What is the Madison Forward Fund?
The Madison Forward Fund is a year-long guaranteed income experimental program for Madison residents. The guaranteed income is a monthly, cash payment of $500 given directly to 155 households for 12 months. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. This also means there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent. This program is founded upon the belief that the people in poverty are best positioned to make informed financial decisions that efficiently address their household’s needs.
What is Guaranteed Income?
A guaranteed income is a monthly cash payment given directly to families. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and be a tool for racial and gender equity.
Why a Guaranteed Income Program in Madison?
Eighteen percent of people in the city of Madison—almost one in five residents—live in poverty. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated economic hardship for many of us, especially Madisonians of color, immigrants, single parents, and service workers who are chronically underpaid despite their essential work during the pandemic.
Guaranteed income programs hold promise to supplement our community’s existing supports by improving the financial security of households who have been struggling. Emerging studies indicate that families use guaranteed income to meet their family’s basic needs—like food, transportation, utilities and rent. Guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a critical tool for improving racial and gender equity.
The Madison Forward Fund is part of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income: a national organization that advocates for a national guaranteed income program. One of our goals is to gather information about the impacts of monthly cash payments on families. The Madison Forward Fund is designed to be a study (known as a randomized controlled trial) to track impacts on the selected families and families that are similar to them so we can draw more robust conclusions.
It’s more than a guaranteed income: It’s a Research Imperative
While guaranteed income pilot programs are popping up across the country, these programs are relatively new. Researchers are still trying to understand how effective guaranteed income programs are in lifting people out of poverty. The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty is partnering with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to gather valuable survey data throughout the program. The information collected will be used to reform current policies, guide future programs, advocate for a national guaranteed income program, and aid in the expansion of our social safety net.
While you are not required to participate in the research study to receive a monthly cash payment, your participation will support our goal of:
- Better understanding the benefits of guaranteed income
- Advocating for effective financial supports for low-income families
- Driving evidence-based social policy in Madison and beyond
- Building local supports that allow families to thrive for generations
Participating in the research study is easy – you will be asked to respond to survey questions three times (6 months apart) and will be compensated for your time.