ALICE: Working hard but struggling to survive.

Now Available:  2020 Virginia ALICE Report

The 2020 Virginia ALICE Report is now available. Learn more or download the full report.


ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.

For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. At times, these households even struggle to manage their most basic needs – housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology.

When funds run short, cash-strapped households are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, filling a prescription or fixing the car. These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE families, but for all of us.

Who is ALICE?

Despite the critical nature of many jobs to keep our local economies running – educating our youngest children, keeping our ailing parent safe – these workers often struggle to keep their own households from financial ruin.

ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your restaurant server, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.

The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of these fragile ALICE households.

ALICE & Steps to Success

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is highly focused on the struggles reflected in the ALICE model. 

ALICE is reflected across all nine of our Steps to Success, particularly Basic Needs and Financial Well-being. Our Community Indicators page tracks local data related to financial stability, poverty, housing and more. Click here to view the data