Major Initiative

UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot

basic income logo

UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot is a cross-sector collaboration that is studying the impacts of central Iowans receiving a basic income. Following successful models across the nation, the pilot project will provide 110 low-income individuals with $500 each month for two years. Researchers will track how participants use the stipend each month and will compare various health and well-being outcomes of stipend recipients to those of 140 individuals who do not receive a stipend.

Central Iowa joins communities across the nation that have launched basic income pilots and is the first to include urban, suburban, and rural geographies in a single pilot model. By tracking how individuals use their income each month, this pilot will inform future policy and resource investment decisions aimed at reducing poverty and improving community health and well-being.

Research in other regions has shown that basic income gives people greater flexibility to meet their essential needs, leading to impacts, including reduced month-to-month income fluctuations, increased ability to find full-time employment, improved physical and mental health, and improved response to unexpected emergencies. Studies have also identified consistent economic support as a child welfare prevention strategy.

Visit the UpLift website to learn more about the Central Iowa Pilot. Learn about similar projects throughout the U.S. on our resource page.

Project Partners

The project is a partnership among several stakeholders:

  • Funding: Eleven public and private entities committed a collective $2.5 million. Mid-Iowa Health Foundation's Board of Directors has made a $200,000 commitment to the project.
  • Project Implementation: The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Civic Engagement at Drake University
  • Research: The Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, with local support from Des Moines University’s Department of Public Health.
  • Community Engagement: Community-based organizations have offered guidance and support with participant engagement.

Project details:

  • Participant recruitment from people living in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties will take place February 17-27, 2023, and participants will receive first payments in May 2023.
  • The project will follow a randomized control study model.
  • As outcomes are monitored, community meetings will be held to discuss potential policy and investment decisions.

News about the project:

Here is a collection of local coverage about the Basic Income Pilot:

  • Business Record - UpLift Basic Income Pilot prepares for community conversations as checks are delivered
  • WHO-TV - Basic income project offering free cash begins in central Iowa (May 2023)
  • The Des Moines Register - Opinion: A basic income study is right for central Iowa right now. Here's why. (May 2023)
  • Iowa Public Radio - Basic income program set to begin $500 monthly payments (April 2023)
  • Business Record - Pilot project Uplift launches to provide monthly basic income (February 2023)
  • Des Moines Register - New basic income program gives central Iowans $500 a month - no strings attached (February 2023)
  • WHO-TV - Is your family eligible to get $500 per month to spend however you want? (February 2023)
  • Radio Iowa - Guaranteed income payments to go out to three counties in May (February 2023)
  • Axios - Guaranteed income program to launch in Des Moines metro (July 2022)
  • WOI - Des Moines, Iowa approves $500 basic income pilot program (July 2022)
  • KCCI - Some Iowans could receive up to $500 per month in new guaranteed income project (July 2022)

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How student research informed the basic income project

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