Nation's first guaranteed income program for Indigenous parents launches in Washington

The Nest provides $1,250 a month per household to support maternal and family well-being.
By Chase DiBenedetto  on 
A bright illustration of two people holding two small children.
Application for The Nest program are open now. Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable

Washington state will soon be home to the nation's first guaranteed income program specifically designed to assist Indigenous parents and families.

The program, known as The Nest, is hosted by Indigenous community organization Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services, which provides direct services to families during pregnancy and early childhood. The new, no-strings-attached income program will issue $1,250 monthly payments to up to 150 Indigenous pregnant people residing in Washington's King and Pierce counties. Payments will start during pregnancy and continue until their child's third birthday, delivering as much as $45,000 per family, the organization explains. The Nest program is set to run for five years.

The Nest is funded by the nonprofit Perigee Fund and supported by technology company AidKit. AidKit provides payment technology and support to guaranteed income programs around the country, including one of the nation's largest guaranteed income pilots launched so far, servicing thousands of low-income families residing in Cook County, Illinois, as part of the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot.

"Indigenous People in the Seattle area experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, housing insecurity, infant mortality and sexual and intimate partner violence," wrote AidKit in the program's announcement. According to a 2023 report by the Maternal Mortality Review — a process required by the Washington Department of Health under its Maternal Mortality Review Law — "American Indian and Alaska Native people had higher maternal mortality rates than any other race/ethnic group."

The report found that racism, discrimination, stigma, and other social determinants of health contribute to these disproportionate maternal mortality rates, pregnancy complications, and other barriers to accessing high-quality reproductive and perinatal healthcare. "Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and rural communities face especially disproportionate risks, due to these systemic inequities."

Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services was founded in 2021, responding to the success of the 2019 Daybreak Star Doulas program, which provided community-based Indigenous doula and lactation counselor trainings. The organization now offers free Indigenous-centered home services for families, covers costs associated with out-of-state abortion care, and hosts its own doula program, Hummingbird Indigenous BirthKeepers, offering free services to pregnant people who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander and live in King County.

"Guaranteed income is transformative not only because it is associated with decreased perinatal mood disorders, increased self-efficacy, and improved birth outcomes, but also because it demonstrates an inherent trust and value in communities whose humanity is consistently devalued by mainstream society. It's a testament to the profound love and care we have for our communities that we are able to provide such an impactful program to give financial stability to people at such a critical point in their lives," wrote Camie Goldhammer, Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services' founding executive director.

A graphic with a QR code and an illustration of an Indigenous person holding braided garlic bulbs. The text reads, "Guaranteed income means more time to steward each other and cultivate ourselves. To reclaim our stories, our practices. To connect with the land."
Credit: Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services

Applications are now open, and those interested in participating may fill out a Nest Appointment Form to begin the eligibility verification process.

The organization will select 15 new recipients on the first Wednesday of every month, with first payments going out by the 25th of that same month.

Find out more about the program on its FAQ page.

"Abundance is a traditional cultural value that has been lost due to relocation and genocide," wrote Tia Yazzie, an Abundance Auntie with Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services. "The Nest supports families in reclaiming abundance for Indigenous families. Our relatives know that they are cherished, supported and entitled to a future filled with health and well-being. By providing guaranteed income, we are telling them that they are enough, that they are valuable by their very nature."

This story has been updated with new information on how to pursue participation in the Nest program.

Chase sits in front of a green framed window, wearing a cheetah print shirt and looking to her right. On the window's glass pane reads "Ricas's Tostadas" in red lettering.
Chase DiBenedetto
Social Good Reporter

Chase joined Mashable's Social Good team in 2020, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and media representation. Her work also touches on how these conversations manifest in politics, popular culture, and fandom. Sometimes she's very funny.

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