Overview

The Family Independence Initiative trusts and invests directly in low-income families so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity.

The Family Independence Initiative does this by providing a technology platform where families can strengthen social networks, access cash and support one another in achieving mobility. 

By making the families the warriors, we can finally win this war.

The United States has been fighting the War on Poverty for more than 50 years.

Our social welfare system has helped many people living in the U.S. survive a crisis and has made poverty more endurable for millions, but the system has not effectively moved families to a stable, self-sufficient place.

Launched in 2001 by Mauricio Lim Miller, Family Independence Initiative has been observing and documenting the lives of families living at or below the poverty level. We have seen that the barriers to economic and social mobility for families are not found within the families themselves, but instead are a set of harmful stereotypes that characterize low-income families as helpless victims who need professional intervention. 

These perceptions determine the design of policies and practices meant to impact these families. As a result, services and resources are structured in ways that reinforce the perception of low-income families as powerless, broken, and lacking in direction, self-determination and community support.

Our Challenge

Family Independence Initiative offers a different, simpler approach.

We trust and invest in families and the solutions they discover on their own. 

We start with acknowledging that society has underestimated the potential and resourcefulness of people with limited income to improve their own financial and general well-being. 

We know there are systematic barriers that challenge families’ ability to leverage their assets, strengths, and capacities. 

Our work is all about removing these barriers. We do away with the traditional top-down approach to fighting poverty by supporting families in their rightful role as change agents.

Our strength-based approach includes three elements:

  1. Cash — direct investments to families
  2. Choice — freedom for families to use the cash as they see fit
  3. Community — a platform for people to build and strengthen their social networks

To execute this approach, we built UpTogether, a technology platform that transfers cash investments directly into a family’s bank account—or via a prepaid card—and offers an interactive component for individuals to grow and strengthen their social networks and support one another so they can move up together. 

Families who engage with Family Independence Initiative know how to collectively solve the problems that stand in the way of them leading more economically secure lives. We track their progress and use that data to identify and invest in the solutions that are working for them. Think about it—if Amazon and Google can use technology to recommend a new book or a faster way to navigate traffic, we can do the same thing for thousands of families working together to find solutions to the challenges of poverty.

With this approach, the families are in their rightful role as experts and our staff act only as investors, story-gatherers, connectors, and advocates for the model alongside thousands of family partners.

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