Pamela Bidear hadn't had a regular income for years when she began getting $1,000 a month via Project Solid Ground, an experiment funded by philanthropists. Cities and private donors are piloting such basic income projects to show that unconditional cash combats poverty more effectively than the existing assistance patchwork. Donors led by Twin Cities philanthropist Nancy Somers worked with social services non-profit Avivo to select 15 participants in the Minnesota city. Each got a debit card loaded with $1,000 monthly from October 2020 through September 2021. The debit cards let people receive funds even if they don't have bank accounts, and let Avivo track their spending. Bidear, who fled Cameroon in 2017 amid political turmoil that killed her husband, was unable to find work once she received authorization to work in April 2020. Through Project Solid Ground, she saved for a car and paid for child care, and now has a full-time job and her own apartment. Somers now plans to help fund a year of guaranteed income for millennials because they've come to age during a recession, often burdened by student loan debt.

Read Full Story