Featured Content Slideshow


Tonya: Swimming against the tide

Tonya works part-time as a customer service agent, a certified notary public, and a tax preparer. She is also an entrepreneur with an online beauty boutique.


Dawn: The bills are coming like 90 going North

Dawn is an African American woman in her mid-fifties, living in the Atlanta metropolitan area in Georgia. During the day, Dawn works for an insurance company, and evenings and weekends she works as a server at events.

Ricardo behind the bar, cleaning a glass

Ricardo: It’s a roller coaster ride

Ricardo is a Latinx man in his early 50s who has worked as a bartender for most of his adult life.

An illustration of waves with the words "Cascading Lives: Stories of Loss, Resilience and Resistance

Stories of Loss, Resistance and Resilience

The Cascading Lives Project is about a diverse group of people and how they manage their ups and downs and face times of economic crisis. In the summer of 2020, we began gathering life histories with a wide range of workers in hospitality — an industry that suffered great losses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked them to talk about the entire course of their lives, from childhood to the present, and tell us about the important people, places, and groups that made a difference along the way.

A woman arranges dumplings while cooking in an industrial kitchen

Life History Stories

The Cascading Lives Project is grounded in the stories of real people’s lives. Since the summer of 2020, we have been gathering the life histories of individuals working in the hospitality industry in Massachusetts and Georgia. Their jobs range from bartending and event-planning to industrial cleaning and circus performance. These individuals have generously shared their experiences of loss, resilience, and resistance throughout the entire course of their lives. We invite you to engage with these rich and complex narratives to learn more about experiences of economic mobility and poverty in the United States.

Cascading Lives Project Stories

A desk facing a window with an open laptop on it

Digital Curriculum Toolkit

The Cascading Lives Digital Toolkit is a package of teaching materials about economic inequality and mobility in the U.S.  Created with input from educators, the materials are designed as flexible learning units that assist English and Social Science high school teachers to bring these topics to their students in effective and imaginative ways. The unit includes five lessons:

View the digital toolkit