Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

Nicole’s story: How a raise meant losing food stamp benefits for this mom of four

correctional officer

Nicole had high hopes when she moved her family from a rural area in south Georgia to Henry County in the Atlanta metro. The cost of living went up, but the job opportunities were more plentiful and paid much better: She went from making $25,000 a year to over $35,000 as a corrections officer.

But that’s when Nicole got an unpleasant surprise. Her new salary level meant that her safety-net benefits from the government went entirely away—not reduced, but entirely eliminated. She ended up getting around a $10,000 raise but losing approximately $12,500 in benefits.

“I ended up getting kicked off social services because I made a couple dollars more than the max I could,” Nicole shared.

Nicole is 32 years-old and the single mother of four boys. “I’m the only income. I don’t get child support payments or anything else,” she said.

Losing her benefits—particularly food stamps—was a severe blow, especially during the pandemic. Although she has gotten help from local church-based food banks to help her make ends meet, her situation is still stressful.

To further bridge the gap, Nicole is working as much overtime as possible. But she would need to earn significantly more—to the tune of $25 an hour—in order to fully make up for the benefits she has lost. Even in an economy where wages are quickly rising for many workers, that raise level is a tough haul.

 

What needs to change?

Nicole encountered what we call the “benefit cliff,” where well-intentioned policies actually prevent people from getting off public services. They make just enough to lose their benefits, but not enough to make up for those lost benefits. The result is a system that keeps people trapped in poverty rather than one that propels them toward self-sufficiency and the dignity that comes with it.

While it is wonderful to see how the community has stepped up to help Nicole fill the gaps left from her losing access to food stamps, not everyone is so fortunate.

So, what’s the best pathway forward? Our goals should be to shore up the safety net for those who truly need it, eliminate these benefit cliffs, and create a system that encourages (rather than discourages) people from climbing the economic ladder. Along these lines, here are three possible ways forward:

 

  • The food stamp program could be fully redesigned to eliminate the benefit cliffs.

 

  • Separate pools of funds (from public, private, and charitable resources) could be set up as temporary stop-gap measures to get people like Nicole beyond the cliff.

 

  • Nicole could work with someone who understands the cliffs to help her strategize a career and pay progression to effectively jump over the cliff.

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

#DareToClimb media campaign

This is why the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) recently launched the #DareToClimb media campaign. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and share stories of those trapped in government assistance programs that, while well-intentioned, are structured in a way that often does more harm than good. GCO believes it is important to share the stories of these courageous men and women who have overcome obstacles in their lives to achieve self-sufficiency.

To learn more, follow the #DareToClimb hashtag.

** The $35,000 income limit is based on Nicole’s interview with us. Although our calculations show it will be somewhat higher, the impact and stress she is experiencing will be the same.

 

Lawrenceville awarded $5 million grant to support youth, families | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lawrenceville awarded $5 million grant to support youth, families | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In The News

Lawrenceville awarded $5 million grant to support youth, families | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lawrenceville plans to use a $5 million federal grant to connect families to mental health resources, strengthen a program that sends clinicians out on police calls and create programs to engage and support youth.

City Council unanimously accepted the five-year grant from a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during a Monday meeting. The city will use the funds by partnering with local organizations, including Impact46, Georgia Center for Opportunity and Families First.

 

Read the full article here

 

Lawrenceville awarded $5 million grant to support youth, families | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DonorsTrust Launches Giving Ventures Podcast | MENAFN

In The News

DonorsTrust Launches Giving Ventures Podcast | MENAFN

This week the team at DonorsTrust , a donor-advised fund committed to encouraging philanthropic giving and protecting donor intent, launched a new podcast focusing on philanthropy. The Giving Ventures podcast explores innovative projects and problem-solving initiatives made possible by support from DonorsTrust account holders.

“We are excited to provide a forum where donors with a pro-liberty mindset can learn more about great work on exciting projects that may otherwise get missed,” explained Peter Lipsett, Vice President at DonorsTrust and Giving Ventures host.“My colleagues and I regularly engage with groups aiming to limit government, grow personal responsibility, and strengthen free enterprise. The podcast allows us to share insights and ideas from these conversations, ideally leading to even more philanthropic activity

Guests for the inaugural episode include:

  •  Randy Hicks , president, and chief executive officer of the Georgia Center for Opportunity , discusses the ways the organization is combating poverty in the Peach State.
BETTER WORK Co-hosts A Job Fair To Support Gwinnett Families Facing Housing Crisis

BETTER WORK Co-hosts A Job Fair To Support Gwinnett Families Facing Housing Crisis

BETTER WORK Co-hosts A Job Fair To Support Gwinnett Families Facing Housing Crisis

GCO partnered with the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry to help displaced families

Today we’re witnessing an unprecedented labor market, with a record-high 10.9 million unfilled job openings across the country in August. One of the key challenges we are facing is matching workers with the right opportunities in the labor force.

With that goal in mind, BETTER WORK Gwinnett recently partnered with the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry to create a job fair in the local community. The event served people who were displaced by the pandemic living at a local extended-stay hotel. The aim was to open up job opportunities for these people and get them back into fruitful employment with an upward career trajectory.

Watch the video to hear from workers and employers themselves on the importance of this job fair at this key moment.

 

The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s BETTER WORK project provides valuable resources and community collaboration bringing the dignity of work to local communities.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity has signed on to a letter in favor of the EQUAL Act

The Georgia Center for Opportunity has signed on to a letter in favor of the EQUAL Act

The Georgia Center for Opportunity has signed on to a letter in favor of the EQUAL Act

banner - prisoners

The Georgia Center for Opportunity has signed on to a letter with 37 organizations across the ideological spectrum in favor of the EQUAL Act now pending in Congress.The EQUAL Act would end the federal prison sentence disparity between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine offenses—that is not grounded in evidence and contributes to over-incarceration, particularly within communities of color.

GCO’s take: “This important bill in Congress would correct a harmful policy put in place 35 years ago,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “A crucial part of criminal justice reform is identifying unfair and harmful laws on the books and correcting course. We urge Congress to pass this bill and restore equal justice under the law when it comes to cocaine offenses.”

 

Buzz - statement Equal Act