Pathways to Prosperity Project
Contact staff: Annie Levenson-Falk (651-289-1072 or alevensonfalk[at]citizensleague.org)
Minnesota must fundamentally redefine and restructure our policies from a system that reacts to poverty to one that supports prosperity. After concluding that many poverty reduction policies are based more on reactions to poverty and do not put in place the same incentives or produce the same outcomes as policies and activities that support prosperity, the Citizens League is beginning the effort to provide evidence of a new approach to poverty reduction.
5. Establishing Family Independence Demonstrations (Fall 2011-2013)
More than 50 people took part in Citizens League advancement groups in 2011. Through this work, it became clear that policy implementation must focus on the family prosperity and decision making level of change and that in addition to disincentives to earn, there are also strong disincentives to save and that many wealth and asset-building initiatives run into this barrier.
The advancement groups were followed by a series of workshops around the state in August 2011 to test the ideas of using more conditional cash transfers and approaches that develop family networks that directly build human capacity rather than "family-professional" relationships. This led us to focus on an approach that had been piloted in Oakland, San Francisco, Oahu and Boston called the Family Independence Initiative (FII).
With FII, groups of families assist each other in becoming better goal-setters and decision-makers. A form of conditional cash transfer is used that is based on goal-setting and reporting to peers. Rather than relying on advice from professionals, families become greater problem solvers as they look to other families who have been successful in a particular area as their resource. For this approach to succeed, a comprehensive approach to asset building that is not penalized must also be implemented.
In 2012, the Citizens League is proposing to build upon the FII approach and broaden the impact through our mission of civic policy making in partnership with several Minnesota nonprofits. This will immediately impact the lives of the low-income families attempting to achieve prosperity.
The Citizens League submitted a letter of intent to the Family Independence Initiative who is now looking for 2-3 national partners to implement their approach. We have been exploring the viability of moving forward with several Minnesota organizations who have agreed to be listed as potential partners in the effort:
- Islamic Civic Society of America
- Project for Pride in Living
- MN Indian Women's Resource Center
- Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties
- Circles of Support
To learn more see the draft of the 2012 Advancement Plan.
We want to gratefully acknowledge our funders for this project, which include: Bigelow Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Bremer Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, St. Paul Foundation, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Travelers, the UCare Fund and Youthprise.
The Pathways to Prosperity Project is in its fifth phase. Information on the previous four phases is here.