Helping families reach their full potential
Family Rewards is funded by the federal Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service. It is a comprehensive, conditional-cash-transfer (CCT) program that offers reward payments to families completing activities related to health, education, and work. Monthly payments are conditioned upon a family’s actions; to receive the cash transfer, participants must successfully accomplish activities that build their skills and education or promote good health. Through this design, a CCT program not only alleviates a household’s immediate income hardship, but also guides families to invest in their development of “human capital” — the skills and capacities that will support parents and their children to escape poverty over the longer term.
Family Rewards is a holistic model that targets the full family. In particular, the program offers participating families cash incentives for eight pre-determined activities in three key domains:
- Children’s education, with incentives tied to consistent attendance, good grades, and achievement on standardized tests;
- Family preventive health care, with incentives for regular medical and dental visits for each family member;
- Parental employment and education, with incentives for parents who maintain full-time employment and earn a GED.
Family Rewards is operated by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Seedco administers the Family Rewards program in Memphis, Tenn., and in the Bronx, New York. Across both cities, a total of 1,200 families will be eligible for the program.
How the program works
Family Rewards is a three-year pilot program that operates in partnership with community-based organizations in low-income communities in Memphis and the Bronx. At the beginning of the program, each family meets with a Family Rewards Advisor who works with them to develop an action plan for success. As families achieve milestones, they earn cash rewards deposited directly into their bank accounts. Families revisit plans with their Advisors at least every six months.
Families chosen for the program can contact a Family Rewards Advisor Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the community-based partner listed on the postcard they received. To contact the Family Rewards general helpline, please call 212-994-2748 in New York or 901-405-7970 in Memphis.
The national education and social policy research group MDRC, which helped design the program, is leading a full-scale, random assignment evaluation of Family Rewards.
Family Rewards builds on the lessons learned from Opportunity NYC – Family Rewards, an earlier conditional cash transfer pilot that Seedco operated in collaboration with the Center for Economic Opportunity. Similar conditional cash transfer programs are active in more than 20 countries worldwide.
A preliminary evaluation of Opportunity NYC-Family Rewards found that nearly all participating families earned rewards during the first two years, with payments averaging $3,000 per year. Initial findings show that the program improved a number of health and education outcomes, especially for high school students. The program also reduced poverty and hardship, making it easier for participants to make ends meet and pay for basic necessities, including food and utilities.