Guaranteed Income Gave This Mom the Financial Freedom to Celebrate Her Son’s Graduation

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 (MMT), 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.


My name is Mica and I’m 31 years old. I live in subsidized housing in Jackson, Miss., with my son, who is 7. My mom has eight kids: four girls, four boys. There are a lot of kids in our family!

I’m not working right now but in the past I’ve cleaned schools, done landscaping with my granddaddy and I used to help my uncle cut down trees and paint. It’s work I enjoy but if I could have any job in the world I would like to have my own cleaning business. I want to work for myself and I love to clean! I’d like to be able to hire family members and anyone else who needs a job.

My friend told me about Magnolia Mother’s Trust and I didn’t believe her at first. But she showed me how to apply, and when I found out I was selected, I was so happy. I needed it!

Before MMT I was making about $940 a month, which really wasn’t enough to cover my monthly expenses. When I was falling short, I would try to piece things together by doing hair, or going with my auntie or mama to clean houses, or even asking my granddaddy or another family member to help me out.

My biggest monthly expense is food, then clothes and supplies for around the house—things I need or that my son needs. I receive SNAP benefits so that helps cover food costs. Inflation and rising prices have made it more challenging though, so I’ve had to cut back on a lot of stuff. I really just try to go cheap! I go to the little stores where everything is cheap and try to manage my money as best I can. 

I wish programs like SNAP and other social services simply worked better. My last payment was delayed. Half of the time no one is there to answer your calls. They will tell you a certain day they are going to call and then they don’t call. And the feeling is that it’s your fault, when it’s not actually your fault. They have a job to do. I’ve started going there in person so I can see what’s really going on. 

I made it to 12th grade but I had to stop because I had so much stuff going on in my life at the time. I thought I would try to get my GED, but life continued to happen and it was just too much.

The money I’ve been receiving from MMT has helped out so much. My baby needs a lot of stuff for school—they’re always doing something and so he ends up needing supplies. So when I receive the MMT money, I mostly spend it on him. He loves playing football and baseball, and we were able to get him on a little team. My uncle has an all-ages football team and now I can afford to pay for the equipment. It gives my son something to do instead of being around here.

I’m also trying to save for a car and I’m thinking about trying to move out of government-subsidized housing. People out here are wild, you can’t even sit outside because of all the shootings. Kids are outside drinking, hooking up behind the buildings, it’s just crazy here. 

(Photo courtesy of Springboard to Opportunities; art by Brandi Phipps)

One of my goals while in the program is to go back to school. I made it to 12th grade but I had to stop because I had so much stuff going on in my life at the time. I thought I would try to get my GED, but life continued to happen and it was just too much. So I’d love to finally get my GED and eventually go back to school to study business.

I’d also love to take my son on some trips while receiving this money. I’m hoping to take him to Memphis or New Orleans or someplace else in honor of his little graduation from Head Start—he graduated in 2022 but I couldn’t afford to celebrate him then. He’ll pick the place and we’ll go.

One of the other fun things I’ve been able to do with my son is take him to the jump trampoline and the new little kids museum. I always felt bad that I couldn’t do it before. When we went, he said, “Thank you, Mom. I thought you would never take me, you’re the best mom!” It made me cry. 

My baby brings me so much joy. And my momma. My dad passed away recently and then his mom died right after him. It was back to back and it really shook me up. My dad told me I just gotta stay strong and keep moving. He may not be here, but I’m moving forward for him. I take joy in my sister, my brother-in-law, my nieces, my nephew, all the little ones. My family is bringing me happiness.


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.

About

Mica dreams about returning to school to earn her GED and eventually owning her own cleaning company. She is the single mother of an active 7-year-old boy. She is a recipient of one year of guaranteed income from the Magnolia Mother's Trust.