Ted Granger, President, United Way of Florida on Pathways to Prosperity

By: Florida Chamber Foundation

In this Florida Horizon video series, the Florida Chamber Foundation sat down with Ted Granger, President of the United Way, to discuss the latest Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (A.L.I.C.E.) report that illustrates the challenges taking place among people who are employed but still struggle to pay their bills.

On the A.L.I.C.E. trends:

“What we’re seeing (since 2010) is that those living in poverty, under the Federal poverty line, are maintaining. Those who are living above the A.L.I.C.E. threshold, which is a budget  that we’ve put together based on very conservative costs – folks who can pay their bills pretty easily – are maintaining, and decreasing a little in number, and the A.L.I.C.E. number, the number of families who are struggling to pay their bills, is actually increasing a little.”

On why early learning is an important milestone:

“When we have so many children getting into the public schools, for first grade, who are not at the same level as many of their peers, they’re destined to fail. And that failure translates into dropping out of school or not graduating from high school, and not being able to participate in our economy as we hope everyone can.”

On why early learning is important to businesses:

“The Chamber has recognized that early learning is arguably, from the United Way’s perspective, the most important time period in a person’s life.  Ninety percent of the brain structure is created by the age of five.”

“Those early learning issues are huge. By the time a child is five years old, if that child has parents who didn’t graduate from high school, compared to children of college graduates, they hear 30 million fewer words and that’s very hard to overcome.”

Why creating pathways to prosperity is important to businesses:

“When we have pathways to prosperity for employees, we see employees that want to go to work, their morale is higher, they’re more productive, they miss fewer days at work. There is more buying power that plugs into the economy because more people are working, and when you tie it all together it provides all of us a much better quality of life.”

On the root issues of poverity and their impact

“The factors that we look at are all interrelated – health care, child care, housing, food security – even today, having a cell phone which you almost have to have no matter what job you’re in. All of those factors interface with one another to create a cost burden on employees and all Floridians. The cumulative effect of which for A.L.I.C.E. families and hardworking people who are struggling to pay their bills, is often times they have to make a decision about whether they’re going to pay for food for their family this week or if they’re going to pay their electric bill and have heat, and those balances and those trade-offs are an ongoing issue and challenge these families have to face.”

On the May 22-23 Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Development

“It’s a tremendous agenda and an extraordinary learning opportunity for the nonprofits who are there but primarily because we’re hearing from the business people who are actually making a difference and doing everything they can, like most businesses, to make their communities better.”

For information on the 2019 Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity, click here.