Financial Wellness Partnership Update
February 2021
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is moving forward with a monthly newsletter focused on financial wellness topics. In this month's newsletter, read about highlights from our Financial Wellness Partnership group, tax season updates, research to strengthen referrals, and more.
Updates and Research
Referrals Between Organizations
United Way’s Financial Wellness Partnership held its first meeting of the year in early February, hosting 30 individuals from local nonprofit organizations, coalitions, and city and county offices. The meeting primarily focused on fostering collaborative referrals between agencies. Because most families in crisis need multiple supports to stabilize, referrals between organizations are crucial. In fact, the participants in our meeting estimated that most people passing through their doors have at least two needs, with the majority needing assistance in four or more areas.
poll results showing most participants need multiple supports
During the meeting, participants reported that most people they serve would benefit from 4-5 different supports.
Housing was the most consistent need identified, though at least 50% participants reported seeing each of the other listed needs regularly: food, work/employment assistance, education/training assistance, service navigation, benefits, health, financial coaching, and banking. The most commonly requested services that organizations cannot provide within their own programs included legal, technology, child care, affordable housing, and benefits enrollment support. However, helping participants connect with additional agencies to meet these needs can sometimes be challenging. In breakout sessions, attendees discussed barriers that often stop their participants from following through on a referral as well as strategies that have worked well.
Common Referral Barriers

  • Previous negative experiences
  • Time commitment needed
  • Accessibility/ communication
  • Awareness of resources
  • Crisis and trauma
  • Legal barriers
Successful Referral Strategies

  • Individual service plans
  • Setting roles and expectations
  • Warm handoffs
  • Consistent follow-up
  • Staff awareness of programs
  • Blended funding sources
United Way looks forward to continuing to work with members of the Financial Wellness Partnership to strengthen referrals between programs, both formally and informally. We will share highlights from future meetings in these newsletters as well.
Finding Tax Assistance
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona has teamed up with to help community members file taxes online with the help of certified VITA volunteers.
Tax season is now underway, and VITA volunteers are hard at work filing returns for community members. With in-person locations limited and those appointments filling up fast, we recommend that people try using our virtual option,, if they are able. Requirements for using the online platform include access to secure wifi, a phone number, and the ability to take/upload photos of IDs and documents. Note that the site can also be used for accessing stimulus checks/EIP payments. 
Additional VITA Resources

  • VITA and Webinar: United Way staff walk through the Get Your Refund process in this 30 minute session for government, nonprofit, and community workers

  • Find Tax Assistance: Find the latest information about where to find VITA support, including do-it-yourself options and Pio Decimo in-person locations and schedules
Partnerships and Two-Generation Service Approaches
The two-generation approach designs and delivers services that intentionally strengthen the whole family, seeing it as a unit instead of a series of individuals. And because we know that our participants, and especially our families, often need a wide range of services, partners are critical and necessary.

This report from the Siemer Institute covers best practices for two-generation approaches, one of which is strengthening partnerships between organizations. Check it out for their tips on partnership as well as other recommendations about serving households of all ages effectively.
Meet a Financial Wellness Partner
Primavera Foundation
Celia Mendivil, Homeownership Program Co-Director
The Primavera Foundation provides pathways out of poverty through safe, affordable housing, workforce development, and neighborhood revitalization. The organization aims to promote social and economic justice, while working to build a future in which all people are assured basic human rights, a livable income, and safe, affordable housing.

Their homebuyer education programs teach low-to-moderate-income families more than how to purchase and maintain a house; it teaches them how to live their dream of having a home to finally call their own.
How did you end up working at your current program at Primavera Foundation?
I was recommended by a board member to volunteer with Primavera Foundation. I volunteered for two years and after that I was hired to work as a receptionist at the front desk.
What are your responsibilities with your program?
I now co-direct the Homeownership Program, assisting with administrative tasks, and coordinate and conduct the Financial Education, Homeownership, and Financial Capability classes and workshops in both English/Spanish. I also oversee the two-generational Her Family Program, which has been designed to assist single mothers and their children. I provide full services to its participants, including financial education and financial coaching/ housing counseling services. I also coordinate classes for children that are provided by some of our partners and participate in special projects as needed. 
Celia Mendevil photo
What has been the most inspiring thing you have seen or learned in your work?
Some of the most inspiring things I have seen in my work are the final products of our services, such as helping single mothers create a solid financial foundation for not only themselves but also their children and future generations. It is also very inspiring to witness low-moderate income families realizing their dream of becoming homeowners by utilizing our services and those of our partners. In addition, although I do not do direct service work like my colleagues, who work face-to-face with the homeless population within our community, I'm very inspired by their relentless work to improve the living conditions of those communities day after day.  
What is your favorite thing about living in Southern Arizona?
My favorite things about living in Southern Arizona are the small town feel of Tucson despite it being a large ever-growing city, the unmatched sunsets each evening with hues of purples and pinks, the authenticity of Mexican American culture, and the rich history that comes from living in the borderlands. 
Anything else to add?
I feel incredibly honored and proud to be part of the Primavera family. I am lucky and blessed to continue to make a difference in the lives of those in my same community, from first time home buyers to single mothers. I have been in their shoes before, and I am honored to be part of their dreams and their betterment as families, individuals, and community members. 
Resource Corner
Woman peeks over a book in a library surrounded by books
Reading List
Funding Opportunities
Emergency Rental Assistance Program Overview - DES session on 2/17/21 from 3-4pm

Community Foundation of Southern Arizona Grant Opportunities – CFSAZ has opened three new grants, all with applications due in late January or mid-February.

Harriet Silverman Small Grants Fund - Small local nonprofits and grassroots organizations who work to empower women and girls can apply for this grant via the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona; deadline is 2/25/21
Upcoming Webinars

Homebuying Webinar - BMO Harris and Chicanos Por La Causa, 2/17/21 6-6:45pm

Investing In Financial Coaching with a Racial Equity Lens - Asset Funders Network, 2/23/21, 10-11am

Shifting the Scales of Wealth and Power - Asset Funders Network, 3/26/21, 10:30am

Additional Information

What Tenants Need to Know During COVID-19 – Robust list including rental assistance, eviction protection/moratorium, and legal assistance resources compiled by Pima County

Eviction Prevention Resources - CIC is working to release additional funds from the City of Tucson and Pima County soon. Tenants are encouraged to sign up for the waitlist in order to be considered.

2-1-1 Eviction Assistance App - Answer a series of questions in approximately two minutes and receive detailed, individual, step-by-step guidance to about housing assistance and resources

AZ Eviction Help - Information about eviction processes, tenant rights, and resources for rental assistance, utility assistance, legal assistance compiled by the Arizona Bar Association

Tucson COVID-19 Testing Overview - Comprehensive list of COVID testing sites around Tucson. The information includes sites from all around town, protocol for kids, and schedules.

Pima County COVID-19 Testing Sites – Locations and times for free testing, testing by appointment, walk-up testing, and more updated frequently

AZDHS COVID-19 Website – Latest updates, closure and re-opening announcements, and data dashboard

Essential Workers Child Care Relief Scholarship Program - Essential Workers Child Care Relief Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible applicants, and are dependent upon capacity and resources available.
The Financial Wellness Partnership seeks to improve the financial wellness of individuals and families by increasing accessibility to effective services, resources, and opportunities, and by influencing policy to
develop equitable, people-centered systems that support financial wellness.

View past newsletters and learn more about our programs here: United Way Financial Wellness

If you have questions or suggestions for future newsletters, please contact Lisa Floran, Senior Director of Financial Wellness Initiatives at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona: