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Working together, poor families excel

WE APPRECIATE the mention of Family Independence Initiative in Yvonne Abraham’s column (“Rising and falling,” Metro, June 9). FII is advocating for a family-led approach to economic and social mobility. The low-income families with which we partner in Boston are proving that when families are in environments that strengthen their mutuality and sense of community, respect their self-determination, and makes resources available based on their initiative, they will work together and make progress.

Our approach involves building social capital generated from strong social connections. In our partnerships, families have formed creative collaborations like child care co-ops, investment groups, and lending circles that strengthen bonds and move families forward together.

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And we develop access to financial capital. Wealthy people don’t live in an opportunity vacuum — they receive tremendous benefits for asset building. From home mortgage tax deductions, matched savings and retirement plans, and low interest rates, there are many incentives for the well off to maintain and grow their wealth. We seek that kind of opportunity abundance for everyone.

The success of the Boston families with which we work has tremendous implications for the country. From them we are learning how policies, practices, and thinking on poverty and mobility must shift so that working poor families and communities are leading themselves — and our country — toward a more prosperous future.

Jesús Gerena

Director, Family
Independence Initiative-Boston

Jamaica Plain

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