Welcome to the Center for Women's Welfare

Founded in 2002, the Center for Women’s Welfare’s (CWW) primary mission is to serve as a resource and research center to support the continued development and refinement of The Self-Sufficiency Standard, related research, tools and products.    

The Standard creates “bare bones” family budgets that detail the minimum amount of income required by families to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. State reports which describe and analyze the Standard—as well as calculate the self-sufficiency requirements for 70 different family types county by county—have been created for 37 states, Washington DC and New York City.

The Center also researches and writes demographic reports to answer the frequent question “How many lack adequate income according to the Standard?” An "Above and Below" study uses Census data to calculate the number of households that fall above versus below The Self-Sufficiency Standard, as well as examines a wide array of household characteristics, including race, age of children, occupation, marital status, employment patterns, citizenship, and gender. Demographic research reports have been completed for five states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington State.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard is also the basis of online calculators that facilitate access to work supports for low-income families and enable individuals to design strategies and budgets that enable them to reach self-sufficiency. 

In creating the Standard and doing related research, CWW partners with a range of government, non-profit, women’s, children’s, and community-based groups, from workforce councils to state and federal agencies, as well as a variety of anti-poverty and economic opportunity initiatives. The Standard and its applications are then widely used by advocates, employers, policy makers, service providers, and case workers to improve career counseling services, target employment/training resources towards higher wage jobs, and evaluate and design public policies with the goal of helping families reach self-sufficiency.

At the national level, CWW works with Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) whose Family Economic Self-Sufficiency (FESS) Project promotes the adoption of the Self-Sufficiency Standard in federal policy and legislation. The FESS Project includes a network of state partners who work together to promote the use of the Standard in their states.


Center for Women's Welfare Staff

Dr. Diana Pearce, PhD
Dr. Pearce is the Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare and is currently on the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. She received her MSW and Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work from the University of Michigan. She has held academic positions at the Universities of Michigan and Illinois, and American University. Dr. Pearce has been a Fulbright Professor twice, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (1996-7) and in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (2006). She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Stanford University and at George Washington University. Dr. Pearce founded and directed the Women and Poverty Project at Wider Opportunities for Women in Washington, D.C, and was a member of the founding Steering Committee of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Widely recognized for coining the phrase, "the feminization of poverty", Dr. Pearce has written and spoken widely on women’s poverty and economic inequality—including low-wage and part-time employment, unemployment insurance, homelessness, and welfare reform—and has testified before Congress and the President’s Working Group on Welfare Reform. She also has done research and been an expert witness in the areas of school and housing segregation/ desegregation. Dr. Pearce has helped found and lead several coalitions, including the Women and Housing Task Force, the Women, Work and Welfare Coalition, the Women and Job Training Coalition, the Ad Hoc Task Force on Housing/Homeless Issues in Welfare Reform, and the Practitioners’ Panel on Welfare Reform.
Lisa Manzer, MPA
Senior Project Manager
Lisa Manzer manages the Center for Women’s Welfare and oversees all aspects of publications produced by the Center. Lisa works closely with our partners during the production of the Self-Sufficiency Standard reports. She has worked for the Center since 2001. Lisa received a Master of Public Administration from The Evergreen State College in 2006.
Kaie Wise
Program Coordinator