Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Madison’s guaranteed income program begins cash assistance for low income families

Madison Forward Fund to serve as study on effectiveness of guaranteed income programs
Mary Magnuson

The Madison Forward fund distributed the first of 12 direct payments to qualifying families in Madison on Wednesday.

This guaranteed-income program is slated to give 155 Madison-area families direct payments of $500 per month for 12 months with no strings attached, according to a press release from the City of Madison. Over the course of the year, $930,000, which was funded through private donations, will be distributed.

The Madison Forward Fund is a pilot program modeled after a similar program in Stockton, California, Program Manager Blake Roberts Crall said. Its goal is to erase the stigma surrounding receiving public aid and to draw federal attention to the need for support for low-income families.


Families can use these funds for anything with no constraints. There are also no barriers to receiving the funds, Roberts Crall said.

“There is a lot of growing evidence that giving people funds directly is very impactful because there’s not so many barriers to people in accessing funds,” Roberts Crall said.

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Roberts Crall said they want to add dignity and autonomy to the public assistance process because there is currently a lot of stigma around applying for public aid, especially for marginalized communities.

There are many barriers for applicants in existing assistance programs that make it very complicated for people to apply, Roberts Crall said.

“I have seen in the past where people choose not even to apply even if they’re eligible because it’s just such a lengthy, complicated process,” Roberts Crall said.

Madison Forward Fund applicants must live in Madison, be over the age of 18, have at least one child 17 years old or younger and have an annual income below 200% of Federal Poverty Line, the press release said.

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Throughout the year, research groups from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin will study families who received the aid and those who did not in order to determine the impact of guaranteed income programs, the press release said.

Both groups will be asked to fill out surveys about financial stability, overall health, civic engagement and workforce participation.

Though there isn’t enough data to determine exactly what this pilot program will lead to in the future, data from similar programs shows promising results, Roberts Crall said.

“Evidence suggests that this can be a positive tool for poverty elimination,” Roberts Crall said.

The Madison Forward Fund does not have funding to expand at this point, Roberts Crall said, but it may eventually draw national attention to the possibility of long term guaranteed income programs.

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“It’s really about advocating for basic income for everyone, including students,” Roberts Crall said. “Because everyone is worthy of financial stability.”

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