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ALICE in Arkansas is a focus of the Arkansas Asset Funders Network and part of the United For ALICE movement, a grassroots effort to improve the financial stability of the ALICE population.

The movement is led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 30 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,Florida, Georgia, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.

United For ALICE partners with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to bring this research to Arkansas, and this work is also sponsored by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health of Arkansas, Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, Entergy, and Heart of Arkansas United Way.


Frequently asked questions

What is ALICE, and why does it matter?

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. Imagine working full-time, possibly holding down multiple jobs, yet still struggling to cover basic living expenses. That’s the reality for ALICE households. These hardworking individuals and families are the backbone of our communities—teachers, caregivers, retail workers, and more. Despite their contributions, they live paycheck to paycheck, constantly at risk of financial crisis.

Understanding ALICE is crucial because it highlights the hidden struggles of thousands in Arkansas and has the power to inform policies that can drive real change and foster economic stability for everyone.

How is ALICE different from poverty?

ALICE offers a more precise and holistic view of financial vulnerability, encompassing individuals and families who earn above the federal poverty line yet not enough to afford essentials like housing, food, healthcare, childcare, and transportation. The significant size of the ALICE population challenges the outdated idea that simply having a job ensures financial stability.

How is the ALICE population measured?

The ALICE population is measured using the ALICE Threshold, a new way of defining and measuring financial hardship. It uses a standardized set of measurements to quantify the cost of a basic household budget in each county in each state, and to show how many households are struggling to afford it.

What is the Household Survival Budget?

The Household Survival Budget is a no-frills calculation of what it costs to meet the bare minimum needs: housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare, and a basic phone plan. It’s the financial line between getting by and falling behind.

What is the Household Stability Budget?

The Household Stability Budget goes beyond just scraping by; it’s about thriving, not just surviving. While the Household Survival Budget covers only the bare essentials, the Stability Budget includes those plus a bit more: savings for emergencies, investments for the future, and funds for additional needs like better healthcare and education. It represents a life where financial stress doesn’t dominate, allowing families to build security and plan for long-term success.

How prevalent is the ALICE population?

The ALICE population spans every county, affecting both young and old across urban and rural areas. White households constitute the largest ALICE group by race, while Black and brown households are disproportionately more likely to be ALICE or in poverty, highlighting significant economic disparities. The widespread presence of ALICE underscores the need for inclusive policies that address systemic failures and promote financial stability for all.

What factors contribute to being ALICE?

Becoming an ALICE household is often a result of stagnant wages and struggling to keep up with soaring living costs. In 2022, a staggering 70% of the 20 most common jobs in Arkansas still paid less than $20 per hour. Inadequate savings, limited access to quality education and healthcare, and sparse safety nets further intensify this economic crunch. Moreover, the sudden shock of job losses or unexpected medical bills can easily tip vulnerable households over the edge.

What impact does the ALICE population have on the community?

ALICE is more than a demographic—it’s a shared experience and a constant vulnerability in a state where low-wage labor prevails, worker protections are few, and safety nets are fragile. This strains resources, eroding our entire state’s health, economy, and social fabric. When hardworking individuals and families are trapped in the ALICE cycle, unable to engage fully in the economy or plan for their future, the entire community suffers. Addressing these challenges is vital for unleashing the full potential of our communities.

How can communities support ALICE households?

Supporting ALICE households involves more than just recognizing them as a demographic; it requires mobilizing a collective effort that extends to those with ALICE experiences, memories, and vulnerabilities, as well as the champions and advocates who stand alongside them, advocating for meaningful change in policy and society to address the systemic challenges they face.

Communities can support ALICE households through policies that promote higher wages and better job opportunities, access to affordable housing, healthcare and childcare, financial literacy and savings programs, and emergency assistance programs for unexpected financial crises. By embracing empathy, understanding, and action, communities can create lasting solutions that uplift and empower ALICE households to thrive.

How does understanding ALICE benefit policymakers and service providers?

Understanding ALICE guides the design of targeted interventions and support programs, ensuring resources are allocated effectively. By addressing the root causes of financial instability, policymakers and service providers can develop long-term strategies for reducing hardship and promoting economic mobility. Accurately measuring economic well-being allows for better assessment of interventions and progress tracking. Ultimately, understanding ALICE is pivotal for enacting impactful change and building a more prosperous future for Arkansans.