Initiative Score

The Initiative Score: an alternative underwriting algorithm that models the initiative of low-income families.

It is broader than traditional credit scores accounting for not only financial progress, but education, health and social capital initiatives among others.

According to a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

As of 2010, 26 million American consumers in the United States were credit invisible and an additional 19 million consumers had credit records that could not be scored by commercially available credit-scoring models.

The private sector misses vital information about family capacity by using limited metrics such as a credit score and a traditional balance sheet to define who can gain access to working capital. The scale and complexity of today’s world requires a solution that delivers the right information about low-income communities and families to those who hold the key to working capital. FII’s Initiative Score is that solution – an algorithm that utilizes the data we collect to tell the story of a family’s assets and strengths, and that paints a picture of their “investability.” The score is accessible to the financial sector to drive investments in low-income families as an alternative underwriting tool that captures both financial and non-financial factors of loan-readiness.

Low-income families in America are often defined by what they lack, not by what they can bring to the table.

To gain access to government or nonprofit resources, families are asked to document how poor, isolated, and incapable they are instead of being asked for examples of their productivity, resourcefulness, and reliability. Through philanthropy, FII will match the initiatives of our family partners using the Initiative Score as an underwriting tool for UpTogether Fund capital.

FII’s “Initiative Score” supplements traditional credit scores with a comprehensive picture of assets, social, and professional networks and initiatives that demonstrate ways struggling families can build greater well-being.

By documenting their progress monthly, we are recording compelling evidence that low-income individuals and families have the capacity to flourish when they are in environments that enable self-determination and mutual support, and where access to resources is determined by strengths and not deficits. The Initiative Score leverages the data we collect from families. The Initiative Score is based on a range of indicators of personal initiative such as participation in lending circles, volunteerism, income, assets, liabilities, and density of social networks. The score will be calibrated to reflect the familiar FICO (300-850) scoring range and will be comprised of financial, social capital, health, and family/youth subscores.

How Systems See Me

  • Single Mom
  • Section 8 Housing Resident
  • Food Stamp Consumer
  • Underemployed
  • GED Graduate
  • 580 Credit Score

How I See Myself

  • Mother of three A students
  • Active member of my community
  • Participant in a $10,000 Lending Circle
  • Entrepreneur paying back a small business loan
  • FII Scholarship recipient
  • 780 Initiative Score

Your Family’s Initiative Score

Maximum Initiative Score




Youth and Family

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