Family Empowerment Initiative

Family Empowerment Initiative

This collective impact, 2-generation approach helps families and their school-age children who have either become homeless, are at risk of homelessness or have a history of frequent moves.

What is it?

The Family Empowerment Initiative is a mission driven partnership of the United Way, the Siemer Institute (a national leader in homeless prevention), and a network of local social service organizations that bring meaningful change to the Kansas City Metro Region. The institute was founded by Al and Barbara Siemer in 2003 after Barbara, a public-school educator, saw how harmful homelessness and school instability were to students, classrooms, and their schools. The Siemers are long-time supporters of United Way and chose to partner exclusively with local United Ways in their efforts to replicate the program model in communities throughout the country. Today there are 53 cities nationwide led by United Ways and local social service organizations, all committed to helping families achieve long-term success.

How does it work?

Partnering school districts identify specific schools with high rates of student mobility from which referrals are made to the program. Across the metro, there are 5 social service partner agencies with 10 full-time case managers who work with families for a year or longer. In 2019 alone, there were 262 families with 662 children that made the lasting commitment to achieve financial, housing, and academic stability.

262 families participated in the Family Empowerment Initiative in 2019, achieving the following outcomes:

• 93% avoided a disruptive move during their children’s school year

• 92% maintained stable housing

• 77% maintained a monthly budget

• 63% increased their income

What role does United Way play?

United Way recruits area school district and social service partners to implement the Family Empowerment model and raises funds to support the work through grants to nonprofit partners.  United Way regularly convenes partner agencies to identify and promote shared service delivery strategies, support best practices, jointly problem solve and implement shared data collection strategies. United Way also leads efforts to engage school district partners to identify participating families to ensure the program has the greatest impact possible on area school-age children facing housing instability.


Contact: Kim Brown, Director of Community and Financial Initiatives |