SEED Winnipeg grows with United Way help
PENING a bank account, filing a tax return, investing money for a child’s future education — for many Winnipeggers, these things don’t pose too much of an obstacle.
For those who face big barriers to basic financial stability, however, SEED (Supporting Employment & Economic Development) Winnipeg has been there to help since 1994.
“We’re really interested in working with people who are living on a low income, because we were formed to address poverty,” co-director Louise Simbandumwe says.
SEED Winnipeg also makes a point of working with clients who are Indigenous, disabled, are raising children on their own or have been in contact with the criminal justice system, as those people face a greater risk of living in poverty.
Roughly 10 per cent of Winnipeggers live in poverty, according to United Way Winnipeg, including nearly one out of every four children in the city. However, helping families achieve financial empowerment can be a big step forward.
For example, one of SEED Winnipeg’s in-demand services is helping people apply for the government benefits for which they’re eligible, such as disability and child benefits.
In SEED Winnipeg’s last fiscal year, it helped more than 1,200 people access such benefits in the form of tax credits and refunds.
“Those folks are expected to receive $7.3 million in income tax refunds and related benefits, so that’s a huge return on investment,” Simbandumwe says.
Other SEED Winnipeg clients benefit from help opening registered education savings plans, opening basic no-fee bank accounts and getting the identification they need to access government and financial services.
“There are lots of folks who actually don’t have basic identification. I completely took that for granted until
Owe started doing this work,” Simbandumwe says. “We didn’t realize that that was a barrier.”
As SEED Winnipeg works to break through those barriers, it gets critical support from United Way Winnipeg and its donors. United Way funding comprised nearly one-quarter of SEED Winnipeg’s 2017-18 budget, and Simbandumwe says the money goes far.
“What’s remarkable about United Way is they provide stable, core funding,” she says. “It’s almost like the foundation of what we do.”
That kind of steady annual funding lets SEED Winnipeg “be really responsive to community needs,” she adds.
“It also allows us to provide some stability to staff,” Simbandumwe says. “So we’re able to keep excellent staff on, as opposed to being reliant on project funding all the time and then having to only hire people for terms.”
This year, United Way Winnipeg aims to raise $21 million to help local organizations such as SEED Winnipeg make a positive difference in the community.
Louise Simbandumwe, co-director of non-profit SEED Winnipeg, says United Way funding lets SEED ‘be really responsive to community needs.’