June 7, 2018, STOCKTON, CA – The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) will partner with social policy and income inequality experts Dr. Stacia West and Dr. Amy Castro Baker to design and conduct the evaluation of the city’s historic guaranteed income project.
Dr. Castro Baker is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her prior research on foreclosure and income instability explores the impact of financial policies on racial disparities. “As the ethnic makeup of our country continues diversifying, the racial wealth gap grows even more critical,” she said. “With more than 60 percent of the population comprised of people of color and an average income $15,000 below the national average, Stockton is an ideal background to test and study bold economic interventions that could have national policy implications. People are working more, but making less. We need new paths forward.”
The demonstration is currently in its design period to establish program parameters and details including eligibility, payment amount and evaluation approach, with disbursements expected to begin in Q1 of 2019. SEED is funded exclusively with philanthropic grants, including initial investments by the Economic Security Project and the Goldhirsh Foundation.
“To fully leverage social change and policy innovation, economic research needs the support of public and private partners,” said Dr. West, an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee whose previous work includes studies of cash transfers and housing instability. “I was drawn to this project’s unique collaborative partnerships, and believe this type of intervention could help us understand how best to address persistent economic instability and inequality in this country.”
SEED is also establishing a local steering committee comprised of community leaders and advocates to ensure the needs of the city are reflected and incorporated in the program’s design. A discussion paper outlining SEED’s plans and vision will be released on the SEED website in July. Overseeing the program is SEED Director Lori Ann Ospina. Ospina, who brings a wealth of expertise in developing and implementing innovative social programs, has been designing and developing the program since February. Ospina was previously Project Director of a groundbreaking experiment evaluating the impact of stable scheduling practices on front-line retail workers at the Gap.
“We have been fortunate to bring together an incredible team to lead this important work,” said Taylor Jo Isenberg, Managing Director of the Economic Security Project. “Our hope is to use what we learn in Stockton to inform meaningful change to our country’s growing crisis of poverty and lack of economic mobility.”