We’ve had a “war on poverty” for over 50 years.  During the COVID-19 crisis, we’re seeing dramatic changes to the social safety net in an effort to keep Americans housed, fed, and cared for during a national emergency.

But what have those on the frontlines in the battle against poverty learned about what it takes to move families out of poverty? Are there ideas we should consider outside of the expansion of government programs to support financial recovery and economic mobility? What really breaks the cycle of poverty and helps people flourish?

Our guest today is Jesús Gerena, the Chief Executive Officer of the Family Independence Initiative. We’ve invited him to join us to shed light on some different approaches to helping families escape poverty in the US.

Show Notes:

Family Independence Initiative

Investing in Families to Escape Poverty – Video from FreeThink

Hyde Square Task Force

US Census Bureau Report: Poverty: 2017 and 2018

New York TimesHomeownership and Wealth Creation

UpTogether platform

#GiveTogetherNow campaign

The Plate Fund for Seattle restaurant workers

Note: You can learn more and donate at https://givetogethernow.org/ to help families during the COVID-19 crisis. This episode was recorded on April 10, 2020, and at time of recording the campaign had raised $16 million.

About our guest:

Jesús Gerena joined the Family Independence Initiative in 2010 as Executive Director of Boston, where he grew FII to include 800 families across the city. He assumed the position of CEO in 2017. Prior to joining FII, Jesús worked for the Hyde Square Task Force, where he served as Deputy Director and worked on the Youth First project that helped lay the groundwork for a proposed $250 million urban development project.

Jesús has held numerous Board leadership positions across New England and currently sits on the Boards of The Community Builder and English for New Bostonians. He is also a co-founder of the Community Fellows Program at the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership affiliated with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.  In 2016, the Boston-based Barr Foundation awarded Jesús a Barr Fellowship for his contributions to the city and his potential to drive positive change.