Who is ALICE?

In 2019, 1,508,284 Michigan households (38%) had income below the ALICE Threshold, meaning that they were unable to afford even the most basic household budget. Yet since ALICE households (25% of the 1.5 million struggling households), earn above the Federal Poverty Level, most were ineligible for public assistance. The large number of households struggling before COVID-19 hit helps explain why the effect of the crisis has been so severe.

What is the ALICE Threshold?

Derived from the Household Survival Budget, the average income that a household needs to afford housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan, plus taxes. Calculated for various household types for every U.S. state and county.



In Michigan, 43% of households struggle to make ends meet. ALICE comprises households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level but less than the basic cost of living for the state (the ALICE Threshold). Of Michigan’s 3,935,132 households, 536,594 earn below the federal poverty level (14%) and another 1,128,012 (29%) are ALICE. ALICE households exist in all age groups, across all races and ethnicities, in single and two-parent families, and households with or without children. ALICE households exist in every corner of the state - from urban Detroit, to the suburbs of Grand Rapids, and the rural communities of Northern Michigan.


MICHIGAN 2-1-1 In 2018, Michigan 2-1-1 responded to 346,158 requests for assistance for a range of resources, from workforce development to health, housing, and utility assistance. The statewide 2-1-1 database provides individuals and families access to nearly 40,000 services through 7,000 local, state, and national agencies. Largely supported by United Way, 2-1-1 is Michigan’s only comprehensive community resource information system. It’s innovative and synergistic approach responds to the needs of individuals and communities in crisis 24/7/365. GIVE ALICE AN EFFECTIVE, NON-BUREAUCRATIC CONNECTION TO FAITH-BASED, NONPROFIT, AND PUBLIC RESOURCES BEFORE THEIR NEEDS BECOME COSTLY EMERGENCIES - SUPPORT 2-1-1.


CHILDCARE Accessible and affordable childcare is a barrier faced by families across the state of Michigan. Today, the least expensive licensed child care for an infant and preschooler is $13,464 annually, exceeding the annual cost of housing, food, or transportation. While the cost is great, the need is still greater, with just under 86,000 licensed child care slots available for more than 185,000 children in need of care. REMOVE THE CHILD CARE BARRIER FOR ALICE - ENSURE ACCESS THROUGH INCREASED CHILD CARE PROVIDER PAYMENTS AND AFFORDABILITY BY RAISING THE SUBSIDY CAP TO INCLUDE ALICE FAMILIES.


EARLY LITERACY In 2017, Michigan United Ways invested more than $14 million in childhood success, including initiatives around early literacy. We know this is a critical issue - according to the 2017-18 M-STEP less than 45% of students statewide were proficient readers by the end of the third grade, and Michigan schools are showing the largest decline in third-grade reading levels among key states. Research shows that students who are unable to read by the third grade are more likely than their peers to drop out of school, have behavioral problems, less academic success, end up in the criminal justice system, and live in poverty. IMPLEMENT THE NECESSARY SUPPORTS FOR ALL CHILDREN TO READ BY THIRD GRADE - PROVIDE BIRTH TO AGE EIGHT RESOURCES NEEDED, ESPECIALLY BY ALICE CHILDREN, TO ACHIEVE EARLY LITERACY.


EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT The EITC is a broadly supported, proven-effective tool for working people with low to moderate incomes to gain financial stability. On average, increasing the credit to 20% puts nearly $500 of the income earned back into a working family’s pocket. EITC is more than a quick fix - it has lasting positive impacts on the lives of children. Research shows that it improves infant and maternal health, school success, college enrollment, and increased work earnings as adults. United Ways are already working to increase the financial stability of Michiganders, investing over $10 million in 2017 alone. STRENGTHEN THE STATE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT SO THAT ALICE CAN KEEP WORKING AND PUT MONEY BACK INTO LOCAL COMMUNITIES - UPDATE STATE CREDIT FOR TODAY’S ECONOMY TO 20% OF THE FEDERAL CREDIT.