Published On: March 27th, 2024

Cambridge guaranteed income pilot shows improved financial health, higher employment, better educational outcomes for children 

Parents, caregivers, and children see tangible benefits with $500 monthly guaranteed income

Cambridge, MA | March 27, 2024 – Today, the Cambridge Community Foundation, Councillor and former Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Community Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC), Mayors for Guaranteed Income, and a wide range of project partners welcome the release of independent data on the Cambridge RISE Guaranteed Income Pilot. The report from the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice showcases significant improvements in financial health, higher rates of employment, increased time and space for parenting, and improved educational outcomes for children.

The cross-sector pilot, entirely funded by philanthropic dollars, provided a monthly payment of $500 to 130 families for 18 months, beginning in September 2021. Cambridge residents ages 18 and older were eligible to participate in RISE if they had incomes at or below 80% of the Area Median Income and were single caregivers with at least one child under the age of 18. Researchers randomly selected 130 participants to receive $500 monthly cash payments for 18 months, and they measured participant impact against a randomized control group of 156 similar residents who did not receive payments.

Key findings include:

  • Higher employment — Researchers found statistically significant differences in full-time employment, with the recipients having increased their employment rate from 36% at baseline to 40% after 12 months, while employment fell amongst the control group from 30% at baseline to 28% one year later. Recipients also had higher rates of part-time and seasonal employment.
  • Improved financial health — On average, recipients of the guaranteed income reported higher incomes and lower income volatility and were better able to cover a $400 emergency expense compared to a control group of similar Cambridge residents who did not receive the direct cash.
  • Enhanced housing, utility, and food security — By the end of RISE, the treatment group experienced a lower housing cost burden, more stable utility costs, and higher food security compared to the control group.
  • Increased time and space for parenting — Guaranteed income allowed recipients to give more attention and support to their children, who in turn experienced improved educational outcomes compared to similar families without the direct cash.

The RISE pilot launched in partnership with the Cambridge Community Foundation, CEOC, and UpTogether, was supported by additional partners who shared the belief in guaranteed income as a means to stabilize families in poverty. The program benefitted from lead support from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, Harvard University, MIT, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and many other donors, and programmatic support from Just a Start, Mass Law Reform Institute, and Cambridge Housing Authority.

Former Mayor and City Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, who initiated the program as Mayor, said, “The findings from the RISE pilot highlight the impact of guaranteed income on the lives of single caregivers in Cambridge. By providing direct cash, we’ve not only strengthened financial health but also empowered families to thrive. As we move forward with Rise Up, we renew our dedication to building a more resilient and inclusive community.”

One participant in the RISE pilot explained the benefit, stating, “This [guaranteed income] it’s not just benefiting me, it’s benefiting my daughter. So I’m able to show her things and we’re able to do things together … and that puts her in a different place growing up. She gets to see these things. I get to show her things and that betters her.”

“This research validates what we have learned from the participants that we see every day at CEOC: guaranteed income has an incredibly positive impact on their financial wellbeing and quality of life. These kinds of programs need to continue,” said Tina Alu, Executive Director of CEOC, who administered the program with support from the City of Cambridge.

In July 2023, the City of Cambridge launched a scaled cash assistance program city-wide the first in the nation available to everyone who qualifies. While the first phase was funded entirely with philanthropic dollars, the second phase, called Rise Up Cambridge (Rise Up), is funded with the American Rescue Plan Act funds. Rise Up is providing $500/month for 18 months to nearly 2000 families in Cambridge making at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level with a child 21 or under. The program was launched in  partnership with CEOC, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and the Former Office of the Mayor, Sumbul Siddiqui. This second phase has a robust research component as well, led by a team at MDRC and the Cambridge Community Foundation. You can read more about Rise Up and the research here.

“The role of a community foundation is to solve hyperlocal problems through partnerships and community action. Cambridge RISE is an excellent example of what can happen when the public, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors come together to test innovative solutions,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “This pilot helped pave the way for a powerful scaled program and we now have the opportunity to leverage Rise Up research to better understand how to help families move from crisis to stability. As the Cambridge Community Foundation strives to reduce economic disparities and strengthen community bonds in our city as part of our new strategic plan, these are the types of collaborations and innovations we seek to foster.”

This is an incredible collective effort,” added Councillor Siddiqui. “In my work in elected office, I’ve never seen this type of partnership, this type of support, come together so quickly and have it lead to tangible results that have helped people on their day to day. It’s really been remarkable being involved.”

“We have evidence from Cambridge RISE that guaranteed income tangibly improves the lives of parents and children,” said Michael D. Tubbs, founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. “Cambridge is a leader and part of a growing body of evidence that guaranteed income can make our families, communities and nation stronger and more resilient.”

Cambridge’s pilot is affiliated with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of nearly 150 mayors and growing. The research findings from Cambridge build upon similar results from the mayor-led guaranteed income programs in Stockton, CA, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Paterson, NJ, where researchers found statistically significant gains in employment, financial stability, mental health, and overall well-being. 

Read the full report on the Cambridge RISE Guaranteed Income program here.


Lauren Marshall, The Cambridge Community Foundation:  617-865-4789, [email protected]

Office of Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui: 617-785-0988,  [email protected]

Cassady Fendlay, Mayors for Guaranteed Income: 908-499-3380, [email protected]

Juliana Rosati, Penn School of Social Policy & Practice: 215-573-8408, [email protected]