Stand Together Foundation is Supercharging Social Entrepreneurs to Combat Poverty
FII takes a different approach. “We’re an organization that believes that low-income families are the experts,” Jorge Blandón, FII’s Executive Vice President, says. “We should be learning from them. We also believe in following and investing in their initiatives as opposed to creating more top-down programs. We want to help families build from the ground up.”
Families who enroll in the Family Independence Initiative will self-organize a group of five to eight other households. These groups meet regularly to talk about life, share strategies and build relationships. They also provide monthly data about spending, finances, social capital exchange, health, housing, and other factors. In exchange, Family Independence Initiative provides a direct investment to each family of up to $3,200 over a two-year period. There are no strings attached, just an ask to specify how the money was spent. Families enrolled in FII see their average monthly income jump by 22 percent.
The impact of this instilled trust, freedom of choice, and regained control proves to be a compelling approach that many of these families are not afforded through other opportunities. Outcomes show that these families—when given this freedom—know what to do and are actively working to better their lives—a perception that is not often shared for individuals from low-income areas. Ultimately, this exercise allows families to put their situation into perspective to learn healthy habits for the future.