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Nonprofit Program Wants To Give Struggling Tempe Families Financial Stability

A food box
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
An example of a food box provided by the Tempe Community Action Agency.

Families come to the Tempe Community Action Agency when they need emergency help like food boxes or rental assistance. 

A new program aims to break the cycle of poverty and crisis. 

The Family Economic Advancement Initiative is a three-year program that links families with social workers, job training, rental assistance and other services.

“By gaining those skills, vocational skills, financial skills, families will be able to better prevent crisis from happening in the future,” said Deborah Arteaga, Tempe Community Action Agency executive director.

TCAAreports single-parent households with children have the highest poverty rates in Tempe and that’s the program’s target.

For example a household that might qualify for the program is a family of two making 200 percent the federal poverty level, about $32,000 each year.

“Many times they’re just lacking the resources and the navigation help and case management help to be able to move the family beyond that crisis,” Arteaga said.

The program will enroll 50 families annually for the next two years and pair them with a social worker who can help them determine what other types of services they might need.

TCAA collaborates with other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the city of Tempe, Newtown and a New Leaf to help meet the family’s needs. The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust funded the initiative with a $221,000 grant.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.