Program Areas | Family Economic Supports

Family Independence Initiative:
Evaluation Designs to Track Family Progress

The Family Independence Initiative aims to impact poverty by shifting the responsibility for change to those who experience poverty themselves. Begun in Oakland, California, in 2001, it helps families build economic independence through projects undertaken in mutually supportive family teams. Through funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the families receive funds as a group and are given considerable discretion in defining how to spend them to achieve financial success. Through this novel approach, families' investments have ranged from interventions to help their children stay in school to purchasing a van to carpool to work in a neighborhood that does not have a good public transportation system.

Metis Associates was engaged near the initiative's outset and contributed to its development in a number of ways. Metis first specified the appropriate evaluation designs for an automated program to track family progress. It defined the initiative's needs for client-tracking and also provided statistical analysis. Soon, Metis was called upon to intervene with the California government to obtain a waiver for participating families so that they would not lose their public-assistance benefits as a result of participation in this program. The Family Independence Initiative has proven highly effective at improving the financial outlook of its participants and has been launched in several additional states.