United Way of Western Connecticut launches ALICE Enrichment Fund

United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) is proud to announce the establishment of the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Enrichment Fund with a $100,000 regional investment to help qualifying families offset the cost of out-of-school enrichment programs for their children. The ALICE Enrichment Fund will provide families who fall within the ALICE income category with scholarships for their children to participate in skill-building, extracurricular activities. Nine partners that fall within UWWC’s region will administer individual Funds on a local level (see chart below). In Ridgefield, the Fund will be administered by the Ridgefield Department of Social Services.

The decision by UWWC’s Board of Directors to start the Fund was in response to feedback from focus groups and surveys of ALICE individuals over the past year.

“We heard overwhelmingly in our conversations with parents that a top concern is their inability to pay for enrichment activities for their children – such as sports, music and the arts,” said Kimberly Morgan, CEO of UWWC. “We also know that access to these activities is what sets children from lower-income families apart from their peers from upper-income families. We hope that this Fund can help alleviate the financial stress of ALICE families across the region by supplementing the cost of an activity. Our goal with this Fund is to help close the gap between children from families who currently do not have access to enriching extracurricular activities (including, but not limited to sports, music lessons, arts, field trips, clubs) and those who do.”

The creation of the Fund is supported by research which shows that children who participate in youth sports (as one example) have improved levels of physical and mental health. Project Play, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, found that in 2015 nearly 70% of children from families making more than $100,000 played team sports, whereas only 1 in 4 children from low-income families participated in sports.

The Ridgefield Department of Social Services has been awarded $10,000 to administer the Fund in Ridgefield. Qualifying Ridgefield parents have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship towards children’s out-of-school and weekend enrichment activities. The Fund will cover the cost of an activity (activities) up to $300 per child, and up to three children per family.

“In some towns, donors have stepped forward to match the funds put forth by United Way,” said Morgan. “Community members interested in ‘paying it forward’ or expanding the work of the ALICE Enrichment Fund in their community can contact United Way at (203) 792-5330.”

To learn more or to apply for the ALICE Enrichment Fund, please visit United Way’s website at: https://www.uwwesternct.org/aliceenrichmentfund or contact Tony Phillips at the Ridgefield Department of Social Services at socialservices@ridgefieldct.org or (203) 431-2777.