September 25, 2018  |  Announcements Chicago In the News UpTogether Fund Video

Google and City of Chicago Announce $2.6 Million Commitment to Launch FII-CHICAGO

Family-Led and Data-Based Model Aims to Help 1,000 Chicago Families Escape Poverty


CHICAGO (September 25, 2018) – and the City of Chicago announced a combined $2.6 million in grants to launch a new Family Independence Initiative (FII) site in Chicago with a goal to partner with 1,000 families across the city. 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.

The FII model trusts that families have the solutions for themselves and their communities and invests in those initiatives. 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.

“Google believes in opportunity for everyone, and we are excited to support FII’s mission of trusting and investing in low-income families,” said Rob Biederman, Head of External Affairs for the Midwest. “FII has proven itself across the country and Google is proud to help bring their family-led and data-driven model to our hometown of Chicago.”

The City’s Department of Family & Support Services will support FII’s Chicago expansion with additional funding.

“The Family Independence Initiative will support Chicagoans experiencing poverty in a holistic, comprehensive and compassionate manner,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Google’s investment in Chicago helps us continue leading the way in groundbreaking poverty-reduction programs.”

“Chicago is a city of strong neighborhoods, with vast networks of local expertise that we are excited to learn from,” said Ebony Scott, FII Chicago 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 Chicago.”

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

“It is important for community partners to work together to address many of the intersectionalities of social issues that each of our missions address. We are excited about this family-led movement which challenges stereotypes about low-income families and contributes to systems change.” said Felicia Dawson, Vice President, Community Partnerships of Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH). POAH is partnering with FII to connect community members through their Woodlawn Resource Center, a community center offering free social service support and workforce training for the South Side community in Chicago.

In 2015, made a grant to the Family Independence Initiative (FII) Northern California that helped it to serve close to 500 families. Now, 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. “Chicago and cities across the country will benefit from this investment in changing the system.”

Today’s FII announcement comes on the heels of the $1 million Illinois Impact Challenge, the organization’s first ever statewide challenge inviting nonprofits throughout Illinois to submit proposals for bold ideas to grow economic opportunity in their local communities.


Family Independence Initiative (FII)

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 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 capital , and support one another in achieving mobility. Ultimately, FII is changing the narrative about low-income families in our country

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) is a nonprofit developer, owner and operator of more than 10,000 affordable homes in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  POAH’s primary mission is to preserve, create and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security and access to opportunity for all. Since 2001, the POAH team has advanced its mission with a blend of expertise and creativity, solving complex problems that others have seen as insurmountable.  We have secured long-term affordability for residents while addressing the interests of owners, funders, public agencies, and other stakeholders.

Since 2005, 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?”

Chicago Department of Family and Support Services

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is dedicated to working with community partners and connecting Chicago residents and families to resources that build stability, support their well-being, and empower them to thrive. The department is the lead municipal social service provider in the City of Chicago. Through the department’s divisions, DFSS provides direct services and partners with over 300 community service organizations to deliver social services to over 300,000 Chicagoans each year. DFSS divisions impact the entire life spectrum of Chicagoans, from infants through seniors, and most of the department’s work focuses on the City’s most vulnerable residents.

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