Economic Stability of Low-Income Families

Increasing economic stability of low-income families (the "working poor")

We focus on enhancing the economic security of the working poor as one of two key focus areas of our discretionary grantmaking.

“Working poor” is generally defined as

  1. a household (individual or family) earning less than 200% of the federal poverty line – $21,660/year for an individual and $44,100/ year for a family of four with two kids – and
  2. where at least one member of the household has spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force working or looking for work within the last year.

Contrary to common perceptions of North Texas’ relatively high income levels, the region’s poverty is worse than the national average, according to the recently published Assets & Opportunities Profile, a study released in 2012 by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The local study debunked the prevailing thought that Dallas and its surrounding North Texas region are filled with people who are not at financial risk. The report showed that within Dallas, two out of every five households do not have sufficient assets to live for three months at the federal poverty level should they lose their main source of income. In addition, over 68% of Dallas consumers have subprime credit scores, as compared to the national average of 60% of consumers. More than half of low-income residents did not have health insurance, placing them at financial risk in the event of a medical crisis. Living in financial insecurity not only destabilizes families, it also jeopardizes the long-term vitality of cities and local economies.

To read the Assets & Opportunity Profile report, click here.

Data Driven Decision-Making: The D3 Institute

With the release of the Assets & Opportunity Profile, Communities Foundation of Texas set out to improve the financial stability of working families, initially by bringing together social service agencies who serve them and working with those agencies on their strategic use of data to drive change. The Data Driven Decision-Making (D3) Institute was created to help the agencies understand the contemporary issues facing low-income families; use data to drive decisions about services, clients and funding needs; and create learning communities within the nonprofit arena. D3 successfully ran from 2012 through its conclusion in 2015, having achieved its intended impact. Watch the following video to learn about the impact CFT made through the Data Driven Decision-Making Institute (D3) in supporting low-income communities and the agencies who serve them.

D3 Institute Video

Watch a video about CFT’s work to improve the economic stability of low-income families.

To read more about th e D3 Institute, click here.

Working Family Success Model

CFT ‘s current focus is the working with local service providers on the implementation of the Working Families Success model (WFS) of integrating services. Modeled after the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Working Families efforts, the WFS model “bundles” three core services (employment assistance, income support and financial coaching) to equip social service agencies with tools to help low-income families reach lasting financial stability.

In 2014, CFT selected ten organizations as part of a competitive grant process from across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to participate in a pilot effort to bring the Working Families Success model delivery to North Texas. The model, also known as the integrated service delivery model was originally developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the early 2000’s and has since been expanded to over 70 locations across the U.S.

The agencies selected as part of the initial WFS cohort have been working to realign their services and programming, with a focus on working with low income families in order to achieve lasting economic outcomes, including increasing income and credit scores, reducing debt and generating new wealth for themselves and their communities. As part of this new service model, the agencies will provide a broad range of employment services, income supports and financial coaching, as well as other asset building services, whether as a single agency or in tight collaboration with others.

To learn more about the Working Families Success model, please click here.

Goals & Strategy

Working Family Success

D3 sessionsThe Working Families Success model provides a framework for delivering key services and financial supports to low-income families using an integrated approach specifically designed to make it easier for low-income families to obtain critically needed work support services. The model is built on the concept that offering integrated services in an intentional and thoughtful way helps clients overcome barriers and advance economically. The model includes a “bundled” set of three core elements: employment services, income support and financial coaching.

CFT's goal is to support selected nonprofits with knowledge and information to become an established Working Family Success Center—a family-friendly venue that provides bundled services leading to increased economic well-being. Selected agencies are asked to make a multi-year commitment to participate in training, including receiving significant program guidance and training, to be part of a learning cohort, and share best practices and key learnings that can be used to further expand the implementation of this model in the North Texas community.


Who is Eligible?

Agencies currently participating in the WFS cohort/pilot met all of the following criteria:

  • Have a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt designation from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • At least 50% of the total population served by the agency must be residents of either Dallas, Denton, Collin or Tarrant County.
  • Currently serving the "working poor" through agency programs or services, defined by a household (either individual or family) earning less than 200% of the federal poverty line -- $21,600 for an individual or $44,100 for a family of four with two children -- and in which a member of the household has spent at least 27 weeks in the previous 12 months in the labor force either working or looking for work.
  • Currently providing at least two or more of the core services (employment services, financial counseling/coaching and income supports/asset building).
  • Willingness to make a multi-year commitment to the program and to actively participate in cohort training sessions.


What is the deadline to apply?

At this time, CFT is not accepting new applications for the Working Families Success cohort. Please check back periodically for updates.


At this time, CFT is not accepting new applications for the Working Families Success cohort. Please check back periodically for updates.


Q. How much funding does CFT have to invest in initiatives around the economic security for working families each year?

A. We have approximately $1 million available annually for grantmaking to support the focus area of economic security for low income, working families. We are currently focusing our limited resources on the Working Family Success Model, which is designed to provide organizations that offer programs and services for low-income working families the power to accelerate their development of solutions to the social and economic problems facing this population.

Q. How long will economic security for working families be a focus area for CFT?

A.Our trustees have not set a definite time frame for re-evaluating the foundation’s Community Impact focus areas. It is likely that we will continue to make significant investments to support this focus area for the next 3-5 years.

Q. Does CFT plan to open up grant opportunities for programs that directly serve low income families?

A.There are no new grant application opportunities at this time. Please check back periodically for updates.


Donate to our initiative to increase the economic security of low income families. 

Wende Burton
Community Philanthropy Director

39% of Dallas households could not survive for three months above the poverty level if they lost their job today.

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