Ms. Magazine Launches “Front and Center”


New Series Elevates Voices of Black Mothers Receiving Guaranteed Income

Ms. magazine and Springboard to Opportunities today announced a partnership to present a year-long series called Front and Center, featuring first-person accounts of Black women living in extreme poverty sharing the reality of their daily lives, their struggles and their dreams. 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. 

Front and Center launches on Wednesday, April 14, with an introductory piece by Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities, and Kathy Spillar, executive editor of Ms., and highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust program. This year, the program will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing. The average household income of participating families has stood at $12,000.

“We cannot achieve economic equality without racial and gender justice,” Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities, says. “A crucial part of addressing the mounting crisis of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on Black mothers is listening to their voices on what they need to not just survive, but thrive.”

“Front and Center is all about centering the voices of those most affected by policies being debated at the national and local level, and challenging narratives about dignity and deservedness around poverty that are weaponized against Black mothers,” Kathy Spillar, executive editor of Ms. magazine, says. “Since its earliest issue, Ms. has recognized economic security is a women’s issue, and one that has always presented greater barriers for women of color and especially Black women. Front and Center will build upon this tradition of intersectionality.”

The Magnolia Mother’s Trust has worked with more than 200 Black mothers over the last two and a half years, making it the longest-run guaranteed income program in the country that is funded entirely by private philanthropic donors. The initiative aims to prove the case for how direct cash payments without restrictions can be a crucial component of the social safety net, which the federal government should provide.

The Magnolia Mother’s Trust is already showing exciting results that demonstrate the potential of guaranteed income to help families experiencing poverty lead healthier, more economically secure lives. Beneficiaries of the first cohorts are 40% less likely to report debt from emergency loans, 27% more likely to seek medical help for chronic illness and sickness, and are able to budget up to $150 more for food and household costs.

Guaranteed income differs from universal basic income, a policy recently popularized by tech industry leaders, as it deliberately reaches and offers support to economically disenfranchised communities. Today, the racial income gap remains widest for women of color, who are the most likely to live in poverty and more likely to lack sick leave and health care benefits. Racist and particularly anti-Black policymakers have long designed social safety net programs, especially in the South and particularly Mississippi, to provide the least possible support with the most possible restrictions.

Every other week, Front and Center will feature one mother who will share her story on how guaranteed income changed her life, empowering each of their families to live with security, dignity and new opportunities. The Magnolia Mother’s Trust initiative set out to explore the possibilities that could open up for families with low incomes 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? This groundbreaking series of first-person accounts published by Ms. will address these and other questions, by placing one mother’s story front and center every other week.

Follow along with Ms. and Springboard to Opportunities as Front and Center launches on Wednesday, April 14.

Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities (which oversees Magnolia Mother’s Trust), and the mother-authors of Front and Center, are available for interviews.


About Springboard to Opportunities: Springboard to Opportunities is a nonprofit organization working with residents of affordable housing to help them reach their goals in school, work and life. Springboard’s programs are resident-driven, centered around the needs of the community to create resources that support and empower them as they take steps toward success.

About Magnolia Mother’s Trust: Springboard launched Magnolia Mother’s Trust in the fall of 2018, after listening to residents about what they need to reach their goals. Through this initiative, Springboard gives Black mothers living in extreme poverty who are the heads of their households $1,000 per month for 12 months. This year is the third year of the initiative.

About Ms. magazine: Co-founded by Gloria Steinem in 1972 and published by the Feminist Majority Foundation since 2001, Ms. magazine has been a trusted, popular source for feminist news and information in print and online for nearly 50 years. Ms.’s time-honored traditions of an emphasis on in-depth investigative reporting and feminist political analysis have never been more relevant, bringing a new generation of writers and readers together to share news, analysis, research and strategies for fighting back and moving forward, for shaping the future.