Doubling Down on Supporting Families

We are excited and humbled to announce that the Richmond Resilience Initiative (RRI), which was launched by the City of Richmond on October 29th in partnership with Robins Foundation, will receive an additional $500,000 for expansion.

These additional funds will add up to 37 additional families to the pilot program. Richmond is one of 30 cities across the nation whose families in need will benefit from a $15 million donation by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, to help fund the Mayors for Guaranteed Income Initiative (MGI) among partner cities.

The initial launch of RRI was funded by a $120,000 contribution from Robins which was matched by the City. It is the first and only program as part of this initiative to launch fully funded.

The program is part of a larger national movement to foster economic security in a data-driven, research-tested capacity and is modeled after successful pilots in cities like Stockton, California and Jackson, Mississippi.

Current national and local partners are Family Independence Initiative, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Richmond, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research with the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, and Virginia Excels.

In addition to supporting hardworking families and providing the data needed to design policies that promote economic security and mobility, the program will uplift narratives that dismantle negative and unwarranted stereotypes about individuals and families living in poverty.

“No one wants or chooses to live in poverty,” said Tyonka Perkins Rimawi, Robins Program Officer, Community Partnerships. “To improve educational outcomes and other complex social issues, we must address root causes such as economic security and mobility.”

The pandemic has brought to light that for many families just a few hundred dollars can be the difference between keeping or losing access to basic necessities, like food and shelter. But even before the onset of COVID-19, the Federal Reserve Bank found that 40% of all American families cannot afford a $400 emergency.

Direct family assistance like that provided by RRI and other programs is meant to supplement the existing safety net which is designed to protect families from losing financial security or derailing long-term financial goals because of enduring poverty or an unexpected event like a global pandemic, severe recession, or personal tragedy.

Research has proven that when families receive supplemental assistance, they prioritize spending on what they need most: rent, groceries, transportation, and childcare. It also has revealed that direct cash assistance shows positive impacts on health and education outcomes with negligible effects on the labor market.

“We have learned that economic security among families is at a crisis point. Individuals, families, and communities know their needs best, and initiatives like this recognize their dignity and freedom to best meet those needs,” said Rimawi. “Through these strong partnerships and others we hope to see develop across the region, we can expand this initiative so even more families can thrive through direct support and policy change.”

“Led by Tyonka, our team has done extraordinary work to find and thoroughly research an initiative that supports the work the Foundation has been doing for more than 60 years,” said Juliet Shield-Taylor, Chair of Robins’ Board of Directors.

This program joins others, including eviction diversion, and the Family Crisis fund, which was launched in April in partnership with the City of Richmond. The Family Crisis Fund – a crucial element of the region’s response to economic hardship resulting from the pandemic – provided direct cash assistance to more than 2,600 families in the greater Richmond region.

In addition to RRI, through numerous partnerships with regional funders and nonprofits, Robins Foundation and the City of Richmond have given give $1,314,500 to 2,629 families in the region in 2020. Those funders and nonprofits include Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RHMF), Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Richmond native and professional football player Clelin Farrell, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and Richmond Flying Squirrels, along with other individual and corporate donors.