Sign me up for updates. Sign up now

Donate Take Action

Overcoming Poverty with GRIT

United Way of Pierce County 

As a Tacoma native, Geno loves living in the city but says it has felt like an uphill financial battle that he was left to fight alone. Like so many others, his income is too high to receive support from the public benefits system but too low not to need the help. With one child needing diabetes medication and another needing tutoring, Geno had begun searching for a second job when he got accepted into the Growing Resilience in Tacoma (GRIT) program. 

Geno says GRIT has "changed my house for the better. And I've felt so much less month-to-month stress since this program started. It feels like I have some room to breathe." A single father to three boys, he is a technology consultant for a small company. Even so, the stress of financial pressures means he sustains his household paycheck to paycheck.  

GRIT is a joint effort of United Way of Pierce County (UWPC), the City of Tacoma, and Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The program supplements the incomes of 110 families at a rate of $500 a month for 13 months. For Geno, the much-needed infusion pays for tutoring for his 11-year-old, food for the family and their first family outing in over a decade. Because of the GRIT dollars, Geno has not needed a second job, and he hopes to save as much of the money as possible to sustain himself and his family on a single income. 

Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) programs like GRIT provide an income floor on which individuals and families can build their lives, and a growing body of evidence confirms the positive effects of this intervention. With a $1.9 million investment from the State of Washington, GRIT will continue to advance UWPC's goal of lifting 15,000 families out of poverty by 2028.  

The initial iteration of the program found that families used the dollars to clean up their credit, improve their education and employment status, and afford necessities. The dollars provided an outsized benefit to women, Black, Indigenous, Latino, and multiracial communities.  

GRIT is additive to work already being undertaken in the community to dismantle poverty, improve child welfare, reform childcare systems, support affordable housing initiatives, advance women's economic empowerment, and stimulate racial and gender income inequity.  

The impact of this additional income on these 110 ALICE households is being evaluated by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR). In addition to monitoring spending behavior, CGIR is tracking impacts on the GBI's ability to support families in weathering unexpected shocks, GBI's interaction with the existing safety net, participant's perception of GBI in comparison to existing programs, as well as individual level outcomes like physical health, mental health, coping/stress, hope/mattering, housing, education, employment, business development, substance abuse, children's development, and parenting.