Video Length

Video Length: 7:27 Minutes

Why we should trust and invest in families

The fifty-year war on poverty has made living in poverty more tolerable — but it has not made it more escapable.

Census data shows that within four years, 75% of families living below the poverty line move above it, yet 50% of these families slip back into poverty in five years.


After tracking hundreds of families since 2001, the Family Independence Initiative (FII) has discovered that cycling in and out of poverty is not due to a lack of family initiative. Instead, this cycle can be traced to well-intentioned but inadequate governmental and charitable policies and practices that have:

Lack of Information

A lack of reliable information on the creative ways in which families achieve economic and social mobility

Resource Gap

Limited access to affordable capital which fuels families’ efforts to achieve their goals and dreams

Individual Focus

A misplaced focus on individual achievement that overlooks the power of communities to lift people into the middle class, just as communities have done for hundreds of years

FII trusts and invests directly in low-income families so they can work individually and collectively to achieve prosperity. It does this by providing the technology platform to strengthen social networks, access resources, and support one another in achieving mobility.

The data collected by FII challenges the traditional negative narrative about low-income families and demonstrates how they work hard and help each other achieve self-sufficiency.

Produced by Family Independence Initiative, with support from, this video was directed by Daresha Kyi, and shot and edited by Tommy Burns.

Speakers in order of appearance: Arlyssa Heard, Detroit Family Partner; Susy Sarmiento, FII-Albuquerque Site Director; Jesús Gerena, CEO; Jessica Withers, Boston Family Partner; Aaron Palmer, New Orleans Family Partner; Vashti Rutlege, FII-Cincinnati Site Director; Ashley Conners Sherwin, Vice President of External Affairs; Danielle Burrell, New Orleans Family Partner; Jessica Taubner, FII-Boston Site Director; Francisco Zarraga, Albuquerque Family Partner; Maresa Lara, Northern California Family Partner; William Goodwin, Northern California Family Partner; Kofi Kenyatta, FII-Detroit Site Director; Michelle Chao, Vice President and FII-Northern California Director.

Family Independence Initiative logo

FII’s mission is to create an opportunity rich environment that invests resources in low-income communities based on the strengths and initiative they demonstrate towards improving their lives and others’ lives in their communities.

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