Financial Empowerment & Problem-Solving

The Financial Empowerment & Problem Solving (FEPS) initiative supports community members from poverty to possibility. FEPS aims to address the root cause of poverty – low income – through free tax filing, education, and financial supports.  Working with local partners, United Way is assisting community members on a journey toward financial empowerment.

A life-changing return on investment

The simple act of filing taxes can have a profound impact on the lives of financially vulnerable people.

Filing taxes is a gateway to accessing many other benefits, including subsidized housing and daycare, city-run programs and food banks. Yet every year, low-income community members miss out on thousands of dollars in benefits and refunds because they do not file their taxes. Through education and free tax filing, FEPS helps people out of immediate crises. It also connects people with one-on-one counselling, group workshops, online training and other services. With these supports, United Way is helping individuals achieve long-term financial goals and make lasting change in their life.

For support filing taxes, contact our core program partners at Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre and Social Planning & Research Council’s Hamilton Tax Helps.

 

 

“This tax help was a gift. I have been trying to get my back taxes done for a couple of years now and could find no one to help me. Now, I am receiving the benefits I need as a senior on a fixed income, and, I am getting a refund that will let me go visit my daughter!”program participant.

 

Investing in Behavioural Insights

Maintaining good financial habits or developing new skills can be difficult for most people at the best of times. Can you imagine the number of failed resolutions to reduce buying take-out food, or finally start saving for retirement?

Individuals living in poverty  face even more barriers in their daily lives. Issues like hunger and mental illness can hold them back from adopting new behaviours. Even though filing their taxes could help, oftentimes people are dealing with too much stress and trying to manage their immediate needs. Behavioural science helps us understand these barriers and motivations better, so that we can develop more effective solutions that meet people “where they are”.

Working with behavioural insights experts, FEPS researches how to reduce barriers and ‘nudge’ people toward financial literacy and independence. UWHH also shares resources and training around behavioural insights in order to increase interventions that close the service gaps across our diverse investment areas.

Community Collaboration

FEPS is a collaborative effort led by the leadership members above. We also convene a partnership table of diverse social service organizations interested in financial empowerment to leverage existing assets, strengthen connections, and fill gaps. Are you an organization that provides or is interested in providing clients with financial literacy programming? Connect with Vivien Underdown at vunderdown@uwhh.ca to get involved.

This program is funded by:

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.

Sarah HodgsonFinancial Empowerment & Problem Solving