United Way Expands Guaranteed Income with City of Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council recently approved an allocation of $750,000 in funding from its American Rescue Plan dollars to expand United Way California Capital Region’s guaranteed basic income program. The additional funding will expand the number of families served from 100 to 180, providing 80 new families with $500 in unconditional guaranteed income every month for one year. United Way’s current program is providing 100 families with $300 a month for two years.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Sacramento to expand our Direct Investment Program to more community members,” said Dr. Dawnté Early, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “At United Way we’re committed to ending poverty for local families and what we know through our work and our relationships with community is that poverty is a policy choice. To truly end poverty, we must have meaningful policy changes at the local, state and federal level. The City of Sacramento is making the choice to address poverty directly by giving community members the money they need to meet their basic needs – housing, food cost and childcare for example. We are hopeful that this program can provide some relief to families in need during these difficult economic times.”

United Way’s Direct Investment Program is the first guaranteed income program launched in the California Capital Region. Eighty-six percent of current program participants indicate they cannot pay cash or cash equivalent for an unexpected $400 expense. Seventy-two percent of participants are women and people of color, and 1 out of 3 participants is working multiple jobs. The average participant would need two and a half full-time minimum-wage jobs to meet the Real Coast Measure for a household size of four, according to United Ways of California.

“We know that other basic income programs have been very successful in improving the financial stability of households currently living on economic margins,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “We are putting dollars directly into the hands of our residents and empowering them to decide how best to use it.”

United Way launched the Direct Investment Program in July 2021 as part of a nationwide trend offering guaranteed income, particularly for communities historically undervalued and underinvested. Funding for the program came from a portion of the $10 million gift United Way California Capital Region received from renowned philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in December 2020. Rather than mandating conditional services or specific direction, families in the program come together to empower themselves and are trusted to improve their lives in their own way.  United Way works with a third-party academic institution to measure outcomes. The program aims to invest in 1,000 families by 2025.

United Way California Capital Region has been working for nearly 100 years to create stronger, healthier, more compassionate communities, now serving Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. When the local United Way saw poverty rising in 2016, it found one place in each community to reach the most people in need: School was square one for ending family poverty. United Way’s Square One approach works with schools to help children excel in school, invest in families, and strengthen schools with resources to address increased poverty and further exposed racial inequality. For more information: www.YourLocalUnitedWay.org.