MDC, its partner the United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG), and community stakeholders across Guilford County, N.C., are partnering to design and build a “Family Economic Success Ecosystem” to empower vulnerable households out of poverty and towards economic success.
Need For New Approaches
Current approaches to fighting poverty and increasing family economic success, while often individually strong, are not achieving the results that economically vulnerable households need—as shown by the growth, persistence, and concentration of poverty across Guilford County. Our research and experience, including listening sessions with economically vulnerable residents, show that available supports and services for people who need help—with food, shelter, financial resources, education, job training, and placement—are not well coordinated and aligned. Available supports and services are too often underutilized due to insufficient knowledge and barriers to access.
Lack of coordination and underuse are structural problems requiring place-based, systemic, and adaptive approaches. Neuroscience shows that delivering multiple supports and services simultaneously at convenient locations and providing assistance with navigating the complex web of social services are effective strategies for assisting households suffering from financial stress to access needed supports and services. Communities like Guilford County need to create “ecosystems” for increasing access to underused supports, improving systems to coordinate services, and empowering economically vulnerable households to advance their economic mobility and participation.
Developing New Approaches
Responding to the need for place-based, systemic, and adaptive approaches, MDC and UWGG are partnering to establish new and improved systems for empowering economically vulnerable households out of poverty and towards inclusive economic participation and success in Guilford County. This work involves two main strategies, which are establishing four Family Success Centers and a countywide Integrated Services Delivery (ISD) Network.
Both strategies use the two-generation ISD approach to increase access to and coordinate delivery of supports and services to move more economically vulnerable households out of poverty. The ISD approach bundles, sequences, and delivers services to empower economically vulnerable households across three areas: (1) work, health, and income supports; (2) education and career advancement; and (3) financial education and coaching.
Research and practice show that connecting economically vulnerable households with work, income and health supports reduces poverty, boosts employment and wage growth, increases upward economic mobility, enhances financial stability, increases educational performance and attainment, reduces hunger, and improves health outcomes. Research and practice also confirm that bundling, sequencing, and delivering supports across service types, using ISD, increases the odds by three to four times that economically vulnerable households will achieve major economic outcomes—defined as increased levels of education, employment, income, and financial stability.