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Sad Family Sitting Bills

See Our Impact


New NJ ALICE Report

The COVID-19 pandemic, a global health and economic crisis, upended life as we knew it. In addition to claiming the lives of millions, it unleashed a storm of competing economic forces.


The result: The number of New Jersey households experiencing financial hardship grew by more than 157,000 during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total struggling to afford the basics to 1.3 million households or 37%, according to the latest ALICE Report for New Jersey. 


That calculation includes the 368,639 households in poverty as well as another 923,791 families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), earning above the Federal Poverty Level but less than what’s needed to survive in the modern economy. ALICE workers, heralded for their sacrifices during the pandemic, have been overlooked and undercounted by traditional poverty measures.


Help us help ALICE

Equipped with this ALICE data, we can do even better to develop effective policies and track our progress toward reducing financial hardship in New Jersey. We have an opportunity to build on what was learned during the pandemic as ALICE continues to face economic uncertainty.


With pandemic assistance waning, there are warning signs on the horizon that households struggling to make ends meet are losing ground. These include high levels of food insufficiency, continued difficulty paying bills, medical debt, and feelings of anxiety and depression.


Now, more than ever, we need action. Can we count on you?


As leaders across the country talk daily about the low-income workers essential to our economy, our United Way developed the ALICE name and measurements in 2009 to shine a spotlight on this group. It represents hardworking families who have been left behind — unable to afford the basics of housing, food, child care, health care, technology, and transportation. Despite working hard as our nation’s child care educators, home health aides, and cashiers, ALICE lives paycheck to paycheck and is one emergency away from falling into financial ruin.



Retail sales workers in U.S. earning $29,120 per year


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Why ALICE Matters

ALICE essential workers are integral to our community. And as the pandemic showed us, many of them are the essential workers who kept our economy and our way of life going. We continue to rely on ALICE workers every day — from the child care educator to the grocery store clerk to the delivery person to the home health aide.

But what happens when cash-strapped ALICE households are forced to make impossible choices such as deciding between a car repair or quality child care, heat or a prescription? These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE, but for all of us.

ALICE Across The U.S.

While we first placed the spotlight on ALICE in New Jersey, the challenges faced by these households extend across the country. Struggling ALICE households can be found in every state — in wealthy suburbs, big cities, and small towns. A grassroots movement we call United For ALICE has grown to serve as a champion for ALICE families.

Using a standardized methodology, our United For ALICE research arm assesses the cost of living in every state, providing a comprehensive look at financial hardship throughout the country that is more accurate than traditional federal poverty guidelines.


Through this data and grassroots movement, United For ALICE is helping to give ALICE a national voice. The ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, now includes United Ways, corporations, and foundations in 27 states and the District of Columbia, as seen in the map above. United, we are changing the national dialogue about financial hardship.

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ALICE In The News

Since shining a spotlight on ALICE households in one suburban county in 2009, we have gone on to raise awareness of struggling families throughout the state. See below for some key news highlights. For more stories about our work, click here.

We have a road map to help thousands of hard-working people in N.J. living near the edge, United Way says

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Working hard, but still poor. Our economy is broken

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More companies need to step up and help N.J.’s working poor

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United Way Fights For ALICE

The success of our community depends on the financial stability of ALICE. Through our work, United Way of Northern New Jersey is helping to ensure a future where ALICE can achieve racial and economic equity. Because when ALICE succeeds, we all win.


20 Preschoolers get books to boost literacy


10 ALICE families receive free tax prep and filing services


One month of affordable early education for an ALICE family


Home technology for 5 family caregivers to help better manage work and caregiving responsibilities

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We are inspiring others to fight for ALICE

Through raising funds and awareness, United Way is helping those in the community who are facing financial insecurity despite working sometimes two jobs and still not affording basic necessities.

– C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers University women’s basketball coach, Basketball Hall of Fame member, and former United Way of Northern New Jersey Women United honorary chair

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