February 11, 2018  |  Insights

Initiative Score: Access to Capital for Families

David Henderson, FII’s Chief Data Officer, developed the Initiative Score as a supplemental criteria to measure reliability and initiative. Unlike a FICO score, the Initiative Score is a non-punitive evaluator that looks to attribute points for the positive steps people take, rather than take away points for factors outside of people’s direct control. For example, we would not reduce someone’s Initiative Score because of a reduction in savings, but we might increase a score for how those assets were deployed to invest in their family or community, e.g. summer camp for kids, repair car to be be able to go to work, participate in a lending circle. Unlike traditional criteria, the Initiative Score is not just a measure of financial health or prescribed outcomes and is not used to rank people.

The Initiative Score is calculated using 70 different step functions that pull data from indicators of family well-being in four subscores financial, social capital, health, and youth and family and is calibrated to reflect the familiar FICO (300-850) scoring range. The actual algorithm used is complex but the 70 step functions pull from 14 data sets and 55 data fields to create one Initiative Score.

In December 2017, FII began using the Initiative Score to allocate dollars to families from its UpTogether Fund. Each family gains access to a maximum of $1,200/year for two years after having been an active FII partner for six months. The amount available is based on their Initiative Score. As David shares, “Families earned these dollars through their initiative. We see that demonstrated through their monthly journal entries and UpTogether.org interaction; the Initiative Score measures it; and the dollars are available for them to draw down as they see fit.”  

The Initiative Score is recalculated weekly and the effective score for families to access dollars is the maximum over each three-month window. The average Initiative Score for an FII family is 681.

In two months of distributing capital through the UpTogether Fund using the Initiative Score, 318 families have accessed $227,548 in capital, fueling goals that include paying down high interest debt, making home and car repairs, and spending holiday time with families. Of those eligible, 30% have drawn down a portion of their dollars, 24% have drawn down all of their dollars, and 46% have not drawn down any of the dollars available to them.

To learn more about the Initiative Score, we invite you to read the following.

If you want to learn how you can partner with FII and use the Initiative Score contact: Ashley Sherwin, ashley@fii.org


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