE information as a tool for storytelling, and a powerful means of educating community leaders. The emphasis on personal narratives aimed to create a lasting impact, as stories often resonate as much as statistics.
Post-event, a significant 24% of attendees expressed feeling informed and ready to act. An additional 50% voiced a desire for more guidance on how to translate the acquired information into tangible initiatives.
United Way Suncoast and the Foundation For A Healthy St. Petersburg hopes the event will serve as a catalyst for community engagement and empowerment. The diverse mix of participants, coupled with their active involvement and thoughtful inquiries, created an atmosphere of collaboration and shared responsibility. United Way Suncoast will aim to replicate the ALICE Data Walk in partnership with other organizations around the region.