What is Aspire?

Without resources, women who struggle financially often experience chronic stress. This makes it difficult to focus on long-term goals that build self-sufficiency. Aspire, a Mobility Mentoring®-informed partnership, connects participants with trained mentors, who guide and encourage them to think big and navigate obstacles as they invest in their family’s future. Over the course of three years, women realize their aspirations are within reach as they achieve goals and shift their lives from surviving to thriving.

Who does Aspire invest in?

Aspire engages women with children under 18 years old who are working in needed jobs yet earn less than the basic cost of living. Working women who experience a gap between their earnings and the costs of covering life’s essentials often meet the criteria of the (ALICE) population. They must live in South Hampton Roads, demonstrate an ability to maintain safe and stable housing, and be motivated to work with a coach towards their personal aspirations and economic self-sufficiency.

How is Aspire unique?

Mobility Mentoring®, the approach behind Aspire, is grounded in brain science research and has been implemented internationally with impressive results. This intensive, long-term coaching model focuses on building foundational skills such as the ability to focus, plan, problem solve and make decisions—skills that are typically compromised by chronic stress.

Aspire addresses all areas of a person’s life holistically (family life, health, finance, education and career), while the flexible, personalized goal-setting values participants’ unique aspirations. Participants are able to earn rewards as they achieve their goals, such as cash incentives, safeguarding against barriers caused by financial hardship.

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming an Aspire participant?

Become an Aspire Partner

Aspire embraces a collaborative approach because we understand that supporting participants with comprehensive, coordinated resources is critical to reaching their full potential. We invite partners from all sectors—nonprofit, business, finance, dining and entertainment, and others—to join us. Together, we will turn aspirations into a living reality.


To inquire about becoming an Aspire Partner or share resource ideas, please contact Kathleen Banfield, Director of Community Investments & Engagement at United Way of South Hampton Roads.

Our Lead Partners

Thanks to Our Lead Partners:

Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia

Types of Partnership

Entry Partners

  • Organizations that commit to identifying and referring prospective participants to Aspire. To become an Entry Partner, an organization signs an agreement and completes an Agency Reference Form for each prospective participant their refer. Training opportunities are also available to build our collective understanding of Aspire and Mobility Mentoring.

Resource Partners

  • Offer various types of resources to participants that complement the ongoing work between the participant and mentor. Resource Partners may contribute:
    • Services such as counseling, financial management, legal and transportation
    • Expert consultation to participants and/or mentors in a specific pillar of the Bridge
    • Incentives that participants earn related directly to completed goals (may include cash or in-kind gifts, such as gift cards for restaurants or retail stores, professional clothing, passes for family-friendly activities, or payments for fees associated with goals).
    • Resources for children of Aspire participants, such as scholarships for summer programs or camps, gift cards to educational stores, or gift cards that cover expenses for positive activities, like ice skating, roller skating or visits to the aquarium.

Additional Information

The Bridge to Self-Sufficiency

The Bridge to Self-Sufficiency is utilized as an assessment tool to help participants set goals in four key areas: family stability, well being, financial management and dependable employment. The Bridge enables participants to set goals and think about their future as they make upward progress within a pillar.

Click the image of the Bridge to view more detailed information about the pillars, sub-pillars and tiers.

ALICE Population

With the cost of living higher than what most people earn, ALICE families – an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – have income above the Federal Poverty Level, but not high enough to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. ALICE households live in every county and independent city in Virginia – urban, suburban, and rural – and they include women and men, young and old, and all races and ethnicities. Learn more about the ALICE population by city using the interactive chart below or view the official ALICE Report online.


Aspire is made possible by:

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