Family Independence Initiative (FII), Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), and the City of Boston Launch Pilot Project Aimed at Improving Economic Mobility for Families
A combination of peer networks and financial investment, aims to increase social and economic mobility for families living with low-incomes
Boston, MA – May 20, 2019 – The Family Independence Initiative-Greater Boston (FII), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and the City of Boston announced today a multimillion dollar, 3-year pilot project called the Trust and Invest Collaborative. The initiative is a systems transformation research and learning pilot where the FII model will be layered on to traditional DTA services and benefits through DTA’s Boston-area offices.
This collaborative pilot will involve staff and families from DTA, City of Boston, and FII-Greater Boston to explore policy changes that would support asset building, reduce barriers to employment, and benefit the overall health and well-being of families living with low incomes and their children.
Over three years, the pilot plans to enroll a total of 400 families from Greater Boston including a minimum of 100 families from the City of Cambridge, and a minimum of 200 families receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), DTA’s core economic assistance program. TAFDC is a joint state and federally funded program that provides economic assistance and supportive services to families and children with little or no assets or income.
“All families across the United States should have access to the investment and agency needed to achieve their dreams. We are confident families will continue to demonstrate to us how to re-imagine our systemic investments in them,” said Jesús Gerena, Chief Executive Officer of The Family Independence Initiative. “The Trust and Invest Collaborative and its partners are leading the country in piloting a new approach to accelerating economic and social mobility. Families in Cambridge, Boston and beyond will benefit and be at the forefront of changing the system.”
The partners involved are also in the process of formalizing existing relationships with the Cambridge Community Foundation and the City of Cambridge into this pilot as well. As this pilot unfolds and the state and municipalities learn and seek to evolve their policies , the pilot aims to be a role model for change across the nation to transform our current social service sector system to one that honors family choice and control, recognizes the strength of their communities, and invests directly in their solutions.
“Under this administration, the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance has shepherded several changes to our economic assistance programs to support people receiving benefits as they move to employment,” said Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Jeff McCue. “The Department has been engaged in an agency culture shift from providing benefits to encouraging economic mobility, and this pilot is exactly the kind of innovative project that helps us learn and drive informed changes.”
The Partnership was officially announced this morning at the Museum of Science with representatives from FII, DTA, the City of Boston and Google.org outlining how the Trust and Invest Collaborative will work to benefit area families living with low incomes. Also included in the launch day events was a demonstration of FII’s technology platform, UpTogether that will be used to strengthen existing and create new social networks, access financial capital and incentives, set goals and monitor progress, and allow families to support one another in achieving mobility. FII has consistently shown that the combination of peer networks, progress tracking, and capital investment results in the increased social and economic mobility of families living with low incomes.
“The City of Boston is proud to partner with the Family Independence Initiative and the Department of Transitional Assistance on this opportunity to take the lead in building a system that provides solid pathways to economic security and mobility to Boston residents,” said John F. Barros, Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston. “The Walsh administration is committed to testing out new ideas to better serve City of Boston residents, and we look forward to working with and learning from this people-centered pilot.”
Google.org, Boston Children’s Hospital, the Wagner Foundation, Cambridge Community Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation are funding partners for the project.
“Google believes in the power of technology to strengthen communities and create more opportunity for everyone,” said Google.org Senior Manager Samantha Hennessey. “We are proud to support the Family Independence Initiative’s data-driven and family-led model and this exciting collaboration in Boston and Cambridge with both our Google.org funding and the technical expertise of our Google.org Fellows.”
To view a short video about the Google.org Fellows’ work with FII, click here.
About FII Greater Boston
We believe, and 9 years of experience confirms that the long-term solutions to permanently exit poverty lie within one’s own community. Rather than imposing solutions from the top down as traditional social service agencies do, FII fuels the solutions to economic and social mobility that families uncover and develop for themselves through deep trust and direct cash investment. Today, FII–Greater Boston partners with nearly 1,000 families within the diverse neighborhoods of East Boston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roxbury, and in the City of Cambridge. Through these family partnerships, we are shifting the way that Greater Boston’s communities and families living with low-incomes are perceived and how systems invest in them. Already, these families are leading the way on this nationwide movement.
About the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance
The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) assists and empowers low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life, and achieve long term economic self-sufficiency. DTA serves one in nine residents of the Commonwealth with direct economic assistance (cash benefits) and food assistance (SNAP benefits), as well as workforce training opportunities.
Google.org connects nonprofit innovators with Google resources to solve complex human challenges, and ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy. The same technology that makes our lives easier every day can also help solve some of the world’s largest problems. That’s why we’re applying advanced technology to some of our greatest challenges, like using artificial intelligence to help predict natural disasters. Everyone should be able to participate in the digital economy, so we’re providing digital skills training for job seekers, supporting online safety and media literacy, and investing in computer science education for students — particularly in underrepresented communities. We know that the best answers often come from those closest to the problem. That’s why we join forces with nonprofit innovators, committing Google volunteers, technology, and over $200 million in grants every year to help scale their impact.