St. Luke’s $125,000 grant boosts living wage initiative

The Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA) will use a $125,000 St. Luke’s Health Initiative (SLHI) innovation grant to design and implement Raise Arizona, a statewide living wage initiative to identify, recruit, certify and recognize employers that pay a living wage.

In total, SLHI awarded grants totaling $475,000 to ACAA, City of Phoenix-FitPHX, Cultivate South Phoenix Program and The Rightcare Foundation.

Raise Arizona, one of a number of ACAA programs designed to mobilize communities to address and eliminate poverty, also will drive “consumer support and dollars to Living Wage Certified businesses for their commitment to pay employees a living wage and their contributions to the community where they do business,” said ACAA Executive Director Cynthia Zwick.

Zwick said the program’s goal is to identify 50 Living Wage Certified employers in the first year and 75 during the second 12 months as well as to hire a Living Wage Business Recruiter.

“As an anti-poverty organization, our mission and our day-to-day focus is to end poverty in Arizona,” Zwick said.  “Among the most important ways to do that is to provide employees with a living wage that can help them move toward financial stability and independence.”

Zwick said she expects to fill the business recruiter position within the next three months.  The program’s start-up will follow.