By Ivanna Neri, FII-Austin Site Director
On March 5, 2020, Family Independence Initiative will be debuting a short documentary on disrupting the narrative on the working poor in America at our Austin site.
There are many negative perceptions of poor people in America – that they are somehow lazy or untrustworthy. That they don’t know how to save money, or that they spend the money they do have unwisely. The billions of dollars our country spends every year on “poverty alleviation” is mostly spent with this deficit-mindset at its core, only trusting certain (usually white, usually wealthy) people to manage the funds how they see fit–and yet poverty rates continue to increase.
With 19 years of data behind us nationally, we at FII know these perceptions and this system are all wrong, and that people are not “stuck” in poverty. We have learned that there is mobility happening in low-income communities, but society is not seeing it. As a nation, we actually penalize that mobility by taking away opportunities and benefits as a person starts to earn just above the poverty level.
Through a strength-based approach, FII learns from the initiatives of hard-working communities. We invest in our members directly and trust them to choose their own goals and paths. We see them thrive.
To help start a national conversation on dismantling these stereotypes, in collaboration with FII-Austin members, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the St. David’s Foundation, and Emmy-award winning documentarian Daresha Kyi, FII has created a short documentary on how low-income communities in Central Texas and across the nation are thriving. Our goal is to re-imagine our country’s current approaches to poverty alleviation with a strength-based lens and to change the current narrative of the working poor. Through this documentary, FII families show how they are working to achieve prosperity, and how negative stereotypes and current systems impact their lives in a negative way.
We invite you to save the date for March 5 from noon until 4 pm, when we will debut the documentary “Shifting Perceptions: How low-income communities prove the narrative wrong” and take time to discuss disruptive solutions on how we can shift this narrative and practices. Your participation is key to making our dream a reality. Until then, we will be posting a series of blog posts highlighting how our members are busting these societal stereotypes wide open.
RSVP and more event details coming soon!