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February Partner Spotlight: Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED)

Community Financial Resources (CFR) welcomes you to our Partner Spotlight series which highlights the amazing work our partners are doing and the impact these partnerships have on the community. Meet this month's spotlight: Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED)!

SEED is the nation's first mayor-led guaranteed income demonstration. Launched in February 2019 by former Mayor Michael D. Tubbs, SEED gave 125 randomly selected recipients $500 per month, for 24 months. The cash was unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements.

About the Partnership

SEED partnered with CFR to serve as its disbursement partner, using the CFR Card, a Visa Prepaid Debit Card. The CFR Card was re-loaded each month with a guaranteed income of $500/month. The CFR Card was really accessible for SEED recipients, as it could be used anywhere, or folks could withdraw the cash if needed.

“The staff at CFR was also great to work with.”

- SEED staff member

SEED shared that their decision to use prepaid debit cards was driven primarily by banking behaviors in Stockton. From 2013 to 2017, approximately 9.7% of Stocktonians did not have a bank account. Given this data, SEED decided against issuing the disbursement via direct deposit to recipients’ personal accounts or via electronic apps such as Venmo and CashApp, which also require users to have bank accounts. SEED also decided against writing checks because they did not want any of the $500 stripped away by check-cashing service fees. Prepaid debit cards were the most universally accessible option, and could be issued regardless of banking status and imposed zero cost on the recipients. They also offered recipients the opportunity to transfer all or some of the $500 to their preferred banking institution or financial service.

SEED has reported this work has had a positive impact on the community:

“CFR has allowed us to track spending data in the aggregate. Because our recipients are people like you and me, they spend the money like you and I would -- on the basics. Early data shows that 40% of the guaranteed income was spent on food, 25% on sales and merchandise, and 11% of utilities.”

The team at CFR is proud to partner with SEED and share their critical work towards uplifting our community. Learn more about our guaranteed basic income work here.

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