Front and Center: Guaranteed Income “Helps Low-Income Women Better Ourselves,” Says Annette, a Mother of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust

Front and Center is a groundbreaking series of op-eds—published by Ms. and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—which aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level. The series highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing.

What possibilities could open up for low-income families if financial survival weren’t always top of mind? What dreams would these mothers and families be able to pursue? What activism and community leadership might arise? The series will answer these and other questions, by placing one mother’s story front and center every other week. The first-person accounts in this series are available for reprint. Find additional guidelines at the end of this story.


I have two kids; my son is 8 and my daughter is 10 months old. I’m about to go back to work—I’m a cook for a public elementary school in Jackson, so I don’t have work in the summer. I’m wondering how things will be when we do go back to in-person school, since I’m not sure with our state’s high COVID numbers if the kids will be back in the cafeteria. But we were already around a lot of kids during the pandemic last year, even during remote learning, since we were cooking and bringing the food on buses to give out to the kids. So I imagine going back will be about the same amount of interaction as it was in 2020.

Most of my days are focused on working and spending as much time as I can with my kids. 


Thanks to the new child tax credit expansion coming monthly and the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, I’ve been able to do more for my kids and not have to worry if I can afford a school uniform or school supplies.


Because I work in a school, I don’t get paid in the summer when we’re off. So that makes it really hard to make ends meet. Thanks to the new child tax credit expansion coming monthly and the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, I’ve been able to do more for my kids and not have to worry if I can afford a school uniform or school supplies. I’ve also been able to catch up on some bills. I don’t make much at my job; it’s really more important for the benefits.

If I were able to sit down with our country’s leaders, I would tell them how important a program like the trust is. It helps low-income women like myself better ourselves.

The money has helped me in pursuing a better future for me and my kids and allows me to do things that I wasn’t really able to before—like going back to school, since I have to pay for that myself. I was in college before, but my financial aid got messed up and I had to leave because I wasn’t able to afford it. It was frustrating because I only had 12 hours left to finish. 

But now having the extra income coming in, I’m pacing it out based on how many classes I can afford at the community college. It’s looking like I should be done in the spring. I’m going back to school for elementary education, and ultimately my dream is to open my own day care center. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I love working with kids because each child is different and they all need some kind of help.

I’ve been around kids since I was young to when I had my own—I just love spending time with little people. I am confident that once I finish with school and then meet with others who have opened their own day care centers, I will be on my way to fulfilling that dream of having my own day care center. 


If I were able to sit down with our country’s leaders, I would tell them how important a program like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust is. It helps low-income women like myself better ourselves.


My main hope right now is for my kids to make it through school and stay out of trouble. My son wants to be a fireman or join the Army; he’s young so he’s pretty indecisive about it. He asks me what I think he should be when he grows up, and I tell him that’s not something I can tell him—he has to figure it out for himself. I tell him that when the time comes, he’ll know what he wants to do.

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(Art by Brandi Phipps)

For me, my goal right now is to finish school. It makes me feel hopeful because I know if I finish school I will be a better person, and I’ll be a better person for my kids. Sometimes my son will ask me why I didn’t go to college, and I’ll tell him I did go, I just didn’t finish. So I’m showing him that it’s never too late, no matter how old you are you can still go back and do what you were meant to do. 


Front and Center pieces are free to republish, under the following guidelines:

  • To ensure context isn’t lost, at the top of your reprint, include a line that reads: “Front and Center is a series of op-eds—published by Ms. magazine and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—highlighting the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust program, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing. The series aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level.” (You can use editorial discretion to alter or shorten the text slightly.)
  • You may also republish the photographs included in this story.
  • If you share republished stories on social media, we’d appreciate being tagged in your posts. You can find Ms. on Twitter @MsMagazine, on Instagram @ms_magazine and on Facebook. Springboard to Opportunities is on Twitter @SpringboardToOp, on Instagram @springboard_to and on Facebook.

Have questions on the series? Read more here, and direct specific questions to Katie Fleischer at [email protected].

About

Annette is a mother of two young children who works as a cook at an elementary school, while also going back to school with the hopes of one day owning her own day care center.