SP2 News

Center for Guaranteed Income Research is Launched

Faculty & Research, Alumni Stories, Gifts & Giving

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), together with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has established the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (the Center). The goal of the Center is to consolidate the key learnings from the pilots taking place in MGI member cities, to address knowledge gaps in the contemporary understanding of guaranteed income’s impact for Americans, and to allow the organization to layer data with anecdotal evidence in federal advocacy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed what we as Mayors have seen for a long time in our cities across the country – that people are working, but the economy isn’t,” said Mayor Michael Tubbs, founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. “Our membership growth alone shows there’s a growing consensus that unconditional cash is the simplest, most effective solution to abolish poverty and begin to address the deeply linked issues of racial and economic injustice in America.”

Center for Guaranteed Income Research logo

The Center is co-led by Dr. Amy Castro Baker, assistant professor at SP2, and Dr. Stacia Martin-West, assistant professor University of Tennessee, College of Social Work. The co-Principal Investigators of the first mayor-led guaranteed income pilot in Stockton, Calif. and leading academics in the space will guide pilot cities through a learning agenda and oversee the research design & implementation. After the conclusion of each demonstration, MGI partner cities will release preliminary outcome evaluations prepared in partnership with the Center. After the conclusion of all MGI demonstrations, the Center will release a final report of national findings of all sites and all key research questions.

MGI member mayors are signing on to the learning agenda with an eye towards moving the needle on poverty and matching the urgency of our current economic moment with evidence-based policy proposals. This agenda builds on the existing body of cash-transfer literature, as well as the implementation and research lessons learned in Stockton to build an evidence rich pilot-to-policy pipeline. 

Following in line with SEED, the first mayor-led guaranteed income demonstration in Stockton, Calif., the Center will release early snapshot data including demographics, spending behaviors, photographs, and videos on a public facing data visualization website. The dashboard will feature city-level filters, such that residents, city leaders, and policy-makers will view snapshot data from all participants, and then select their own city data to compare nationally and to others. Similar to what was built for SEED, the public-facing dashboard will be a critical tool to engage the public, ensure transparency and accountability in the research process, and elevate the topic of guaranteed income. 

“A growing body of evidence indicates the power of providing an income floor to stabilize households struggling with economic insecurity, but public conversation and the pressure created by the pandemic is moving faster than the evidence,” said Dr. Amy Castro Baker. “The Center for Guaranteed Income Research will be a real-time and nimble research partner to Mayors working in the same fashion across the country to meet the economic needs of their constituents.”

MGI has been awarded a $250,000 grant from Arrow Impact, a newly established private foundation focused on improving economic opportunity for low-income families and on improving the efficiency of the philanthropic ecosystem. The funds and leadership will support MGI as it builds capacity. 

For additional information and media inquiries, please contact:

Jessica Bautista, bajess@upenn.edu
Saadia McConville, saadia@mayorsforagi.org

Building off his first-of-its-kind guaranteed income pilot (SEED) and rooted in Dr. King’s legacy, Mayor Michael D. Tubbs (Stockton, CA) founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), in partnership with the Economic Security Project, in June 2020. Mayors will come together in this network to advocate for a guaranteed income—direct, recurring cash payments—that lifts all of our communities, building a resilient, just America.  Since its establishment in June 2020, the coalition has created a significant increase in support for guaranteed income policy across the country, passing a resolution in support of guaranteed income at the United States Conference of Mayors and submitting a sign on letter to House and Senate leadership in support of the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act. In support of this growth and a groundswell of interest in guaranteed income, MGI has partnered with What Works Cities on a six-session online learning opportunity to elevate lessons learned and share best practices with the coalition and additional cities across the country. Interested parties can learn more or register here. Follow MGI on Twitter and Facebook

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice is noted for its commitment to social justice and to educating students that will take an active role in the struggle against oppression. SP2 contributes to the advancement of more effective, efficient and humane human services through education, research and civic engagement. In pursuit of this mission, its theory-based masters and doctoral programs in social work, social welfare, non-profit leadership and social policy encourage students to think and work across disciplinary lines and cultures, locally, nationally, and globally. Visit www.sp2.upenn.edu and follow @PennSP2 for more.

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