Posted on June 4th, 2013 – The Torchlight Prize, a project of the Family Independence Initiative, recognizes homegrown groups that are finding unique ways to solve local community problems.
Posted on May 24th, 2013 – FII CEO and President Mauricio Lim Miller's feature for the Melissa Harris-Perry Show website.
Posted on November 14th, 2012 – Read Shareable's feature on FII's Torchlight Prize: Torchlight Prize Honors Grassroots Community Building
Posted on November 13th, 2012 – Empowering the poor to help themselves: FII CEO and President Maurice Lim Miller, a MacArthur Genius Award winner, discusses his work.
Posted on October 23rd, 2012 –
US anti-poverty campaigner: 'Whatever we are doing, it isn't working' The feted US anti-poverty campaigner says poor families have to deal with problems together in their own way.
Posted on October 14th, 2012 – Maurice Lim Miller leads an antipoverty group that has never applied for support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. So the phone call he received a few weeks ago from MacArthur’s president, Robert Gallucci, was anything but expected.
Posted on October 9th, 2012 – FII CEO and Founder Maurice Lim Miller and FII participant Candace Keshwar discuss FII's principles and work in Boston.
Posted on August 26th, 2012 –
It might not look like it, but a quiet revolution is underway in a Jamaica Plain conference room on a sunny Monday morning.
Five women sit around a conference table, gathering as they have every month for a year. As their kids play nearby, they share pastry and dilemmas. One was recently homeless and her 4-year-old seems out of control; another has a disabled child who requires care she can’t afford; another is feeling defeated by her children’s staggered school schedules. All of them desperately need child care they can trust.
Posted on July 13th, 2012 – It's been almost 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared a "War on Poverty." But today, the poverty rate in the U.S. is the highest it's been in 17 years, affecting some 46 million people. The economy is partly to blame, but even in good times, millions of Americans are poor. That's been a longtime concern for Maurice Lim Miller. He ran social service programs in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years. Then one day, the painful truth hit.
Posted on July 9th, 2012 – This is not a program. That's the mantra at Families Independence Initiative. When people hear about its successful efforts in low-income neighborhoods - increased household savings, improved academic performance, decreased dependence on government subsidies - they want to replicate the program on a larger scale. But it isn't a program.
Posted on July 9th, 2012 – In this guest post on Beth's Blog, FII Vice President Mia Birdsong and GreatNonprofits CEO Perla Ni advocate for improving the nonprofit sector by innovating consumer feedback systems.
Posted on July 5th, 2012 – I was thrilled to have the work of Family Independence Initiative featured in a recent segment of PBS Need To Know. The show took an in-depth look at Solving Poverty in America, examining FII's self-help model and our insistence that low-income families should be in charge of their own change.
Posted on July 4th, 2012 –
Among the emerging class of poverty-fighters, you would be hard-pressed to find a development professional or social worker who doesn’t toss out terms like “strengths-based approach,” “empowerment,” and “capacity-building.” Two hundred and thirty-six years after the signing of America’s grand Declaration, it seems that independence has at last really set in.
Take one look at the work of Maurice Lim Miller, however, and you’ll quickly discover the true meaning behind self-determination, freedom, and many of the other lofty ideals enshrined in our country’s history.
Posted on June 29th, 2012 – PBS's Need to Know travels to the Bay Area to examine the Family Independence Initiative's approach to help the working poor help themselves emerge from poverty. We meet with several participants to find out why they decided to join the Family Independence Initiative, and with Maurice Lim Miller, the founder of the organization.
Posted on June 28th, 2012 – More grant makers need to start paying for efforts to collect information, and to make their awards conditional on positive feedback from the people who benefit from their services.
Posted on May 17th, 2012 – In this Stanford Social Innovation Review article FII VP Mia Birdsong and GreatNonprofits CEO Perla Ni argue that it is essential to build direct consumer feedback into funding criteria for government and nonprofit programs serving low-income people.
Posted on May 5th, 2012 – If you log on to most any social services website you'll see testimonials of people who overcame huge odds to improve their lives. The stories have a similar cadence of intervention: "My mother was poor/a drug addict/beat me, but this teacher/social worker/community organizer took me under her wing and gave me a chance -- now I'm off-the-streets/have a job/in college." These testimonials pull on our heartstrings and can inspire us to help too. I find it difficult, but necessary, to tell such well-intentioned people that their assistance can do harm.
Posted on March 12th, 2012 – The Oakland Chronicle: Beyond all the rhetoric, it should be obvious that the system isn't working. We need fresh ideas. That brings us to the Family Independence Initiative, an Oakland-based nonprofit founded by Maurice Lim Miller.
Posted on February 26th, 2012 –
Three Bay Area leaders are among the Aspen Institute's inaugural class of 20 Ascend Fellows who are putting a two-generation antipoverty strategy into action. They are: Katie Albright, executive director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center; Mia Birdsong, vice president of Oakland's Family Independence Initiative; and Meera Mani, who oversees the Packard Foundation's grant-making in the children, families and communities program.
Posted on December 13th, 2011 – With more Americans than ever in poverty and with funding for social services dropping day by day, the nation's attention is rightly focused on scrutinizing the status quo. Some of us are also looking critically at our failed poverty-fighting efforts. As we consider what to do to move our nation forward, I suggest we also look back at the lessons of our past.
Posted on August 26th, 2011 –
"As much as possible, I’m getting out of the way," says Jesús Gerena, director of the new JP-based Family Independence Initiative-Boston (FII-Boston).
It’s an unusual mission statement for a social-service nonprofit, where intervention and advocacy are standard tactics. That’s because FII-Boston aims to help people help themselves by organizing families into self-sustaining support groups.
Posted on August 12th, 2011 – Host Dave Iverson checks in with social entrepreneur Maurice Lim Miller, founder of the Oakland-based Family Independence Initiative, a national center for anti-poverty innovation.
Posted on August 1st, 2011 – In the fall of 2009, FII came to Boston – with support from Barr and other local funders attracted by its potential for the City. Jesus Gerena, formerly of the Hyde Square Task Force, was tapped to lead the effort. In June 2010, FII Boston launched with 35 families. Within six months, those families saw an average increase in household income of 13% and a 29% increase in savings – and they were making progress on a host of other self-defined goals. In June, Melinda Marble, Barr’s Deputy Director, and Stefan Lanfer, Knowledge Officer, sat down to talk with Jesus about what drew him to FII, how it works, and how it is unfolding in Boston.
Posted on July 19th, 2011 – One of the things that distinguishes F.I.I.’s work from most programs designed to help struggling families is the way it creates a context that allows families to discover their individual and collective strengths and act upon them. To this end, FII’s staff members are not permitted to offer any advice or guidance to families.
Posted on July 14th, 2011 – Shortly after Candace Keshwar immigrated from Trinidad to Boston in 2002, her life took a difficult turn. Her dream had been to go to college and have a career where she could help others. But her first daughter was born with cerebral palsy and Keshwar spent the next seven years caring for her at home. She grew isolated. Her husband worked in construction, but jobs were sporadic, and the family relied on government assistance. “It was a real dark space for me,” Keshwar said. “I kept thinking, ‘This cannot be my life. I know I have the potential to do so much more.’”
Posted on June 1st, 2011 – The Summer edition of Pathways features an article on FII's "radically different approach."
Posted on April 18th, 2010 –
Back in the 1990s, Maurice Lim Miller had plenty of reasons to feel a professional high. The San Francisco social-services group he had helped to expand from six employees to 120 was considered one of the country's most effective. In 1999 his work to show people how to overcome poverty was honored in President Bill Clinton's State of the Union address.
But the praise didn't sit right with Mr. Miller.
Posted on May 1st, 2009 – Derek had recently been released from juvenile hall in San Francisco, after serving time for a robbery-a robbery in which his friend Benjamin has refused to participate. Benjamin convinced Derek to go with him to apply for a construction training program that would help them get "real jobs" and end their involvement in gangs ad crime. I was the director of the training program, and we had only one open slot. Like most social services, my program prioritized the "most in need," so Derek got that last slot. I told them whom we accepted and why. "See! You should have gone on that job with me!" Derek said to Ben. It was then that I realized the message my organization and I were sending.