At the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona, research drives everything we do. Our nonpartisan research provides statewide data to inform public policy and philanthropy decisions. Every facet of our work is rooted in nonpartisan research and validated by a committee of women who have lived these experiences. We seek to identify the biggest economic barriers and opportunities for women and girls in Arizona so we can create innovative integrated solutions.
Gender inequity lies at the root of many problems facing women in Arizona. From inadequate opportunities for working mothers to health disparities, we contribute to a deeper understanding of what our communities need.
We recognize that knowledge, data, and awareness are vital in understanding how to address the needs of women and children. At WFSA, we partner with numerous organizations to conduct research that guides our work for gender equity.
If the poverty measure is a statistical yardstick that measures how much is not enough, how do we know how much is enough?
Center for Women’s Welfare, University of Washington
The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Arizona provides a detailed county-by-county breakdown of the income families of 700 different configurations need to make ends meet in all 15 Arizona counties. It also documents the degree to which public supports, such as childcare assistance and KidsCare, enable families to meet their basic needs while moving towards self-sufficiency.
Many workers in Arizona have earnings that fall far short of what’s needed to meet basic family needs, even if their income is well above the official federal poverty guidelines. This is due to shortcomings in the federal guidelines, which adjust for family size but not for other key factors, including where a family lives or the age of their children.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard is a more realistic measure of income adequacy for Arizonans than the official poverty measure calculated by the federal government. View the updated 2022 interactive Self-Sufficiency Tableau below.
When a person utilizing public assistance earns a raise, they may discover that they make too much money to receive the benefits any longer. However, the increase in pay is not enough money to sustain themselves and their household. This is referred to as the “benefits cliff”.
Government support, such as earned income tax credits and child care assistance, can help close the gap between low earnings and the cost of basic expenses. But these benefits often terminate abruptly when a family’s income exceeds eligibility limits. This can happen suddenly and even with a small increase in earnings. This cliff effect can prevent workers from advancing in their careers or choosing better paying jobs.
The Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona is working to increase awareness of and create solutions for the benefits cliff. In collaboration with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, WFSA is launching a benefits cliff dashboard intended for workers, service providers, and policymakers to locate and navigate benefits cliffs. It matters because we are working to help women increase their income and assets, when we do that, we don’t want them to lose access to benefits.
“The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Arizona” provides a detailed county-by-county breakdown of the income families of 70 different configurations need to make ends meet in all 15 Arizona counties. It also documents the degree to which public supports, such as childcare assistance and KidsCare, enable families to meet their basic needs while moving towards self-sufficiency. The Self-Sufficiency Standard offers a more realistic measurement of the income needed to meet basic needs than the Federal Poverty Guidelines and is an excellent tool for policymakers, employers, and social agencies.
Even when working full time, single mothers are likely to be in or near poverty and need assistance to make ends meet for their families. Education is often a limiting factor; only 16 percent of single mothers have a four-year college degree. However, despite the low wages typically paid to Arizona workers with limited educational attainment, there are fields in which modest additional education or training can yield relatively big payoffs. In this brief, we identify 36 mid-skill high-wage fields as promising options for workers in Arizona looking for careers that enable self-sufficiency. The brief concludes with evidence-based suggestions on how to support women pursuing mid-skill, high earnings jobs, often in non-traditional fields.
This study quantifies the benefit of investing in two years of training or education for low-income single mothers coupled with childcare to impact family economic independence and generate cost-savings for the state. In The Relationship of Economic Independence and Access to Childcare for Single Moms, researchers from the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at The University of Arizona identify three high-wage fields projected to grow at an above-average rate, with a substantial number of openings that only require two years of training or education. By investing in childcare as a part of workforce training, families can achieve economic independence and the state can save nearly $20,000 per year per family from parents who no longer need public assistance.
WFSA is regularly invited to participate and be in partnership with other leading research organizations serving women and girls on a national level. We lean on these partnerships and learning communities to gather best practices that guide our work and share our research with others around the country.
As part of the Whole Family Approaches to Economic Mobility Cohort that WFSA was part of for two years, we worked with others to collaborate as a learning community to share lessons learned and discuss strategies.
IWPR has gathered a new community of research and policy centers and WFSA has accepted their invitation to join. This new ecosystem is for organizations to collaborate and advocate for women’s social progress. IWPR plans to engage with centers on college campuses and in communities across the country, bringing together experts and leaders, commissioning new research, and highlighting stories of women and families. Membership to the Research & Action Hub includes access to member-only events, lectures, and symposia along with a collaborative network of research and policy centers. This is an opportunity for WFSA to network with like organizations, develop new research, and engage with the Hub community. The Hub also offers funding opportunities to launch new gender-related research.
The Gender Point is a powerful partnership between the Women’s Funding Network and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. This first-of-its-kind initiative provides on-demand data reports that equip women’s funds and foundations with the research to leverage and enhance policy and funding priorities across the nation.