Mauricio Miller is the founder and managing partner of the Center for Peer-driven Change, a global collaborative that promotes and supports resident led efforts and the mutuality which can close the gap in wealth and social standing. Mauricio, a trained engineer, one-time manager of a top social service agency, and most importantly, the son of a remarkable single mother, has both lived and observed the failings embodied in our attitudes towards those struggling with poverty. The Center partners with groups that meet residents where they are, supporting the incredible self-renewing power of social change that exists in everyday people, in every neighborhood, and has existed throughout history.
Besides the Schwab Award, Mauricio is a MacArthur and Ashoka Fellow among other recognition.
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Center for Peer-driven Change
The Center for Peer-driven Change is the outgrowth of the lessons lived and observed from growing up in poverty and then suddenly entering a privileged world after graduating as an engineer from the University of California at Berkeley. Mauricio left engineering in 1980 to run a top non-profit for 20 years that was honored with an invitation to President Clinton’s 1999 State of the Union Address. However, by then he had become disillusioned with the paternalism of even his programs and in 2001 he began to explore the capacity of families like his own to lead their own change process.
Initially named the Family Independence Initiative, it became the Community Independence initiative after more fully recognizing that the struggle for upward mobility was best facilitated by peers rather than programs. To capture the inherent capacity of families to lead their own change, staff were not allowed to provide advice or direction on the threat of being fired (4 staff were fired for helping). Instead, participants turned to peers which empowered and strengthened a sense of community. The role of the sponsor was to use an advanced tech platform to facilitate sharing and investing in strong participant efforts. We found that even those appearing extremely needy instead demonstrated amazing effort. Over a 20-year period the participants in projects all over the world have documented significant growth in initiative, income, and well-being. In 2022 the Center for Peer-driven Change was formed to bring together like-minded partners seeking to build a resident driven movement for social change.