25 Photo: courtesy of Trickle Up, taken from a video on their website. EVELYN STARK / JAYA SARKAR Breaking the Catch-22 of Poverty: What’s Next for the Graduation Model? The graduation approach has come a long way. A sequenced set of interventions that combines elements of social protection, livelihood development and financial services, the approach has expanded globally over the past decade, as rigorous research has demonstrated its ability to move ultra-poor families into sustainable livelihoods. But graduation is a time-, labor-, and cost-intensive model. Trickle Up was one of the early implementers of graduation programs, through a pilot sponsored by CGAP and the Ford Foundation. Like many organizations that implement the model, it has continued to expand its graduation work, while working to identify ways the program can increase cost-effectiveness and scale. A BRIEF RECAP The graduation approach’s central insight is that a person perpetually trapped in survival mode cannot focus on anything but the here and now. Even before behavioral economists called this “depletion” or “scarcity,” Trickle Up recognized the need to break the catch-22 of extreme poverty: People caught in that trap remain in extreme poverty because they cannot build a livelihood, and they cannot build a livelihood because they are constantly overwhelmed by the crises that extreme poverty and multiple vulnerabilities create. That’s why the graduation approach leads with consumption support (either actual food or the money to purchase food) to allow families the “luxury” of the time and energy to consider longer-term issues, especially