Economic Security - Bread for the City

Just Logo Empowerment with Direct Cash

Economic Security Summer Film Series

We’re hosting a film series this summer at MLK Library! See the film calendar here.

We created our Economic Security team in 2021 in direct response to the disproportionate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community members living with low incomes and/or excluded from unemployment benefits or federal stimulus payments. Our work focuses on advocating for and implementing guaranteed income initiatives. Since the start of this program, we have transferred over $55 million* to members of our community.

Why are we giving people cash?

Cash empowers recipients to allocate funds where they’re most needed, whether for food, rent, medical expenses, or other essentials. We respect the autonomy and dignity of individuals by trusting them to make their own decisions. This approach acknowledges that those experiencing poverty are best positioned to determine how to improve their own lives. It empowers them to prioritize their needs and goals, fostering a sense of agency and self-worth. By giving people purchasing power, cash transfers also support local businesses and markets, contributing to economic growth and resilience.

Research has consistently shown that cash transfers effectively alleviate poverty and improve well-being. Studies from various countries and contexts demonstrate that cash recipients experience improvements in nutrition, health outcomes, education, and economic productivity. Cash transfers have been shown to have long-term positive effects, including breaking the cycle of poverty.


We are excited to share that we have started our first in-house guaranteed income program, CashRx! The CashRx program provides a small group of Bread for the City medical patients with equity-based cash transfers based on their needs with the goal of improving their health outcomes with a specific focus on the social determinants of health. CashRx is funded by the Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Health Equity Fund, along with generous grants from the Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation and the Hartfield Foundation.

What is Guaranteed Income?

According to Mayor’s for a Guaranteed Income, guaranteed income is “a monthly, cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.”

Join the Movement for Guaranteed Income

Plug into the DC Guaranteed Income Coalition.

The coalition’s two primary overarching goals: 

  1. Pass a permanent guaranteed income for all in Washington, DC, enabling all marginalized individuals and communities to meet their basic needs and live with dignity and joy.
  2. Protect and strengthen the current social safety net through policies that advance economic mobility.

Follow the DC GI Coalition on Twitter and Instagram and see how you can take action today on their website. Community members are welcome to attend the Coalition’s meetings virtually or in person on the third Thursday of each month at 5 PM ET.

Our Impact

Before starting CashRx, our first in-house guaranteed income program, we participated in several other initiatives: THRIVE, DC Cares, and Let’s GO DMV! Our team has presented its work to various panels across the country, is exploring policy advocacy opportunities for guaranteed basic income programs, and organized the first annual DC Basic Income March in collaboration with the DC Guaranteed Income Coalition.

THRIVE East of the River – Bread for the City worked together with 11th Street Bridge Park, Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, and Martha’s Table to provide Ward 7 and 8 households impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns with $5,500 in cash, groceries, diapers, and other dry goods; and assistance with financial counseling and job readiness. The project demonstrated an innovative model of direct service: one that is immediately responsive to community needs and helps families stay housed, stable, and fully resourced even during job loss, unemployment, and healthcare stress. THRIVE disbursed over $3.3 million in cash relief to 605 families. Read the Urban Institute’s evaluation of the program.

Let’s GO DMV! – Let’s Guarantee Opportunity (GO) DMV! is a 5-year, double bottom-line guaranteed income (GI) pilot in the DC region that provides:

  • $1,000 per month–no strings attached– to 75 hospitality workers who lost their jobs due to COVID
  • Makes the case for government-supported programs and policies that advance economic justice

Project partners include if, A Foundation for Radical Possibility, Amalgamated Bank, Amalgamated Foundation, DC Guaranteed Income Coalition, Greater Washington Community Foundation, ROC-DC, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, and Whitman-Walker Health.

DC CARES – Bread for the City, along with CARECEN, CentroNia, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Latin American Youth Center, and Mary’s Center, was selected as a core agency to manage applications and distribute funds through the DC Cares Program. Created in response to COVID-19, this program provided financial assistance to workers in the District of Columbia who had been excluded from COVID-19-related unemployment benefits and federal stimulus efforts. BFC’s involvement in DC Cares spanned from 2020 – 2022, in which $49.6M was disbursed.

Our Team

Member Photo

Brittany Pope

Economic Security Supervisor

Member Photo

Daisy Gomez Palacios

Economic Security Fellow

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