Family Independence Initiative

Wilder is launching Family Independence Initiative Twin Cities, a national model based on proof that low-wealth families can move themselves out of poverty when they have access to connections, choice and capital.
The Family Independence Initiative philosophy asserts that people can advance together if we re-ignite the resource sharing, role modeling and mutual support that has historically helped immigrant families leave poverty behind.
Wilder expects to launch the first cohort of FII participants in late spring or early summer 2016.

Our Approach and Principles

Cohorts of families will come together to connect and work towards self-identified goals. These goals could include wealth creation, stable housing, health and wellness, education and community leadership. Wilder staff will convene the cohorts, but let families build a network that leverages the knowledge of the community. Families will partner with Wilder to track data that will give us insights into what is really needed to lift families out of poverty. Data and research from FII cohorts will be used to inform Minnesota’s policy makers about what works to lift families out of poverty.


Despite the persistent myth of the self-made man, no one makes it alone. Family, friends, and colleagues who provide support, information, advice, resources, and a sense of accountability are both a safety net and a springboard forward. From our peers, we find role models who shape our expectations of what is possible—and what is not. Social sector professionals cannot replace the value and power of mutual support within a community. Peer-to-peer supportive relationships can do more to provide relevant information, advice, and inspiration to move people forward.


Everyone needs to have a range of options and the ability to exercise those options, whether they are related to finances, housing, health, education, or other opportunities for well-being. Choice means having an array of self-directed options for moving ahead. Rather than being directed or controlled, families must have control over their own choices to succeed.


The biggest difference between low-income families and upper-income families is money—not smarts or resourcefulness. Access to financial capital that allows families to leverage their initiative accelerates their mobility. Financial capital is what the well-off use to assure they have the choices they need. Access to capital would also allow low-income families to exercise choice and thus get some control over improving their lives.

More Information

For general information about the Family Independence Initiative, visit
Want to join Wilder's FII cohort? Contact for more information.

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