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Partner Spotlight: Wells Fargo Universal Basic Income Pilot



With generous support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, we are launching a monthly Universal Basic Income Pilot to support Compass families.


The economic hardships of families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis have been extreme. Compass families lost an average of 40% of their income at the start of the pandemic. The road towards financial recovery continues today with many parents still struggling to find work in their field or unable to work due to childcare needs.


A new grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation will enable Compass to study the impact of universal basic income for 13 low-income families with children currently enrolled in Compass Children’s Center. The payments will be $350 per month for six months. Although this pilot program will be modest, resulting in a total of $2,100 per family, we know that any increase in income is likely to produce real benefits for the children and parents we serve. We hope that the results will show an overall improvement in family stability over the pilot period.


“We will explore how families utilize this resource and if receiving guaranteed income may lead to increased opportunities in terms of employment, self-determination, goal-setting, and financial literacy,” says Erica Kisch, Compass Executive Director.


Participating families will be assessed at the start, middle and end of the program by the Compass Children’s Center’s Clinical Coordinator. Evaluations will assess each family using Compass’ Family Assessment Matrix (FAM) which includes gauges of employment, housing, child well-being, mental health and wellness. Families will also complete surveys at the beginning of the program about how they plan to use the funds and again at the end to understand how they ended up using them. Families will also provide additional information and feedback about their experiences. A control group of non-participating families will also be assessed to help identify any impacts that are specifically from the increased income as opposed to any other variables. The Clinical Coordinator will also follow up with families six months after the pilot’s end to determine if any benefits to family stability have been sustained.


“We expect that families will show modest improvement in their financial health, like increasing their savings, reducing debt, acquiring a bank account, increasing their earned income, completing a budget, and participating in financial coaching,” says Kisch. “We are very grateful for Wells Fargo to be providing this direct resource to families and helping us study the benefits of Universal Basic Income.”


Compass Children's Center serves some of San Francisco's most vulnerable families -- those who have experienced homelessness and/or are very low-income. 100% of children enrolled at Compass Children's Center qualify for subsidies through Early Learning San Francisco based on their household income and family size. Many families, including both parents and their children, have experienced high levels of trauma related to poverty, homelessness, and housing and food insecurity.


The program will start in September with payments distributed from October through March.