Moving People and Ideas: Announcing Our New Grantees

By Natalie Foster, Chris Hughes, and Dorian Warren

When the Economic Security Project launched ten months ago, we had more questions than answers around what unconditional cash transfers — or a guaranteed income — could look like in the United States. How should we structure it? Is it possible to pay for it? How should we talk about it in our current economic and political context?

While we still have a lot of questions, we’ve made tremendous progress thanks to the stellar work done by our first grantees announced last year. Two reports by the Roosevelt Institute outlined existing evidence here in the United States that unconditional cash transfers benefit individuals and communities and modeled how different basic income proposals would stimulate the economy. In Washington, D.C., the Niskanen Center has advanced the conversation on child allowances and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) launched a diverse coalition that’s built meaningful support for a ‘carbon rebate’ in the District — including an endorsement by the Washington Post.

The conversation on guaranteed income has also changed significantly in the last few months. As a result of organic momentum (with a little behind-the-scenes action) we’ve seen an idea on the periphery of politics become a major anchor for the debate on what big, bold economic ideas we should embrace in the face of wage stagnation, automation, and income insecurity. Hillary Clinton’s “Alaska for America idea, Representative Ro Khanna’s proposal to aggressively expand the EITC, and State Representative Chris Lee’s local leadership in Hawaii have changed the contours of the debate around what shape unconditional cash transfers could take in the United States.

As we considered our next round of investments, we were committed to building on the momentum. All of our new grantees, ranging from art organizations like Street Art Anarchy to research institutions like the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, are moving ideas and people to add more texture, dynamism, and information to the basic income debate in the United States.

We’re also excited to highlight some of our grantees and continue our exploration of the core questions at next month’s CASH Conference, the Economic Security Project’s first public event. It’ll showcase how far we’ve come — and how far we have to go to guarantee economic security for all Americans. Join us on October 19 in San Francisco.

We’re still accepting ideas for our next round of investments, and welcome donations to the fund (100% of your donation will go to the most interesting, promising projects we find). We’re very eager to continue to find and elevate new voices — 35% of our grants are led by people of color, and 57% are led by women. It’s a start, but we have more work to do to encourage a diverse array of voices on the basic income. We look forward to those numbers growing.You can learn more about our previous grantees here.

Congratulations to our grantees! Onward.

  • Boston Review: The Boston Review is hosting a public event to elevate the debate on basic income first litigated in their Forum publication
  • Center for Popular Democracy: The Center for Popular Democracy is exploring potential efforts to reimagine and expand the state earned income tax credit (EITC)
  • Golden State Opportunity Foundation: Golden State Opportunity, which runs CalEITC4me, is working to dramatically expand California’s EITC program to cover all self-employed workers, full-time minimum wage workers, and one million more California families. This effort is part of a statewide commitment to increase financial security for all its residents
  • Institute for the Future: The Institute for the Future is convening and researching Universal Basic Assets for the future — key assets needed for economic security and sustainability in the future
  • Leap Forward Project: The Leap Forward Project is collaboratively designing and promoting future cash-based policies in California and building organizational capacity of key constituencies, focusing on those groups historically left out of policy development
  • Listen First Tour: Led by Mia Birdsong, an activist who advocates for the self-determination of people and communities who experience racial and economic injustice, the Listen First Tour will refocus the voices and leadership of people who are poor as central to ensuring the success and relevance of the basic income movement
  • Stanford University’s Basic Income Lab: a research and teaching initiative that aims to assess the visions that underpin basic income, the political and economic feasibility of various proposals, as well as its strengths and weaknesses as a measure to alleviate poverty and inequalities; BIL has recently convened a gathering of cities interested in basic income pilots
  • Street Art Anarchy: Street Art Anarchy is curating and producing a series of public art murals to engage local communities and raise awareness about the prospects of economic security and basic income
  • Truth Be Told Productions: Truth Be Told is creating a short documentary film that focuses on the people of Dauphin, Manitoba who received guaranteed income to capture stories of impact from the Mincome pilot back in the mid 1970s
  • Universal Income Project: The Universal Income Project is building public and grassroots support for a universal income that upholds progressive values
  • University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions: Michigan’s Poverty Solutions will host a workshop on basic income for junior scholars to engage with leaders in the field on the state of the art in basic income studies
  • Upstream: The new podcast that challenges traditional economics will produce a two-part series on the history and philosophy behind universal basic income and its potential to bring about a new economic paradigm
  • Y Combinator Research: Y Combinator Research is bringing together leading researchers from across academic disciplines to implement the first randomized controlled trial of basic income in the United States
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