Who we are:
Up With Women is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping recently homeless and at-risk women to build sustainable, prosperous careers and businesses with the aim of permanently exiting poverty.
What we do
Up With Women clients undergo a year-long intensive program of strategic career development. We partner clients with highly skilled business leaders and professionals for bi-weekly career coaching, group development, and highly focused workshops.
Who We Work With
The selection process is rigorous, and is targeted to high potential women who have experienced a range of set-backs. Some are physically challenged. Others have fled domestic abuse or have immigrated as refugees. Some are single moms, straight out of family shelters. All of them were recently homeless or are at risk of homelessness. They want a second chance and are committed to work intensively toward improving their careers and lives.
Why we do it
Talented women are falling through the cracks. Many women experience career interruptions due to life events – but the longer one is out of the job market, the harder it is to get back in. The cycle of homelessness and poverty can be extraordinarily difficult to escape. Up With Women gives the skills and opportunities to break the cycle.
A recent landmark 100 city North American study by the Universities of Toronto/Chicago/McGill on long-term unemployment proved that gaps in employment history markedly decrease the chances of even receiving a callback for a job interview. The longer one is out of the job market, the harder it is to get back in. (see “Breaking the Cycle”) for more details.
How we’re different
We engage professionals at the top of their field and partner them with clients for an intensive year-long program. Clients are paired with a certified executive career coach to overcome obstacles, and receive soft skills training to build core competencies and gain marketable skills.
This is different from traditional job programs which are designed to assist those living in poverty attain “survival employment”. Yes, that first step is critically important; however, it is a short-term intervention. Women in minimum wage jobs, especially those with children, struggle to provide for their families, and remain just a pay-cheque away from a return to homelessness.
Breaking the cycle
It is well documented that the cycle of homelessness and poverty can be both self-perpetuating and extraordinarily difficult to escape. The studies bear this out. A 2008 University of Toronto study on women’s homelessness found that while most homeless women were gainfully employed prior to becoming homeless, the majority were still dependent on some level of government assistance one year after being in the shelter. A recent landmark 100 city North American study by the Universities of Toronto/Chicago/McGill on long-term unemployment proved that gaps in employment history markedly decrease the chances of even receiving a callback for a job interview. The longer one is out of the job market, the harder it is to get back in.
By providing a focused, personalized program for each woman, Up With Women has seen dramatic changes. By the end of the program, 70% of our clients have become employed and as many as 50% had started their own businesses.
Coaching vs. Mentoring
The program has been designed highly skilled, senior leaders, university professors, career and coaching experts. Unlike a mentoring program where a professional volunteers their time to guide someone according to how they would themselves pursue a path, certified coaches are trained to help the client to discover their own unique strengths and challenges and strategically develop a path that is specific to the client. All coaches are trained to understand the specific challenges women face in deep poverty and homelessness.
An Investment in Your Community
Homelessness costs the Canadian economy 7 billion dollars annually. The cost of shelter and services such as healthcare and counselling means that it can cost as much as $42,000 for the system to support one homeless person for a year.  From the inability to afford nutrition and healthcare, to the stress of trying to make ends meet and deal with financial emergencies, the corrosive impact on health is also well documented.
We engage professionals to commit their specific expertise to the program free of charge. The value of services that each woman receives is worth about $12,000, with a minimal cost of about $3,000 to deliver. This is a significant investment in women who need it most and the community at large.
Up With Women’s operating model means that serving 100 women would bring over $1.4 million worth of services into the women’s homelessness and poverty sector and make inroads in the elimination of cyclic poverty.
The long term impact to the community and economy is even more significant. Helping one recently homeless or at risk woman over the poverty line can potentially add $70,000 or more to the GDP in one year.
Up With Women provides clients the next step to reach sustainable, financial independence. Within twelve months of starting in the program, 80% of our clients were employed. Confidence, in terms of score out of 10, had gone up from 5.3 to 7.9 on average. Over the course of the year, we have seen these achievements also translate into small-business start-ups by 50% of our program participants.
Up With Women lifts women to the next level to attain viable, long term careers Paradis, Novac, Sarty, Hulchansky “Better Off in a Shelter? A Year of Homelessness & Housing among Status Immigrant, Non-Status Migrant, & Canadian-Born Families” July 2008 Kroft, Lange, Notowididgdo “Duration Dependence and Labor Market Conditions: Evidence from a Field Experiment” April 2013 Pomeroy “The Cost of Homelessness: Analysis of Alternate Responses in Four Canadian Cities” March 2005 For example, the combined one year value of the estimated system savings ($42,000/annum) and a $30,000 income, thus $72,000 over one year. WZB economist Maja Adena and her colleague Michal Myck (DIW Berlin and the Center for Economic Analysis, CenEA, Szczecin) “Poverty and Transitions in Health” August 2013