Despite hard work, many of our Greater Stark County neighbors are living paycheck to paycheck with no clear path to a more stable future. But, poverty doesn’t have to be permanent. United Way helps create a pathway to financial stability and independence. UWGSC equips people with tools to get better jobs, keep more of what they earn and save for their children’s futures.


Poverty is complex and comes in many forms. Its face is ever-changing and may be one you recognize among your neighbors, co-workers and friends. United Way’s community BOLD GOAL in Income is that 70% of Stark County residents will spend no more than 30% of their income on housing. Financial independence is achieved when residents can pay for housing with enough income remaining to build assets.

  • 12% of Stark County residents live below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. (Source: U.S. Census, Ohio Poverty Report)

  • Since the recession in 2007, the cost of meeting basic needs in Ohio has increased by 23% while the median income has increased by 2%. (Source: (Association of Community Action Agencies’ State of Poverty Report)

  • 1 in 4 Stark County children under age 18 are living in poverty. (Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey)

  • 39.1% of Stark County residents are liquid asset poor meaning they do not have access to sufficient funds to subsist in case of an emergency. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Treasury, CFED-Corp. for Enterprise Development)

  • The average hourly wage one must earn in a 40-hour workweek to afford the Fair Market Rent of $675/month for a 2-bedroom apartment. The average Stark County renter’s wage is $10.31/hour. (Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach)


United Way currently invests $1.18M in 26 programs focused on providing pathways out of poverty and into a community where a cycle for financial success exists, allowing families access to build long-term economic independence. 

  • Access to Affordable Housing

  • Financial Coaching 

  • Household Stabilization 

  • Job Training & Preparation


In 2016, 3,550 tax returns were completed through United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helping Stark County residents claim $2.4 million in total refunds. For families struggling to make ends meet, a few extra dollars in their pockets can make all the difference. IRS certified volunteers ensure clients receive the credits and refunds for which they are eligible including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs. In 2015, 712 VITA clients claimed the EITC and child tax credit resulting in $894,132 total credits.


I was getting by, but barely. I was counting on my tax refund to give me the extra boost my finances needed but didn’t have a clue how to make sure I got every possible credit. That’s when I heard about United Way’s VITA program. I called the office and scheduled a free tax appointment.

When I walked into United Way’s offices, I never could have imagined how happy I would be when I left. The volunteer I worked with found every tax credit I qualified for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). As a result, my refund was $3,150.

That was more than I had ever dreamed of. The same day I came in, banks were on-hand to help me set up a savings account where my refund could be directly deposited. I was also connected with MyBudgetCoach for a year of financial training.

When I called United Way, I was simply focused on survival. Now, I have the ability to thrive financially through long-term financial planning. And, it all started with my choice to Be the ONE to pick up the phone.

Stories like this one are heard each day during tax season. United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program makes strides in asset building, financial coaching and household stabilization to help achieve our community’s Bold Goals in Income.


Behind all of our work, there are people like you who get significantly involved in big and small ways to ensure a better future for their family and their community. Your involvement is our most powerful resource. With you on our team, we can reach our goal of a better future for Greater Stark County. Will you join us?