This is not a program.
That’s the mantra at Families Independence Initiative. When people hear about its successful efforts in low-income neighborhoods – increased household savings, improved academic performance, decreased dependence on government subsidies – they want to replicate the program on a larger scale. But it isn’t a program.
According to its representatives, Families Independence Initiative is a fundamental shift in thinking about the cycle of poverty and the power of family and community.
Flash back to 2000. Maurice Lim Miller, founder of the initiative, had been executive director of Asian Neighborhood Design, a youth development and job training program in Oakland, for 22 years. Then-Mayor Jerry Brown asked him why so much money goes into antipoverty programs with minimal results. Brown challenged him to design a better approach without considering money or regulations.