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The Inclusive Economy

Advocates Use New Assets & Opportunity Scorecard Data to Build the Case for Policy Reform

By Sean Luechtefeld on 01/01/2015 @ 03:45 PM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative, News

A variety of indicators—falling unemployment, an improving stock market and a stabilizing housing market—suggest that the economy is improving. Yet many Americans see little evidence of economic recovery in their own lives. The 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, released last week by CFED, sheds some light on this conundrum. The new data illustrate that many Americans are struggling in their abilities to control their finances, absorb a financial shock or be on track to meet their financial goals. These findings, detailed in CFED’s new report, Excluded from the Financial Mainstream, suggest that a comprehensive public policy response is needed in order to improve the financial well-being of American households.

Released annually, the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a powerful data tool CFED develops to empower advocates to advance asset-building policies in their states. With over 135 outcome and policy measures across five issue areas (Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education), the Scorecard can be leveraged by advocates to educate policymakers and other community leaders about the importance of strategies that help individuals and families get ahead.

We’re proud to work with state and local partners from the Assets & Opportunity Network who use the Scorecard as a powerful opportunity to engage policymakers and media around key asset-building issues facing their communities. This year, the Idaho Asset-Building Network, an Assets & Opportunity Network Leader, was the perfect example. With the 2015 legislative session in full swing, the Idaho Asset-Building Network hosted a press conference at the Idaho State Capitol and invited all state legislators and media outlets throughout the state to attend. The event resulted in a feature on the Boise evening news, as well as the expectation that several other media outlets will run a story about the Scorecard data and the Idaho Asset-Building Network.

The press conference—which was held in one of the committee hearing rooms at the State Capitol—shed light on the challenges facing Idahoans, and raised awareness about the Idaho Asset-Building Network’s mission to promote and strengthen asset-building programs and policies in the state. Christine Tiddens, Community Outreach Director at Catholic Charities of Idaho, and Jessica Sotelo, Executive Director at Partners for Prosperity, provided an overview of the new data in the Scorecard, focusing on how the state’s high liquid asset poverty rate, low annual pay and high percentage of low-wage jobs underscore the need for policies that help residents build financial security. They also talked about the Network’s goals of facilitating policy advocacy, building capacity for members and raising awareness about asset-building issues. Four members of the Network’s steering committee in addition to Christine and Jessica were present at the press conference: Todd Christianson with Debt Reduction Services, Val Brooks with Simplot Credit Union, Joyce Bailey with United Way of the Treasure Valley and Lauren Necochea with the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.

Reflecting on the day, Christine commented, “The event was a success! The Scorecard received a lot of attention and people had a lot of questions. The Idaho Asset-Building Network members were able to share their asset-building programs and services with legislators and the media.”

CFED is deeply grateful to Assets & Opportunity Network Leaders like Christine and Jessica for bringing the asset-building message to state lawmakers. We also extend our gratitude to the funders who make the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard possible, including the Ford Foundation, the Northwest Area Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.


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