The Family Independence Initiative – better known as FII – is establishing a remarkable record of success for low-income families across the country. Thousands have used its strategies and principles to make a measurable difference in their lives.
A program rooted in respect for the vision, resources and capacities of the people it serves, FII creates networks of friends and family members in small groups, typically six to eight families. Each group commits to meet once a month. They share progress made on goals, which typically start as specific as: I need a new car. I want a better job. My son needs a different school.
And they journal about their experiences. What they aspire to, how they are working toward their goals and how they have achieved (or fallen short). The national organization turns that journaling input into a database that charts individual and collective progress. And the numbers are impressive.
- The median FII household income climbs above the poverty line on average in just six months in the program.
- The percentage of families giving help to one another steadily rises with participation – to more than 60 percent in the first year alone.
- And then there is the anecdotal evidence, of people finding that better job, bigger home to accommodate their family, the certificates and degrees that open doors to greater economic opportunity.
The program originated in California and came to Boston in 2010. Today FII includes more than 800 members in Boston. In Cambridge, thanks to the generosity of a local donor and Foundation resources, the Cambridge program enrolls 100 members by the end of 2016. And after that? The sky’s the limit.