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Robert Friedman, General Counsel, Founder & Chair Emeritus

Areas of Expertise: Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, Children’s Savings Accounts, Enterprise & Economic Development, Federal Assets Budgets, Federal Policy, IDAs, Local Policy, Microenterprise, Public Sector, Savings & Financial Security, State Policy

Robert (Bob) Friedman is the Founder, Chair of the Board and General Counsel for CFED. A recognized pioneer in the asset-building and economic development movement, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise Development from President Bill Clinton in 1999. He helped create the U.S. microenterprise, savings and asset-building fields and the international economic development and child savings fields. Currently, he is focused on economic development strategies that ensure an inclusive economy where all children and adults have a reasonable opportunity to save, go to college, start a business, buy a home and otherwise build an economic future for themselves, their families and the country as a whole. Bob is based in San Francisco (too far from his granddaughter) and serves on a number of Boards including Ecotrust, Child and Youth Finance International, the Rosenberg Foundation, Friedman Family Foundation and the Family Independence Initiative. He is a past board member of Levi Strauss & Co., a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, and author of The Safety Net as Ladder: Transfer Payments and Economic Development.


"Building the Opportunity Economy," in What It's Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation


Bob’s Closing Remarks at ALC2010

Bob’s Remarks on SEED as a Critical Investment

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Most Recent Blog Posts

Oct 28, 2016

The Price of Hope: A Few Thousand Dollars

CFED's founder Bob Friedman looks back on his closing remarks at the 2016 Assets Learning Conference.

Feb 8, 2016

"You Know It Has Soul": Reflections on the Launch of Oakland Promise

The promise Oakland is making to its young people is a promise America should be making to its youth, regardless of where they live.

Sep 21, 2015

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Wealth Inequality: Its Causes and Cures

Why is wealth inequality—and asset poverty—so great, and what should and can be done about it?

Jun 4, 2015

Read This If You’re Having a Bad Day

We launched the Family Economic Opportunity Fund, a $2,000,000 campaign to raise the capital CFED needs to design, pilot and scale innovative programs and policies that significantly reduce wealth inequality in the US

Feb 17, 2015

Bob Friedman On How the Asset Building Movement Got Its Mojo

This recently published Inside Philanthropy article explains the history behind funding the asset building field.

Nov 5, 2014

What Does Success Look Like?

As CFED embarks on the journey of developing our next strategic plan, we’re not just looking to the next three years.

Jun 12, 2014

Growing the Field: Future Directions

Over the past 25 years, the Child Savings Account movement has grown from an idea to a global phenomenon, and, in the US

May 14, 2014

A Giant Bows Out

Jack A. Litzenberg, who worked at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for more than 30 years, died Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at the age of 67.

May 13, 2014

Who Are the Job Creators?

Policymakers’ and pundits’ answers to that crucial question vary from year to year.

Apr 28, 2014

The Existence of Poverty Doesn’t Signal the Failure of Asset Building: A Response to Callahan

David Callahan critiqued the asset-building field by asserting that it was hard to think of "a policy movement that failed so miserably in its overall goal

Nov 19, 2013

We can’t shrink the wealth gap if we don’t reform the tax code

The wealth gap these days is the subject of an acclaimed documentary, viral videos and countless articles and opinion pieces. But even as the concept infiltrates popular culture, have we moved any closer to understanding it?

Sep 13, 2013

All-In Nation: Making the America that Works for All

All-in Nation is noteworthy for how it advances the conversation about asset-based strategies that create pathways for economic security.

Jun 3, 2013

Four Lessons Gleaned from the Children & Youth Finance International Summit

One hundred million children in more than 100 countries with financial education and services by 2015.

Apr 1, 2013

Wilma Mankiller's Legacy: Every Day is a Good Day

I remember when I first met Wilma Mankiller, thirty years ago at the first convening on women’s economic development

Mar 19, 2013

Wealth Inequality: Its Causes and Cures

The video, Wealth Inequality in America, went viral last Tuesday, scoring more than two million hits

Mar 14, 2013

The Ladder of Giving

The creation of the social safety net during the 20th Century – in the U.S. and Europe – represented major progress in the attempt to eradicate poverty

Oct 11, 2012

Friedman: "Our Asset Policies ‘Reward the Rich, Miss the Middle, Penalize the Poor'"

Last week, I attended CFED’s 2012 Assets Learning Conference, a biannual national

Aug 28, 2012

CFED’s Friedman Featured in Harvard Magazine

BOB FRIEDMAN ’71 will never forget the moment at the Harlem Children’s Zone when the five-year-old son of a poor single mother

Mar 13, 2012

New Resource: Podcast on Tax Benefits for Entrepreneurs

As you may remember, CFED Founder Bob Friedman spoke earlier this year at the Big Ideas for Job Creation Forum

Mar 5, 2012

Founder’s View: The Myth of the 1%

The top one percent create only about one percent of businesses. The lion's share of new businesses are started by the remaining 99%, including middle- and low-income Americans, trying to create jobs for themselves.

Jan 24, 2012

Provide Tax Benefits for Entrepreneurs

These days, job creation seems to be the topic of conversation nearly everywhere we go. Everyone has ideas – some good, some bad – for how best to battle the unemployment crisis facing our nation.

Dec 15, 2011

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years ago, Michael Sherraden’s seminal work, Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, appeared. It changed my life, and more importantly, the lives of tens of thousands, soon to be millions or tens of millions, of low-income people and their advocates, around the world.

Nov 10, 2011

Recap: Big Ideas for Job Creation

A few days ago, the two of us attended a forum in Washington titled “Big Ideas for Job Creation.”

Oct 21, 2011

Big Ideas for Job Creation

On Tuesday, November 8, CFED Founder Bob Friedman will speak at “Big Ideas for Job Creation,”

Oct 19, 2011

The Neglected Self-Starter

Among the very good provisions of the American Jobs Act (AJA) are some that recognize

Sep 6, 2011

Forbes Interview with CFED Founder Bob Friedman

Forbes' Rahim Kanani recently interviewed CFED founder and general counsel Bob Friedman for his column that focuses on leadership in the social sector.

Jul 25, 2011

CFED's Friedman Authors Op-Ed in 'The Hill'

“Tax cuts for job creators!” It is a rallying cry echoing these days from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mar 18, 2011

Open Doors to the Economy

The policies in our history that have resulted in the most significant, widely shared and sustained increases in economic prosperity

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