Before coming to The Harkin Institute as a Project Coordinator for UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot, I was finishing my Master’s in Public Health degree at the University of Iowa with a practicum project focused on the Central Iowa basic income pilot model. One of my project’s deliverables was to make recommendations for strategies to use when recruiting individuals to participate. 

Over the summer of 2022, I traveled around Polk, Dallas, and Warren Counties to interview nine community-based organizations that were interested in assisting with recruiting pilot participants. Each organization contributed expert advice in diverse areas, including housing stability, food security, migrant health, after-school programming, and rural community health. The various perspectives from local experts allowed me to learn about the nuances of engaging people within different spaces and how that impacts recruiting eligible individuals.

What we discussed

Each meeting with an organization focused on the languages spoken by their clients, potential barriers with accessing information about the project, potential barriers clients might face with communication and participation, types of recruitment materials needed to make people aware of the project, information to include on recruitment materials, additional resources needed to support during recruitment (i.e. interpreters/translators, materials available in multiple languages, information sessions and trainings for staff, a fully functional website), and alternative recruitment methods that could be effective in connecting with diverse communities (i.e., advertisements in newspapers, radio stations, and social media platforms). 

What we learned

Community organizations brought valuable perspectives to issues potential applicants might face with hearing about and applying for the pilot, such as language barriers, literacy barriers, issues with using technology, a lack of trust with institutions and banks, unstable housing conditions, unreliable cell phone service, irregular working hours, and not already being connected with community resources or services. All of these concerns were incredibly important to inform recruitment strategies and played an integral part in shaping the pilot’s recruitment process.

How we used the information

Receiving feedback from organizations as the pilot was developed was a critical step for UpLift to position itself as an initiative engaged with communities and guided by multiple voices. As a result of these preliminary meetings, our team prioritized making information about the pilot easy to understand and accessible to all interested stakeholders. From meetings with community partners, we decided to create a website that was user friendly, have a social media presence on multiple platforms, make recruitment materials accessible in multiple languages, deliver messages through newspapers, television, and radio, host information sessions and trainings with staff at various organizations, and provide partners with a social media toolkit.

With over 6,000 eligible applicants ultimately responding, we believe our community-informed approach greatly strengthened the participant outreach and engagement efforts for the pilot.