UpTogether Partner FAQs
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From our founding in 2001 as Family Independence Initiative, changing systems has always been a focus of ours. However, we prioritized investing cash in people and families and learning how they work together in community to support each other.
After speaking with our members, partners, staff and board members, we recognized that to have the largest impact, we need to prioritize our systems change work, and made the shift in January 2023.
Our systems change strategy is threefold. In collaboration with our members, partners, community organizations and other supporters, we:
- Invest in families and individuals with limited incomes by providing them with cash they can use however they wish, no strings attached
- Amplify stories to change the narrative and tell the true lived experiences of people facing financial hardship
- Mobilize around state and local policies and practices that support and accelerate socioeconomic mobility
In the U.S., there is a broadly held stereotype that people and families experience poverty and financial hardships due to their own failings. This misguided belief animates how the general public typically perceives people with low incomes, and in turn, shapes the policies and practices of our major institutions which treat these individuals and families with distrust and disrespect. In fact, American society and its institutions are designed to maintain a status quo by providing advantages to higher-income, largely white, communities, typically at the expense of communities with lower incomes which are disproportionately communities of color. Consequently, individuals and families experiencing financial hardships must navigate systems and structures that disadvantage them.
At UpTogether, we seek to change policies, systems, and underlying beliefs so that 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.
It’s a bold goal that we cannot accomplish without the help of like-minded partners.
To learn more about our impact, visit our Impact page.
Access to unrestricted cash increases people’s financial stability and overall well-being. With extra cash, UpTogether members can pay for their basic needs, save for life’s uncertainties or even provide fun experiences for their families. Administering unrestricted cash with an equity lens accelerates upward economic mobility for communities impacted by systemic barriers which are responsible for economic inequities witnessed today.
Data shows that access to unrestricted cash has a significant impact on people’s lives. For example, research reveals the expanded Child Tax Credit significantly reduced the percentage of families who said that their households sometimes or often didn’t have enough food to eat. In Stockton, California a guaranteed income pilot found that recipients of unrestricted cash were healthier and more likely to be employed full-time than nonrecipients.
Members use the money first and foremost on basic needs like groceries, housing and utility bills. Some members also use the money to build their businesses, pay for college courses, boost their savings, or pay for basic home repairs, school supplies, or books for their kids. Other members use the money to give back to their communities.
Because each person’s situation is different, providing cash investments without restrictions allows them to use the money in the manner that is best for them.
A false, deficit-based view of people with limited
incomes focuses on what people lack. It blames them for their financial situation without acknowledging the systems
and policies that make it difficult for them to get ahead despite their hard work.
Our UpTogether Approach: Community. Capital.
Choice. recognizes and honors people’s initiatives, abilities and self-determination.
Our strength-based view is the foundation of how we
invest in families and the heart of our strategy to change systems.
Why We Do It
People benefit from the power of community resources, knowledge, and support to help one another.
How We Do It
We collaborate with members and partners to create more opportunities for people to connect.
Why We Do It
People must have access to the resources they need to thrive.
How We Do It
We offer financial support to individuals and families through unrestricted cash.
Why We Do It
People are the experts in their own lives and need full control over their time and resources.
How We Do It
We trust that people can make decisions for themselves and their families, so our support comes with no strings attached.
UpTogether centers community because tapping into each others’ strengths helps all of us accomplish our goals faster and more effectively. We’re better together than we are alone, and we know that with the support of our neighbors, family and friends, all of us will have a better shot at achieving our dreams.
Our members are smart, resourceful, skilled, creative and full of ideas. We’re just helping them meet and connect with each other.
UpTogether Connect is an online community where families and individuals can share ideas, collaborate and support one another in accomplishing their goals.
On UpTogether Connect, members can:
Get access to cash offers from our funding partners
- When money is available and you meet eligibility requirements such as city or household income
- True to our approach, members may use the cash offer however they choose and don’t have to pay it back
Join social groups to connect to other members virtually
- Virtual groups are also encouraged to connect in-person
Take surveys to show how community, cash and choice help individuals and families experiencing financial hardship accomplish their goals and improve their overall well-being
Share stories about your lived experiences to counter stereotypes, change the narrative and inspire others
Members can choose to receive cash from UpTogether in one of several ways:
- An electronic deposit into their bank account
- A prepaid physical UpTogether card received by mail that works like a gift card
- A virtual digital UpTogether card they can use online only or via a mobile wallet app
- A paper check
UpTogether partners with philanthropic organizations, governments, and other nonprofit organizations to invest in our members with unrestricted cash, amplify their stories to change the narrative and rally with them for state and local policies and practices that support and accelerate socioeconomic mobility.
UpTogether also serves as an educational resource for different types of institutions interested in learning about the potential impacts of investing in people.
Because every individual’s situation is different, we advise members to speak with their caseworker or someone in their local benefits office to get advice on their individual case before accepting a cash offer from UpTogether.