Mary Chazen, participant in the Family Independence Initiative

Family Independence Initiative Trusts Families to Know What They Need During COVID-19 Pandemic

As we all navigate new realities and financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the social and financial supports in our lives are critical. Wilder partners with families to ensure they have access to the tools and resources they need through the Family Independence Initiative (FII).

Through FII, Wilder engages 150 families as they self-organize, share resources, set goals, and access cash investments. Families are given access to quarterly stipends that add up to $2,400 over their two-year participation. FII is a national model, and Wilder is the only partner doing this work in Minnesota.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Wilder offered all current participants the option to access their remaining balance now, trusting them to know what they need. The majority of the families involved accessed this support, and Wilder responded quickly, deploying resources for families to plan their own way forward. 

“Our role is to facilitate access to social and financial capital, so that families can continue to get what they need and design the solutions to their own problems,” says Nona Ferguson, Vice President of Economic Stability and Aging Services.

FII participant Mary says the program helped her realize her own power and inspired her to share that with others. Today, Mary owns a car, has moved her family into a house, and works as a 911 operator. “I have learned that I can do just about anything that I put my mind to," she says. "I look outside as the weather gets nice, and I’m like, ‘I did it. I actually did it.’” 

 

Our role is to facilitate access to social and financial capital, so that families can continue to get what they need and design the solutions to their own problems.

Nona Ferguson, vice president of Economic Stability and Aging Services

You can hear more of Mary’s story featured in Ordinary Magic Online, Wilder's virtual fundraiser & celebration on May 1, 2020.