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Improve the equity of employment and financial wellness outcomes of adults and families for life-long well-being.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides FREE tax preparation to individuals and families earning up to $66,000 annually. VITA clients receive the maximum refund possible without paying hundreds of dollars in preparation costs. We help taxpayers access all of the tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC has been recognized as the single most powerful tool to lift children out of poverty. For many of our clients, their tax refund is the biggest check they’ll receive all year. Claiming these credits puts clients on the path to paying off debt, securing better housing, obtaining dependable transportation, or pursuing higher education.
The Valet VITA program is an innovative service developed by United Way of Tucson that has received national recognition. Valet VITA is a model that uses technology to bring free tax preparation to almost any setting. It has been adopted by partners across Arizona and the United States. This development enables VITA services to be brought to schools, the workplace and some of the most remote areas of the country. Rae Pilarski, former Senior Director of Financial Wellness Initiatives at United Way of Tucson was asked to speak at the 2018 Prosperity NOW Summit about Valet VITA. This program has also been recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Siemer Family Stability Program
In 2013, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona partnered with the Siemer Institute for Family Stability (SIFS) in a nation-wide movement addressing the issue of students’ learning being disrupted by financial crisis and homelessness. The goal of this project is to support families in a financial crisis so their children can remain in the same school, giving them the best chance at receiving a quality education. The project creates change by addressing and resolving the issues that push families to the brink of homelessness.
It can be one of the most challenging tasks: starting life again after protecting our country. Through our nonprofit partners, The Arizona Coalition for Military Families, the Veterans Administration and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, we can ensure our veterans receive the assistance they deserve. Some veterans find themselves in dire circumstances, including homelessness. Some veterans also do not receive full benefits from the Veterans Administration, so may not have access to behavioral and mental health services. Veterans experiencing homelessness or other types of need can be helped by local organizations only to a certain extent. Operation United helps to support local organizations that serve veterans experiencing homelessness.
Financial Wellness Partnership
The Financial Wellness Partnership brings together community organizations, nonprofits, funders, businesses, and government offices for focused discussions on financial well-being. The group seeks to improve the financial wellness of individuals and families by increasing accessibility to effective services, resources, and opportunities, and by influencing policy to develop equitable, people-centered systems that support financial wellness. For more information or to join the mailing list for the Financial Wellness Partnership, sign up below.
Read Our Newsletters
November 2020 – mapping financial well-being, AZ KidsCount data, Direct Advocacy & Resource Center staff spotlight
December 2020 – EITC research, cost of evictions, poverty in Tucson, Our Family Services staff spotlight
January 2021 – Pima County eviction recommendations, tax assistance, Goodwill Industries staff spotlight
February 2021 – strengthening referrals between organizations, tax season updates, Primavera Foundation staff spotlight
March 2021 – pandemic assistance resources, taxes and stimulus checks, benefits assistance, AmeriCorps staff spotlight
April 2021 – American Rescue Plan Act, AZ Housing Affordability, AmeriCorps staff spotlight
May 2021 – FWP May notes, integrated services research, family policy updates, ICS staff spotlight
VOLUNTEER WITH VITA
Meet A Volunteer
Scott just completed his first year as a United Way VITA volunteer. He joins dozens of other VITA Volunteers that enable this important program to take place each year. Volunteers are trained to become IRS certified tax preparers. Scott said, “This program helps low-income community members and that appealed to my wife and me so we decided to volunteer.” To Scott, United Way is important in our community because it provides impactful services and ultimately helps Tucson and Southern Arizona as a whole. “Tucson is as good as it gets. It is truly a unique environment and we were drawn by Tucson’s size, architecture, university and diverse cultures.”