Importance of The ALICE Project in Indiana  


Do you know ALICE? We are almost certain you do.  Most, if not all, of us know ALICE.  ALICE is our neighbor, attends school with our kids, goes to the same church, or even works with us.  

ALICE stands for Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed and there are thousands of families that fall into this category in our communities. Every couple of years, a report is completed by Indiana United Ways and regional United Ways all over the nation. This report gives us a view of the economic status of families in Indiana. More specifically, it tells us more about the families who live above the Federal Poverty line but can’t afford to get basic necessities. The importance of the Alice project is something we are very passionate about here at United Way of Whitewater Valley.

Importance of The ALICE Project

Why Should You Care About ALICE? 

Now that you know what ALICE stands for, think about the people in your circle. ALICE may be your relative, friend, colleague, or neighbor, or you might be ALICE. It may also be your health care provider, teacher, retail clerk, sanitation worker, and others. These workers are the backbone of our economy. The pandemic made it crystal clear just how much we need them.  

If you haven’t heard about ALICE, the data we have gathered for you may be shocking. This article aims to emphasize the importance of the ALICE project. Many people believe that only families below the Federal Poverty Line struggle to make ends meet, but that is simply not true. Especially with rising costs, families well above the poverty line are struggling. Learn more about the goal of ALICE and how United Way of Whitewater Valley is working to make a difference in these families’ lives.   

What is the goal of ALICE? 

The last ALICE report that was completed in 2020, as you can probably imagine the report showed just the beginning of the devastating effects of the pandemic. COVID-19 shed light on the shortcomings of our economy. Families and individuals were making difficult decisions to stay above water financially. Unfortunately, these tough choices continue to be made in 2022 and will continue in the future.   

The goal of ALICE is to show that families making what is to be considered sufficient salaries are still struggling to make ends meet. According to the 2018 ALICE Report, while unemployment hit historic lows “after the end of the Great Recession, 37% of Indiana’s 2,592,262 households still struggled to make ends meet. And while 13% of these households were living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), another 24% — almost twice as many — were ALICE households: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.” 

Sometimes Working Hard Just Isn’t Enough 

These people are working hard to provide for their families. They go to work more than 40 hours a week and still cannot pay for necessities. In short, the ALICE report shows us that the Federal Poverty Line is too low. According to World Vision, the definition of poverty “refers to lacking enough resources to provide the necessities of life—food, clean water, shelter and clothing. But in today’s world, that can be extended to include access to health care, education and even transportation.” So, what are ALICE families, if not impoverished?  

ALICE families make too much money to be eligible for most government assistance, but they still can’t make ends meet like their lower-income counterparts. Many people believe the response to this problem is to focus on increasing wages. Increasing wages by a couple of dollars isn’t enough for many of these families. They need to progress from making $10 an hour to making $20 an hour. One of the only ways to increase income by that much is to get a higher degree like a bachelor’s or a certification in a high-paying field. But what mom or dad has time to attend classes when they work 60 hours a week and take care of their children?   

That is what we mean by “income constrained.” These families are stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, no matter how hard they work or how many times they pull themselves up by the bootstraps, they will continue to live paycheck to paycheck, calculating how many hours they need to work to make it through the month. The ALICE project is not something unique to Indiana; there are ALICE families all over our nation. 

Importance of The ALICE Project

ALICE Data Nationwide 

ALICE keeps people all over the nation informed on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival. The last national overview was conducted in 2018. The next analysis is being conducted this year and will give us a look into the lives of ALICE families during 2020. The research gathered in 2018 is quite alarming. We can only imagine the changes in these numbers since the onset of the pandemic.   

According to the 2018 report, “121 million households in the U.S., 42% (51 million) could not afford basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan, and taxes.” Of that 42%, “35 million households (29%) – more than double the number in poverty – were ALICE, meaning they earned above the FPL but less than the cost of living in their county”.  

If you are interested in learning more about the ALICE project and how it affects families outside of our home state, check out their interactive map.   

Giving Hope To Vulnerable Families in Wayne and Union Counties 

While it may be hard to understand what is happening nationally, it is easy to understand what is happening right here in our communities. For families in Union County, the median household income is $48,227. There are 863 ALICE families, 30% of the 2,846 total families. This percentage is 6% more than the state average. In Wayne County, the median household income is $44,928. There are 6,394 ALICE families, 23% of the 28,338 total families, which is 1% lower than the state average.  

The mismatch between the cost of living and wages is not only something happening in other states. It is happening right here in Wayne and Union counties. The importance of the ALICE project is not just for companies or nonprofits. It is for everyone! It is for ALICE families who can learn more about the resources available to them, and it’s for those who are passionate about their community and want to make a difference. If you are looking for back-to-school resources in Wayne and Union counties, check out this article.

Organizations Giving Hope to Families

There are several local organizations dedicated to helping ALICE families move upward.  For example, Forward Wayne County launched its Possibilities Campaign aimed at helping connect individuals to higher-paying jobs through flexible education.    

NATCO Empowerment Center is another organization that’s dedicated to helping families achieve financial success. They are focused on providing financial education in-person and virtually.   

Even with the great work of organizations like Forward Wayne County and NATCO, we have a lot of work to do to remove the barriers that hold individuals back from getting that certification, going back to college, or taking that promotion.  At United Way of Whitewater Valley, we are committed to supporting organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne CountyRichmond Family YMCA, Girls Inc. Of Wayne CountyIvyCares Program and more that alleviates childcare barriers for families in Wayne and Union counties.  For more information about the ALICE project in Indiana counties, visit their website.   

Learn More About United Way of Whitewater Valley 

Now that you know the importance of the ALICE project in Wayne  Union County and join us in our fight for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in Wayne and Union counties by donating today. There is a lot of work to be done which means we need your help to make positive changes in our community.   

Get to know more about our program partners working in our four focus areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, and access to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do at United Way of Whitewater Valley.