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United Way of Southeast Louisiana

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United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, income and health - the building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. We invite you to be part of the change.

You can give. You can advocate. You can volunteer.

Over the past twenty years, the cost of living in the United States has increased by almost 90%, while average incomes have only increased by 25%. This reality is especially impacting low and moderate income Southeast Louisiana families - now work in jobs that pay low wages and do not provide health and retirement benefits.

Our research has identified at least four elements that must be present for individuals and families to achieve and maintain financial stability: 1) a stable and adequate income; 2) safe, secure, and functional housing; 3) adequate financial resources to cover unexpected expenses; and 4) a safety net of services and support to intervene in times of crisis.



Louisiana Facts

  • 18% of all residents in Southeast Louisiana age 25 and above have not completed high school.
  • Over 16% of Louisiana residents aged 16 and over are illiterate and illiteracy is a major barrier to job training.
  • 9% of Louisiana families do not have a bank account (national average is 7.7%), and 71% of these households have annual earnings of less than $30,000.
  • 23% of Louisiana households rely on financial services such as check cashing payday loan operations.
  • Louisiana’s poverty rate is 19.2% and more than 26% of Louisiana children live in poverty -- both represent the second highest rate in the nation and the highest in the South.
  • In Louisiana 28.2% of families have income levels less than a basic needs budget.
  • The homeownership rate in Orleans Parish is 52.4% compared to the state and national rates of 68.4% and 66.8% respectively. St. Tammany Parish with a 78.5% homeownership rate has the highest foreclosure rate in the region.
  • Plaquemines Parish has the highest median mortgage rate in the region at $1,589 while the rate for Louisiana is $1,105.

Our Strategies

  • We have identified five strategies to organize programs and funding to address financial stability for hard working people and those in crisis: Learn, Earn, Save, Invest, and Protect. Our partner agencies programs work to ensure that individuals and families:

    • have the knowledge and skills and training to provide for themselves and their families, and successfully manage their assets;
    • have the necessary income supports and decision-making skills to provide for themselves, and in times of crisis have access to resources to have their immediate needs met;
    • are able to build savings to meet goals and invest in their futures;
    • have access to affordable and adequate housing; and
    • know how to protect their assets, including in times of disasters.



Funds Available to Non-Profits in Orleans, St. Bernard &
St. Tammany

Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes have been awarded Federal funds made available through the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in the amount of $139,595 (Orleans), $14,489 (St. Bernard) and $71,055 (St. Tammany). These funds must be used to supplement food, shelter, rent-mortgage and utility assistance efforts in ongoing programs to assist people with economic emergencies unrelated to disasters.

Only non-profit organizations in Orleans, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes are eligible to apply and must abide by the following:

1) Be a non-profit or government agency with a voluntary board;

2) Be eligible to receive Federal funds;

3) Have a financial control system that allows for effective control over and accountability for all funds;

4) Practice non-discrimination;

5) Have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs.

The Emergency Food & Shelter Program application is available on the United Way of Southeast Louisiana website at

Deadline to apply is October 10, 2014.

Direct questions to Yvette Alexander at

[click here for the application]

Quick Links

Earned Income Tax Credit & VITA

Free Tax Preparation

Louisiana Department of Revenue

START Saving Program

Be A Vita Volunteer!



Individual Development Accounts - United Way's IDA Project is designed to help low-income individuals and families save money through a matched savings program. The Program is designed to meet the needs of a community that has long-standing high percentages of intergenerational poverty. We are addressing these needs by allowing participants to use their IDAs for the purchase of a new home, vehicle, start a new or expand an existing small business or pay for post-secondary education. [learn more]










The Results

Workforce Development

Over 16% of Louisiana residents aged 16 and over are illiterate and illiteracy is a major barrier to job training.


Our Strategy

Help individuals provide for themselves and their families through skills and job training.


The Result

Following training, 91% participants were able to maintain their job for at least six months in one many areas including: construction, health, personal care & service, food preparation, etc.

Emergency Assistance

In Louisiana 28.2% of families have income levels less than a basic needs budget.


Our Strategy

Ensure that in times of crisis, individuals and families have access to resources to have their immediate needs met.


The Result

100% of families received weekly supplies of balanced nutritional food products for up to three months or until the family is able to sustain themselves.