In Georgia, a basic income program’s success with Black women adds to growing national interest

In Georgia, a basic income program’s success with Black women adds to growing national interest

Participants who received an average of $850 per month used it for paying bills, reducing debt, and improving credit.

By Timothy Pratt, for Capital & Main  

In 2022, Shamarra Woods, now 31, was about to leave Atlanta, frustrated by her high rent and low pay as a logistics team trainee at a cardboard box company, a job it had taken her a year to find. A single mother (her daughter Memri was born in March of that year), she couldn’t see her way to making ends meet.

Then in late May she received a phone call with some welcome news: Someone from the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity (GRO) Fund, an Atlanta nonprofit, told her she had been chosen by lottery to participate in “In Her Hands”—a pilot program giving an average of $850 per month for two years to 654 women, no strings attached. The GRO Fund runs the program in partnership with Give Directly, a New York-based nonprofit.  

The extra money allowed Woods to pay off debt and to afford child care, which in turn enabled her to keep a job at a company that eventually promoted her.

The Georgia program is one of 155 nationwide launched in the last few years to test the notion of unconditionally giving cash to fight poverty—called guaranteed or basic income. The idea has caught fire, with a growing number of pilot programs producing more and more data pointing to its effectiveness.

Now a group of academics has completed a report on the first year of the two-year program. “In Her Hands” has had some initial success in paving a road out of poverty.

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