Direct Giving Lab

Direct Giving Lab (DGL) provides unrestricted cash transfers to low-income working households that are looking for a path out of poverty. A direct cash transfer program aims to alleviate poverty by bridging the minimum wage-living wage gap. A living wage is the household income necessary to meet basic needs: rent, food, utilities, childcare, health care, transportation, income taxes. In Illinois, the living wage household income for a family of four with one adult working is $56,000. The living wage gap for DGL families can be as significant as $20,000 annually and traps families in poverty. DGL’s Cash Transfer program conducts unrestricted cash direct cash projects, varying the monthly cash amount and duration of program enrollment, and collects feedback on financial security and health outcomes. To date, DGL has provided families with $100/month and $150/month cash transfers, and families have participated for 12 or 24 months. DGL’s current group of families were selected using the free and reduced meal (FARM) program at Highland Park High School to identify families with children struggling to make ends meet.