Photo Courtesy of ESSENCE
Magnolia Mother’s Trust is Jackson, MS-based initiative led by Springboard Opportunities in partnership with the Economic Security Project giving fifteen Black mothers living in subsidized housing $1000 every month for the next year.
According to Springboard’s website, Magnolia Mother’s Trust “will be the first [guaranteed income initiative] that specifically targets extremely low-income families headed by an African American female living in affordable housing in the United States.”
Mississippi Today reports that in Mississippi, only 5,682 low-income families received benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2016, despite the fact that one-in-five Mississippians live in poverty. In that same year, just 1.4 percent of new applicants were approved.
TANF also has strict employment and drug testing requirements. The program’s monthly benefit for those who receive basic assistance is $170, compared to $442 nationally.
“We believe all people have the strength and capacity to be the authors of their own lives,” writes Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities, in a guest column for the Clarion-Ledger. “And just as so many women did during the civil rights movement, they have the capacity to write a better story for their communities and, ultimately, for Mississippi.”
Nyandoro’s goal is to “rewrite the system” which has long oppressed people of color in Mississippi and beyond, she told ESSENCE.
“We have a crisis of poverty in Mississippi that is rooted in economic and racial inequality,” said Nyandoro. “And when Black women do seek financial assistance, front-line support at these offices often treat them horribly because they know that they are less than two paychecks away from the people they’re helping, but God.”
Nyandoro is looking to help Black mothers and their children overcome the stigmas associated with financial assistance programs.
“This program is radical and women driven,” said Nyandoro. “Black women are—falsely—labeled ‘welfare queens’ and dehumanized just for trying to survive in a system constructed for us to fail—and it’s not like foundations are lining up to give money to Black women.”
Magnolia Mother’s Trust has gained the full support of Jackson’s Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
“I believe poverty is the worst form of violence, so I am encouraged by this project,” Lumumba said. “We need an economy for and by the people, and most of all for our mothers. The lack of self-determination in our community, and throughout the South, means that this is not just about the economics of race, but of ideas. We must continue pursuing larger efforts that sustain economic empowerment for our communities and for every household.”