UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot is in full swing. The first $500 payment went out to the 110 randomly selected participants in May. Those participants will receive the unrestricted payments each month for 24 months. The UpLift team will study the impacts of the basic income in Central Iowa families and use that data to inform future poverty-reduction strategies.

Over 6,000 Central Iowans applied to be one of the 110 individuals selected for the basic income pilot study. Overall, selected participants reflect the diverse communities living within Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties. Eighty-one percent of participants live in Polk County, 10% live in Dallas County, and 9% live in Warren County. It was important that all of Central Iowa’s geographical areas were represented in the study sample to inform how a basic income model works in different community settings. As a result, 10% of participants live in a rural area, 25% live in a micropolitan area, and 65% live in a metropolitan area, mirroring the population demographics of our tri-county study area.

Participants also reflect the diverse make-up of the tri-county area. The majority of participants identify as White (55%), followed by Black or African American (26%), Asian (4.5%), Latinx (4.5%), and multi-racial or another race (10%). As for ethnicity, 19% identified as having Hispanic or Latino origin and 81% identified as not being Hispanic or Latino. A breadth of languages – 9 total – are spoken among the participant group.

While identified as low-income, most UpLift participants are working, with the average household income being just above $24,000 a year. Despite a majority of participants working full-time, participants are still spending, on average, 44% of their income on rent or housing costs.

While payments went out to participants, the UpLift team attended the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) Conference in Chicago to learn about other basic income pilot projects around the country and the impacts they’re having. The team also presented at the monthly convening of the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice (GICP). They were able to share how their work is impacting rural communities in Iowa with policy experts, advocates, researchers, leaders, funders, practitioners and elected officials interested in the basic income model.