Guaranteed Income - FAQs

Tacoma’s Guaranteed Income Demonstration FAQs

What is GRIT?
Growing Resilience In Tacoma (GRIT) is a first-of-its-kind guaranteed income demonstration in Tacoma, Washington. The demonstration will provide $500 a month for 12 months to families experiencing poverty.
GRIT is a collaboration between the City of Tacoma, United Way of Pierce County and the Mayor’s Guaranteed Income (MGI) Network, which includes city leaders, philanthropists, and nonprofit organizations. This collaborative demonstration aims to inform the development of innovative policies that effectively fight poverty and further the implementation of federal guaranteed income policies.
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is a network of mayors across the country who believe in advocating for a guaranteed income, investing in the stories of those who directly experience economic insecurity and inviting and supporting others to join their efforts.

What’s the idea behind a guaranteed income?
It’s a proven, effective way to combat several factors that stifle economic mobility, including the coronavirus pandemic and its near and long-term economic fallout, our country’s history of entrenched poverty that hasn’t ebbed in decades and the growing concentration of wealth at the very top.

Why should Guaranteed Income be implemented?
Before the pandemic, nearly 40% of Americans reported they couldn’t afford a $400 unexpected expense. Our current economic crisis is tenuous and uncertain due to the pandemic, and our communities need help.

GRIT is an effective step toward addressing:

Poverty: Before the COVID-19 crisis, 40% of Tacoma residents were struggling to make ends meet and identified as Asset Limited, Income Constrained while Employed (ALICE). 
Support for Basic Needs: The cost of health care, utilities, transportation, and other essential living expenses is over $72,000 in Tacoma/Pierce County, yet 50% of residents don’t have a combined income over $72,000.
Guaranteed income will supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a critical tool for improving economic, racial and gender equity.

What is Guaranteed Income? How is it different from other conditional and unconditional programs like Universal Basic Income and Cash Transfer Programs?
Guaranteed Income is focused on serving populations that are disproportionately affected by economic challenges. It is not a replacement for wages but a much-needed supplement to families who desperately need a financial safety net. In Tacoma, $500 can pay utility bills or repair a car.  It’s enough to keep people on their feet and able to take the next step toward financial stability.
Universal Basic Income is unconditional and meant for all community members and would provide enough of a payment to cover all basic needs. 
Cash Transfer Programs provide money transfers to families to reduce poverty and may include conditions such as investments in the education and health of children. 

Why are you giving participants cash?
Research shows that recipients of cash transfer programs overwhelmingly use the money for basic needs – housing, utilities, food, unexpected medical costs or other financial emergencies. In addition, a lot of social safety net programs already include work or education requirements, and the pandemic has shown us we should not be putting up barriers to desperately-needed aid. We need to reverse the historical belief and stereotype that poor people won’t make smart financial choices. Data proves that they do, and we should honor and support people addressing crises in the way that allows them to thrive on their own terms.

Won’t participants stop working?
First, several international cash transfer initiatives over decades show no effect on the labor market. The most recent of which was done just this year in Alaska, where they’ve had a guaranteed income for nearly 40 years.
Second, we’re talking about $500. Would you quit your job for $6,000 a year? Guaranteed income is not a replacement for work, it’s a much-needed financial floor to supplement families who desperately need an economic safety net. A few hundred dollars a month can make a real difference in whether Tacomans can keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. In better times, guaranteed income has helped recipients quit a bad job and look for new employment, pay for childcare and relieve debt. 

Who gets to choose who participates and receives the monthly payments?
Participants will be randomly selected from a pool of qualified individuals. Qualified individuals must be Tacoma residents, with a focus on those who are Black, Indigenous and People Of Color; single heads of household; and meet United Way’s ALICE criteria (Asset Limited, Income Constrained while Employed).

How many recipients will be selected?
Around 100 participants will be selected as recipients.

If I’m not selected as a recipient, can I still receive the $500?
Unfortunately, no.

How will we know if GRIT is successful?
We will have independent researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) consolidate key learnings. Quarterly reports will be provided on an online dashboard, and a year after the demonstration ends a report will be published that will highlight the demonstration and the impact the funds had on recipients.

What will happen if GRIT is successful?
GRIT is designed as a 12-month Tacoma-based demonstration. However, our hope is that the data and stories produced by our demonstration will lead to a guaranteed income being adopted at the national or state level.

When will research data be available to the public?
The demonstration will run through 2022. Data will be collected for another 6 months and a report will be released in 2024.

How will GRIT be funded?
Funding for Tacoma’s nearly $1 million demonstration is provided by the Reinvent Stockton Foundation, Group Health Foundation, City of Tacoma, Pierce County, Verizon, Puget Sound Energy, MultiCare, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, and United Way of Pierce County.

Will Guaranteed Income be expanded to all of Tacoma?
At this time the demonstration is a one year pilot project. Funding has been secured to cover just this one year and limited distribution.

How can I volunteer with GRIT?
If you are interested in volunteering with GRIT please send us an email at In your email please include a copy of your resume, and highlight your area of expertise and the ways you believe you could contribute to the demonstration.

How do I get more information?
Check our webpage for regular updates, send us an email at, or sign up to get our newsletter.

Information on the research GRIT will be doing

The GRIT team, United Way, and the Tacoma Mayor's office is excited to be able to offer $660,000 of direct cash support to our community. We also are excited to be able to test the efficacy of a guaranteed income in addressing the needs of our city. In order to test this, we have partnered with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR). 

CGIR will be hosting surveys and interviews with our treatment and control groups every six months (including the six months after the last disbursement is released) in order to identify changes in the following core issues: 

  • Physical functioning, 
  • Mental health, 
  • Income volatility, 
  • Spending, 
  • Consumption, 
  • Employment, 
  • Education, 
  • Family dynamics and parenting, 
  • Stress and coping, 
  • Hope and mattering, 
  • Household food security, 
  • COVID-19 variables, 
  • Housing, and
  • Childcare 

Our researchers hope to answer these questions: 

1. How can guaranteed income assist households in weathering unexpected shocks? 

2. What are pathways and barriers to guaranteed income policy across geographically diverse locations? 

3. How can guaranteed income be paired with other policy initiatives to generate structural change? 

4. How do households perceive and utilize guaranteed income differently than Earned Income Tax Credit, CARES act, and other safety-net benefits? 

5. Which individual-level outcomes – such as health, housing, employment, parenting, finances, etc. – are most impacted by guaranteed income?

6. How do outcomes of guaranteed income differ by subpopulation (caregivers, minority populations, women, etc.)?

7. How can guaranteed income programs utilize data-driven solutions to reduce inefficiency in government programs to build trust and support for cash-transfer initiatives?

Click here to read our learning agenda ( 

GRIT will release data on spending behavior quarterly and its final report in 2024. To see follow along, sign up for our newsletter (

Information about the GRIT application and selection process

Around 2,000 applications were submitted for participation in GRIT, Tacoma’s one-year guaranteed income demonstration undertaken by the City of Tacoma and United Way of Pierce County to test the impact of providing cash support for community members on the edge of poverty.

The applications were processed by independent researchers at the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania to make sure there are no duplications and that all entries meet the GRIT eligibility criteria. Applicants were chosen randomly based on meeting all eligibility parameters:

  • City of Tacoma residents currently residing in Eastside (98404), Hilltop (98405), South Tacoma (98409) and the South End (98408);
  • single income households with children living in the home up to age 17, children with disabilities up to age 21;
  • meet the ALICE definition: Asset Limited, Income Constrained while Employed. ALICE household income is 100-200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

All other responses on the application beyond the eligibility questions will be used for social research purposes only, and not to disqualify an applicant. 

Three hundred seventy five applications met the eligibility criteria to participate in the demonstration and were randomly sorted by the researchers into groups:

  • Recipient participants: 110 participants randomly selected to get $500 per month for 12 months directly deposited into a personal account. This group will be eligible to participate in surveys and interviews to help us understand how guaranteed income works. This group will be paid $30 on a gift card for each survey they complete.
  • Control participants: 132 randomly-selected people who do not receive the monthly $500 stipend, but who will be eligible to earn gift cards by completing research surveys during the pilot so we can learn more about Tacoma and our residents’ needs. This group will be paid $30 on a gift card for each survey they complete.
  • Non-participants. 

The independence of the selection process and its protocols ensure that the process is free of bias.

Participation in this program will be kept private and confidential. Only employees of GRIT and the University of Pennsylvania research team will know the names of participants. 

Once the initial month of funds are distributed, the GRIT research fellow will invite control participants to participate in surveys and interviews over the course of the 12-month demonstration.

The information shared through the application will only be used for research purposes, and GRIT, United Way and the City of Tacoma staff will not have access to data for non-selected individuals. This means that we don’t have the ability to notify people who have not been chosen to participate. Applicants can check back to this page or sign up for the GRIT newsletter to stay up to date on the notification process.

Recipients of the guaranteed income have been selected. To stay up to date on the progress of GRIT, check back to this page or sign up for the GRIT newsletter.

Sign up here for the GRIT newsletter

Application FAQs

Grit Application FAQs – English

Grit Application FAQs - Chinese
Grit Application FAQs - Korean
Grit Application FAQs - Russian
Grit Application FAQs - Spanish
Grit Application FAQs - Tagalog
Grit Application FAQs - Vietnamese