15 Moms on What a Year of Guaranteed Income Meant to Them and Their Families

A family participating in Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which provides low-income Black mothers with $1,000 per month. (Courtesy of MMT)

Throughout this year, Ms. has highlighted the voices of low-income Black moms in the Front and Center series, working to center those affected by the intersections of poverty, racism and sexism. Each participating mom lives in Jackson, Miss., and receives guaranteed income through Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT). MMT provides 100 low-income Black mothers with $1,000 per month of unrestricted money for a year, demonstrating that giving women an economic safety net allows families to escape poverty and set themselves and their kids up for success.

Each woman comes from a different background and faces different challenges, but all have found that guaranteed income enables them to do things they never have before—open savings accounts for their children, create college funds, take family vacations for the first time in years, move to a better home and much more. Here’s how guaranteed income has shaped the lives of 15 low-income families.

For Tia, Guaranteed Income Provided “A Little Push”

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Tia is a mother of three who works at an assisted living facility. She was part of the first year of guaranteed income from MMT, and was able to improve her credit and get out of affordable housing thanks to the program.

In her essay, she defies the stereotype that guaranteed income leads to people stopping working—instead, she says, the guaranteed income reduced her stress and enabled her to spend time with her kids and make long-term financial plans.

For Danel, Guaranteed Income Made “Such a Difference”

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Danel (pronounced Danielle) is an assistant teacher at HeadStart. In an essay for Ms., she opens up about her past in the foster system, and how guaranteed income means she can ensure her kids have an easier childhood than she did. She’s in grad school to get a master’s degree in teaching, and plans to use her guaranteed income to pay off her student loans and eventually start a daycare center.

For Nikki, Guaranteed Income Meant Financial Security, Community and Hope for the Future

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Nikki is a mother of two who is unable to work due to severe chronic pain from sickle cell anemia. In her story, she shares how her disability has affected her, and how MMT has helped her through the pandemic—not just financially, but by creating a supportive community of mothers with similar experiences.

Sabrina: “We Were Able To Do Things We Haven’t Been Able To Do”

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Mother of three Sabrina was laid off from her retail job at the beginning of the pandemic. Then, she lost a large chunk of her unemployment benefits when Mississippi opted out of the federal program to support workers affected by COVID-19. Guaranteed income allowed her to explore going back to college and enroll her son in a school designed to support children with dyslexia.

Johnnie: “I’m Doing Well in My Life and Have Things on Track”

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Johnnie had to quit her job as an essential worker during the pandemic to care for her daughter, and now works for the Mississippi Department of Health. She argues that the government should have a federal guaranteed income program to take care of essential workers and other low-income communities, even beyond the pandemic.

Ebony: “I Used the Magnolia Mother’s Trust Money To Make Money”

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For Ebony, guaranteed income gave her the financial freedom to invest in her nail salon, setting herself up for future success and financial independence. She fights back against sexist and racist stereotypes about people receiving financial help, telling moms, “don’t be afraid of investing in yourself.”

Chephirah: Guaranteed Income Helped Cover Bills and Finally Feel Hope

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Chephirah found that receiving guaranteed income this year enabled her to support her daughter’s education and even set up a college fund for her dream of being an engineer. Her daughter will be the first one in Chephirah’s family to graduate from high school, and thanks to MMT, she will be supported through college as well.

Lakeisha: “Magnolia Mother’s Trust Was So Important in Getting Me Through Last Year”

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Lakeisha lost her job at a hotel early in the pandemic, and was able to survive and support her son on a combination of unemployment and guaranteed income. Now, she’s working to finish her last semester of college.

I’esha: Guaranteed Income and the Child Tax Credit Kept This Family Afloat

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I’esha contracted COVID-19 last summer as she worked multiple customer service jobs, and due to a high-risk pregnancy is currently unable to work. If she could, she’d tell President Biden: “Make the child tax credit permanent, because so many people are still unemployed and the pandemic is not over. And people need help even without a pandemic going on.”

Annette: Guaranteed Income “Helps Low-Income Women Better Ourselves”

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Mother of two Annette works as a cook at an elementary school, preparing lunches for children even throughout the pandemic. Now, thanks to guaranteed income, she’s going back to school to get a degree in elementary education, and dreams of owning her own daycare center.

Tamika Is “Saving and Paying My Bills on Time”—With Help from a Guaranteed Income and the Child Tax Credit

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Tamika is a housing counselor who lives with her partner and five children and dreams of one day buying a home. In her essay, she shares how guaranteed income helped her escape a cycle of predatory loans and save up to buy a house.

Guaranteed Income Helps Roneisha Know Her Worth—and Afford “a Treat Here and There”

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Mom of three Roneisha reveals how critical guaranteed income and the CTC have been in supporting her search for a job with a livable wage, and how the extra income has helped her mental health.

Sequaya: Guaranteed Income Helped Me Survive the Pandemic and Find “Moments of Joy”

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Sequaya was an in-home caretaker before the pandemic, and lost her job when that industry was hit particularly hard by COVID. As she looks for a new job that allows her to take care of her young daughter as well, guaranteed income and the CTC have “helped to put shoes on my daughter’s feet and food in the fridge.”

Sherika: “Being Part of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust Has Lifted a Burden Off My Shoulders as a Mom”

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Sherika is a home health aide who has used her guaranteed income payments to take time off work to care for her new baby and two older children. As the baby gets older, she plans to go back to school to advance her nursing career.

Two Years After Receiving Guaranteed Income, Elsie’s Family Is Still Feeling the Benefits

Elsie is a mother of two who was part of the original cohort of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, beginning in 2018. Two years after receiving guaranteed income payments, her story reveals how even just a year-long program enabled her to set her family up for financial and personal success.

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 kfleischer@msmagazine.com.

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Katie Fleischer (she/they) is a Ms. editorial assistant working on the Front and Center series and Keeping Score.