Convening #10 – Learning From the Past to Win in the Future


Objectives & Outcomes

  • How was the current guaranteed income movement built?

  • What did it take to get us to this moment?

  • What will it take to continue to move us forward and win a guaranteed income?


Opening Remarks

Hope Wollensack & Madeline Neighly

Hope Wollensack, GICP Senior Strategist, is transitioning to a new role as Executive Director of the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund (GRO Fund), which is launching the In Her Hands guaranteed income program in early 2022.

In Her Hands is an initiative born from the Old Fourth Ward Economy Security Task Force. As the birthplace of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Old Fourth Ward plays a significant role in the history of economic and racial justice, and it will be the launch site of In Her Hands. In response to community needs, the program will combine lump sum and recurring payment models. Half of the participants will receive $850 every month for 24 months, and the other half will receive $4300 upfront and $700 a month for the remainder of the pilot.

This meeting was her last as Senior Strategist, but Hope will remain a valued partner and GICP community member.

Kevin Dublin

Author, Advocate, and Participant in the San Francisco Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts)

Kevin wrote a lyric essay of his origin story while reading the journals of Henry Bulls Watson, a marine who inherited Kevin’s last enslaved ancestors: his great-grandmother and her children.

As a participant in the Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists in San Francisco run by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Kevin shared that a criticism of GI pilots asks what kind of impact a small amount of money can have for a limited group of people over a short amount of time. He stressed that it is the difference in monetary and mental bandwidth for families to care for themselves. A basic income is part of the choice to learn from the past. Through this movement, we will make it dangerous for a politician not to endorse GI. We have to demand change and believe that GI is not a radical idea. Each pilot and starting point is a spark for a revolution.

How did we get here and how do we move forward to win?

Facilitated by Danielle Greene, Doctoral Candidate, Stanford University

Natalie Foster, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Economic Security Project

Many major events have happened in a short amount of time in 2021, such as an insurrection at the capitol and the dissemination of vaccines around the world. We made it through and are moving the needle on GI because of the child tax credit and a better understanding of human infrastructure. The Build Back Better Act is waiting to be passed in the Senate and would make massive investments in this infrastructure.

Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard To Opportunities and The Magnolia Mother’s Trust

Springboard has been intentional about narrative since 2017 with the goal for individuals to recognize that the narrative we have been taught about poverty and poor Black women is wrong. Racism is a collective issue and we cannot stop until everyone acknowledges the hard truths about economic insecurities and significant disparities. The work cannot be done by only Black and Brown individuals. After some significant wins this year, there is more to do and we must ensure that those most impacted are front and center, guiding and working alongside us so we are not siloed into incrementalism.\

Juliana Bidadanure, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Director of the Stanford Basic Income Lab

Once you begin talking about unconditional cash, we get into the big question of deservedness and what it is we owe each other. We have a punitive philosophy of individualism when looking at someone in distress. Philosophy plays a role in ensuring values such as trust, dignity, equality, and respect are at the center of these conversations of what we owe each other.

The Lab is committed to answering the fundamental questions this (GICP) community has to start from, such as the definition of UBI and other programs that look like it, as well as what we already know versus what is left to find out. The purpose is to align our value-based commitments to the data we need to make a powerful case for GI.

Chris Hughes, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Economic Security Project

We came from talking about the future of jobs disappearing five years ago to now talking about a new social contract, the basic questions of deservedness, and what we owe one another. We must capitalize on this energy and ensure this conversation continues in order to transform it into policy. Cutting child poverty in half is great, but it would be even better to eradicate poverty in the entire country. We are changing the narrative and forcing people to wrestle with the moral responsibility to make up for structural inequalities and create a better future.

Q & A

How can we ensure that GI pilots are more than the sum of their parts? What is the next step to ensure they lead to lasting change? 

The GICP is an example of how we all approach this work differently and work together to achieve the same goal. We believe cash without restrictions is the best way to stabilize insecurity. By continuing narrative work and building local champions, this community is not only making policy gains right now, but also building the bench for the long haul to make the child tax credit permanent and expand it to include everyone.

Stanford Basic Income Lab’s data dashboard is an important tool to make a powerful case in how GI changes lives in the details. Because there are many different ways people view this issue, it is critical to have many different efforts at once. In the end, we are engaging and mobilizing different communities for the same issue. By using data in a different, qualitative way, we introduce new conversations about what equity, joy, abundance, and dignity look like.

How do we ensure that this work remains grounded in justice as we scale up? What other fights are most important? 

We continue to make sure that everything we are designing is grounded in the needs of the community and those who are most impacted. The CTC is an example of this work going to scale. Data and community voices should lead the conversation and center on why inequities exist as we move pilots up. America is the richest nation on earth and should not have people without access to homes or healthcare. A GI is the tip of the spear on that front, and it sits alongside a different capitalism and social contract.

We believe in giving unconditional cash to individuals, but other struggles are also important. We must find ways to design institutions that grant abundance and freedom from abject poverty; we owe each other more than that. In the language of human economics, the government will structure markets to be more fair and create a culture of abundance. We should frame GI and other fights around freedom and communities that are invested in one another.

What is your vision for where we can be in five years and what will it take to get there?

In five years we will be closer to the notion of equity by redistributing wealth with the ideal of what it is we owe each other. By shifting the narrative, we will have created a federal GI and will be operating in a space of full abundance where there is more than enough for all to live with dignity. At the end of 2026 we will make it too dangerous for lawmakers not to talk about GI. There will be gains made across racial lines with GI as a solidarity dividend, which will lead to an eradication of poverty in the US.

  1. Closing

Hope Wollensack & Madeline Neighly

You can reach Hope by email at [email protected].

The next convening for the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice will be held on January 11, 2022 at 1 PM ET. Angela Glover Blackwell, creator of PolicyLink, will discuss how to keep community at the center as we build a federal policy. [Note: The January 2022 meeting has been canceled. We’re excited to learn with Angela Glover Blackwell at the March 2022 meeting]