Our Work

Changing Systems that Perpetuate Poverty

After listening to and learning from tens of thousands of families over the past 20+ years, at UpTogether, we know people can and will move up together when they are recognized for their initiative, supported for their self-determination and where access to resources is determined by strengths, not deficits.

But too many systems in our society have been set up to prevent people experiencing financial hardship from moving up, both economically and socially.

 Those systems also ensure certain communities remain financially under-resourced and create governmental and charitable policies and practices that overlook:

The power of communities to create their own solutions to challenges they face

The creativity of families that design ways to stretch their limited incomes and invest in themselves

The ways access to capital, without outrageous interest rates or strings attached, can fuel the initiatives families and communities are already taking to accomplish their goals and dreams

That’s why together, with our members and partners, we are championing a nationwide movement to change systems so all people in the United States are seen and invested in for their strengths and are able to build power, reinforce their autonomy, and drive their own economic and social mobility.

What is Systems Change?

To understand how UpTogether defines “systems change,” let’s first talk about what a system is. A system is a network of relationships between individuals, groups and institutions. There are many types of systems including education, government, healthcare and criminal justice.

“Systems change” means making significant and lasting improvements to how a system operates in order to achieve a desired outcome. 

At UpTogether, our desired outcome – or vision – is for all people in the United States to be seen and invested in for their strengths and able to build power, reinforce their autonomy and drive their own economic and social mobility. 

Examples of systems change that would move us closer to that vision are reinstating the expanded Federal Child Tax Credit and the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.

Systems change is a complex process that doesn’t happen overnight. It involves many stakeholders, a coordinated effort and a clear understanding of the challenges of the current systems.

“To me, community means family and solidarity. It means sacrifice and the sharing of responsibility to lift up minds and voices and the hope of our youth. But also it means the sharing of accomplishments, which changes the narrative of what people believe because changing the narrative changes the conversation and that is what changes the minds and policies and laws.”

William Goodwin, UpTogether Member in Pittsburgh, California

Our Strategy for Systems Change

Changing systems is a bold goal that won’t happen overnight. We have a three-pronged strategy to make it happen. Together, with our members,* partners, community organizations and other supporters, we:

  1. Invest in families and individuals with limited incomes by providing them with cash they can use however they wish, no strings attached
  2. Amplify stories to change the narrative and tell the true lived experiences of people facing financial hardship and financially under-resourced communities
  3. Rally for state and local policies and practices that support and accelerate socioeconomic mobility

Because of our belief in the power of community, we also offer a website called the UpTogether Community where people connect to share resources, support and help each other accomplish their goals. 

*Members are those who have created an account on the UpTogether Community to receive a cash investment and/or to connect with like-minded people to help each other accomplish their goals.