Twitter founder giving mayors $15 million to fund ‘basic income’ projects in their cities

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is working with a group of mayors around the United States to help guarantee income for people in nearly 30 cities.

On Dec. 8, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, an initiative to eliminate poverty and help bridge the financial gap people experience during times of financial crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic, announced that Dorsey had given the initiative a $15 million grant. He’s given to the organization before, donating $3 million in July 2020.

The idea of a basic or guaranteed income “is a monthly, cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements,” the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) website says. “A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.”

Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton, California, and founder of MGI, reached out on social media to thank Dorsey for his continued support of the organization.

Dorsey’s $15 million grant is part of his Start Small campaign, a plan to give away $1 billion of his own money directly to causes that need it without the burden of a lot of bureaucratic red tape. The new $15 million grant will help numerous basic income pilot projects across the country, including:

  • The People’s Prosperity Pilot in St. Paul, Minnesota, giving up to 150 families with a $500 guaranteed income for up to 18 months
  • The Assured Cash Experiment in Pittsburgh, providing 200 people  $500 each month for 24 months
  • A partnership between Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaff and the Family Independence Initiative, securing funding to serve 300 families in the area

Other cities that will benefit from the grant include Providence, Rhode Island; New Orleans; Madison, Wisconsin; Tacoma, Washington; and Columbia, South Carolina.

The concept of basic or guaranteed income programs in the United States and around the world has gained traction in 2020 due to COVID-19’s impact on employment due to business shutdowns. An ongoing study in Germany, the Basic Income Pilot Project, is looking at the financial, physical and emotional impact a monthly payment of 1,200 euros ($1,400) has over three years.

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Dorsey’s funding will let mayors start to help those in their communities who are in need of a financial boost.

“The grant is a testament to the momentum of this organization and cause — and a tribute to a simple, yet innovative idea: that offering direct aid to struggling families translates into greater security for our economy, stability for our communities, and peace of mind for households across our cities,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “With this investment, we can act on that mission and activate a new way of lifting up folks hard-hit by the short-term pain of the pandemic or the long-term consequences from structural and institutional inequalities.”

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Marie Rossiter
Marie Rossiter

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