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Beacon Newsletter

October 2020


Greetings from BEACON at Salisbury University –

Somewhere in the Cloud!


Fall has always been a busy time for BEACON and this year is no exception! We would typically be seeing you all in person at a variety of events in the coming months all around the Eastern Shore. We still hope to see you, just in a different format this year. The BEACON team is preparing for a number of events, including a series of webinars on a variety of different topics. We are hosting these throughout the coming months and invite you to join us. Our Bienvenidos a Delmarva Initiative hosts “Opportunities and Challenges of Working with the Limited English Proficiency Residents of Delmarva” and our GraySHORE initiative hosts “Ageism Is Bad for Business.” We are presenting “The Economic Impact of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises” through the ShoreTRENDS initiative and “Syngery is Power” in collaboration with various community partners. Stay tuned for dates and additional webinar information and we look forward to seeing you from the other side of the screen.


Dr. Memo Diriker, Director                                           Dr. Sarah Guy, Associate Director

BEACON Project News



We all know and are connected to people who are ALICE.

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These individuals earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, thus making them ineligible for many types of assistance, but they still struggle to meet basic living expenses. Several years ago, United Way undertook efforts to define and better understand the ALICE population at the national, state and local levels. The original ALICE study was released in 2017 with updates completed in 2018 and 2020. Each state convenes a Research Advisory Committee to ensure that data accurately reflects local conditions. BEACON’s Dr. Sarah Guy has served on the Maryland ALICE Research Advisory Committee since its inception.

Individuals and households who are ALICE do not earn enough to support a “survival budget.” The survival budget consists of basic needs, including housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a basic smartphone plan, taxes and a small contingency fund equal to 10% of the budget. Many times, people who are ALICE are one unexpected expense (i.e. medical bill, home repair, auto repair) away from serious financial troubles. For comparison, the 2018 FPL was $12,140 for a single adult and $25,100 for a family of four; whereas, the survival budget for a single adult was estimated at $25,164 and $61,536 for a family of four with two school-age children or $71,832 for a family of four with two children in child care in Wicomico County, MD. A comparison of monthly budget amounts can be seen in the chart below. The differences become even more striking in geographic areas with higher costs of living.




On the Lower Eastern Shore, 46.25% – nearly half – of all residents are struggling. In Somerset County, the county with the highest rate in the state, the percent of households struggling reaches 57%. Statewide, approximately 30% of families are ALICE and another 9% are below the federal poverty level.

Along with the updated 2020 report, United Way has released a series of new dashboards to provide access to the rich data underlying the study. These dashboards are public facing and can help a variety of stakeholders better understand the ALICE population in a given geographic area.

Local decision makers can utilize the ALICE studies to better understand the struggles facing many of residents in their community. ALICE households must make difficult decisions when their basic budgeting needs cannot be met. The “Consequences of Insufficient Household Income” report provides insight into how ALICE households make these difficult decisions, how the decisions are interconnected and impact multiple areas across the budget categories, and how community stakeholders can build solutions and help address areas of needs for this population.


Learn more about ALICE:

Local Reports:


Student Spotlight: Kit Thu


I am a graduate research assistant with BEACON at Salisbury University. I was born and raised in Myanmar. After graduating high school, I attended a college back home and transferred to Salisbury University in my junior year. I majored in communication and minored in marketing management. I graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts. I did my internship at TidalHealth (formerly known as Peninsula Regional Medical Center) and continued working there after I graduated. Currently, I’m pursuing an M.B.A. at Salisbury University.

Being an international student, there were many things that were new to me. While adjusting to the tremendous changes in the culture, weather and so on, I managed to work at multiple on-campus jobs and an internship while seeking my bachelor’s degree. I also worked on two independent research projects with the help of the Summer Research Fellowship award from the Office of Graduate Studies at SU. From those experiences, I have obtained skills and assets which I hope to apply to my role at BEACON.


To gain real-world experience, I have decided to work with BEACON starting this fall. BEACON has helped me to better understand the concepts and knowledge that I got from my lectures. I look forward to the upcoming months as I continue to learn, receive advice from my fellow BEACONites and to collaborate on different projects with the team. After I graduate from the M.B.A. program, I hope to take my education and everything that I have learned from working at BEACON to start a business back home in Myanmar.

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Contact Information

1101 Camden Ave.

Perdue Hall, Suite 100

Salisbury, MD 21801


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