Financial Stability

Success Story

Jodi’s husband carried medical coverage for her and their three kids, but the cost of coverage was more than they could afford.

Jodi contacted Independent Lifestyles for help and was informed that she could be removed from her husband’s policy and still receive health insurance. The family was able to save $350 per month. Jodi’s family was given more financial flexibility to spend money on essentials and gained control over their budget.

“I am so grateful and thankful from the bottom of my heart,” Jodi says. “It has made the months to come more financially bearable.”

The Goal

Increase financial stability and independence among lower-income or struggling households.

The Challenge

  • One in four renters in Central Minnesota pay at least half their income for housing.
  • Minnesota continues to be the least affordable state for renters in the Midwest, according to Out of Reach data for 2012. In order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner would have to work 86 hours per week – or hold 2.1 full-time jobs in Minnesota.


  • Strategy: Grow the local economic impact of the Free Tax Assistance Program, coordinated by Tri-CAP, by helping 2,000 households with their taxes and create more than $3M of additional revenue to Central Minnesota through income tax returns.

United Way Initiatives

  • United Way helped convene an advisory team and secure 8 financial partners and $40K in partnership with the City of St. Cloud to complete a Community Housing Study that was completed January 2014. The study is being used to leverage resources and planning related to housing and homeless needs in St. Cloud.
  • United Way and the CST team have assisted with recruitment of volunteers and promotion of Free Tax Site. During the 2012 tax season, over 1,800 returns were completed with the help of 100 volunteers that help return just under $2.8 back to low-income individuals and families.

Successes with Community Partners

Last year

  • 11,513 individuals were connected with services/resources to stabilize living conditions, maintain independence, and lessen dependency.
  • 585 individuals received financial education to decrease barriers and work towards financial stability.

How you can help

Visit United Way Volunteer Connection to find local volunteer opportunities and look for other ways to get involved. Be an advocate and help breakdown the stereotypes of who lives in poverty and why. Join a Community Solutions Team through United Way working on this issue. Individuals from organizations all across the community who bring passion, expertise and/or resources are welcome to join these teams.


Prescription drug discount card program

FamilyWize is a free prescription drug discount card program. There is no application fee, no age, income or citizenship restrictions. It covers everyone with no health insurance or prescription drug coverage. Cards can be used immediately and as often as needed by all family members. 30% average savings.

Go to the website and print off a prescription drug discount card. The website lists all participating pharmacies. 

For more information, contact United Way 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-543-7709 on your cell phone.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Emergency Food and Shelter program (EFSP)

United Way of Central Minnesota facilitates the local board of the Emergency Food and Shelter program (EFSP) for Stearns, Benton, and Sherburne Counties.

The local board, run by committed volunteers, reviews funding proposals for federal EFSP dollars and makes allocation recommendations to the national board. Local priority areas are emergency rent/mortgage and emergency shelters.

Funding levels are determined based on poverty and average unemployment statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor for the most current 12-month period.

In 2013, these counties were awarded $96,166 through the Emergency Food and Shelter program with Anna Marie’s Alliance, Community Aid Elk River (CAER), Tri-County Action Program (Tri-CAP), The Salvation Army, Place of Hope and United Way of Central Minnesota participating. This helped cover the cost of 4,543 nights in local shelters and 2,025 individuals with shelter or housing assistance.