Benefits Access & Equity

We envision a social safety net that respects peoples' time and dignity — one that is designed to invite people in, rather than weed them out.

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Millions of people across the state of California and the country are not getting the benefits they are eligible for to weather these difficult times. This isn’t simply a matter of personal choice, with people choosing not to enroll in benefits programs. Rather, the answer lies in all the ways our system blocks eligible individuals and families from gaining access, including overwhelming bureaucracy, confusing eligibility rules, language and technology barriers, lack of accurate program information, and the stigmatizing of benefits recipients. The result is that those who need critical benefits most — those with the lowest incomes, and in particular Black and Latino households — continue to struggle.

The good news? A growing number of people and organizations inside and outside of government are recognizing this problem — and have started working on solutions, using state-of-the-art technology and human-centered design to bring in those who have been left out.

But there’s still much work to be done. In part because of the complexity and scope of the problem, these efforts to fix and reform often happen in a fragmented and siloed manner. And frequently, the perspectives of people with lived expertise – those who have personally faced barriers to benefits access – are not at the design table. While great strides are being made on specific challenges, we have lacked a larger, coordinated strategy guided by on-the-ground experiences to improve benefits access and equity across our safety net.

Our Goals

Our Goals

The Benefits Access & Equity (BAE) Initiative aims to strengthen Americans' access to essential benefits by:

  • Building a cross-sector movement committed to benefits access with equity as a driving force
  • Bringing attention to existing benefits access and equity work and identifying opportunities to expand and improve that work
  • Spurring action around the state and country to streamline and simplify the benefits access process

We are bringing together policy makers, benefits administrators, direct service providers, and people with lived expertise to design and build towards a social safety net that centers the experience of those who use it.

Join the Community

Organizations and individuals working to improve benefits access and equity will be connecting and collaborating through the BAE Community of Practice. Fill out the form below to be notified when the Community of Practice launches.