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New national coalition focuses on addressing the benefits cliff for families with low incomes

Human Services

The benefits cliff, experienced by millions of families living with low incomes, happens when an increase in earnings results in an abrupt loss in public benefits and an overall decrease in financial security.

To help families achieve social and economic success, Kresge NextGen initiative organization Martha O’Bryan Center in Tennessee has launched Beyond the Cliff, a first-of-its-kind national collaborative of nonprofits, state and local governments, and collaborative stakeholders focused on eliminating the benefits cliff.

“We are excited to provide support for this effort given the tremendous barrier the benefits cliff presents for millions of working families seeking to obtain real and lasting social and economic success,” said Human Services Senior Program Officer Joelle-Jude Fontaine.

This coalition builds on the work the Martha O’Bryan Center leads through the Tennessee Alliance for Economic Mobility (TAEM). TAEM is a public-private partnership comprised of 32 organizations that the Tennessee Opportunity Act funds. The Tennessee Opportunity Act Pilot Initiative funds seven nonprofits to implement innovative strategies for moving Tennessee families with economic, social and developmental vulnerabilities beyond their current circumstances and onto self-sufficiency. With this funding, TAEM launched the Our ChanceTN pilot, working collaboratively to support 900 families in moving beyond the benefits cliff in Middle Tennessee.

In addition to the Tennessee Alliance for Economic Mobility, the inaugural members of the Coalition include:

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) will serve in an advisory capacity.

“At Martha O’Bryan, we seek solutions to the root causes of poverty. We are very excited about leading this coalition focused on eliminating the benefits cliff. As an antipoverty organization, we believe families can rise out of poverty in one generation. We recognize that that has not been true in all places for all people. Eliminating the benefits cliff is an important step toward expanding the landscape of opportunity for all families,” said Martha O’Bryan Center President and CEO Marsha Edwards.