Why Strive for Change?

Strive for Change Foundation was created to help overcome poverty in our own community. We do the research to find the local organizations here in the East Bay that help the working poor gain the long-term skills necessary to support their families more effectively.

Who Are the Working Poor?

The “working poor” are defined as people who are employed, but live in relative poverty due to low levels of pay that are not enough to support themselves or their families. They are people you see every day–a caregiver tending an elderly neighbor, a housecleaner, a fast food worker or grocery store clerk.  Simply put, the “working poor” are working hard, but are not able to prevent the cycle of poverty for their families.

What Does It Take To Be One Of the Working Poor?

Today, minimum wage in California is $9.00/hour or $18,720/year assuming full-time employment.  The U.S. Government defines a family of four as living in poverty if they earn less than $22,050 a year, and for a family of three, less than $17,600.[i]

But we all know the cost of living in the Bay Area is higher than the national average.  United Way of the Bay Area derives a “Self-Sufficiency Standard” by calculating the bare bones cost of living by county, with no allowance for restaurant or take-out food, savings, credit card or loan payments or emergency funds.  The Self-Sufficiency Standard for a family of three (two adults and a child) in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties was approximately $50,000/year in 2007.[ii] This is almost triple the “official” Federal Poverty Level of $17,170 regardless of the location.  The California Budget Project had similar findings. It concluded that a two-parent family with one child needed $54,039/year in income to support a modest standard of living in the East Bay.[iii]

Discussion is underway to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 in Oakland. It is abundantly clear that even those with full-time, year-round work, do not have an adequate income to support themselves or their families even with rising minimum wage.

How Many Working Poor Are There in the Bay Area?

Too many. Of the more than 440,000 Bay Area households with inadequate incomes at or below the Self-Sufficiency Standard, surprisingly 86% have at least one person employed.[iv] Therefore, it is clear that even employment does not guarantee ending the cycle of poverty.

What Challenges Face the Working Poor?

  • Lack of job skills or access to training to obtain adequate paying jobs.
  • Language, social and/or personal financial skill deficits/barriers.
  • Sky-high unemployment rates in the Bay Area (11.7 – 11.9% in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties).[v]
  • High cost of living, with expensive transportation, food, housing and health care.
  • Low minimum wage levels.

How Can Strive For Change Foundation Help?


Strive for Change Foundation provides funding and visibility to innovative, local programs that address the job skill deficits and social/personal management barriers that often limit income potential. Specifically, the program provide:

  • Job skills training
  • Career development support
  • Entrepreneurship and small business creation
  • Financial literacy and asset building

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[i] HHS Poverty Guidelines (August, 2010.)
[ii] “Struggling to Make Ends Meet in the Bay Area” (United Way Self-Sufficiency Report, 2009.)
[iii] “Making Ends Meet” (California Budget Project, June 2010.)
[iv] “Struggling to Make Ends Meet in the Bay Area” (United Way Self-Sufficiency Report, 2009.)
[v] “Monthly Labor Force Data for California Counties” July, 2010.

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