In People We Trust (With Aisha Nyandoro)

Show Description

This week, Baratunde digs into the world of Universal Basic Income and Guaranteed Income, in other words distributing money, much like we do when we subsidize farmers or oil companies, but instead to individual households. Where does this money come from? Who gets the money? Will people still work? What will people even spend it on? And how on earth does free cash help our economy? Baratunde sits down with Aisha Nyandoro to find out what exactly happens when you give people in extreme poverty a thousand dollars a month, no strings attached.

Show Notes & Actions

Show Transcript

Baratunde Thurston  0:01  

Hey, I'm Baratunde Thurston and this is How to Citizen with Baratunde. In season two, we're talking about the money, because to be real, is hard to citizen when we can barely pay the bills. We've been on this journey, finding ways to make our economy work for the people, and allow us to do this thing that we call citizens showing up for each other no one our power, building a system that works for the many, and not just the few. We've talked about a lot of new models of company ownership of worker organizing, of even publicly owned broadband networks, to make that economy that strengthens our democracy. There's one thing we haven't spent a lot of time. What if we just gave people money, like seriously just gave people money. That's it. No strings attached. no complications, just give people money. And we do it all the time. When those people are very wealthy, are exist in the form of corporations, we call them subsidies, we call them tax abatements. But when it comes to the individual human being just getting cash from the government, in the United States of America, we don't even give out health care to individual human beings without all kinds of strings attached. So straight up money. That seems like a hard sell in this very selfish economy. This idea got a little more attention. Thanks to brother Andrew Yang. Now, the first time you heard about me in this campaign, you heard something like this, there is an Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month. You remember that Philadelphia? Oh, I miss Andrew Yang, I miss his entertaining contributions to the debate stage. And I'm grateful for him elevating the idea of just giving people money. Thank you, Andrew Yang for your service. And some of us may have been aware of pilot programs in various cities or counties across the nation. But the biggest trial for this idea of giving people money came thanks to COVID. As for those stimulus payments, they're expected to head out in the coming weeks, providing much needed relief to 10s of millions of eligible Americans in the money can't come soon enough people earning $75,000 a year or less will get 12 $100 $600.14 $100 stimulus payments for 10s of millions of eligible Americans after 100 days of rescue and renewal. America is ready for takeoff in my view. stimulus checks stimulus money straight up cash that we got to use. However, we chose to do so.

Unknown Speaker  3:08  

Yes, Timmy repaid a personal loan, and then the balance $400 paid for medication. My stimulus check helped me to kickstart a different career. And I really appreciate it just more money on the kids trying to do some more fun things and things that I wouldn't normally do. Honestly, I think I bought a new guitar. The third check, I chose to spend half of it on a vacation, and then the other half went into my savings account.

Baratunde Thurston  3:38  

So the pandemic showed us, it was possible to just give people money that maybe was never really a crazy idea to begin with. But what happens after the pandemic, when you follow through on it on a regular basis? How do you even do that? Where does the money come from? What will people spend it on? Will people still work if you just give them money? And what does this mean for this group of people we call the working poor when they get a little wiggle room, a little breathing room a little cash? What does that mean for them?

Aisha Nyandoro  4:12  

We've seen individuals move out of affordable housing. We've seen individuals go into home ownership we've seen individuals pay off debt. But more importantly the piece that we've seen that we don't talk about an episode we've seen joy

Baratunde Thurston  4:27  

my guest this week Aisha Nyandoro, is finding out, after the break

what's up Hi. Hi, how are you? I'm good. Thank you for being here. And thank you for having me. This should be fun. I usually endora is the co founder and CEO of springboard to opportunity. An organization in Jackson, Mississippi that connects families living in affordable housing, with resources and programs that help them advanced themselves in school, in work and in life. Well, let's start with you. introducing yourself.

Aisha Nyandoro  5:08  

Yeah, I am Aisha enduro, and I'm the Chief Executive Officer of springboard opportunities based in Jackson, Mississippi. Pam's

Baratunde Thurston  5:15  

like you've done that 10,000 times before. So, where did you grow up?

Aisha Nyandoro  5:21  

I'm home grown goodness, I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. And I made the decision several years ago to move back home and to grow while I was planted. Because that was really instilled in me that you go out, you do college, you've learned you do all the things. But when it's really time to get to the getting of doing the work, you go home and you do the work that's necessary,

Baratunde Thurston  5:41  

you knew you had to come back to Mississippi,

Aisha Nyandoro  5:44  

okay, Mississippi is a beautiful place, you know, I have a love love relationship with this place. You know, my Mississippi is very different than the narrative that sometimes Whoa, about Mississippi and outnet does sometimes hold the narrative that, unfortunately, is a lot of our history in Mississippi, which is our Jim Crow laws. And that history, you know, is problematic from those who are on the outside looking in. But my Mississippi is a place where joys and abundance, even in the midst of some of our darkest days, you still can find a fish fry in a space game and people laughing?

Baratunde Thurston  6:22  

Yeah. Do you remember the moment that inspired you to get into community psychology,

Aisha Nyandoro  6:29  

I always knew that I wanted to do community programming and support and organizing just by virtue of who my family is. So my grandmother was a veteran of the civil rights movement. So you know, I really grew up at her feet, and at the feet of her friends that's listening to them, really talk about how you work in community and how you respect people and what dignity looks like, and how you don't do anything for a community without the community. And so just being very, very clear about that reality at a very early age. And I remember my first year in graduate school, we were sitting around a table, and everybody's talking about what they want to be when they grow up in their, you know, hopeful career trajectory. And all of my colleagues wanted to go into academia, and have a tenured career and all of that. And I was very clear, like, you know, I want to run a nonprofit. And my professor said to me, Well, you don't need a doctorate to run a nonprofit. And I was like, oh, not to do it at the level in which I want to do it. Being a black woman. Yes, I do. Because y'all aren't ready yet in this country.

Baratunde Thurston  7:34  

You say they weren't ready, what were they not ready for?

Aisha Nyandoro  7:37  

Oh, they weren't ready for a black woman from Mississippi, we have plans to take over the world. And change systems and narratives and ideas and how we view poverty and how we talk about poverty and how we talk about poor black women, and how we are going to really center the needs of poor black women entire conversations about change in equity. They weren't ready for all of that. And you know, at 25 I wasn't ready for that either. But all of the work in the past has prepared me for the moment now.

Baratunde Thurston  8:09  

Yeah, yeah, we're gonna get into that. We're gonna get into that. But first, I want you to take me back to the moment that you finished your schooling. Where did you go? How did you start doing this work?

Aisha Nyandoro  8:22  

Oh, it's like a magical Carpet Ride a step I've not thought about in the years. After leaving academia, I work in philanthropy, because I was still under the impression that philanthropy was how you solve all the problems in the world. And I quickly learned that it's not really how you solve all the problems in the world. And it's sometimes it creates more problems. But not only that, for me, I did not like how I showed up as a philanthropist, the power dynamic of what they look like, at the time, I wasn't mature enough to have that responsibility. What is

Baratunde Thurston  9:01  

that power dynamic that you felt?

Aisha Nyandoro  9:03  

So for me, the power dynamic was, you know, I have this thing that you want, which is money, and you have to show up and perform a certain way in order to get the money, point blank period,

Baratunde Thurston  9:15  

dance for yourself,

Aisha Nyandoro  9:16  

saying dance, jingle, whatever it is, you know, I'm not trying to throw the entire sector under the bus, but with my self awareness, I recognize that that was just not mature enough to deal with that and I needed to do something different.

Baratunde Thurston  9:31  

How did you first learn about springboard to opportunities from when did you start working there?

Aisha Nyandoro  9:36  

I helped start springboard opportunities. It wasn't a thing before me. So

Baratunde Thurston  9:40  

you are the founder and the CEO.

Aisha Nyandoro  9:42  

So that's the thing I never call myself the founder of springboard because there were so many others involved and how it all came to be. The way all of this happened is years ago, I was on a board of the Women's Foundation here in Mississippi and this housing developer who was not from Mississippi but had some properties and communities in Mississippi and was trying to figure out how to do something in there came and spoke to the board about what it was that he felt was necessary. So he and I had a conversation. But I told him, I was like, you know, I'm intrigued about what it is that you're trying to do to provide different services for families in affordable housing, almost like but you don't know what you're doing. And he was like, maybe you're right, maybe you should come help me figure out what I'm doing. And I was like, I am now intrigued. And my thing is that I was crazy, because my oldest son was a baby at the time. And they were like, you want to leave your good job to go start a vein, that may not be a thing, you don't really know what it is. And I was like, you know, I'm going to leave my good job to step out on faith and trust this opportunity. And so before we started springboard, I spent months talking to families and affordable housing, about what their dreams were their needs, their challenges, so I'm really trying to learn directly from them. And about eight months into the learning, we realized that for families that live in extreme poverty, there was not an organization actually centering their needs, into the conversations.

Baratunde Thurston  11:21  

So define, briefly for me, the mission of springboard to opportunity.

Aisha Nyandoro  11:28  

Yeah, springboard provides programs and services for families that live in federally subsidized affordable housing, to help them advance in life, school and work.

Baratunde Thurston  11:37  

And how to springboard do this

Aisha Nyandoro  11:39  

so many ways. We are residents service provider, we take a holistic approach to our programs and services. So we do everything from after school programs that we have food pantries on site, we do Cash Disbursements, emergency Cash Disbursements, we have guaranteed income, who are the families

Baratunde Thurston  12:02  

that you serve in the community?

Aisha Nyandoro  12:04  

Yeah, the majority of the families that we serve our blank moms and their kids, about 98% of our population are single, not married mothers living in extreme poverty. So all of our families make less than $12,000. Annually, the majority of our families do work, but they live in a state where federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour. So you know, you can work a full time job, but at that way, you are still living in extreme poverty.

Baratunde Thurston  12:32  

You said it was it was important to center the needs of the community. What is the opposite of that?

Aisha Nyandoro  12:39  

What we have now, it is this top down approach to policy that really is not reflective of the realities of what it means to live in poverty in this country. And it is programs and designs that have all of these stipulations and punitive aspects that really take away the dignity of individuals who are needing a lot of the support and the water to not just sustain themselves, but to sustain their families. And so it was all of these consequences to your behavior, all of these people telling you that you had to do what you had not to do. But there was never anyone saying, you know, what are you dreaming about? What are you hoping for? How can we support you and getting to those hopes and those dreams? And so when we realized that, it was like, Okay, we have to start an organization because no one is doing what it is that we are saying is purposely needed to in a cycle of generational poverty, which is the center of the needs of families. And that's why you know, we say that we are radically resident driven because every program, every service, everything that we do as an organization, we only do it if our family stays what they need to be successful in life, school and work,

Baratunde Thurston  13:53  

radical and simple to ask people what they need.

Aisha Nyandoro  13:57  

I know, right, we should do it more. But our ego doesn't allow us to do that, because we want to be included, and to individual stories about their life and their change. You know, whenever you see these movies, it's always the hero or heroine who was involved Mr. Matty's miraculous transition. So that's ego.

Baratunde Thurston  14:21  

So in springboard to opportunities, you decided to ask families living in poverty, what they needed, what they dreamed of what they hoped for. And you asked these questions because no one else was asking these questions. What were the questions? Others were asking of these families?

Aisha Nyandoro  14:42  

They weren't asking him anything.

Baratunde Thurston  14:44  

So how were they interacting? What did that look like?

Aisha Nyandoro  14:47  

I am going to tell you you need XYZ and want to tell you you have to do XYZ. I am going to tell you you need financial literacy because I believe that poor folks don't know how to manage their money. I am going to tell you that you need parenting classes because I believe that poor people don't know how to parent their kids. There's never a conversation. Because we truly do believe that there is this moralism associated with poverty, where we believe that individuals who are poor are bad people, or they're not capable people, they're not as smart as. And we truly believe that we have to tell them what it is that they need. In order for them to be successful. I remember when we were starting springboard opportunities. And I was talking to one of my colleagues about what we were doing, and I was all excited. I was like, it's gonna be so cool as we're centering residents, and we're only gonna deal with the family's need and did it, I'm all jazzed up. And he looked at me and was so well attended, he was like, Well, that doesn't make any sense. And then he started calling forward. And he was like, you know, when Henry Ford was doing the car, if he had extra people what they needed, they would have said, a faster horse. And I was like this asinine, but so many people believe that. So many people believe that, that the way that we get to change is creating a thing, doing a thing, and then inviting those with whom that thing is designed for. And then we get upset when they don't participate.

Baratunde Thurston  16:15  

What stories stand out, when you learn from people? What they say they need, oh, gosh, so many.

Aisha Nyandoro  16:27  

And it is so heartbreaking. Because the knees are so small, but we just never pause to ask me as far as needing diapers, needing opportunities to go back to school, needing to figure out okay, how do you actually get out of affordable house and like I'm here now what's the pathway out because I can't figure out the pathway out. One of the moms that I talked to when we started springboard was a mom named Val, who had lived in one of the affordable housing communities for over 30 years. She moved there when she was three. And of course, she never thought she would end up living there. As long as she did, she always thought that when she turned 18, that she would move out. And it just never happened. And I remember her saying to me, it's like, you know, I never had my moment. And then I realized that moments don't happen for poor people.

And that's what ends up happening. You have a life where folks are not allowed to dream. Because so many times when they do dream, as those trains continue to be snuffed out. And so strains continue to be unfulfilled, it gets to a place where it has to be a defense mechanism for you not to train because how else do you continue to survive? And how else you continue to make it third way?

Baratunde Thurston  17:57  

We'll be right back.

So I Isha, when you started springboard to opportunity, what were some of the first programs you tried out?

Aisha Nyandoro  18:16  

The very first program we did with the after school program. And that was because that's what our farms told us they needed. They said they needed a safe place for their kids to go after school. So we were like, okay, we're helping to do this after school program, we're partnering with the local school is going to run this many hours. Well, okay, when it's over if parents can't get there to get their kids, so we need to try to do a walking school bus. And what does that look like? You know, and we didn't need to do any of that. The moms did it themselves. So you know, we had moms who would call and make sure that their neighbor's kid could be picked up. And if not, they took it upon themselves to make sure that they picked up their neighbor's kid. They self organized and did all of that themselves. And they didn't need us to address the how, or to address any of the potential challenges. They just needed us to provide the pain, and the thing was after school program, so they just needed us to do that. And we were trying to do everything else.

Baratunde Thurston  19:12  

Yeah. It sounds like, you know, this lesson you've already talked about of listening to the needs of the people you're trying to serve. Taking yourself out of it. You know, you assumed they would need a walk in school bus, you assumed they would need X, Y and Z on top to fill in gaps that you assumed would exist. And they're like, No, no, we said we needed childcare. Thank you. We got the rest.

Aisha Nyandoro  19:45  

And I'm like thank you for freeing me up to get out the way and go, you know, raises money to do other stuff.

Baratunde Thurston  19:51  

Yeah. Well, I want to talk about the other stuff. I want to talk about what is universal basic income or guaranteed income To you.

Aisha Nyandoro  20:03  

Is my favorite thing in life right now?

Baratunde Thurston  20:07  

Besides your children, I assume

Aisha Nyandoro  20:09  

Yeah, yeah, that was to those babies too. Um, so universal basic income and guaranteed income are two different things. universal basic income is universalities. Everybody gets a check, guaranteed income is more targeted, is typically designed to support the needs of those who have been most marginalized, or those who have the largest needs. And is cash without restrictions, that is term limited and very specific to a specific population.

Baratunde Thurston  20:38  

What are you working with right now?

Aisha Nyandoro  20:41  

guaranteed income. So Magnolia mother's trust is the first and only guaranteed income project in this country that takes a racial and gender equity approach to our conversations about wealth and equities, and provides $1,000 a month 12 months, no strings attached extremely low income black mothers.

Baratunde Thurston  21:01  

Where does that name come from? First of all,

Aisha Nyandoro  21:03  

so that name comes from a couple of places. So Magnolia is the mississippi state flower, but it was also my grandmother's favorite flower. So a nod to my maternal grandmother, and the mother's mother's who we work with and trust. For us, it really is about trusting our moms to know what it is that they need was a Magnolia mother's trust. And I was laughing earlier because she was like, Oh, I'm sure you love it. You know, your kids more. And I was like, you know, sort of like my third baby, because I started thinking about the Magnolia mothers trust when I was pregnant with my second child, and the entire design and banality of the program idea when I was on maternity leave. So my son and I, we would be literally being black watching Game of Thrones while he was sleeping and typing up the model at a program designed for Magnolia mothers trust.

Baratunde Thurston  21:57  

Nice. When was your third child born the Magnolia mothers draft

Aisha Nyandoro  22:02  

2018. So we started thinking about the work in 2017. And we launched the first pilot, December 2018, with 20 mothers 20 black mothers receiving $1,000 a month for 12 months, no strings attached.

Baratunde Thurston  22:18  

And what happens at the end of the 12 months. In your experience. So far, you've been through this a few times, the magic

Aisha Nyandoro  22:25  

that has continued to unfold and manifest has just been amazing. We've seen individuals move out of affordable housing, we've seen individuals go into homeownership, we've seen individuals pay off debt, have savings, we've seen mom saved up for the person to actually feel like a good mom, because they can now provide some of the ones for their kids not just addressing the needs, they're able to put plans in place for the future. But more importantly, the piece that we've seen that we don't talk about enough is we've seen joy. We've seen women be able to show up and have the bandwidth to not custom live with a scarcity mindset that they can actually plan for themselves in the future. And so individuals are able to show up differently in their lives, which means that they're able to show up differently for their families, which means that they now have the bandwidth to participate in PTA or city council meetings because they now can have the ability to think about Okay, what does it mean to be a community advocate for the first time? And what does it mean to use my voice?

Baratunde Thurston  23:37  

Can you share any of these stories of joy from your program participants that stand out to you?

Aisha Nyandoro  23:43  

Oh, yeah, definitely. I remember one of our moms called me and she was so happy and happy was not one of the attitudes that I would use to describe her. And she talked about how she was happy because for the first time, she had hope, and she could actually think about what she wanted. She could see a path for herself outside of affordable housing. She had not worked for years because she felt stuck. And you know, over the course of her year getting a guaranteed income. She went and got a job. And she got a job because she said for the first time she could see a pathway forward. And that pathway forward made her hopeful. So that's one of our moms. One of our moms went during the pandemic and became a paramedic. She was like I was wanting to be a paramedic. They need paramedics now. I'm like yes, they do need paramedics now. And so they're all of those things. One of our moms to Nisha used to always talk about winning a house but a garage because she just wanted to be in a pool her truck up in her garage and nobody knows she was at home if she didn't want to be bothered. So she got her house with a garage so no one would know she was at home. So you know just different ways in which They are able to live out loud some of their dreams that they possibly put on a show.

Baratunde Thurston  25:07  

You sound so full of joy recalling their stories of joy.

Aisha Nyandoro  25:11  

Oh, they made me so happy. Because you know, it sounds simple. Oh my gosh is all simple. But we complicate it so much. So it does, it makes me it makes me really happy that we have been able to not just leave the work for our families, but then also to be engaged in some of the national conversations about the importance of cash and about, you know, yes, we can trust poor people. Yes, we can trust poor black mothers.

Baratunde Thurston  25:39  

Does guaranteed income. In hindsight, feel obvious to you? Yes.

Aisha Nyandoro  25:47  

Yeah, yeah, just giving people money. Yes, in hindsight, this was so obvious. In hindsight, I'm like, why haven't we been doing this forever? When my mom's first started talking to me about needing money in 2017. And a lot of their challenges were connected to the lack of access of cash. It put me down this rabbit hole of research where I was like, Okay, how do we go about giving people money, because I have not heard a universal basic income prior to the conversations with my mom's or prior to trying to figure out how to address that need. And so when I first discovered universal basic income, I was like, This is so simple. Yes, we should do this. Let's go do it. And I was naive, and not realizing how truly complicated it was to just give people money.

Baratunde Thurston  26:32  

Why is it complicated?

Aisha Nyandoro  26:34  

Oh, gosh, oh, it's complicated because of us. It's complicated because of us. Unfortunately, we just are moralism as it relates to poverty has set us up. So we don't trust poor people, we really have told ourselves these stories in this narrative, that people are poor, because they want to be poor. We have not looked at or examined the systems that make it virtually impossible for individuals to move up the economic ladder, if they are poor, we have not had conversations about how our social safety net is punitive. Whenever your income increases, your benefits automatically decrease, you are constantly having to prove that you're poor enough to need support. And I think that that is intentionally designed that way in order to keep people in their place, keeping you from wanting anything more, keeping you from having hopes and dreams about the future. And so we don't have those conversations, that we just say that, oh, you know, individuals don't want to work more, or they, you know, should work harder, or they should work better jobs? How are you supposed to work harder? If you already have three jobs? How are you supposed to get a better job? When in this country? We are continuously pricing people out of higher education? How are you supposed to make better wages when we're paying people $7.25 an hour still. So we don't examine our role in these these, we just push these realities and tell ourselves these narratives that the fall are of the individuals who necessarily have the experience. So that's why it's hard. That's the one reason why it's hard. And then the other reason why it's hard, is when we started doing this work in 2018. You know, there was not sexy folks were like, Oh, my God, you are going to give black woman money was I was like, Yeah, why not? Well, how are you gonna make sure they don't have more babies? And how are you gonna make sure folks aren't using it on drugs? And how are you going to make sure to not get married to their boyfriends? And all of these things where I was like, Where is the data on this? In? Why are you inserting your isms into these conversations without recognizing the possibilities? And then also, it's hard, you know, once again, I am a black woman in the south that less than 1% of philanthropy rolls through the south, about 1%, less than 1% goes to organizations that are led by women of color,

Baratunde Thurston  29:18  

rather 1% of the 1%. How do you feel?

Aisha Nyandoro  29:22  

It depends on the day of the week? Yeah, it depends on the day of the week, you know, now that this pandemic has happened, we're having a lot more conversations about equity. And we're seeing that life for individuals are a lot more precarious than a lot of us would have liked to realize. And a lot of us want to have honest conversations about so a lot of the pieces that myself and my colleagues and other friends have been talking about for years, as it relates to how precarious our social safety net is. A lot of folks are actually now seeing that. So in this moment, You know, I'm like, Oh, I feel pretty good because we have been doing this thing for years that, that now other individuals are trying to do and can learn from and those pieces. But at the same time, I'm sad and I'm exhausted and it took for a pandemic, for us to get to the place where we could have conversations without giving people money without restrictions. I am sad and exhausted that in building the work of the Magnolia mothers trust, the amount of truly racist conversations that I had to have, in order to build the case for the women that I work with, with some of the hardest work I've ever done. I don't know if I could do it. Again, I have to think about protecting my mental health, because I do have babies that I have to take care of. And so I don't know if there's something that I could do again, because it got to the place where it was constantly a cost benefit analysis. So how much racism and sexism Am I willing to put up with today, in doing this work?

Baratunde Thurston  31:02  

I don't want to re traumatize you. So feel free to tap out on this. But if you're able and willing, can you give me a flavor of that racist and or sexist conversation that you are subject to?

Aisha Nyandoro  31:19  

Is not this the biggest not one, it wasn't one conversation. It was multiple conversations with various funders about what it was that we were trying to do and what it was that we were trying to build. I think if it had been one conversation that would have been like, all right, you know, that's not okay. But you know, we could figure that out. But it was the constant reminder of how black women are truly viewed in this country.

Baratunde Thurston  31:47  

So you show up, Magnolia mother's trust is in the building. Pay me so we can pay these women. And in the response is

Aisha Nyandoro  31:57  

if two conversations, so I said the response pre COVID and a response post COVID. Pre COVID. And we can't do that. But you can't just give people money. Yeah. What's the program? What's the thing? Is it a fellowship? Is the respectability politics? How are you going to police these individuals in this money? You know, are you going to tell them what to do? Are you making them do financial literacy? Are you making them show your receipt? So you know, it was all of those things. And so that was pre COVID conversations. Now, post COVID. In everyone is having conversations about guaranteed income and the simplicity of giving people cash and the fact that we need cash. And now I show up, and it's like, hey, Magnolia, my distress is in the building. And it's like, let us give you all this manna from heaven. We're gonna liberate the capital. And I'm like, you know what, I want to take your liberated capital, thank you very much. Because you now recognize that people need money, and I have a whole program in which you can give people money. So let's do it.

Baratunde Thurston  33:03  

And so so the money that's on the other side of the checks, the monthly checks, is that coming from foundations, is it coming from wealthy individuals? Is it coming from corporations? Like, where's the pile of money coming from

Aisha Nyandoro  33:15  

wealthy individuals for the most part? But the question is, I don't even know if I want it to be sustained. I don't feel like guaranteed income in a way anyone is doing it. It's something that can be sustained by philanthropy in and of itself. I really do think that philanthropies role and all of us who are doing this work, I think our role is to get enough data out there and have enough conversations about the importance of cash, so that we can push that our policies. So that's what I feel like guaranteed income and philanthropy. That's really the bigger ecosystem of how all of this is supposed to work.

Baratunde Thurston  33:52  

So what do you see as the future of the Magnolia mothers trust and is guaranteed income program,

Aisha Nyandoro  34:00  

I see a couple of different things. So we are currently in our third year of the work, we've just launched the next cohort, we now in effect, have supported 230 families with a guaranteed income. I know we started from the bottom now we're here. So we're excited about that. We are also providing children savings accounts for the moms because we're supporting the whole family. We're also excited about quite frankly, this work that we're going to as it relates to really narrative, and the conversations that we tell ourselves about poverty and who we sent her in those conversations. We have been saying that we're going to change the narrative by changing the narrator. So we are really supporting our moms and becoming storytellers and providing them the resources and the support that they need to tell their own stories. I feel that it's really time for us to begin to see the moms more. I think that's important as we talk about policy because the only way that we're going to change these times. Let's see if we change hearts. And the only way we do that is by making sure that we actually all know each other.

Baratunde Thurston  35:06  

Yeah. If we had widespread adoption of a universal basic income for everybody, or widespread adoption of guaranteed incomes on a national scale, what do you think that would look like?

Aisha Nyandoro  35:25  

I think if we had adoption of a widespread guaranteed income on a national scale, I think that that will look like a spiral of eradicating poverty. I think that will look like us having healthier families, I think that will look like as having healthier kids. I think that will look like us, finally, looking like the greatest nation in the world. I think that would change the trajectory of our future, not just for some before an entire country. That's all. I think that's enough if we can get out of poverty. You know, we've been working on that one for years.

Baratunde Thurston  36:11  

So if we decided that, Oh, my goodness. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This has been inspiring, revealing, and such a good use of time. Thank you so much.

Aisha Nyandoro  36:25  

Thank you. That's a whole lot.

Baratunde Thurston  36:28  

You brought a whole lot. Thank you so much.

So what happens when you give people money? For folks in the pandemic, those stimulus checks meant catching up on rent payments, fixing cars, buying groceries for your family signing up for an online class, or donating to organizations you care about maybe even adopting a pet to make that quarantine life a little less quarantine, for the members of the Magnolia mothers trust. It could mean all of those things. But what it also meant is giving people a chance to dream the space to dream that is worth so much. When you think about who has the resources, the time and the privilege to dream up something different than what they are living. That it's a privilege reserved for those of certain means. And it's a privilege that could and should be extended through programs like guaranteed income, or just giving people money.

Because we see the word citizen as a verb that involves doing games. So here's our producer Stephanie, with some things you can do.

Stephanie Cohn  38:03  

Consider it the commonly told stories you've heard about poverty in America. Stories, like poor people are poor because of bad choices, or folks aren't educated and never give spare change to a homeless person because they'll use it on drugs. Now, flip those stories. Think about the systems that play that keep people poor. Things like doctor prescribed opioids, redlining and social welfare programs with unrealistic thresholds. Who's benefiting from these misleading narratives? Next, look into other models. universal basic income and guaranteed income have both been tested in a few different countries, regions, cities and towns. So do some reading and find out what the economists say about these programs. We'll link to some articles you can read in the show notes, including findings from the most recent UBI experiment in Stockton, California. And finally, got some capital you're looking to liberate. This one is simple. Donate to Magnolia mothers trust. Check out springboard To find out how, if you like UBI, then consider getting involved with others through the income movement. Again, we'll provide a link in the show notes for ways you can get involved.

Baratunde Thurston  39:21  

If you take any of these actions, please brag about yourself online just going to hashtag #howtocitizen and send us general feedback or ideas for the show to comments at visit how to citizen calm to sign up for our newsletter. We'll learn about upcoming events. And if you'd like the show, spread the word. Tell somebody if you don't definitely just keep it to yourself. How to Citizen with Baratunde is a production of IHeartRadio, podcasts and Dust Live productions. Our executive producers are me. Baratunde Thurston, Elizabeth Stewart and Misha Yusef. Our producers are Stephanie Cohn. And Allie Kilt. Kelly Prime is our editor. Valentino Rivera is our engineer. And Sam Paulson is our printers. Original Music by Andrew eapen. Special thanks to our citizen voices for this episode, Meredith Silver, Bernadette Bowhead, Alison Brown, Ferguson and Rolana Watson. This episode was produced and sound designed by Stephanie Cohn. Special thanks to Joelle Smith from IHeartRadio.


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