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Posted on 10/27/2021
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The pilot will randomly select approximately 3,000 qualifying Angelenos hardest hit by COVID and offer $1,000 a month for a year in direct cash assistance, no strings attached 

LOS ANGELES — Just months after Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council announced the formation of the Community Investment for Families Department (CIFD) – tasked with the mission to break the cycle of generational poverty – the CIFD announced today it will serve as the lead administrator of BIG:LEAP, the largest poverty-disrupter pilot program in the country offering no-strings-attached direct-cash payments of $1,000 a month for one year to randomly selected qualifying individuals living in poverty and adversely impacted by COVID-19. The 10-day application period begins October 29 and goes through November 7, 2021, and includes local grassroots efforts to inform communities in need. 

“$1,000 a month can dramatically change a family’s circumstance, helping them to meet basic needs and eliminate the stress of living paycheck to paycheck,” said Abigail Marquez, General Manager, Community Investment for Families Department. “The emotional burdens and financial challenges that emerged due to COVID have especially devastated Angelenos living below the poverty threshold and will outlast the pandemic itself. BIG:LEAP will help secure the safety and stability of some of our most vulnerable families here in Los Angeles.” 

With an estimated $36 million slated for the pilot, BIG:LEAP has the potential to change the way social service support is provided across the nation and launches because of the steadfast leadership of Mayor Garcetti and the City Council and supported with additional funding allocated by Councilman Curren D. Price, Council President Nury Martinez, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris Dawson.  

In preparation for Friday’s open application period, CIFD has deployed grassroots efforts to ensure hard-to-reach Angelenos are informed about the program and get support to apply. With the support of the Mayor and City Council, CIFD has tapped into a network of 200+ community-based organizations serving as BIG:LEAP Ambassadors to receive training webinars, social media toolkits, and program guides outlining application criteria and procedures; partnered with 311 as a resource to provide a list of community centers providing access to computers and in-person support; and developed with multilingual language accessibility.  

"Addressing the Los Angeles’ poverty crisis requires the public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to all work together, which is exactly the sort of collaboration the Mayor’s Fund was created to foster,” said Deidre Lind, President & CEO of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. “BIG:LEAP is a landmark initiative that joins City Hall and the community to drive unprecedented change that will improve the lives of families and strengthen our neighborhoods.” The Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles is helping support the administrative costs of the program.

Direct Cash Payments with No Restrictions
BIG:LEAP, Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot, is the largest demonstration of guaranteed basic income (GBI) in the United States. Direct cash payments to approximately 3,000 qualifying individuals will be unconditional and regular to households living at or below the Federal Poverty Level. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent and no requirements for the participants. GBI programs are founded upon the belief that people enduring financial instability or poverty are best positioned to make informed financial decisions that efficiently address their household’s needs. GBI programs are leading the charge in innovative and effective social welfare policy initiatives.

Qualifying Criteria & How To Apply  
Interested individuals must meet all five qualifying criteria: 

  • Reside in the City of Los Angeles
  • Have at least one dependent child or be pregnant
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Income level at or below the Federal Poverty Level 
  • Experienced economic and/or medical hardship due to COVID-19 

The application process for BIG:LEAP opens Friday, October 29, 2021, through Sunday, November 7, 2021; a 10-day filing period. Applicants can apply online at or visit a BIG:LEAP Community Partner (list of partners available by calling 311), local library, or locate a FamilySource Center (16 locations) for assistance. All in-person support will follow COVID-19 safety protocols.  

Applicant Selection & First Payment Schedule
The approximately 3,000 recipients of cash assistance from BIG:LEAP will be randomly selected by the City’s research partner, the Center for Guaranteed Income. Randomly selected Angelenos will provide eligibility documentation to prove they meet program requirements. Upon confirmation, they will receive a prepaid debit card through MocaFi which will be reloaded with $1,000 every month. The City anticipates the first disbursement will occur in late January 2022. Some Angelenos who do not get selected will be invited to participate in the program’s research through ongoing surveys. This will help the City’s research partner gather data on the program’s impact. 


ABOUT CIFD: Established in July 2021 by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council, the Community Investment for Families Department (CIFD) works to implement initiatives that will empower Angelenos to forge their own path to financial security and break the cycle of generational poverty. For more information, contact  

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