Convening #1 – Kick Off

All Members Kick Off Convening 

Friday, March 19, 2021 at 1:30-3:30pm ET

Meeting Objectives 

  1. Set shared intention, objectives, and driving values of the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice
  2. Discuss SEED findings and impact on the GI field moving forward



Recording and Meeting Notes

  • Recordings of the meetings and notes will be available to Community members after the call at To access this section, please enter password: incomefloor.




Welcome from Co-Chairs

Madeline Neighly & Dr. Aisha Nyandoro

  • Hope is with the Economic Security Project. Recording this meeting is just for internal purposes, not to be used publicly. Hope introduces co-chairs, Madeline Neighly and Aisha Nyandoro.
  • Aisha is excited to have over 150 members in this community across the country. As CEO of Springboard To Opportunities, Aisha worked with Madeline to create GICP. Many have been doing this work for years. The goal for this group is to have regular conversations in the field and continue to push this movement forward to advance greater economic security. Four objectives. In the past year there has been an explosion of interest in GI. It is finally seen that it is too hard for many individuals, especially Black and brown people, to have a decent living. Within this diverse community, we will begin with basics and the definition of guaranteed income. 
  • Madeline is excited to build this community. Shoutout to behind the scenes people and co-conveners. ESP, STO, etc. Everyone is here to learn from one another, from pilots to policy. GICP is backed with data, from MMT to the Cash and Cares Act. The fight is not over; direct unrestricted cash challenges beliefs of gender racism. We will provide the data and stories. Each of us has a role in this work, and GICP provides the space and support for conversations. With big questions, we will find answers, build community, and create solutions. You are guiding the conversations, and this community will be as useful as possible. Meetings are on April 13th, May 11th, June 8th, and July 13th. Everyone should have an invitation to the Google group, but let Madeline know if you need another invite. There is also a Slack workspace; we are building directories and an internal directory with contact information. There is a process for searchable directory to allow funders and programs to connect. We appreciate feedback. This is a chance to get to know each other and hear from leaders.


Building Our Community and Icebreaker

Hope Wollensack

  • The first step is to begin building this community together. First, conventions for our convening. Please change your name to include your pronouns, position and organization, and change to gallery view. Use reactions throughout the speakers to help see what people are excited about. Use the group chat to create community within the room and see what others are thinking; speakers can react too. Turn on your camera to put names with faces. Lastly, if you have any quick questions, message Ebony. If you have long questions, shoot Hope an email. 
  • Norms are usually developed together. With over 150 people in this community, Hope has begun listing initial norms. If you have any thoughts, email Hope and she will incorporate them. 
  • We will begin this conversation with the values that brought us here. What values drive your work to advance GI? With doing the work, we should center on what brings us into this space. Think about what values drive work to GI. Ebony will drop a link in the chat and everyone will have one minute to fill in their answer. Take time to be thoughtful. After that minute, we will share a word collage that shows all the answers. After a minute, Cara shares the word cloud including answers like equity, justice, dignity, simplicity, hope, prosperity, etc. Continue to keep these words in mind, even when it’s hard. 
  • We move into an icebreaker and are broken into groups of 5 people randomly. Share your name and organization and one thing you love about where you live.


Keynote Speakers

Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, Michael Tubbs, Natalie Foster

  • Aisha welcomes everyone back. She was asked to relate shared values about advancing the movement together. She immediately thought of radical possibilities. When Springboard To Opportunities started thinking about GI in 2017 and what possibilities could look like, we had no idea that we would be part of this radical movement. We are in this moment of so many radical possibilities. This will have a generational impact because we know what poverty looks like. This work for a new economic system has never been more important. The past year has made the situation worse. 2020 taught that things can go from troubling to terrifying and most people did not have a safety net. We have seen other economies bounce back faster because they immediately invested in the people. There is a dramatic shift in our approach to benefits, instead of punishing you for being poor, but now says go forth and do what you must for your family and trusting individuals in dignity and humanity. The Magnolia Mother’s Trust provides GI to low-income Black mothers in affordable housing in Jackson, MS. We started in 2018 with 20 moms and we’re now at 220 moms. We take a two-generation approach: children have a savings account to invest in the future as well. 40 years from now, we’ll be looking back to see when the direction shifted for good. We are undoing harm and demanding policies that are inclusive. We are pushing back against harmful narratives about people given cash. We may all have different demographics and areas we focus on, but we all know the whole is more powerful than the sum of its parts. The only people who care about our liberation are us. 
  • Michael Tubbs says the conversation we are having is about the people and making sure that dignity shows up in policy. This community of practice will socialize and talk about this content. So much of the work has been about narrative and having to deal with how white supremacy shows up. We challenge this community to be clear that when we speak about GI to speak about the dignity of all people. We are speaking about the inherent ability for human beings to be smart enough for themselves and the need for people not to be stressed. Dig deep and lean into the notion of humanity and dignity being a universal basic concept. A prime example of this is from the findings of the Stockton pilot. People didn’t become lazy and use the money on drugs and alcohol. Notable people were so surprised. We think money is a proxy for intelligence and ability, but it’s not. We have an economy that doesn’t work for working people because in the same way wealth compounds, poverty compounds. The goal of this community of practice is to learn the best way to have the conversation. The charge is how to move from pilots to policy, from testing to doing what works. See how quickly the Covid-19 vaccine worked; instead of testing it for ten years, they tested it and rolled it out to everyone. At some point we have to deliver and give the financial vaccine to people instead of still testing. 
  • Natalie Foster says it is truer now that GI is an idea whose time has come because of everyone here. Everyone has been doing work for years, some longer than others. She was struck by a line in an opinion editorial: “It took a quarter century, but basic cash support has come into the mainstream. This time, it’s here in a far more resilient form and we believe it will stay.” It’s more resilient because of this powerful multiracial movement all over the country. We believe in the radical idea that no matter what happens, you have a set of things guaranteed including an income. People are extremely creative and creating headlines by centering the story on the lives most impacted. This idea was once so hard to talk about and is now mainstream. All of the work that’s happening is adding up to a sum that is bigger than its parts. We just passed the American Rescue Plan that includes cash with no strings attached at its heart. This is two parts: the expansion of child tax credit (money paid monthly with children with no strings attached) and direct stimulus check (deposited into accounts within days – a reminder that when Congress wants to move quickly, it can). This is just the beginning.
  • Tom Shapiro asks about narrative and framing. In the media, the framing we are getting are the debunking lies. Some literature says that debunking a myth can reinforce the myth. How can we lead with the narrative about the positive aspects about SEED and values to communities and families? Aisha confirms sometimes the debunking leads to reinforcing myths. It has to do with narrative reframing by moving forward with narrative change by changing the narrator. We are launching a StoryTelling lab by giving our mothers (Magnolia Mother’s Trust mothers) support to tell their own stories. Now the moms are more than empowered to share what they want individuals to know. We are listening and learning what they want us to lift up, not reinforcing negative narratives. We have had to initially debunk when asked about what we’re doing. But now that we have more than enough data, let’s talk about joy and job security, etc. moving forward.
  • Kelvin Lassiter asks how do you frame federal policy in a manner regarding GI that will appeal to those who oppose it? Natalie answers that a lot of work is being done figuring that out. Right now, it’s very popular, the idea of sending people checks to take care of their families in this moment of great volatility. The pandemic has shifted what is possible and it’s our job to seize this moment and move it forward.  


SEED Findings

Drs Amy Castro Baker and Stacia West

  • Cofounders of the Center for Guaranteed Income Research. They started work with the SEED (Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration) a few years ago with such a small group of people and now it is so much bigger. GI works. 
    • They used a mixed methods RCT design to understand what happened along with how and why. This included three strands.
    • They used random selection and assignment by sending out 4,000 mailers with about 505 people filling out the baseline survey. 478 were real people who were assigned into three groups.
    • How does GI impact monthly income volatility? Monthly income varies about 35% for the lowest income group. The control group had lower (46.4%) income volatility to stabilize and plan for the future. They also realized that because people live in networks, people who experienced less food insecurity actually spilled over into other households. 
    • How do changes in income volatility impact psychological health and physical wellbeing? Recipients were less anxious and depressed, both over time. Recipients reported improved emotional health and wellbeing, less pain, and energy over fatigue, both over time and compared to the control group. 
    • Kessler 10 measures mental health. The treatment group went from mild mental health disorder to Likely to be well. Economic fragility and mental health and wellbeing are not separate. Increased health and wellbeing increased capacity for goal-setting. $500 served as “paid” care work that allowed women to focus on their health and subsidize gaps in family health care.
    • How does GI generate agency over one’s future? GI does not cause people to stop working. The $500 removed material barriers to full-time employment and created capacity for goal-setting and risk-taking. Financial scarcity generates time scarcity, and the ability for people to just be able to breathe gave them a solid footing for them to set goals and take risks. Freedom from Forced Vulnerability to others you may not want to engage with and/or with punitive systems. Chosen vulnerability and chosen independence!
  • First question asks to talk about findings, not how they spent the money, but how it impacted their lives. All the preconceived notions about recipients spending the money on drugs or alcohol are rooted in anti-Blackness, and let’s understand that our notions deeply impact how poor people spend money. Let’s call these people out to not ask sexist and racist questions, and name anti-blackness specifically. Amy and Stacia reply that there’s a lot we don’t know but we can change the rhetoric to deservedness.
  • Annie Harper asks how did you manage or avoid triggering asset limits? Any political fallout? First, strongly adhere to the Social Work Code of Ethics by addressing recruitment mailers to each household, so residents has to decide who is a recipient of the benefit vs. not. Waivers and benefits counseling were part of consent. Non-recipient control group disappointment was handled by being really transparent upfront and having someone able to communicate how important their data are in moving forward. One strength of Stockton was making sure it was rooted in the community. There were some ethical and emotional considerations. 
  • Jim Pugh asks what level of confidence did you have around employment effects? Truly descriptive inferential stats. Is there any way to do an analysis of what it would look like universally? No, not necessarily community level effects, but others may have that statistical power.
  • Daniel Brisson states that there is a tension between what is found and unexpected results. Tell us some things you were surprised about or things you didn’t fully think through? Glued to a pre-analysis plan, so they chose three key outcomes and everything resulted as expected. In year 2, there are more outcomes to look at. They strongly encourage mixed methods research. One limitation is they did not have the ability to do formal surveys of other people in the home, so they were unable to measure change in the household as a whole.
  • Chirag Mehta asks about whether there was any research done about how the people felt receiving the money, if they felt entitled to it? Or how to establish that so people feel entitled to it? Quantitatively, no. That was a challenge, having people have a sense of gratitude, but there was a real split in terms of they didn’t see themselves as deserving because they are human. People wrestled with deserving it. That is a barrier when it comes to advocacy, because we internalize capitalism, and they drive how we talk about money. This role in child tax credit is pushing the conversation forward so people see themselves as deserving. When they coded data from treatment and control, they saw a little more extension of empathy than before, because of the language of income instead of benefit. Added that no data on race and gender until after the second year.
  • We shifted to breakout rooms of 5. The person whose name comes first alphabetically will be the notetaker for questions. Introduce yourselves and answer the three questions in a document. 


Reconvene & Key Takeaways 

Dr. Aisha Nyandoro

  • Hope shares powerpoint with time for insights and takeaways for people to chime in. People can raise their hand. 
  • Key takeaways:
    • Increasing the efficiency of pilots, is there a way to do pilot and push for policy in a sustained way?
    • Does there have to be one narrative? Does it change regionally? 
    • What are the implications of this work to push for reparations?
    • Worry about predatory financial institutions and the exploitation of cash strapped communities.
  • Halah Ahmad from Group 9 had a good discussion. #1 findings are exciting and they also feel like what we already know. #2 findings can be an accelerator for conversations and organizers who need data and stories, and with electives to push the conversation. #3 excitement for mental health findings. 
  • Anne Vor der Bruegge asks how important is the role of onboarding specialists etc, what skills should they have in bringing the right sensitivities? It would be really cool to have a community of practice for those people or a bank of them to network with them. Aisha replied that it is a piece we will continue to lift up. 
  • Zea asks what does it look like to be publicly funded and racially targeted? There is no infinite amount of money to be able to target race. 
  • Larry Cohen’s organization Point Source Youth is looking at giving $30,000 each over 2 year to youth experiencing unstable housing in New York City, who have been historically black and LGBTQ. There are positive outcomes of people spending money wisely, and we should not discuss that inherently racist question. Talk about how they’re going to live their best lives. Move the conversation to a more moral place. Aisha replies to push forward for lasting change to remember and become how we operate, and get rid of sexist and racist narratives. 

Closing and Next Steps

Hope Wollensack

  • Hope thanks Aisha, speakers, co-conveners. The next meeting is on April 13th. Be sure to join the Slack and Google group, add your information to the directory.