Cal Professor and community volunteer: Sameer Srivastava works with a local nonprofit focused on reducing inequality
By: Nick Levinson
“FII has a promising approach to addressing inequality for three reasons: (1) they trust families to make good choices for themselves and focus on solutions that originate from families and their local communities; (2) they focus on systematic data collection and evidence-based solutions; and (3) they recognize the importance of interpersonal connections and social support in lifting families from poverty.”
From its founding in 2004 in Oakland, FII has worked with 3,400 families in 14 American cities, and projects another 1,600 families by the end of 2019. Families enter the program in groups of 5 to 7. Each agrees to provide personal and financial information every month, through the “UpTogether” platform. FII helps families by analyzing and sharing these data, and provides resources, in the form of grants and loans, based on the data provided. For the first six months, each family receives $800. After six months they gain access to the UpTogether Fund, from which they can receive up to $2,400 during the next 18 months. The organization doesn’t provide any other direction or services, instead relying on the enterprise and persistence of the families themselves.