Five Things You Need to Know About ALICE

Important facts about people who live paycheck-to-paycheck

United We Win.

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Since 2015, United Way of Western Connecticut has focused on addressing the needs of a population we call ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE represents Connecticut households that have earnings above the Federal Poverty Level but below a basic cost-of-living.

1.       Who is ALICE? ALICE is any working household that makes too much to be eligible for many of the government safety net programs, but still struggles to pay for basic necessities, including housing, food, childcare, healthcare, and transportation. ALICE is employed—in fact many are working more than one job. We all know ALICE . They care for our children in childcare centers and schools, they work in health care with our aging parents, they provide us services in retail stores and restaurants, they are the cashier at our local grocery store and the security guard at our office building.  Or they can be retired and living on a fixed income. The one thing they have in common is that they are one emergency away from a financial crisis.

2.       How many people are ALICE in this region?
About 40,000 Western Connecticut households—one in three—are ALICE and typically live paycheck to paycheck. Combined with people living in poverty, 40% of the population in our region is making less than the ALICE Household Survival Budget. Every town and city in CT is home to the ALICE population. Want to know how many of your neighbors are ALICE? Click here.

3.       How can I tell if I am ALICE?
The Household Survival Budget determines whether you and your family are part of the ALICE population. In Fairfield County, if you have a toddler and an infant, you can be making as much as $81,792 and be an ALICE household. To determine if you are an ALICE based on your household size, click here.

4.       What is United Way doing to help ALICE?
We know from talking with ALICE that they don’t want charity, only a hand up. Many struggle silently not wanting to take help because there might be someone who needs it more. So we are striving to find ways to help give that hand up in some key areas. To help ALICE in our region, we are:

  • Expanding the Healthy Savings program so ALICE can spend less money on nutritious foods at the grocery store and redirect funds to other basic needs.
  • Providing childcare and after-school subsidies so ALICE families can know their children are in safe, high-quality programs while they work. We also have a fund that pays for out-of-school activities (sports, dance, music lessons).
  • Offering free budget coaching, the SaverLife™ savings program, and free tax preparation services so ALICE can start to save and plan for the future.

5.       How can I help ALICE?

Go to to learn more about what we do and how you can get involved, or to make a donation. If someone you know needs immediate assistance, dial 2-1-1 or visit

ALICE workers are vital to our economy and essential to every community’s success. The 2018 Connecticut United Ways ALICE Report highlights financial hardship in Connecticut and provides a breakdown in percentages of households who fall below the ALICE threshold, a metric that weighs a local household survival budget with the amount of income that household actually brings in. You can find a copy of the report here.

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