FII trusts and invests directly in low-income families so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity.

FII does this by providing the technology platform to strengthen social networks, access resources, and support one another in achieving mobility. Ultimately, we are changing the narrative about low-income families in our country.

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 Americans survive crisis and made poverty more endurable, but has not been effective at moving families to stable self-sufficiency.

Since 2001, FII has been observing and documenting the lives of low-income families. We have seen that the barriers to economic and social mobility for low-income families are not found within the families themselves, but instead are a set of assumptions that characterize low-income people as either lazy or 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

FII brings a different and very simple approach.

We trust and invest in low-income families as well as the solutions they discover on their own. We start with the knowledge that we have underestimated the potential and resourcefulness of low-income communities 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 letting families themselves be the change agents.

Our strength-based approach includes three elements:

  1. Capital—direct cash investments
  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 families’ bank accounts (or sends them a prepaid card if they prefer) and offers an interactive component for individuals to grow and strengthen their social networks, and support one another so they can move up together. 

FII families meet and come together in their neighborhoods to solve the problems that keep them from leading more economically secure lives. We track the progress of individual families 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 help us find 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 the experts and our staff act only as the story-gatherers, connectors, and advocates for the FII model alongside thousands of family partners.

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