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Asset Building News Round Up: January 23, 2015

By Paul Day on 01/23/2015 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative


From Businessweek: It's a sign that the housing market has largely mended that Barack Obama barely mentioned homeownership in his penultimate State of the Union address Tuesday night, as he did at least 16 times in his previous six State of the Unions. The president did take the opportunity to tell the story of a couple from Minnesota who struggled through the recession and succeeded, finally, in buying their first home. Here’s one thing he didn’t mention at all: the rent. Read more here.

From U.S. News and World Report: Part of President Barack Obama's tax reform unveiled ahead of Tuesday's State of the Union address would make changes to a higher education tax credit to benefit more low-income families. But some critics say that, while admirable, the proposed reform is misguided and may not do enough to ease the financial burden for college-bound low-income students. Read more here.

From Motley Fool: One disturbing statistic revealed in the Federal Reserve's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households" is that nearly half of Americans have not done much financial planning for their retirement. Specifically, 24% of respondents reported doing "very little" planning and another 25% said they had done no planning at all. Read more here.

From Al Jazerra America: President Barack Obama touted the United States’ comeback from a crippling recession during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but he also called attention to some of the ways in which the country needs to improve — including its inadequate sick-leave, parental-leave and child-care policies. Read more here.

Assets & Opportunity Network Updates

From Louisville Metro Community Services and Revitalization: A bill was introduced earlier in January 2015 in the Kentucky State Senate to cap interest rates on payday loans at 36%. For more information, click here.

From the San Francisco Assets & Opportunity Network: Are you a Bay Area nonprofit dedicated to helping hardworking families find economic opportunity? Mission Asset Fund wants you to apply to become a Lending Circles partner! The Better Bay Area initiative is a unique opportunity for up to 10 Bay Area nonprofits to join the Lending Circles partner network through a special application process. Read more here.

CFED Story Bank Updates

See your stories here!
Do you have an outstanding success story about a saver? Submit your saver stories to CFED's Story Bank. Click here to submit your story.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: Mary Callahan was 42 and living in an apartment in rural Belmont, NH, with her six-year-old daughter, Miracle. While she liked the apartment, and its proximity to her job, she craved the stability of a permanent home. So when she saw a first-time homebuyer’s program listed in the newspaper, she contacted the Laconia Area Community Land Trust right away. Read more here.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: One moment in April 2011 turned Sara Cloutier’s and Carlos Roman Gonzalez’s lives upside down. The couple, in their late 20s, lost a dear friend and their home when Sara found their landlord dead from a heart attack. He was like family to Sara, who had rented from him since she was 18. He had wanted to sell Sara and Carlos the house in Bethlehem, NH, and they had saved for a year to make that happen. They and their young sons, Joshua and Levi, had been secure and happy there. Read more here.

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Top 5 Takeaways from the President’s State of the Union Speech

By Paul Day on 01/22/2015 @ 06:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy

Photo Credit: White House

This Tuesday, the President gave his annual State of the Union address to Congress. CFED was busy that night tweeting and blogging about the speech and its potential implications for our work to build financial security and assets for low- and moderate-income Americans. Here are five of the top takeaways from the President’s speech.

Paid leave and quality child care can be crucial in building financial stability for all households.
The President mentioned the lack of paid maternity leave and universal child care, which exists in most every other advanced nation. In the United States, there is a limited safety net for working families and it means that the day-to-day expenses of living often trump saving for retirement or having a nest egg in case of an emergency.

The economy is doing well and creating jobs, but do the jobs created pay middle class wages?
The President cited a figure that over the past five years, American businesses have created 11 million new jobs. But at the same time, many of those jobs pay less than the median—and the jobs lost during the great recession have been largely replaced with part-time work without benefits. Without full-time jobs that pay living wages with benefits, how can a family support itself and think about savings? This is a topic we explore in our forthcoming Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which will be released next Thursday.

College is expensive and free community college can level the playing field.
Student debt has skyrocketed over the past decade and it’s even more difficult to find a job without a college degree. The President’s free community college proposal could be a game changer for low and moderate income people who are looking to improve their incomes over the long haul without going into a lot of debt.

We need a tax code that helps working Americans get a “leg up” in the new economy.
The President must have been reading CFED’s Upside Down report, because he mentioned crucial changes to the tax code that could level the playing field for most Americans. Those changes include tax credits for child care and married couples who each hold jobs and closing tax loopholes on inherited funds that go untaxed.

We need to work harder to recognize the role of microbusinesses in the economy.
The President mentioned small businesses in his speech, but didn’t provide a lot of concrete examples of how he would help boost microbusinesses, which make up 90% of small businesses in America and create over 26 million jobs. How can we help these microbusiness owners build assets and financial stability so they can achieve the American dream? Check out CFED’s Entrepreneurship page for more info.

In conclusion, the President’s speech highlighted many aspects of our work and addressed issues around financial security, but there were serious gaps in the specifics. The President could round out his tax policy with more tax credits for microbusinesses and more dramatic changes to the upside-down tax code that disproportionately benefits high-income households. There are tremendous opportunities over the remainder of the President’s term in office and we’re overall very happy that in his speech, financial security and economic equality were high priorities!

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Assets & Opportunity Network TA Fund: Building Floridians’ Capacity to Expand and Improve Financial Capability Programs through Integration

By Fran Rosebush on 01/22/2015 @ 05:30 PM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative

Florida Prosperity Partnership, an Assets & Opportunity Network Lead State Organization, applied to the A&O Network Technical Assistance (TA) Fund to bring capacity-building efforts to their annual state asset-building conference. They worked with A&O Network staff to develop a workshop for their local partners around how to expand and improve financial capability strategies through integration and building stronger networks amongst local partners.

Through a series of short presentations, exercises and peer networking, workshop attendees explored options for how to maximize client outcomes by connecting them to a range of asset-building services through different integration strategies. We walked through tools designed to help them identify the asset-building services their clients need to achieve their goals and the model of integration that most makes sense for them and potential partners in their community. And then we discussed how coalitions, collaboratives and networks can achieve greater impact by aligning their work.

Practitioners, advocates, funders and others are seeing the value of integration in order to scale up and improve financial capability efforts in local communities. Here are a few resources which share and discuss the latest research and findings on the value of integration:

For those interested in learning more about integrating financial capability strategies, stay tuned for more upcoming learning opportunities through the Assets & Opportunity Network, including an Integration 101 webinar coming soon and the release of the interactive integration planning guide mentioned above.

The ability to create a workshop with Florida Prosperity Partnership that addressed their specific learning needs and interests is one reason the JPMorgan Chase TA Fund is unique. The TA Fund is part of the Assets & Opportunity Network Learning Community, which aims to speed up diffusion of innovative financial security and asset-building approaches. The Assets & Opportunity Network includes many of the nation’s leading experts who are grounded in real-world practice and policy on financial capability and asset-building issues, as well as others who have the interest, drive and passion to deepen and expand their impact, but who may be newer to the work. The Technical Assistance Fund was designed to leverage expertise within the Network to help organizations address their critical issues, strengthen their work and explore new avenues to increase their impact.

Also in This Series

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Promoting Financial Capability in North Carolina: Report from the Assets Learning Conference

By Donna Gallagher (Guest Contributor) and Sarah Glover (Guest Contributor) on 01/21/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative, ALC 2014

North Carolina had a record number of representatives who attended the 2014 CFED Assets Learning Conference (ALC) in September 2014—all committed to building a nation and a state where every one of us has the opportunity to build a better financial future. If you were one of the lucky ones joining the group of 1,200+ in attendance, you returned home with new ideas, new views of addressing community needs, new ways for low- and moderate-income households to build wealth, impressive policy wins and informative, timely research on how best to create the platforms for prosperity in your community or state. You arrived home full of inspiration and motivation from the impressive plenary speakers, with many new contacts from around the country.

Our NC contingent connected ahead of the 2014 ALC to plan for both our Hill Visits during the ALC, and also to plan for a post-ALC event coordinated by the United Way of Greater Greensboro and the North Carolina Assets Alliance. With sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase, our state’s ALC delegation convened 70 professionals from around the state for a day of learning, networking with one another and thinking through how to best move the assets indicators in our communities. Our event was held at North Carolina A&T State University. This central Greensboro location helped us divide the Murphy to Manteo span of 540 miles west to east across NC.

We learned from CFED that we were the only state formalizing a post-ALC event, and we were fortunate to have had Fran Rosebush from CFED join us as a speaker and to represent the Assets & Opportunity Network. Other speakers were ALC attendees and sponsors. The agenda for the day shared information from specific ALC sessions, new directions from the A&O Network, new developments in the asset-building field and opportunities to build relationships with one another.

The NC Assets Alliance is the Lead State Organization for the A&O Network. Formed back in 2005, we published a research report in 2010, “A Prosperity Grid for North Carolina: Connecting Households and Communities to Economic Opportunity.” While the data are now outdated, the conclusions and aspirational goals for our state remain the foundation of our work here. Sadly, in spite of continuing and sustained efforts, we have seen our state slide nationally, and we are currently 46th in outcomes according to the 2014 Assets& Opportunity Scorecard. At the ALC, our NC contingent of 35 people was able to attend a broad range of presentations and group meetings. By sharing that information with the network of 80+ agencies that are members of the NC Assets Alliance, we hope to use what we learned at the ALC to spark new activities and to build financial capability across the state.

As nonprofit workers and community builders, you are experts at organizing and hosting events. What did we learn from our post-ALC event that could be helpful to your state for hosting a post- 2016 ALC event?

  1. Organize the ALC session attendance ahead of time. If your state or local organization is considering hosting a post ALC event, CFED can provide a listing of ALC registrants from your state to help you contact them and organize who is attending what, to broaden the coverage. The NC Assets Alliance conference organizing committee contacted the NC people who had registered for the ALC about one month ahead of the ALC. We could have used a little more time. We recommend six weeks out as the minimum, or as soon as the final ALC agenda has been published.
  2. Make the difficult decisions on what sessions will appeal to the broadest audience. At the end of the day, we made decisions based on whether topics had been consistently included in the NC Asset Alliance’s legislative policy priorities, and whether both urban and rural populations could benefit. Of our state’s 100 counties, a large majority are considered rural.
  3. Strike a balance between the length of the breakout sessions and the number of sessions offered. We had to decide whether to provide snapshots of ALC sessions and reduce the agenda time to 30 minutes to offer more sessions, or provide more in-depth coverage of the sessions at the ALC by allowing for longer breakout sessions, thereby offering fewer of them. We opted for the latter, and used the postings on the ALC website to develop the individual sessions.
  4. Have the professionals take care of technology. Live streaming, audio recordings and posting on the website all took special technological expertise. Include these functions in your budget (research the costs well ahead of time) and relieve yourself of these responsibilities. The technology helps to reach the broadest audience possible, for those unable to attend in person, and hiring professionals allows the organizers to focus more on interacting with the attendees and conducting the presentations.
  5. Share the work and share the revenue. The event budget covered lunch, audio-visuals and recording, facility rental, printing and supplies. Additionally, transportation stipends were available to attendees to cover the cost of gas to attend. Planning and contracting with the venue, technology support, finalizing speakers, laying out and printing the program, assembling attendee packets and catering were all the responsibility of the United Way staff. Sending communications to potential attendees, loading the video and audio recordings to the NC Assets Alliance website, and managing registration were handled by The Collaborative.
  6. Involve the community. An event like this is a great opportunity to recruit volunteers to assist with the event logistics. United Way had a volunteer event planner who assigned volunteer roles (greeters, runners, etc.), communicated with the facility staff and took care of details so that the planning committee could focus on the conference content. Assign more than one volunteer to take photos and manage social media during the event. Ensure that sponsor logos show up in the photos and videos posted online.
  7. Evaluate the effort. Separate surveys were provided to those who attended via live stream, and those who attended in person. The organizing committee was in agreement that we would do it all again, but we will review the results of the evaluations during our January 2015 NC Assets Alliance membership meeting to gather additional information and begin to plan for 2016.

You can view and print the program and handouts, or watch and listen to our entire event by visiting

Donna Gallagher ( is a member of the Steering Committee for the North Carolina Assets Alliance and Executive Director of The Collaborative of NC. Sarah Glover ( is a Community Impact Manager for the United Way of Greater Greensboro and a member of the Greensboro Asset-Building Coalition and the North Carolina Assets Alliance.

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State of the Union 2015: Live Coverage

Posted on 01/20/2015 @ 08:45 PM

Welcome to CFED's live coverage of the 2015 State of the Union address. In this space, our team of policy experts will provide reactions and analysis of the issues President Obama discusses as they pertain to financial security. You can join the conversation by using the comments at the bottom of this blog post, and you can follow along on Twitter using #SOTU and @CFED.

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Asset Building Policy Network Reflects on the Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Emanuel Nieves on 01/20/2015 @ 04:59 PM

Tags: Federal Policy

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the Asset Building Policy Network blog.

This week, as the nation pauses to reflect upon the legacy and service of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN) marks the occasion as an important opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved towards expanding financial access and inclusion in the United States, and to identify areas where more work and collaboration is needed.

On the surface, there appear to be some encouraging signs that the nation’s economy is slowly recovering from the Great Recession of 2008. The recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of unemployed Americans fell by 1.7 million in 2014, and the Commerce Department’s latest report on personal wages shows a slow but steady growth. African-Americans’ real median household income climbed slightly to $34,598 in 2013, though still only a fraction of that of White households.

However, a deeper look into the numbers behind the recovery reveals a growing disparity: according to new data from the Pew Research Center, the median net worth of African-American and Hispanic households dropped nearly 34% (from $16,000 to $11,000) and 14.3% (from $16,000 to $13,700), respectively, between 2010 and 2013, while the median net worth for White households increased by 2.4% (from $138,600 to $141,900). The unemployment rate for African-Americans in December remained double that of Whites at 10.4%—the same as the past 40 years, as reported in Forbes last week. And according to Family Assets Count—a project of the Corporation for Enterprise Development in collaboration with Citi Community Development—40.7% of households of color lack sufficient net worth to sustain three months at the poverty level in the event of a loss of income.

These trends are not just reflected in the numbers, but in the voices of the communities themselves. The Leadership Conference, in partnership with ABPN, conducted a public interest research study last year entitled “Reaching Communities of Color on Real Finances” to gain insight into how communities are faring in today’s economy. The project comprised focus groups made up of low-income Hispanic, African-American and Asian individuals in Prince George’s County, MD, and San Francisco, CA, and interviews with over 1,200 low-income minorities from across the country.

Their stories are as sobering as the statistics. Respondents felt that the American Dream is simply beyond their reach, with no sense that things are getting any better for them. For many, the word “savings” is much more about short-term concerns—paying this month’s bills or weathering an emergency—than it is about buying a home or planning for retirement (this mirrors the findings of National CAPACD’s, National Urban League’s and NCLR’s recent study, Banking in Color). And, most reported that they are either just barely making ends meet or falling behind as wages fail to keep up with the rising costs of living.

The U.S. Census Bureau data offers a clear rationale for why we should prioritize savings and expanding financial access within communities of color. According to their projections, it is likely that no single ethnic group will represent a majority population segment in 2043. Building and preserving assets among communities of color must begin now if we are to foster a truly inclusive economy that can continue to compete on the global stage in the years to come.

Achieving this is the central goal of the Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN), a coalition comprising of Citi and eight of the nation’s leading civil rights and asset building organizations. In 2015, we will redouble our efforts to frame our communications, policy advocacy and research, as well as implementation of programs in service of generating savings and strengthening household financial resiliency in communities of color. Our individual and collective energy and efforts will focus on:

  • Expanding the awareness and effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Creating pipelines to improve to access to credit for strengthening one’s financial identity and promoting small business success
  • Enabling more eligible Legal Permanent Residents to attain the benefits of citizenship through the Cities for Citizenship initiative
  • Providing municipal governments and community advocates with vital data and policymaking tools to improve household financial security through Family Assets Count

Accomplishing the goals of this collaboration would bring us closer to realizing Dr. King’s vision of a more inclusive economy for all.


The Asset Building Policy Network

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What Will the President Say Next Tuesday?

By Emanuel Nieves on 01/16/2015 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy

Next Tuesday, President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union (SOTU) address to a joint session of Congress. While we don't know exactly what he's going to say, we know two things will happen: there will be a lot of clapping and a few memorable facial expressions from the Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner.

Now, in terms of the substance of the President’s speech, we don’t have a working crystal ball on hand, but based on his recent trips to Tennessee, Iowa, Arizona and Michigan, we have a few ideas. We anticipate the President will likely speak about:

We’re not entirely sure what else he’ll say, but we hope that he talks more about the upside-down tax code – as he did last year – which is a step towards addressing the huge wealth gap in our country. We also hope he talks about the myRA retirement savings program, which he surprisingly proposed at last’s year SOTU in an effort to address our country’s savings deficit. Finally, we hope his message brings much needed attention to income and wealth inequality and the growing racial wealth gap, which plagues our households efforts to become financially stable and build assets.

But outside of the President, his speech writers and closest aides, no one definitively knows what he’ll say on Tuesday. The good thing is that we don’t have to wait much longer to find out.

Join us next Tuesday as we live-blog the SOTU in real time with updates and commentary from CFED’s Government Affairs staff and asset-advocates from across the country. Follow us here on CFED’s Inclusive Economy Blog or on Twitter @CFED.

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President Obama’s Community College Proposal Could Help Financially Vulnerable Students Build Assets

By Katherine Lucas McKay on 01/16/2015 @ 03:00 PM

Tags: Education, Federal Policy

Last week, President Obama traveled to Tennessee, where he joined the state’s Republican governor and senators to announce his proposal to make two years of community college tuition-free. The Administration has compared its proposal to the establishment of universally free secondary school—which contributed significantly to economic growth, as millions of high school graduates entered the workforce more productive, prepared and capable than previous workers. Under the proposal, students would be eligible to have free tuition for two years if they are enrolled at least half time and maintain a 2.5 grade-point average.

Reactions to the President’s plan have been mixed, ranging from “genius” to “the education version of Medicaid.” A variety of critics on the left and the right have raised community colleges’ low completion rates as a major weakness of the plan. Those on the left have critiqued the plan for failing to address the other factors that create barriers to low-income students’ ability to complete their degrees, from financial emergencies to work and family responsibilities.

Others have pointed out that the proposal would most likely benefit middle class students more than low-income students because those students currently have more out-of-pocket costs that would be eliminated under the President’s proposal. On the right, criticism has focused on the plan’s ten-year price tag of $60 billion and its potential to hurt for-profit colleges. These schools, such as University of Phoenix, Corinthian Colleges, and ITT Tech, profit heavily from the $32 billion per year in federal student aid they take in each year, often while they set up students for failure in the job market.

That last point is important to consider. The idea is that free community college tuition would draw in some of the millions of students who now enroll in costly for-profit colleges and graduate with significantly more debt. Indeed, for-profit colleges are at the heart of rates. Yes, this proposal would make it more difficult for for-profits to compete with community colleges and public universities. The real question is whether that’s a problem.

Students who choose to enroll in two years of community college instead will incur far less debt. Tuition at for-profit schools is more than $15,000 per year, compared to about $3,800 at community colleges. Regardless of whether these students complete their degree—a serious challenge for both community colleges and for-profit schools, both of which have graduation rates around 20%—they enter the workforce with far less debt. This can make a big difference in their ability to reach long term financial security.

Workers who completed coursework through a for-profit college compete in the labor market with those who completed some higher education through a community college. With relatively similar earning potential, their relatively higher debt load can quickly translate into difficulty meeting basic expenses. It’s not surprising that for-profit colleges generate 46% of all student loan defaults even though they enroll just 12% of all students. The effects of entering the workforce with unmanageable levels of student loans persist for years, with students at for-profit colleges accumulating significantly less wealth.

No, President Obama’s proposal isn’t perfect. It does not address the fact that the cost of higher education includes much more than tuition (though students who receive Pell grants would then be able to put their grant funds toward school fees, books and living expenses). It most likely won’t help students solve other challenges that prevent them from graduating. That said, providing universal access to two years of tuition-free community college is a bold idea, worthy of policymakers’ serious consideration. It is a reasonable and fiscally feasible approach to improving access to higher education. Simply by making community colleges a more attractive option than for-profit colleges, policymakers would help millions of students enter the workforce better prepared to meet their basic expenses, manage their debt and, over time, have much more money to save and invest in their futures.

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Asset Building News Round Up: January 16, 2015

By Paul Day on 01/16/2015 @ 02:30 PM

Tags: News


From the Washington Post: The poor pay more for everything, from rolls of toilet paper to furniture. It's not because they're spendthrifts, either. If you're denied a checking account, there's no way for you to avoid paying a fee to cash a paycheck. If you need to buy a car to get to work, you'll have to accept whatever higher interest rate you're offered. If you don't have a car, the bus fare might eat up the change you'd save shopping at a larger grocery store as opposed to the local corner store. Read more here.

From the Washington Post: Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party’s tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an “action plan” that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class. Read more here.

From the Center for American Progress: History tells us that societies succeed when the fruits of growth are broadly shared. Indeed, no society has ever succeeded without a large, prospering middle class* that embraced the idea of progress. Today, the ability of free-market democracies to deliver widely shared increases in prosperity is in question as never before. Read more here.

From the Wall Street Journal: A top housing regulator on Wednesday released an update of its goals for mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , reiterating its emphasis on improving mortgage availability while adding initiatives such as exploring new credit-score options for evaluating borrowers. The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Wednesday released the 2015 “scorecard” for Fannie and Freddie, which summarizes the companies’ goals. Read more here.

From the New York Times: The 114th Congress has been at work for less than a week, but a goal for many of its members is already evident: a further rollback of regulations put in place to keep markets and Main Street safe from reckless Wall Street practices. The attack began with a bill that narrowly failed in a fast-track vote on Wednesday in the House of Representatives. It is scheduled to come up again in the House this week. Read more here.

CFED Story Bank Updates

See your stories here!
Do you have an outstanding success story about a saver? Submit your saver stories to CFED's Story Bank. Click here to submit your story.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: Go ahead; ask Mandy Bartley what she loves about her new manufactured home. You’ll be a while. She loves the quiet in her corner of Exeter River MHP Cooperative. She loves having a mud room and built-in microwave. She loves making lunch with her daughter, Zoe, 0, at the kitchen countertop. She loves having a yard big enough for a deck and a shed. She loves that Zoe has her own bedroom and bathroom. She loves living in a resident-owned community. Read more here.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: Derek Cornell and Kim Kirk have four children at home, ages 2 to 16. They know patience. They each hold down two jobs and serve on the Board of Directors of Colebrook Homeowners Cooperative. They know hard work. So when they say it’s going to take time for their fellow residents at the former Windsor Park Estates to unite in their new role as community owners, they know what they’re talking about. And when you meet them in the stripped-down building that Derek is helping convert into a co-op office and meeting space, Kim dropping off materials on her way home from work, you know they’re going to see the job through. Read more here.

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CFED Launches Taxpayer Opportunity Network. Join Today!

By J.C. Craig on 01/15/2015 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: EITC, Federal Policy

As we shared in November, CFED has taken on the job of coordinating the community tax preparation field, nationally. The name for the new endeavor, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network, reflects the promise of community tax preparation programs to provide low-income families with the opportunity to receive tax benefits, meet their civic tax obligations and pursue their personal financial goals.

For 40 years, community tax programs have been helping people build assets. Their core services—tax preparation, tax controversy assistance and taxpayer education—increase taxpayers’ income available to pay off debts, invest in larger purchases and put away some savings for tomorrow. The Taxpayer Opportunity Network will strengthen delivery of core tax services and will use the field’s knowledge and experience to advocate for public policies that benefit their constituents—low-income taxpayers.

As the filing season begins, tax prep volunteers are being trained and certified and programs are reaching out to taxpayers. The Network will focus on developing immediately useful and easy-to-access materials, training and advice support the tax season operations. We’re also beginning a listening tour with a range of stakeholders to help envision what the Taxpayer Opportunity Network will look like in the future.

As of today, community tax programs nationally are invited to join the Taxpayer Opportunity Network. By joining the Network, you will receive updates about learning and advocacy community opportunities, as well as news and latest developments from the community tax field. You will also be asked for input on what you want from the Taxpayer Opportunity Network in the future and how you would like to engage, ensuring a Network that is responsive to your needs.

If you have questions, please direct them to

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Webinar: Release of the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

By Sean Luechtefeld on 01/14/2015 @ 05:10 PM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative

Join CFED at noon EST on Thursday, January 29 for the webinar release of the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. Each year, the Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at American’s financial security today and their opportunity to create a more prosperous future. It is a powerful research and advocacy tool that helps paint the full picture of household financial insecurity in America. This year's Scorecard brings together over 130 policy and outcome measures for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to help make the case for asset-based policy reform that expands economic opportunity for all Americans.

Key highlights from this year’s Scorecard include:

  • Top-level analysis on the economic recovery at the household level.
  • New outcome measures, including the scope of income inequality and the number of disconnected youth in each state.
  • A comprehensive assessment of the policies states should adopt to create opportunity for their residents.
  • Analysis of how Scorecard data can be used to affect meaningful change in your state.
  • An online liquid asset poverty calculator.

As always, participation in this webinar is free, but advanced registration is required. To sign up, click here.

About the Scorecard

Released annually, the Scorecard explores how well residents are faring in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and assesses policies that are helping residents build and protect assets along five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. The 2015 Scorecard assesses states across more than 130 outcome and policy measures in these five areas to determine the ability of residents to achieve financial security.

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Growing the Children’s Savings Movement: A Look Back at 2014 and a Sneak Peek at 2015

By Shira Markoff on 01/14/2015 @ 09:30 AM

Tags: Children’s Savings Accounts

The energy and momentum of the children’s savings movement continues to build! The last year saw huge developments in the field—with new or expanded statewide programs, including:

  • Connecticut launched the Baby Scholars program, which deposits $100 into a 529 college savings account for all Connecticut children whose parents open an account within the child’s first year.
  • The Harold Alfond College Challenge, which provides every baby born in Maine with $500 in a 529 account, switched from an opt-in to an opt-out enrollment process, making uptake easier and scalability more likely.
  • Nevada’s College Kick Start program expanded statewide in 2014 to provide an initial deposit of $50 into a 529 account for every public school kindergartener in the state.
  • Rhode Island’s CollegeBound baby program replaced a cumbersome enrollment process with one in which parents need only check a box on their child’s birth certificate form to receive a $100 initial deposit in a 529 college savings account.

CFED has been at the forefront of this growing field: connecting stakeholders, delivering technical assistance on Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program design, and providing timely policy briefs, analyses of the state of the field and strategic thinking on the path to scale. In 2014, we hosted the Children’s Savings Conference: From Aspirations to Achievement, which brought the children’s savings field together for the first time in five years and produced valuable insights about addressing the barriers to expanding CSAs.

We also published a follow-up from the Conference, From Aspirations to Achievement: Growing the Children's Savings Movement, which outlined key takeaways from Conference sessions and presented a vision for advancing the field based on these insights.

CFED’s 1:1 Fund also provides pivotal fundraising support to CSA programs, such as San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College and Children’s Aid Society’s College Savers Program. The 1:1 Fund had its best year yet in 2014, raising over $220,000 from more than 250 donors for savings matches with partner programs. The 1:1 Fund’s newest partner, FUEL Education, raised $11,436 from their Giving Tuesday campaign alone.

We’re looking forward to more growth in 2015. For example, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones plans to start a CSA program serving all 3,500 kindergartners in St. Louis Public Schools in 2015. Meanwhile, conversations and planning for new CSA programs continue in many other cities and states across the country.

To facilitate the further blossoming of the field in 2015, CFED has created an online directory of existing and planned children's savings initiatives around the country. This directory will help to build connections between stakeholders and facilitate the sharing of best practices and resources across programs. Later in the year, we will be releasing a completely updated, revamped CSA design guide to assist organizations in developing new CSA programs.

The wind is clearly at the back of this growing movement, and we expect to report at the end of 2015 that we have collectively moved even closer to the ultimate goal of a CSA for every child in America. We look forward to working with you in achieving this goal.

Click here to visit CFED's new Children's Savings Directory.

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New RFP: Community Financial Empowerment Learning Partnership

By Dominique Derbigny on 01/13/2015 @ 02:30 PM

We’re excited to share a new Request for Proposals for an intensive learning partnership with CFED focused on improving and expanding financial capability services, both within organizations, as well as to align and coordinate service delivery among community partners.

With support from JPMorgan Chase, CFED is accepting applications from organizations and partnerships of organizations interested in joining an 18-month Community Financial Empowerment Learning Partnership to improve and expand financial capability service delivery within their organizations and to align and coordinate service delivery within their communities. Because CFED is committed to helping families achieve financial security, we seek to increase the number of clients accessing financial capability services and to heighten awareness of and interest in integrated service delivery by the broader field.

This Learning Partnership, which runs from April 2015-September 2016, will utilize three approaches in helping organizations build capacity: technical assistance, convening and peer learning. Organizations selected to participate will receive $20,000 in grant funds to support their participation in the Learning Partnership.

Ideal learning partnership members will be organizations or partnerships of organizations that are currently providing at least two or more financial capability services and are interested in taking these services to the next level to improve and expand their delivery for greater community impact. Interested applicants should download and review the full Request for Proposals. All proposals should be submitted to CFED via email to no later than Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm PST.

If you have questions about this RFP, please contact Dominique Derbigny at

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Asset Building News Round Up: January 9, 2015

By Paul Day on 01/09/2015 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: News


The Fierce Urgency of Now : Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society
New America
January 13, 2015, Washington, D.C.
Join New America for a conversation with Julian Zelizer and Jeffrey Toobin about the hard-fought path to the Great Society and the role its agenda continues to have today.


From the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: OCS is working to encourage the integration of asset building and financial capability into social services and programs for low-income and vulnerable populations.  As part of this effort, OCS conducted an environmental field scan from January to March 2013 to analyze trends in integrating asset building, to locate promising asset-building practices and to identify ideas for technical assistance support. Read more here.

From the New York Times: Illinois is taking a novel approach to getting its residents to save for retirement. Starting in 2017, most state residents with jobs who don’t already have a retirement plan at work will be automatically enrolled in individual retirement accounts, funded through a 3 percent deduction from their paychecks. Read more here.

From the State Bar of Wisconsin: In 2009, Leonard Bronk borrowed $95,000 against his home and established five college savings accounts to benefit his grandchildren. Recently, a federal appeals court said the college savings accounts are shielded in bankruptcy because of a Wisconsin statute that allows resident debtors to shield certain property. Read more here.

From MarketWatch: The longer distributions are postponed, the more tax-free growth can be accumulated within a Roth IRA. This can make Roth IRAs intriguing for funding a young grandchild's education. Read more here.

From MLive: Nearly 800,000 Michigan families with low to moderate annual incomes could see targeted tax relief if voters approve a road funding plan that would increase the state sales tax on all consumers. A bill approved last month by the Legislature and now on the desk of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder would increase Michigan’s refundable Earned Income Tax Credit from six percent to 20 percent of the federal version. Read more here.

Updates from the Assets & Opportunity Network

From the Illinois Asset Building Group: Governor Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program (SB2758) into law yesterday. The new program will give millions of private sector workers in our state the opportunity to save their own money for retirement by expanding access to employment-based retirement savings accounts. Read more here.

Updates from CFED's Story Bank

Here are the latest saver stories from across the asset building field.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: April Levin wanted some life insurance. Not the kind that cashed out after she died. The kind that improved her life and those of her sons while she was still very much alive. She wanted a college degree. April had looked at her future and didn’t like the view. Her early 30s had been rocky. Her husband, a mortgage broker, saw his earnings plummet during the recession. Read more here.

From the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: The fourth of nine kids in a poor family, Woody grew up next to a potato farm. Every autumn found them kneeling in the field, with the farmer’s permission, raking fingers deep in the dirt for potatoes the harvest left behind. Those potatoes fed the family for most of the year and taught Woody that, “Where you have a fertile or productive field, you’re either going to have waste or opportunity.” Now, in the tangled mess of metal, he saw waste and opportunity. Read more here.

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TA Fund: Maryland CASH Campaign Increases Ability to Demonstrate Impact through New Template to Organize Data

By Emory Nelms on 01/08/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative

Data is a key element for most nonprofit programs—it offers a means for measuring progress towards both short- and long-term goals, as well as offering a way to communicate their impact within the communities they serve and with their key stakeholders, such as their Board members and funders. Most organizations are able to collect some kind of metrics, but too often technology or time barriers exist that prevent or hinder organizations from consolidating and organizing the data in ways that allow organizations to effectively communicate their impact.

In an effort to better utilize their data and communicate their impact, the Maryland CASH Campaign, an Assets & Opportunity Network Lead State Organization, worked with CFED through the JPMorgan Chase Technical Assistance Fund (TA Fund) to receive technical assistance to overcome these barriers. With the TA, the Maryland CASH Campaign hoped to consolidate the data they already collect into an effective document that they could share internally with staff, as well as externally with community stakeholders. Through this work, our teams created a two-page draft template for Maryland CASH Campaign to organize the data they have collected into an easily consumable document for them to update and share.

In order to develop the template, Maryland CASH Campaign and CFED collaboratively worked to examine Maryland CASH Campaign’s current data collection activities and to develop a document template to best highlight the data that shows the results and impact of their current programs and activities. In addition to highlighting data that compellingly demonstrated Maryland CASH Campaign’s impact, the document is easy to update as the organization collects new data, making it much more useful for busy staff.

The experience working with Maryland CASH Campaign demonstrates that simple, easily adaptable templates are much more effective and sustainable ways to help programs reduce the burden of utilizing data to support their programs. These kinds of efforts are what make the JPMorgan Chase Technical Assistance Fund unique; by using these individual experiences to extract important, generalizable lessons, we can utilize and share them to continue to build the capacity of other organizations across the field.

Also in This Series

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Mark Your Calendar for Two New Can’t-Miss Events!

By Sean Luechtefeld on 01/07/2015 @ 10:30 AM

Tags: Events, Federal Policy

CFED is thrilled to offer two new free events in DC taking place later this month. The first—a deep dive into how a once-robust thrift movement can be recalibrated to contemporary society—will take place at CFED’s DC offices on Wednesday, January 21. The second—a Capitol Hill Policy Forum on the political prospects of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs—will take place on Friday, January 30 on Capitol Hill. Check out the information below and register today!

Thrift: Building a New American Cultural Movement (January 21, 12-1:30 pm, CFED)

Join CFED for a lunchtime conversation about the ways in which thrift can be an important lens through which we understand financial capability in the twenty-first century. Participants will hear a keynote address from Thrift author Andrew Yarrow, which will be followed by a panel discussion among experts on the cutting edge of strategies that promote financial capability. Panelists will highlight innovative approaches to building financial capability and discuss ways to re-build this important cultural movement.

Speakers include:

  • Andrew Yarrow, Oxfam America
  • Sybongile Cook, DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking
  • Jeremie Greer, CFED
  • Nancy Register, Consumer Federation of America
  • Kim Pate, CFED (moderator)

Attendees will receive lunch and a copy of Andrew Yarrow’s Thrift at no cost. This event is free, but space is limited, so advanced registration is required. RSVP today.

“It’s Not Like I’m Poor”: New Research and Political Prospects for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the EITC Act. To mark the occasion, join us on EITC Awareness Day, January 30, as we bring together leading researchers, policymakers, advocates and taxpayers to share their knowledge and first-hand experience with the EITC to answer important questions, such as: How do American workers actually use the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? What role does Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) play in creating communities of opportunity? What are the political prospects for these federal policies?

Speakers include:

  • Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  • Professor Kathryn Edin, Johns Hopkins University
  • Chye-Ching Huang, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Greg Kaufman, (moderator)

A light breakfast will be served at 9 am and event activities will commence at 9:30 am. The event is free, but space is limited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVP by Monday, January 26.

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Best of 2014: CFED's Year in Review

By Paul Day on 01/06/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative, Events

The 2014 Assets Learning Conference brought together over 1,200 professionals to share insights - including real life examples of savers who have changed their lives!

With 2014 behind us, it’s time to look back at what made the year great for all of us at CFED!


In 2014, CFED engaged thousands of asset-building professionals in our three biggest events: the 2014 Children’s Savings Conference, the 2014 Assets Learning Conference and the I’M HOME Conference. These events—bigger and better than ever—brought us all together and demonstrated the power of asset-building strategies in helping low- and moderate-income Americans achieve the American Dream.


In 2014, CFED published 54 articles, policy briefs and reports covering a wide range of topics related to asset building. Among our favorites from this year was From Upside Down to Right-Side Up: Redeploying $540 Billion in Federal Spending to Help All Families Save, Invest and Build Wealth, which has been used to educate Congress about inequities in the tax code. Another highlight was In Search of Solid Ground: Understanding the Financial Vulnerabilities of Microbusiness Owners, which informs our work on entrepreneurship by identifying what owners of small businesses need to grow their businesses and stabilize their household balance sheets.

Hill Visits & Legislative Victories

During the 2014 Assets Learning Conference, our policy team engaged over 400 practitioners from the field to visit their legislators on Capitol Hill and engaging members of Congress on the issues in their community--and how they can do more to support asset building!

The Assets & Opportunity Network has a lot of to be proud of this year with key legislative victories: the ABLE Act (expanding asset building for individuals with disabilities), the American Savings Promotion Act (legalizing prize-linked savings strategies) and the removal of asset limits from public benefit programs.

Family Assets Count

This year, CFED, in partnership with Citi Community Development, launched Family Assets Count, which aims to leverage the power of cities to improve financial stability for families and advance programs and policies that reduce barriers and encourage families to save and build assets. Family Assets Count also leverages the new Assets & Opportunity Local Data Center, a powerful new tool that provides the latest data on household wealth and financial security in cities and counties across the United States.

Media Mentions

What’s exciting this year is the major media coverage we’ve received across the country on a variety of topics. CFED’s Andrea Levere made the case for Children’s Savings Accounts and Manufactured Housing in two New York Times op-eds. Our Assets & Opportunity Scorecard was featured in dozens of local and national publications, including Time, MarketWatch and MSN Money. CFED’s research on entrepreneurship was featured in Forbes.

Our victories last year would not be possible without our dedicated funders and partners who have supported our efforts to promote a more inclusive economy. This year, we look forward to all of the new opportunities that take our work to the next level. Happy New Year from all of us at CFED!

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Amidst Congressional Missteps, Housing Opportunities Remain

By Doug Ryan on 01/05/2015 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Housing and Homeownership, Federal Policy

This post was originally published in the Rooflines blog.

Here in Washington, Congress has finally done its primary job: that of funding the government. The process of last-minute scrambling and late-night bargaining is clearly no way to run a government—as members of Congress and their staff become harried, priorities don’t get properly vetted. This style of governance also offers an opportunity for special interests to pass legislation that otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance, were it disconnected from must-pass spending bills. In what has become the most famous example from the latest round of spending debates, a new provision to weaken the regulation of derivatives will potentially require us to revisit of one of the key causes of the financial meltdown.

Since all of this has become standard operating procedure for Congress over the past years, I think we may lose sight of one of the most significant pitfalls of this approach: We start to consider “level funding”—merely the avoidance of funding cuts—as a victory.

In some cases, it makes sense to retain or reduce spending for federal programs while funding of many programs can be eliminated outright. But, in programs that are often the only barrier to destitution, homelessness or the only opportunity for a shot at self-reliance, level funding means that we are choosing to leave even more families without viable housing options in communities across the country. Level funding of housing programs fails to account for increases in operating costs and rent increases, threatening current residents with even greater financial challenges, and failing to account for population and housing market shifts. This happens despite the fact that no one believes current U.S. housing programs are sufficiently funded to even come close to fully meeting U.S. housing needs.

Thus, more than six years after the financial crisis, many families still struggle to find adequate housing, despite somewhat sustained job growth and the first real good news on wages in quite some time.

Given that we now know Congress will not act, where else should we focus our efforts?

There is some good news when it comes to housing. Earlier this month, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced guidelines for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s new low down-payment mortgage products, which will offer qualified buyers the opportunity to secure mortgages with as little as 3 percent down. Then, on December 11—after six years of inaction—FHFA ordered Fannie and Freddie to fund the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund, as required by federal law. Coupled with vigorous Affordable Housing Goals for Fannie and Freddie in coming years, the funds—essentially to be funded through these government-sponsored entities’ (GSE) profits—have the potential to at least partially fill the federal funding void for affordable housing. If we can’t count on Congress, perhaps the FHFA is becoming what so many had hoped it would be when FHFA Director Mel Watt assumed office.

While this is good news, it also means that two explanations for the 2008 housing crash will certainly reemerge, so these explanations are worth revisiting. The first is the common misconception that GSE support for home loans to low- and moderate-income families was to blame for the crash. Such nonsense deserves no more credence now than it did in 2008.

The second explanation that will likely reemerge is that underregulated, complex financial instruments were not sustainable, and that private entities (i.e., not the GSEs) tanked the market because they could not cover losses. This explanation, I believe, should get some new airtime. After all, you can be assured that the derivatives provision just enacted is just the first of many camel noses under the Dodd-Frank financial reform tent. Prepare to withstand the coming onslaught of bills and hearings attacking reform, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and, if there is a must-pass bill to attach a rider to, motherhood and apple pie.

So, how do we move forward? Advocates and local policymakers need to figure out the most effective ways to request and use these new funds and products. One answer has to be to fund initiatives that, once occupied, will not need operating subsidies to be sustainable. Affordable homeownership, when done fairly and honestly, has to be part of this equation. Models such as shared-equity cooperatives, community land trusts and other, similar property acquisition and development approaches are ripe to be expanded.

We need to step up and embrace a range of housing solutions and products. We know that manual underwriting and high-touch servicing can help reduce defaults. We also know that reducing the costs of ownership through energy efficiency, manufactured housing (with high-quality loans) and access to economic opportunities also help stabilize household and community balance sheets.

Through both action and inaction, maybe Congress just did us a favor.

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An Improving Economy is Good for All, But a Growing Racial Wealth Gap is Not

By Emanuel Nieves on 12/19/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy, Financial Empowerment

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the Asset Building Policy Network blog. Special thanks to CFED’s Policy Associate, Emanuel Nieves, for providing this timely analysis.

Over the last week, the racial wealth gap in America has received significant attention following the release of a new study from Pew Research Center, which found that the disparity between White and minority households in wealth and financial security has continued to expand since the Great Recession of 2008. The report’s findings are stunning, and a clear signal that the building and preservation of financial assets among communities of color is not only a moral imperative; it is an economic priority for maintaining the nation’s economic competitiveness.

Undeniably, the economic recession wreaked indiscriminate havoc on the wealth and balance sheets of all American households; however, for Hispanic, African-American and Asian households, the recession was especially devastating. Between 2005-2009, these communities of color lost more than half their net worth (66%, 54% and 53%, respectively), while White households lost 16%. The impact of this massive loss of net worth has led to an increase in financial insecurity, further compounding the dire and disproportionate consequences communities of color have historically faced. Unfortunately, these minority communities face additional obstacles to financial security, as research now shows that they are also experiencing a negative impact from the so-called recovery.

Though the racial wealth gap began to narrow prior to the recession, evidence from the Pew study indicates that the recovery has done nothing to remedy the disproportionate loss of financial assets. White households now hold 13 times the wealth held by African-American households—the highest the wealth gap has been between these two groups in 25 years—and 10 times the wealth held by Hispanic households. Making matters worse, not only has the recovery failed to decrease the overall wealth gap, but there has been a continual decrease in the net worth of African American and Hispanic households.1 Between 2010 and 2013, the median net worth of African-American and Hispanic households dropped nearly 34% (from $16,000 to $11,000) and 14.3% (from $16,000 to $13,700), respectively. For White households, the recovery has been much kinder—their median net worth increased by 2.4% (from $138,600 to $141,900).

If these trends continue, the entire U.S. economy will suffer, especially since it is now projected that the U.S. population will be largely comprised of communities of color by 2043.

The Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN) and its members’ affiliates are committed to closing the racial wealth gap by enabling the economic progress of low‐ and moderate-income communities of color through policy advocacy, research and implementation of programs aimed at generating savings and strengthening household financial resiliency.

Some of these ABPN member research projects include:

  • Banking in Color: New Findings on Financial Access for Low-and-Moderate Income Communities. This report examines how low- and moderate-income African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders interact with the financial system and access credit and other financial products and services. The report was produced by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the National Coalition for Asian and Pacific Islander Community Development (National CAPACD) and the National Urban League (NUL).
  • Reaching Low-Income Communities of Color on Real Finances is a report that provides insights into the attitudes and behaviors related to personal finances in low-income minority communities, and offers recommendations on how advocates can improve the way they engage communities of color around issues of financial health. This public opinion research study, which was conducted by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in partnership with ABPN members and Brilliant Corners Research, took place over the last year and included focus groups with low-income Hispanic, African-American and Asian individuals in Prince George’s County, MD, and San Francisco, CA. The study was also based on interviews with over 1,200 low-income minorities from across the country.
  • Family Assets Count is an initiative that aims to expand financial security by combining cutting-edge data with tools for building coalitions designed to enable more effective partnerships. Family Assets Count also works to use data to inform programs and policies that help move families into economic security. This project, led by CFED in partnership with Citi Community Development, builds upon the success of the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard by providing data and information on household financial security, household wealth and financial access at the county and city levels—including in-depth analysis for ten cities, beginning with Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami and the California Capital Region.

These research programs, combined with studies like the Pew report, should inform and frame how policymakers and other influential decision-makers implement programs and policies that impact wealth building among communities of color. The ABPN will continue to advance meaningful policy changes that help close the racial wealth gap and achieve greater economic prosperity.

1 This Pew report did not present calculations regarding how Asian households fared during the economic recovery.

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Asset Building News Round Up: December 19, 2014

By Paul Day on 12/19/2014 @ 02:30 PM

Tags: News


From Reverse Mortgage Daily: The Department of Housing and Urban Development responded to its 2015 budget of $45 billion, stating that the funding will allow it to continue its activities, but will likely limit the goal of homeownership for some American families. The budget was passed under the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama this week, and encompasses $47 million for housing counseling activities, including reverse mortgage counseling. Read more here.

From Pew Research: The Great Recession, fueled by the crises in the housing and financial markets, was universally hard on the net worth of American families. But even as the economic recovery has begun to mend asset prices, not all households have benefited alike, and wealth inequality has widened along racial and ethnic lines. Read more here.

From the Miami Herald (Featuring Family Asset’s Count: Miami): Nearly 60 percent of Miami-Dade County households — and 67 percent of Miami households — do not have enough savings to live at the poverty level for three months if they lose a job, face a medical crisis or suffer another emergency that leaves them without a steady income, according to a report released Tuesday by Family Assets Count, a project of the Corporation for Enterprise Development. Read more here.

From The Christian Science Monitor: The ABLE Act, which would help families of people with disabilities save money for health-care costs and other needs, has passed Congress with broad bipartisan support. The reasons why could hold lessons for some of Congress's thorniest issues. Read more here.

From the Brookings Institution: In a rare display of bipartisanship last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the American Savings Promotion Act (HR 3374), following passage in the House in September. The legislation removes legal impediments that currently prevent federally chartered banks and thrift institutions from offering “prize-linked savings” accounts (PLS). The legislation now goes to the President, who is expected to sign the measure. Read more here.

From the Assets & Opportunity Network

From Louisville Metro Community Services and Revitalization: The Metro Council and Mayor Greg Fischer, who were at odds over increasing the minimum wage, reached an agreement Thursday night with the council voting to increase the minimum wage in Jefferson County to $9 an hour gradually over three years. Mayor Fischer released the following statement on the vote. "I'm pleased with the council's vote, appreciate their hard work on this important issue, and look forward to signing this ordinance into law. I will support $9 over three years because it is a balanced compromise solution that gives hardworking families a raise while minimizing the risks of job losses in our city." Read more here.

From Southern Bancorp Community Partners: In support of Southern’s mission to create economic opportunity and promote financial security, our policy team worked to pass legislation (Act 535 of 2013) during Arkansas’s 89th General Assembly that required the Department of Human Services (DHS) to conduct a study on current asset limits for the SNAP and TANF programs. While ample national research showed the negative effects of asset limits, there was insufficient data specific to Arkansas. In summer 2014, DHS released the study to determine the effectiveness, consistency, and efficiency of program administration and to understand the potential implications of changing the current asset limits. Read more here.

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