We’ve created a new, online calendar for members of our Community Support Program. See it here.

15 Avivo participants received $1,000 per month in year-long, guaranteed income program pilot 

Avivo partnered with a Twin Cities advocacy group led by philanthropist Nancy Somers to implement Project Solid Ground, a 12-month guaranteed income pilot program that provided $1,000 monthly cash disbursements to 15 individuals, from October 2020 through September 2021. Individuals were randomly selected Avivo participants, co-enrolled in or connected to Avivo’s treatment, training or career advancement services. 

“Guaranteed income, and what many might also refer to as universal basic income (UBI), is a type of cash transfer program that provides continuous unconditional cash transfers to individuals or households…”

Guaranteed income, and what many might also refer to as universal basic income (UBI), is a type of cash transfer program that provides continuous unconditional cash transfers to individuals or households, according to the Jain Family Institute. Programs like the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) in Stockton, California, show that guaranteed income increases employment and improves financial and physical health for people who live below the median income. 

Twin-Cities-based Nancy Somers established the privately funded, guaranteed income program because she is passionate about helping low-income individuals experiencing economic and health crises. “It’s about uplifting people out of poverty, giving people autonomy and trusting them that they know what they need,” shares Somers. 

“It’s about uplifting people out of poverty, giving people autonomy and trusting them that they know what they need,” shares Somers. 

Somers has been a generous, longtime donor to Avivo, giving through her family foundation. “We were laser-focused on getting cash disbursed during the historic economic and health crisis created by COVID-19. We reached out to our community with a proposal to distribute money in the form of cash, requiring no qualifications, and going to the lowest income people,” shared Somers. “Avivo, with their characteristic optimistic passion, embraced the challenge.” 

Avivo selected program participants randomly from across its services. To be eligible, participants agreed to check in with Avivo staff monthly to share how they were doing along six domains – overall well-being, housing, health, finances, education and employment. Participants started receiving the $1,000 monthly disbursements in October 2020. The final payments were dispersed in September 2021. 

According to Avivo counselor and mobility mentor Jacqueline Travis, the early results of the pilot reflect positive impact on participants’ physical, emotional and economic well-being. Grantees reported that the money helped attain more training, buy needed transportation to get to work, get childcare, pay for needed car repairs and medical bills, pay off debt and move forward with personal and professional goals. According to Travis, it was particularly powerful to have these funds to alleviate the overwhelming hardship brought on by the pandemic. 

“It restored feelings of basic dignity for some and hope for others; it reduced worry in paying rent, and some felt pride in being able to participate in ‘normal’ things like shopping for food and clothing,” reported Travis. 

“It was so helpful,” shared Pamela, program grantee. “I just left the shelter and moved into my own apartment. The grant helped me buy diapers for my son and outfits for him. [It helped me] get internet for my apartment and get some things for my apartment. I was enrolled in training, able to do some savings and I now have a little bitty car.” 

“It was so helpful,” shared Pamela, program grantee. “I just left the shelter and moved into my own apartment. The grant helped me buy diapers for my son and outfits for him. [It helped me] get internet for my apartment and get some things for my apartment. I was enrolled in training, able to do some savings and I now have a little bitty car.” 

Pamela adds that the guaranteed income program and her Avivo support worked together. “It was important to have both because there was a lot of other things [my counselor] was helping me with. It would have been way more effort with the grant, not having that support.” Pamela is now juggling remote employment and an online business, while parenting a busy toddler. 

Somers would like to see more community support and private funding for guaranteed income programs. And paired with partners like Avivo, who are deeply rooted in the lives of families who need the most support, preliminary results show this help can have double the impact. 

“Our mission to alleviate poverty through financial support includes direct cash payments, which we believe will reduce income and wealth inequality,” shares Somers. “Privately funded programs are a steppingstone to build support for a public policy. We want people to be more familiar with guaranteed income and see the opportunities it provides.” 

Other national and local guaranteed income resources include Magnolia Mother’s Trust and the Income Movement. The City of St. Paul has also launched People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot, and Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis has joined the Mayors for Guaranteed Income. The Federal Government has provided targeted cash assistance through stimulus checks and reduced child poverty through the child tax credit. 

Recent Posts