October 2, 2018  |  Announcements Austin Events In the News Video


Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, and Google Bring Family-Led and Data-Driven Model to Invest in 1,000 Austin Families Escape Poverty

AUSTIN (October 2, 2018) – The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, and Google.org announced a combined $1.3 million grant to launch a Family Independence Initiative (FII) site in Austin with a goal to partner with 1,000 families across Central Texas. FII is a national organization that takes a new approach to fighting poverty by investing directly in low-income families across the nation so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity.

FII does away with the traditional top-down approach to helping people struggling with poverty. Rather than promoting a new program, service, or intervention, families themselves act as agents, and the model is built on investing in them and the solutions they discover. In FII, families form cohorts from networks within their own communities. Families set goals they want to achieve, such as purchasing a home or continuing their education, and work together to help each other meet those goals. FII provides them with a community-building technology platform, UpTogether, to connect with others, share information about their household, and track their progress. Families also gain access to unrestricted capital  to accelerate their initiatives.

“The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s grant to FII is an investment in the hard-working families in Central Texas who are committed to creating a better future for their children,” said TJ Moen, Program Officer, Health. “We believe that the families we serve in Central Texas – with support from their community along with resources provided by organizations like FII  – can create their own pathway to prosperity.”

FII enters a two year partnership with families who trust the organization with details of their household’s personal and financial lives using the organization’s community building platform UpTogether. Families also gain access to up to $3,200 during the partnership to fuel their initiatives. During this time families increase income on average 22% and decrease subsidies such as TANF and SNAP by 55%.

“Our work with FII has reinforced our belief that community and social connections are vital ingredients to health and success.  FII’s model builds on this core understanding that communities have sustainable solutions which are accelerated by investment. We are incredibly excited to work with FII and, most importantly, to learn from their model to make our work more effective,” said Kim McPherson of St. David’s Foundation.

FII’s approach focuses on assets in the community. UpTogether collects data and monetary value on what people are giving and receiving in their communities, to date reporting over $8 million dollars of social capital exchanged.

“Google believes in opportunity for everyone, and we are excited to support FII’s mission of trusting and investing in low-income families,” said Samantha Hennessey, Regional Manager for Google.org. “FII has proven itself across the country and Google.org is proud to help bring their family-led and data-driven model to Austin. We’ve been fortunate to call Austin home for the last eleven years and we can’t wait to see the impact FII will have on our local community.”

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, and Google.org joined FII to announce the combined investment of $1.3M  at the Sustainable Food Center on October 2nd.

“Austin is a creative city that believes and investes in their people. Among all communities, our low-income families are the most innovative in taking care of one another while accomplishing their goals,” said Ivanna Neri, FII Austin Site Director. “The initiative of these communities will be accelerated through our partnership and investment in them. What we learn from them on UpTogether can inform and shape policies, practices, and investments made by others in Austin.”

Over the next five years, FII will work with community-based organizations and other partners to reach 1,000 families in neighborhoods across Greater Austin, with the support of the lead investors.

With sites in fourteen cities across the country, FII has partnered with over 3,000 families to invest in their solutions to escape poverty. On average, during two years of engagement with FII, families report a 22 percent increase in monthly income, a 55 percent decrease in subsidies such as TANF and SNAP, a doubling of their and assets, and increased educational outcomes for their children.

“All families across the United States should have access to the resources, investment,  and opportunities needed to achieve their dreams and the data families are providing shows us how to accomplish this,” said Jesús Gerena, Chief Executive Officer of The Family Independence Initiative. “Austin and cities across the country will benefit from this investment in changing the system.”

FII-Austin launches to a full house of partners and supporters.
FII-Austin Director Ivanna Neri speaks to the press, partners, and supporters during the launch event.


Family Independence Initiative (FII) www.fii.org

Founded in 2001, FII trusts and invests in low-income families across the nation so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. FII does this by providing the technology platform to strengthen social networks, access capital, and support one another in achieving mobility. Ultimately, FII is changing the narrative about low-income families in our country

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. Headquartered in Austin, TX with additional offices in New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood wellness, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $1.5 billion to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date.

St. David’s Foundation https://stdavidsfoundation.org/

St. David’s Foundation mission is to create healthier lives for all Central Texans by addressing the region’s top health challenges. The Foundation invests to solve the most pressing health challenges across our entire community, especially for those traditionally left out – the underserved and uninsured.

Google Org. www.google.org

Since 2005, Google.org has worked to extend the reach of nonprofit innovators and connect them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, tools, and volunteers from around Google. These innovators are the believers-turned-doers who have made the biggest impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change that can scale. Though each nonprofit’s project poses a fresh challenge, they ask the same question every time: “How can we bring the best of Google to power their work and accelerate their progress?”

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