52 KRISHNA THACKER The Future of the Graduation Approach: Taking a Proven Anti-Poverty Measure to Scale Like many very low-income Indians, Jema Naik and her husband, Basanta combine subsistence farming with other income-generating activities. And like so many others, the Naiks worried constantly about how to meet even the most basic needs for themselves and their young daughter, especially if the harvest was bad. Basanta used to migrate to Goa, the nearest big city, for as long as six months at a time, competing with a huge pool of other unskilled men for day labor. Along with the serious material privations the family faced, both Jema and Basanta suffered from periodic bouts of depression from the relentless stress. ThenTrickleUp,aMetLifeFoundationgrantee,approached Jema and encouraged her to join one of its “graduation” self-help groups. The graduation methodology is a holistic response to extreme poverty, one that understands the mental as well as physical dimensions of poverty. Graduation programs combine individual mentoring and moral support with intensive practical support. For those who have trouble meeting daily nutritional needs, a graduation program will provide direct consumption support, in the form of either food or cash to buy food. Once food intake has stabilized, the graduation methodology will work with the participant to identify a viable livelihood. Then the program will provide technical training in that livelihood activity and provide a related asset (e.g., livestock for agricultural livelihoods, a sewing machine and cloth for tailoring, or a startup inventory of goods to stock a grocery). Graduation programs also emphasize financial services: savings for everyone, credit for those participants whose chosen livelihoods might benefit from loans. Graduation is intensive and tailored Photo: Shop owner Reeti Majhi and her husband Jiten, courtesy of MetLife Foundation.