The Philly Joy Bank is a bold pilot program that provides monthly guaranteed income and voluntary support services to pregnant Philadelphians throughout pregnancy and through their baby’s first year of life, with the goal of reducing racial disparities in infant prematurity.
Among the ten largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has the unfortunate distinction of having both the highest poverty rate and the highest infant mortality rate—both of which feature profound racial disparities. Black Philadelphians disproportionately live in poverty, and disproportionately experience poor birth outcomes. The Philly Joy Bank will improve financial stability during pregnancy, enabling participants to better address basic needs, improve their ability to access healthcare, and reduce prenatal stress. Based on evidence of clear links between cash transfers, improved parental and infant health, and birth outcomes, this pilot is positioned to demonstrate a path to decreasing the risks of prematurity in Philadelphia. The Philly Joy Bank has the potential to reveal maternal and child health impacts that would allow federal funding already earmarked for this population to be used as guaranteed income for families.