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The Inclusive Economy

2016 Year in Review: Despite Challenges, Assets Advocates Have Much to Celebrate

By Sean Luechtefeld on 01/11/2017 @ 09:00 AM

Tags: News, Economic Inclusion

The last two months of the year brought significant uncertainty and concern about the future for many of us. But for all of us working to build a more inclusive economy, 2016 also offered much to celebrate. We began the year by launching an ambitious new Strategic Plan, and although our tactics for achieving the goals laid forth in that plan may shift in the wake of the new political environment, our overall objectives do not. Because much of the foundation for achieving those goals was laid in 2016, we want to take time to reflect with you on all we accomplished together throughout the year.

One key area of focus in 2016 was on closing the racial wealth divide. Our Racial Wealth Divide Initiative marked its first full year of operation, deepening our field’s analysis of the financial challenges facing communities of color. As part of this effort, the 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offered new data measures that were, for the first time, disaggregated by race. We also kicked off two exciting projects: the African-American Financial Capability Initiative, made possible thanks to generous support from the Northwest Area Foundation, and the Building High-Impact Nonprofits of Color project, made possible thanks to generous support from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The past 12 months also saw significant strides when it comes to consumer protections. This summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its long-awaited proposed regulations on predatory small-dollar lenders, while just weeks later, the Bureau outlined a framework for regulating abusive debt collection practices. Then, just last month, the Federal Housing Finance Agency released its long-anticipated “Duty to Serve” rule, which compels Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve the manufactured housing finance market. Each of these three victories illustrate just how important it is that federal agencies and regulators have vulnerable families’ needs and interests on the top of their agendas.

Ultimately, these achievements would have been impossible without a large and growing network of advocates, service providers and other allies like you who are fully committed to the notion that our skin color or the ZIP code in which we're born shouldn't determine our chances of success. Nowhere did this message resonate more than at the 2016 Assets Learning Conference, which was the largest-ever gathering of asset-building professionals. Your energy, your eagerness to learn and your willingness to use your voice to build the opportunity economy are what make CFED confident that despite the challenges ahead, 2017 will offer several victories for us to celebrate together.

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