Why is MCF undertaking this project?
MOMentum is the continuation of a project that MCF launched in 2018, The Book of Mom. Using human-centered research, this initial study focused on gaining a better understanding of low-income Moms in Marin so that new programs and services could be developed that better serve their needs.
Launched in May 2021, MOMentum is a pilot which leverages the input from the Moms and combines it with deep expertise from local, state and national nonprofits, county partners, and other similar projects underway throughout the U.S.
This pilot is designed to give Moms an opportunity for greater independence over their lives, their finances, and the future for them and their children.
How were participants selected?
Through our initial work with The Book of Mom, we identified a large pool of low-income Moms throughout the county and we used that database to seek applicants. Those interested in participating submitted an application to the project’s administrator, UpTogether. Those that met the criteria were placed into a final group, from which 125 were selected at random.
Do Moms have to live in a specific region of Marin?
No, participants were drawn from a countywide pool. But every Mom was required to be a resident of Marin County.
Why Moms of color?
Low-income Moms of color are disproportionately affected by poverty and inequality in the County. It is a fact supported by years of data collection and MCF’s decades of experience working within the community.
What are the types of support participants will receive?
Each Mom will receive $1,000 per month for a period of 24 months. In addition, each participant will engage with the UpTogether platform which provides a way for Moms to network, share resources, and build relationships. It also provides a location for the Moms to journal experiences and set goals.
Are there any income limits for participants?
Our focus is on low-income residents, specifically Moms who live in households with an income that falls below that prescribed by the California Family Needs Calculator (aka Self-Sufficiency Standard).
Can a Mom be married?
Yes, she can be single, married, or have a domestic partner.
What about other groups, e.g. dads, seniors?
MOMentum is the second stage in MCF’s engagement with Marin Moms, which began with a research project in 2018. As such, we are continuing with the same demographic.
How is this pilot different from the Stockton SEED Guaranteed Income pilot?
While informed and inspired by universal income pilots occurring throughout the country like SEED, MOMentum is a different approach, in a few ways:
It is stage two of a project that began in 2018, and reflects the input from the mothers who participated and who have shaped this pilot.
In addition to the provision of direct cash, participating Moms will also have access to the UpTogether platform, enabling networking, resource sharing and planning tools.
We will adapt our pilot to the specific needs of Moms in Marin. For example, as a high-cost county, the household income levels which reflect poverty levels are very different to other parts of the state and country, thereby necessitating an increased cash payment amount.
Unlike the majority of other projects which are city-focused, MOMentum is a county-wide pilot.
What are the goals of the project?
This is a two-year pilot, intended to collect data and understand impact, with the ambition to scale. Specifically, there are three main goals:
Stabilize families by getting cash to them with no conditions or requirements.
Use data and findings to shift local narratives, practices, policies and systems.
Support and inform local, statewide and national policy efforts.
What will we learn?
Utilizing a formal, independent evaluation process, we will learn the impact of cash transfers and related program supports in Moms’ lives as it relates to housing, health, social networks, economic mobility, and civic engagement.
Isn't Guaranteed Income about replacing the social safety net?
Research shows that public assistance programs are inadequate in addressing income inequality and related disparities. Guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.
How will this affect public benefits?
Providing information to potential participants in accessible ways, and ensuring access to experts to help answer individual eligibility questions, is part of the pilot. Participants will receive information and can work with their eligibility worker(s) to receive the best information to make informed decisions based on their individual circumstances. Upholding recipients’ ability to make informed decisions regarding their participation remains crucial to this process. We are working with state and local government officials to protect recipients’ benefits during and after the pilot. Where possible, Marin County is pursuing waivers to ensure additional cash is excluded from benefits eligibility. There are, however, limits on which benefits waivers can be pursued.
Who is paying for this pilot?
The pilot is 100% funded by private philanthropic dollars via the Marin Community Foundation.
What other projects are occurring in this space?
Many direct cash payment programs are being piloted throughout the world. Please see the Resources page for links to many of those projects.