Family Independence Initiative

We Believe

FII’s work with cohorts of families in cities across the country shows that low-income people can advance together if we:

  • Make resources and funding available more directly to people, not just institutions
  • Allow families the freedom to determine their own paths, instead of taking direction from case managers and social workers
  • Encourage and reward personal initiative, instead of penalizing or reducing eligibility for help if a family makes progress
  • Support and promote mutuality and building social capital, instead of helping individuals outside of the context of their families and communities
  • Honor resident leadership and expertise, instead of professionals and outside intervention
  • View families as consumers with valuable feedback entitled to hold services and programs accountable, instead of needy victims
  • Direct Outcomes From FII’s Approach 

FII’s approach has been demonstrated in several cities across the country. Families in these projects show significant near- and long- term economic gains as well as a host of other outcomes that show increased control over their lives and choices for the future.

In Boston:

In June of 2010 152 individuals, including 81 children, from 35 families enrolled in FII’s Boston demonstration project. In just six months by working together they made tremendous progress toward the goals they set for themselves. Outcomes include:

  • 13% increase in average household income (excluding subsidies and FII payments)
  • 22% increase in average savings
  • 25% of children improved grades
  • 20% improved attendance

The families are pursuing a range of initiatives to move forward and are focused on quality of life issues like more time with their kids, for themselves, building relationships, better access to food, self care, and education. The families reported over 500 initiatives and positive “sparks” from June to December of 2010. Families are also taking steps to raise their credit rating by getting financial counseling, paying bills on time, and reducing debt. 

Read more about FII–Boston

Control & Choice

Everyone wants control over their circumstances and a reasonable set of choices for their children's futures. FII operates under the assumption that, like most middle and upper class people, most low-income families are capable of taking tangible steps towards establishing control and choice in their lives. What these families lack is sufficient capital and access to opportunities and information that are more readily available to the middle and upper income.

Who We Are

Where the personal story can be safely explored and expressed.

                  

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit educational organization that serves the Personal Story.

We are Peace Builders working with the individual and community.

We come to our clients by invitation and with them develop culturally relevant programs.

The goal is resiliency and capacity building.

We use spoken word, writing, arts processes and music to extend  language, to give shape, form and voice to the unspoken and make coherent the life story.  

Our goal is to empower people through their own personal work with story to work in community.

Our goal is to extend understanding toward respecting and appreciating cultural difference. 

Our desire is to nurture relationship, encourage learning and teaching through community involvement.  

We provide lay people the means to become Narrative Arts Facilitators so they can better serve community. 

While our work is highly therapeutic it is not psychotherapy.  Our processes lie closer to anthropology, and spirituality with its mythological underpinnings.

Students who dive deeply into the depths of the personal story, emerge in the human story that belongs to all of us. 

We invite you to invite us.