Front and Center: Two Years Since Receiving a Guaranteed Income, Sequaya Says the Investment Still Helps Her Family ‘Weather the Storm’

Front and Center is a groundbreaking series published by Ms. and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT), 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. Sequaya first shared her story with Ms. in 2021 after receiving a year of guaranteed income, no strings attached. We checked in with her recently to see how she’s doing.

“I worked the entire time I had MMT. Most of the 2020 cohort did. You have to keep going because MMT is going to end, we’re not receiving it for a lifetime. Politicians could be focusing on so much more than worrying about whether or not someone’s being lazy. … One of my biggest principles before I had children was I never wanted to rely on government systems. But then you have kids and have to be an adult. Reality hits and you have no choice.”

In Series ‘Front and Center,’ Moms Share How Guaranteed Income Changed Their Lives

Back for its third year, Front and Center is a groundbreaking Ms. series that offers first-person accounts of Black mothers living in Jackson, Miss., receiving a guaranteed income. First launched in 2018, the Magnolia Mother’s Trust is about to enter its fifth cohort, bringing the number of moms served to more than 400 and making it the longest-running guaranteed income program in the country. Across the country, guaranteed income pilots like MMT are finding that recipients are overwhelmingly using their payments for basic needs like groceries, housing and transportation.

Beginning tomorrow, then twice monthly, you’ll hear directly from MMT moms on how the year of guaranteed income has impacted their life. We’ll hear from MMT alumni, as well as women in the current cohort, who will share their goals for the year and hopes for their future.

A New Vision for Ending Childhood Poverty

As head of The Bridge Project, a program that supports babies living in poverty by giving their mothers unconditional cash, my goal is to end child poverty in New York and beyond. The Bridge Project believes this is not only a moral imperative, but an economic one.

TBP’s unique approach gives expecting mothers a one-time prenatal stipend followed by cash payments of up to $1,000 per month for three years to eradicate childhood poverty and improve child development outcomes. Many people asking us how we are ensuring people are doing the “right” thing with their money. To us, there is no right thing—other than a mother being able to decide what’s right for her baby and spend her money accordingly.

The Need for Unrestricted Cash for Low-Income Families: ‘This Money Allows Families to Thrive’

On July 12, the Work and Welfare Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing “Where Is all the Welfare Money Going? Reclaiming TANF Non-Assistance Dollars to Lift Americans Out of Poverty.” Among those testifying was Aisha Nyandoro, founding CEO of Springboard to Opportunities, a nonprofit that aims to end generational poverty. Her testimony highlights the importance of unrestricted cash assistance for families, including programs founded by Springboard to Opportunities.

“We are blaming the families for their poverty, rather than interrogating the policies that allow these inadequacies to occur. … Ninety percent of Mississippians who apply for TANF do not receive it. … Money allows families to thrive. Yes, they spend it on basic needs such as childcare, groceries and utility bills, but it also allows them to plan for the future.”

Keeping Score: Texas and Tennessee Push Anti-Trans Bills; Over 100 Women Journalists Are in Prison; Biden and Harris Take Steps to Lower Childcare Costs

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

This week: Vice President Kamala Harris announced new steps to lower the cost of childcare for U.S. families; legislators introduce Abortion Justice Act and Kira Johnson Act in Congress; at least 100 women journalists were in prison during the first quarter of the year, and 47 were harassed or physically assaulted; Supreme Court rules against affirmative action and LGBTQ+ discrimination protections; states target gender-affirming care for minors; New Mexico implements abortion care hotline; FDA approves first over-the-counter birth control pill; EEOC begins accepting charges under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act; Florida, Arkansas and other states dropped thousands of Medicaid recipients since the pandemic; and more.

This Mother’s Day, Congress Should Put the Check in the Mail

My mom dreamed of getting an education, and becoming the teacher she’d always aspired to be; of being able to take a day off, instead of working seven days straight. But after nearly 25 years of working multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, my mom passed away unexpectedly in 2020.

A lack of policies to help mothers in general means that stories like my mom’s are tragically common. But, we can make better choices as a country—we can allow folks to live healthier, more dignified lives by providing a guaranteed income and expanding the child tax credit.

Celebrate Mother’s Day by Listening to Guaranteed Income Recipients

When it comes to policy decisions that affect low-income families, Congress should listen to those most affected: low-income Black moms, who disproportionately bear the brunt of unemployment, wage gaps and unpaid childcare and domestic labor.

In the Front and Center series, Ms. and Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT) team up to give low-income Black moms in Jackson, Miss., an opportunity to share their story. Each MMT mom receives a guaranteed income payment of $1,000 per month for a year, with no strings attached. Now in its fourth cohort, MMT has changed hundreds of lives and proved that unrestricted monthly payments empower women to do what’s best for their families.

Welfare Is *Still* a Woman’s Issue

In the richest nation in the world, it shouldn’t be this difficult to make ends meet for yourself and your family.

As a society, we can choose to prioritize parents and their families. And that starts by implementing a guaranteed income program that will empower Black families and women everywhere. The fight for guaranteed income has deep roots in the civil rights movement—and it’s long overdue.

Front and Center: Guaranteed Income Helped This Mom and Her Kids ‘Actually Enjoy Life a Little’

Front and Center 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.

“I made it work because, as a mother, I can’t give excuses. I gotta get it done—because if I don’t, who will? …. The Magnolia Mother’s Trust has really helped me and my little family. We’re able to actually enjoy life a little bit more now.”