Initiative Score FAQ

Why do we have the Initiative Score?

FII knows the Initiative Score is not perfect, because it’s impossible to truly capture all of the hustle you have in your life. So then why does it exist? In addition to wanting to see your family and community prosper, our partnership with you has potential to change the world.


Banks, state governments, and foundations deploy more unrestricted funds to families when they shift their beliefs. Your monthly journals reflect a different truth than the stereotypes that have defined the War on Poverty. FII aggregates these truths into meaningful data sets and compelling stories, and builds evidence that the system can and must adapt.


The information you share with FII builds the case that social and economic mobility is accelerated when dollars are put directly in your hands. It is important not only to shift people’s mindset, but also to model how it can be done.


The Initiative Score allows FII to deploy capital to families quickly. With the UpTogether Fund, there is very little oversight lagging down cash from being available to you when you request it. FII knows that access to capital accelerates your progress, and we want you to have complete, unrestricted access to these funds.

What does the Initiative Score measure?

The Initiative Score is a measure of the initiative you and your family take to improve your life, your family’s life, and your community. We developed the Initiative Score as a way to demonstrate the ingenuity and investment worthiness of working families all over the country.The Initiative Score is scaled from 300 to 850 to echo structure of the familiar FICO score Itis based on four broad categories:

Youth and Family




We look for signals of initiative in each of those four categories. For example, if your child’s school attendance improves that might change the “Youth and Family” score, or if you start a side business that might change the “Financial” score. Today, the average Initiative Score is around 680 out of 850 points. The graph below shows a distribution of scores for all active families in FII.

Is the Initiative Score an accurate measure of initiative?

Initiative is something that is difficult to measure, and we know that no score would be completely accurate. However, we can see trends through the thousands of families we’ve partnered with and we’re experimenting with how to use this information to encourage institutions to invest directly in families. Thank you for your role in this partnership. Through your sharing, we are able to change the way society operates. Our partnerships with government, philanthropy, lending institutions and more are showing the world how effective it is to invest in the strength and initiative of families.

The Initiative Score is calculated based on the data you provide. The more data we have, the more accurate your score will be. Taking a few extra moments when you are filling out your journal can make a big difference.

How does the Initiative Score work?

The Initiative Score looks at a wide range of the data that you share with FII, mostly through the monthly journal, and some kinds of activity on UpTogether. It awards points on a number of different measures, like attending a workshop in your community, or reducing your debt over time. There are more specific examples in the section below.

We know different families have different interests and goals, so you do not need to get a perfect score on each measure in order to get a high score, or even to get an 850.

How can I improve my score?

We are trying to measure your family’s initiative, not change your family’s behavior to conform to the score. That said, here are a few tips to consider as you fill out your journal and interact on UpTogether:

  • Programs, workshops, organizations: Have you been to any workshops or trainings lately? Are you part of a community organization? Make sure to share these in the “Adult Workshops, Services, and Activities” section of the journal. This helps us understand some of the strengths, know-how, and connections of your networks.
  • Goals: Share whatever goals are important to you each month — both setting and completing goals are signs of initiative.
  • Finances: Report all of  your different forms of income, savings, assets and other finances, especially changes over time. This help us show a more complete picture of our families. We want to see your progress, so make sure you update those fields.
  • Social Capital: Share in your journal all the  help that you give and receive from your network each month. This information helps us challenge narratives. We need to show the work and support that already exist in our communities. And don’t worry, estimating amounts is okay
  • Events: Get together with other FII family partners by finding an event [link] on UpTogether.
  • Experts: Have you succeeded in something or found a great resource? Share on “Be the Expert” on UpTogether [link] (and check out the expertise of our community while you’re there).

How does my score determine how much money I get access to?

Families in their first year at FII are eligible for a maximum of $1,200 and a maximum of  $2,400 over two years.

A minimum score of 300 gets access to $150. Initiative Scores between 300 and 850 are apportioned dollars between the minimum amount of $150 and the maximum amount of $1,200 or $2,400 based on the year in FII.

The UpTogether Fund is deactivated upon the completion of the two years, and any unused funds are forfeited.

Can my Initiative Score go down?

Yes, but it can also go up!

The system recalculates your points every week to keep the score fresh and accurate, and to reflect the initiative you are taking. Right now, much of the score is drawn from the monthly journal, so you likely won’t see too much variation week to week, and you may see changes around the time you submit a new journal.

Periodically, you see a refreshed Initiative Score that reflects the points you earned on your best week. All of us have periods of higher and lower initiative, depending on what is happening in our lives.

The Initiative Score is meant to highlight your assets and demonstrate hustle. If you see a downward fluctuation in your score, consider reviewing the categories FII is paying most attention to, and reporting activities in these areas.

We prioritize these areas because they are key points of information we’ve found work to help banks, government, and philanthropy put dollars in the hands of families.

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