Spurred by funding from The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, East Lake Initiative, Hope Inspired Ministries, and Serving You combine workforce development, access to safe housing, mentoring, child care assistance, and more all under one roof.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony today in East Lake, Thrive Together Jefferson County celebrated its official opening. Thrive Together Jefferson County is an innovative, formal collaboration between East Lake Initiative, Hope Inspired Ministries, and Serving You with the goal of integrating and streamlining services to create a clear path to success for women and low-income families and disrupt the cycle of generational poverty.

Thrive Together Jefferson County is a result of Collaboration Institute, a strategy-based funding model developed by The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. “The Women’s Fund planted a seed that grew into a network of regional nonprofits leading the way in the creation of innovative collaboratives to strengthen partnerships between organizations providing employment pathways and human service organizations with the ultimate vision of better outcomes for women and their families,” says Melanie R. Bridgeforth, President & CEO of The Women’s Fund.

“Our goal was to directly attack the fragmented system that holds back so many families by aligning often-isolated services in ways that lead to accelerated progress for parents and children together. The results from East Lake are proof that we are on to something impactful.”

Nearly half of all single mothers in Alabama live in poverty—the third-highest rate in the country. According to The Women’s Fund’s Clearing the Path report, a mother employed full-time earning minimum wage (or even slightly above) earns less than the federal poverty level. To combat the lack of a living wage, many mothers must work multiple jobs to pay the bills, yet they still face a myriad of barriers, including access to affordable, quality child care.

“We knew there had to be a better way to impact families—a way to work smarter,” says Pam Bates, Executive Director of East Lake Initiative. “The Women’s Fund’s investment and supports through Collaboration Institute gave us that opportunity. Being under one roof—and next to a bus stop—has made a huge difference for our families, which is what is most important. Imagine being a mom in need of services. You’re already struggling, and now you have to think about finding and paying for extra hours of child care and how many buses it will take to travel to a handful of different locations. That was the old way. Now when a mom arrives at Thrive Together, she just walks through one door, fills out one form, and speaks with one person who will connect her to everything she needs. We even have an area where her kids can play.”

Thrive Together Jefferson County provides immediate crisis relief through food and utility assistance, counseling for those who have experienced trauma, job and life skills training, budgeting classes, and affordable housing assistance. They also have partnerships with seven other organizations, including local schools, reading clubs, and child care centers to provide additional supports to clients. Additional funding for Thrive Together was provided by the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Development through a BOLD (Building Opportunities for Lasting Development) Grant.

For more information about Thrive Together Jefferson County, visit: www.thrivejc.org.

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