Posted on Monday, November 4, 2019

Payday. It’s finally arrived.  Thanks to those two hours of overtime, your take-home pay is a little more than normal. You want to celebrate but your enthusiasm is short-lived.

Once you start crunching the numbers, you realize you’re going to come up short again this month. One or two bills, possibly more, will probably go unpaid and meals? Might happen. Then again, they might not.

That’s the reality for many people living within the ALICE® – Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed – threshold. You’re working two or more jobs to make ends meet, but it’s not enough. Frustration is a constant companion.

The United Ways in Virginia launched the ALICE Report to improve the lives of vulnerable, financially challenged ALICE households. Janel Donohue, president of Rappahannock United Way, says 11 percent of Virginians are in poverty and just under 30% are within the ALICE threshold. 


“This means millions of families, in order to sustain themselves, are forced to make difficult choices and risky trade-offs every day.”

The ALICE Report raises awareness about this essential but previously hidden part of our community. Donohue says Virginia’s Community Colleges can help by identifying the struggles students face and the difficult choices they must make. 

“The number one way to elevate the ALICE population out of a basic survival budget is for ALICE individuals to gain relevant education and work certification or credentials, that allow them to be eligible for higher paying jobs.” 

While a formal partnership between VCCS and the United Way has not been established, Donohue believes that, “Both see the mutual benefits of working together to support ALICE.”

A passage taken from the United Way’s website reads: When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all face serious consequences.

Donohue says that’s not hyperbole.

“The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households.”'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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