Children’s Savings Conversation Hits National Airwaves
By Kristin Lawton on 04/22/2013 @ 01:00 PM
If you subscribe to our mailing list, you got word late last week that Friday’s episode of WNET’s Need to Know would feature the Mississippi College Savings Account Program, one of the 1:1 Fund’s two pilot programs and one of two innovative children's savings programs designed by CFED with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Now, the reviews are in. Consensus: the 13-minute segment was a powerful testament to the power of Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) and the importance of starting children early on the path towards higher education and long-term financial well-being.
Need to Know traveled to Mississippi to showcase the Mississippi College Savings Program and its partners, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Delta State University and Hope Credit Union, but momentum for wide-scale adoption of CSA programs is building across the country with many other organizations, cities, state houses and in federal agencies working to make aspirations to go to college a reality for all students, regardless of the ZIP code into which they were born.
Just how deep is the impact of CSAs? As the Need to Know segment indicates, children with savings accounts in their names are six times more likely to go to college than those without accounts. And, this finding controls for factors like race and household income, meaning that children are more likely to go to college if they have an account in their name even if other demographic measures would predict a low propensity for college enrollment. In other words, the power of having a savings account isn’t about how much money is in it, but rather, about how it informs a child’s aspirations.
Without a doubt, we stand on the brink of an important mindset shift. People who understand just how powerful CSAs are will inevitably support them; the question is how we promote that understanding among the public at large. Friday’s episode of Need to Know does exactly that.
Of course, you can help. Start by watching the video and share Friday’s episode of Need to Know on Twitter by clicking here. Want to help the College Savings Accounts of the Mississippi kids grow? Provide matching donations through the 1:1 Fund. Finally, use the comments section below to share your thoughts on CSAs. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!
Asset-Building News Roundup - April 19, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 04/19/2013 @ 05:00 PM
The UW-Madison Center for Financial Security and the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension, are pleased to announce the 2013 Pathways Conference Financial Security over the Life Course, taking place online the week of June 3-7, 2013. The conference planning committee has organized a program that aims to inform your work and provide new ideas and resources related to family financial security.
To mark Financial Literacy Month, tonight's episode of WNET's Need to Know, which airs nationally on PBS, will offer a thoughtful account on the Mississippi College Savings Account Program, an innovative collaboration between CFED, the Center for Community Economic Development at Delta State University, the Mississippi Community Financial Access Coalition and Hope Credit Union, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The episode chronicles a single mother of three-year-old twin girls who are saving for college with the help of the Mississippi CSA program, supported by the new 1:1 Fund. To watch the full episode online, visit the Need to Know website later this evening. To watch on television, check your local listings.
June 5-7, 2013 participate in the 8th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum, the country’s only conference that brings together bank and credit union executives, technology entrepreneurs, retailers, investors, regulators, nonprofit providers, and consumer advocates to discuss market opportunities for advancing innovative efforts and reaching the financially underserved. Presented by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and SourceMedia, the publisher of American Banker, the Forum provides an opportunity for organizations to share their successes and challenges in the underbanked marketplace. Register now to attend the Forum.
A new guide by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Measuring Up: Aspirations for Economic Security in the 21st Century, shares innovations for measuring economic security via poverty measures.
Next Tuesday is Teach Children to Save Day, a national program of the American Bankers Association that organizes banker volunteers to help young people develop a savings habit early in life. Since the program started in 1997, some 123,000 bankers have taught savings skills to more than 5 millions students.
A bill sponsored by North Carolina State Representative Nathan Ramsey seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing by creating restrictions that say that counties cannot adopt or enforce zoning regulations that exclude manufactured homes from being located on individual lots in areas zoned for single-family residential use.
Five Lessons for Piloting Integrated Service Delivery
By Kori Hattemer on 04/18/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Integrated service delivery is a promising model for creating pathways to financial security. FEGS Health & Human Services in New York City and Solid Ground in Seattle are two of the innovative organizations exploring strategies for integrating financial empowerment services into their existing social service delivery. These organizations have launched pilots to test their integration plans, which have produced key takeaways for other organizations interested in this type of work.
FEGS has integrated a conversation about savings and referral to the NYC OFE Financial Empowerment Centers and SafeStart Account into the post-employment retention counseling their clients receive after they are placed in new jobs. Solid Ground, a Community Action Agency, is training their housing case managers to provide financial coaching to clients. Below are five findings from the pilot experiences of FEGS and Solid Ground.
- Get staff buy-in early, as it is critical to the success and expansion of integration pilot projects. Solid Ground used a small pilot to create support for financial coaching among their staff, from leadership to frontline case managers. They also organized a lunchtime learning opportunity for staff and drafted a one-pager to introduce the new project to staff members. FEGS also sought support and input from frontline staff and program managers, taking their challenges and concerns into consideration as they made adjustments to the pilot project.
- Define desired outcomes early in the process, and identify and track evaluation metrics to help measure progress. Taking time at the outset to ask and answer the question, “What will success look like?” is essential to understanding whether and how an intervention is making a difference, and what indicators should be tracked in order to make that determination. Measuring outcomes during the pilot phase provides important evidence and insight that will be key to expanding integration efforts in the future. Concrete outcome measurements also will help create support for the program to internal and external stakeholders.
- Make the connection between financial empowerment outcomes and programmatic outcomes. Financial empowerment metrics might include measures such as amount of money saved, improved credit scores, reduced debt and improved budgeting techniques, just to name a few—and all of these can be linked to social service outcomes. For example, clients in FEGS’ post-employment counseling program may struggle to retain a job if the car they use to get to work breaks down and they do not have an emergency fund to pay for repairs. Addressing this financial barrier can actually improve FEGS’ programmatic outcomes (e.g., the number of employees who are able to retain new jobs for at least six months).
- Provide financial coaching to staff. Staff members are more likely to deliver financial empowerment services and refer clients to other resources if they have a deeper understanding of the services that are available. In addition, frontline social service agency staff members—who themselves may be struggling to make ends meet—sometimes feel uncomfortable talking with clients about budgeting and money if they do not feel confident managing their own finances.
- Equip staff appropriately to deliver the pilot program. Staff members need tools (e.g., scripts, worksheets and tip sheets) and training when delivering a new program of this nature. Both Solid Ground and FEGS asked frontline staff members what tools and information they would need to deliver the pilot and found that staff had a wide range of needs, which tended to vary according to staff experience and expectations.
See this recently published brief for more information about these organizations’ innovative integration work and the lessons they have learned so far.
These organizations participated in an Intensive Learning Cluster convened by CFED and supported by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Click here for more information about this Intensive Learning Cluster.
How to Increase Financial Capability Among Disadvantaged Youth
By Sean Luechtefeld on 04/17/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Last month, our colleagues at the Center for Community Development Investments at the Federal Reserve Bank released a Working Paper highlighting the success and promise of MY Path, an initiative that provides disadvantaged youth with peer‐led financial capability trainings, a savings account at a mainstream financial institution and incentives to set and meet savings goals. The paper, Increasing Financial Capability among Economically Vulnerable Youth: MY Path, shows how MY Path’s powerful outcomes relate to academic writings on the topic of youth savings, and in particular, how financial capability initiatives are uniquely promising interventions to provide economic opportunities to low-income, working youth.
Initial findings show that MY Path is an innovative and promising model for empowering disadvantaged youth. According to the report, early results find that:
- Participants saved an average of $507 over a six‐month period. Including incentives, each youth had accumulated an average of $735 though MY Path.
- Participants saved an average of 86% of their savings goal, and 46% fully met their savings goal.
- There were increases in confidence about making financial decisions and comfort in doing business with a mainstream financial institution.
How do these findings inform your programs? Read the Working Paper and let us know what you think!
April is Fair Housing Month
By Doug Ryan on 04/16/2013 @ 04:00 PM
April is Fair Housing Month. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. As readers know, the Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, financing or rental of housing based on the protected classes of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status or disability. But the purpose of the law is much broader than halting discrimination.
The Act was passed in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. While the letter of the law speaks to prevention and enforcement, the spirit of the law, indeed the legislative intent of the law, is open housing. Quite simply, open housing laws would open the front door to housing opportunities long off limits to people because of their race, color, religion or other characteristics. In essence, fair housing laws offered new housing options. You can get a sense of this from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s statement upon signing the law, which was formally titled the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
So what does this have to do with CFED’s goal of expanding affordable housing?
CFED’s major homeownership initiative, the Innovations in Manufactured Housing (I’M HOME) initiative, aims to mainstream manufactured housing finance and policy. Income and wealth are not protected classes, and there is no legal right to a mortgage. But the recent housing crisis has taught us that misleading lending practices and unfair loan terms, including unnecessarily high interest rates, undercut communities and compromise the ability to meaningfully extend homeownership, which for most Americans is the key to wealth building and financial security.
CFED and its partners have documented that purchasers of manufactured housing are often offered different, and in many ways unfair, loan products. Most manufactured housing loans are chattel, or personal property, loans, similar to car loans. Various factors, such as state laws, help explain this. The relationship between manufactured home dealers and financial companies is another part of it. Chattel loans can have rates as much as nine percent higher than a mortgage, and we have learned far too vividly that higher interest rates can lead to higher delinquency and default rates. A mortgage would be a better deal for a homeowner if it was affordable or even available.
Certainly, some state laws need to change to expand the universe of manufactured home owners eligible for mortgages. However, many borrowers who may be eligible for mortgages do not get to consider them. Banks, state Housing Finance Agencies, and the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, can change internal practices and procedures to extend mortgage opportunities to worthy buyers of manufactured homes. Federal regulators can also help make the mortgage environment fairer and more accessible to potential manufactured home buyers. One of CFED’s major objectives in its I’M HOME strategy is to make lending to this underserved mortgage market a greater part of lenders’ business models.
A new CFED report, Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes, makes clear that manufactured housing loans can be made responsibly, particularly to low- and moderate-income buyers, the same demographic that was too often exploited by dishonest or simply reckless lending practices in the run up to the housing crash. The report demonstrates that mortgages to buyers of manufactured home can perform as well, and perhaps better, as the mortgages many lenders are already making.
There are plenty of examples of which policy and business practices work and which do not. The challenge for affordable housing advocates is to help CFED and its local and state partners better integrate manufactured housing into local planning, state laws and lenders’ portfolios. CFED is working to promote best practices and enhance its already robust toolkit for advocates.
Jurisdictions and other entities that receive federal housing dollars must demonstrate that they are affirmatively promoting fair housing through their planning and program activities. Depository institutions must comply with the Community Reinvestment Act and show how they offer credit and financial services to qualified low- and moderate-income households. Members of the Federal Home Loan Bank system have access to two programs, the Affordable Housing Program and the Community Investment Program, which are, broadly, designed to provide funds to underserved markets.
Each of these tools can be used to promote fair housing, economically integrate communities and meet local goals such as workforce housing and wider tax bases. Expanding homeownership through products such as manufactured housing mortgages can complement the tools already available to lenders and communities.
Broader and better mortgage lending is, at its core, fair housing. CFED looks forward to expanding its homeownership work across the country to help further the spirit of the Fair Housing Act.
From Saver to Homeowner: Shannon Fox's Story
By Bank of the West on 04/15/2013 @ 03:30 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeownership, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals save for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. As part of Financial Literacy Month in April, this is the second story in a three-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country.
For Shannon Fox, buying her first home was scary, exciting, and sometimes frustrating. “I thought I would never find anything in my price range,” she says. Eventually, Shannon opened an Individual Development Account through Home Forward and says, “Their encouragement gave me hope that maybe I can become a homeowner, something I thought would never be possible for me being a single woman and living in the great Northwest where prices for homes are a little more expensive than elsewhere.” In addition to the support from Home Forward, Shannon found that the homebuying class gave her knowledge and confidence she would not otherwise have had.
Still, the process wasn’t always easy. Shannon found that the paperwork associated with buying a home felt difficult and overwhelming. Reflecting on the experience, she relates, “I learned that dreams, like buying my own home, can come true if you save up for them. It was a long process, so it takes patience, but it was definitely worth it. I love my new home!”
Shannon says that given the opportunity, she would save using an Individual Development Account again in a heartbeat. To others, she shares the advice that helped her succeed: “Stick with it! Don't give up! Be patient, and your dream of owning a home can come true too, like it did for me.”
Stories of Saver Success: The Holloways
By Michael Chasnow on 04/12/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Several weeks ago, I was fortunate to have a great conversation with Tricia Holloway, a proud parent of a first-grader in the San Francisco Unified School District. We spoke for half an hour about her and her daughter’s experience with Kindergarten to College (K2C), a program that gives every SFUSD kindergartner a college savings account, seeded with $50 by the City of San Francisco.
Below are some highlights from our conversation, which I found insightful practically, as I learned about the day-to-day decisions Tricia and her husband Don make to save and prepare their daughter for college, and inspiring, as I considered the impact that similar family commitments could have for families across San Francisco (and beyond!) on college attainment and economic opportunity.
How long has your family been in San Francisco?
My husband is a San Francisco native, and I have been here since 2004. I moved to California in 1984 for college and never left! We plan to raise our daughter and family here in SF.
How did you hear about the Kindergarten to College program?
I actually heard about the program when I was first registering my daughter for kindergarten at her new school. I thought it sounded too good to be true, a free college savings account with a $50 deposit and ability to earn matching funds, but I was so thrilled to learn that it was real.
What was your strategy for saving?
My husband I wanted to get in the habit of saving for college early, and we wanted to make it easy, something we did not need to think about all the time. So, we set up a direct deposit with my husband’s employer.
Times are tight, so we started small, saving $5 a month. When my husband got a small salary increase recently, we decided to bump up the amount we save, so we upped the monthly direct deposit to $11. We know it’s not a huge amount, but it feels good, and it will add up.
Do you talk about the college savings account with your daughter?
We actually don’t speak a lot about the college savings account, or the cost of college. My husband I do not want finances to be a constraint on our child’s dreams.
That said, we talk about college and the future all the time. Our daughter is a first-grader now, and recently she came home complaining about how hard multiplication tables are. We told her that it’s important to study and focus, because this is what she will need to do in college and in the future. Also, my husband often talks with our daughter about how college creates better opportunities in life.
Do you have any advice for other K2C parents?
College seems far off, but start saving now! Make it easy for yourself and your family to save—set up direct deposit so you do not need to think about making the deposit every week or month.
Also, talk often about college and getting prepared with your child. Saving for and talking about college help create that expectation for your child. For instance, if I am talking to my daughter about a friend of mine, I mention that we met in college, and that she will go to college one day too.
Levere: FY14 Budget a "Strong Starting Point" for Rebuilding American Opportunity
By Andrea Levere on 04/11/2013 @ 10:00 AM
President Obama’s budget lays out a strong starting point for rebuilding American opportunity. He preserves our historic commitment to protect the nation’s most vulnerable households, reverses some of the most harmful impacts of sequestration, and calls for a sensible, balanced approach to reducing the federal deficit.
In particular, the President should be applauded for his commitment to the success of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in the short period of its existence has already made huge strides in protecting consumers against predatory financial products and empowering them to build savings and financial security.
The President’s budget also calls for sustaining the nation’s investments in education by increasing access to high-quality early childhood education, improving the nation’s high schools and making college more affordable and attainable, especially for low-income students. The budget also maintains a commitment to fund programs that have been vital to the efforts of low- and moderate-income families who have been striving to save and build wealth. These vital programs include the Community Development Block Grant, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Assets for Independence program, which has helped more than 70,000 low-income families open special matched savings accounts to help them buy a home, launch a business or pay for school.
But the President’s budget could also do more to ensure that low- and moderate-income households have full access to the tools they need to achieve financial security. While the budget includes a laudable commitment to simplify the tax code to make it more fair, it should include as part of that commitment an effort to broaden tax incentives for savings for the low- and moderate-income households who now get virtually no benefit.
In addition, the budget should contain an explicit commitment to help households save, build wealth and improve their financial capability. As CFED’s 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard found, as many as 44% of households in America lack the cash savings to survive three months at the federal poverty line in the event of a loss of income.
For example, the President did not request funds for Bank On USA, an innovative effort in multiple cities across the nation to connect households without bank accounts to the financial mainstream, as he has in his past budgets.
CFED looks forward to working with the President and Congress to improve the financial security of America’s households and expand economic opportunity for all families.”
New Trend Data: Create Your Own Custom Graphs and Reports
By Lebaron Sims on 04/10/2013 @ 12:30 PM
Among the more exciting innovations of this year’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard release is the new Custom Reports and Graphics center, which lets visitors create and download their own handouts and comparative charts using the Scorecard’s 69 outcome and 33 policy measures. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a brief description of what you’ll find:
State Profile Report: The classic report you might be familiar with from previous Scorecards has been given an update. New graphics on the first page highlight your state’s asset poverty rate and six additional outcomes of your choosing, while the rest of the report details your state’s performance on all 69 outcome and 33 policy measures. It’s the full Scorecard experience, in an easy-to-use four-pager.
State Policy Profile: How does your state perform on the Scorecard’s 12 policy priority measures? Find out with this simple one-pager that breaks down what policies your state has passed, and where there’s room for improvement. Helpful graphics make it easy to find state strengths and weaknesses, while the customizable menu lets you to choose whichever policy priorities you’d like to highlight, allowing for anything from a general “State of the State” report to a targeted “Education Policy” profile.
Custom Data Report: Wonder how your state compares to others in specific Scorecard outcome measures? Head to the Custom Data Report, where you’ll be able to create a one-pager listing your state’s national rank and performance alongside four others (and the United States) for up to seven outcome measures. The one-pager includes bar graphs that visualize the between-state difference, while the brief outcome definitions help advocates better make the case for their policy or research proposals.
Custom Data Charts: Want to compare states across one particular outcome measure, but need a presentation graphic, not a report? Check out the State Comparison Data Chart, which lets you compare your state to four others (and the United States) in any of the 69 Scorecard outcome measures. Or, if you want to see how your state compares nationally, try the National Comparison Data Chart, which shows your state’s performance in relation to all 51 states and the national average. Paste either of the files into your reports and presentations, or onto your website, to help make the case for your state’s asset-building policies.
Asset Poverty Snapshot: Need to talk asset poverty in your state, but don’t have a graphic to back you up? The Asset Poverty Snapshot tool lets you quickly and easily download a graphic comparing your state’s income poverty, asset poverty, and liquid asset poverty rates. This tool also creates an embeddable graphic, for use in any media.
While we introduced each of the above as part of the 2013 Scorecard release, as of this past week, advocates have a new tool in their arsenal:
Trend Data Charts: Track your state’s movement over time in all sixteen Scorecard outcome trend measures, from foreclosure to uninsured rate, asset poverty to microenterprise ownership. Select any available measure, then compare your state’s performance with up to three others (and the United States). Just like with the other custom graphics, you can embed your Trend Data Chart into any report, presentation tool, or website.
With these new reporting instruments, telling a story with the Scorecard has never been easier. Head to the Custom Reports and Graphics hub now, and create visuals for your next presentation or report. (Or, you know, just for fun. We don’t judge.)
RSVP Today For A Foot in the Door to the American Dream: A Forum on College Savings Accounts
By Veronica Weis on 04/09/2013 @ 04:00 PM
A Lunchtime Policy Forum Sponsored by CFED & Opportunity Nation
Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Noon - 1:30 pm
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50, Washington, DC
Lunch available at 11:45 am
- Andrea Levere, President, CFED
- Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Screening of “A Foot in the Door” with introductory remarks by Jose Cisneros, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. “A Foot in the Door” is a short movie that tells the story of Kindergarten to College, the first universal children’s savings account program in the United States. Launched by the City and County of San Francisco, the program automatically provides a college savings account to children when they start kindergarten.
- Mark Edwards, Executive Director, Opportunity Nation
- Leigh Tivol, Director, Savings & Financial Security, CFED
- Amer Sajed, CEO, Barclaycard US
- Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development, Appalachian State University
A college degree for their child is the aspiration of almost every parent in America. Unfortunately, soaring tuition and the burden of out-of-control student debt threaten to make this important pathway to economic security increasingly out of reach for too many families. One solution, Children’s Savings Accounts, has proven to be an effective method of helping children (especially low- and moderate-income children) go to and complete college. With so many of the available jobs in our 21st century economy requiring a degree or credential beyond high school, we must build strong ladders of opportunity for any student or family willing to climb them.
At this lunch event, some of the nation’s top experts on children’s savings, asset development and higher education success from various sectors will offer their ideas on how to help families save (as early as kindergarten) to make an investment in their children’s future. This event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP today by clicking 'Reply' or by sending an email to email@example.com. The deadline to register is May 3.
Join the conversation on Twitter by following @CFEDNews and #CFEDforum!
From Saver to Homeowner: Manuel Nava's Story
By Bank of the West on 04/08/2013 @ 01:00 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeownership, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals save for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. As part of Financial Literacy Month in April, this is the second story in a three-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country.
Manuel Nava's Story
Manuel Nava and his wife bought their first home in 2012. While it only took them about two months to find the right house, their journey to homeownership took much longer.
Originally from Mexico, Manuel and his wife came to Oregon as farmworkers, living in housing owned by Bienestar, a nonprofit organization that also helped them find their first home. Although Manuel was a citizen, his wife was not, which made it difficult to settle in Oregon permanently or even consider homeownership. The couple yearned for a family-friendly home with a yard for their four children, and had begun saving for a down payment. However, in order for Manuel’s wife to gain citizenship, she had to go back to Mexico and wait while Manuel took care of the legal process with the state of Oregon. During this time of separation, Manuel kept his focus on saving for his home and supporting his family. “[The long separation] was frustrating and it broke my heart,” Manuel says.
After about five years of legal battles, Manuel and his family were reunited, and his wife became a citizen. Having wiped out their savings in legal and reunification fees, the family started again to save for a home and got a boost in savings from the Individual Development Account program at Bienestar. “I had to keep believing,” says Manuel. “I knew that we could do it.” Together, the whole family sat down and talked about their finances as a household and what each of them could do, coming up with $150 a month in discretionary money after looking where their money was going. Manuel and his family did not stop at the $3000 savings goal; they saved an additional $2000 for their home.
Reflecting on his experience in saving for his home, Manuel expresses pride that he set a goal and achieved it, adding that after all the family has been through, their new home also gives them a new beginning: “At this house, we can start over.”
Flippin' Half Smokes At Peep's Chili Bowl
By Kristin Lawton on 04/08/2013 @ 11:00 AM
For over 30 years, CFED has worked hard to identify solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing low- and moderate-income Americans. Our list of accomplishments is long, and CFED is an industry leader in expanding economic opportunity and building assets for all Americans.
Occasionally, CFED staff take a break from advancing the assets movement to do some work along somewhat different lines. Each spring, a group of us at CFED gets together to build a diorama out of Peeps – those sugar-coated, marshmallow-y bunnies that inundate the market every year around Easter – and enter it into the Washington Post’s Peeps Diorama contest.
This is not a joke.
This year, the team placed in the top five out of over 650 entries! The team of seven – Kristin Lawton, Kasey Wiedrich, Ethan Geiling, Lebaron Sims, Sean Luechtefeld, Roberto Arjona and former CFEDer Jane Hanley – was recognized by The Washington Post for their creativity in portraying the iconic U Street haunt, Ben's Chili Bowl.
The diorama and the team was featured in the March 31st edition of the Washington Post Magazine:
If you apply for a job at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit that helps low-income Americans, you should be prepared for Peeps to pop up in your interview. This office team has submitted dioramas for five of our seven contests. By now, diorama-building has become a skill the 40-person organization seeks in applicants.
In 2011, the group was named finalists for its Peepification of Transportation Security Administration agents at Reagan National Airport. The team tries to focus on local scenes, and as many of the members live in the U Street corridor, Ben’s Chili Bowl, in operation since 1958, was a natural choice for the contest.
“It’s such an important part of the U Street community,” said Ethan Geiling, 24. “It brings together an eclectic mix of people at all hours. We were surprised no one had done it before.”
In the team’s homage to the U Street haunt, President Obama visits Peep’s Chili Bowl with his Secret Service detail while the injured Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III waits outside. The team photographed Ben’s to help them scale the diorama. They dressed some of the Peeps in aprons and illuminated the restaurant with a strand of holiday lights. The structure is built out of foam board, and accessories — the Secret Service agents’ ties or the cash register — are made out of painted sculpting clay.
You can vote for fan favorite by clicking here or if you're in the DC area, you can check out the Peeps dioramas in person outside the Washington Post offices through the end of the month.
Asset-Building News Roundup - April 5, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 04/05/2013 @ 03:00 PM
The Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a webinar, Family Financial Security Webinar: Promoting Financial Capability Building Services with Families in Head Start, on Tuesday, April 9th. For more information, click here.
Don't miss the latest audioconference in the Exploring Innovation in Community Development series, Case Management: A Holistic Approach to Asset Building, on Thursday, April 11th. Our very own Kate Griffin, Senior Program Manager for Savings & Financial Security, is a speaker on the panel.
On Wednesday, April 24th, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will host Scaling Innovations for Low-Income Families at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, DC. Click here to register.
An article in The Economist this week recognizes that despite aging populations and rising educational costs in America, the savings rate has been steadily falling and proposes savings incentives as a form of reversing this troubling trend.
As inequality increases, how can we address this issue in the US? Nick Galasso at Oxfam America offers seven possibilities in this blog post.
As part of Curious George's digital makeover, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is adding in some new and important life lessons for the beloved children's character. The narratives will feature city planning and fiscal responsibility tailored to a preschooler. An accompanying app to the print book Curious George Saves His Pennies will award coins when children complete tasks and encourages them to save up to buy objects that eventually populate a digital city of the child's creation.
To kick off Financial Literacy Month, BET has launched Wealth Wednesdays, an educational campaign with information on credit, debt, saving and investing and the path to successful homeownership — all strategies to help grow wealth and help build a solid financial legacy for generations to tackle expanding wealth inequality in the African-American community.
From the Assets & Opportunity Network
The Opportunity Fund released a new report this week, U.S. Microfinance: Small Loans, Big Results. Conducted in collaboration with the Accion U.S. Network, the report analyzes results from the first-ever nationwide survey of microloan borrowers in America. The report measures outcomes from Opportunity Fund and five Accion affiliate’s lending, and answers the fundamental question that drives our work: Do the loans we offer reduce poverty by helping the business owner to increase their own income and pay wages to their employees? We answered this question using the microTracker Client Outcomes Survey, developed by FIELD at The Aspen Institute, a think tank that has worked with more than 100 U.S.-based microenterprise programs. Key findings can be read here.
The Illinois Asset Building Group put together a brief legislative update for the month of April on the issues that are gaining momentum.
More on the Strength of Mortgages for Manufactured Homes
By Greg Zagorski, National Council of State Housing Agencies on 04/05/2013 @ 10:30 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the blog of the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). Special thanks to Greg Zagorski for covering the release of the I'M HOME Data Report.
On March 20, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), through its Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) initiative, released a study analyzing manufactured home loan performance. The report, which summarizes the analysis of mortgage data from 20 sources, including 13 state HFAs, says manufactured home loans perform similarly, and in some cases better, than similar site-built homes. NCSHA assisted in the report’s development and attended a roundtable last month to discuss a draft version. Other roundtable participants included NCSHA President Brian Hudson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and David Haney, executive director of the Wyoming Community Development Association.
The study finds that HFA loan products generally outperform similar loan products, and that manufactured home mortgages can serve low- and moderate-income borrowers who cannot afford large down payments and may not have top-tier credit scores, while still performing well. For example, the report says HFA-purchased USDA guaranteed loans have a non-delinquency rate of 82.3 percent, compared to 76.8 percent for all USDA guaranteed loans. This is despite the fact that HFA-purchased loans have a higher weighted loan-to-value ratio than non-HFA loans in the USDA guaranteed program. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) are credited specifically for their exemplary manufactured housing lending programs.
Comparing its manufactured home loan data to Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) data on mostly site-built homes, CFED finds that manufactured home loans not insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which includes loans originated by private lenders and HFAs, had a non-delinquency rate of 90.3 percent, while the OCC loans had a performance rate of 89.2 percent. USDA manufactured home loans had a performance rate of 77.9 percent, but the report explains that some lenders and investors have portfolios of USDA loans that perform well.
The report finds that traditional underwriting standards, such as a borrower’s credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and loan-to-value ratio, are strongly associated with performance, but that manufactured housing loans can be successful without following the traditional criteria. For example, the study finds that manually underwritten self-insured loans following less stringent underwriting standards perform slightly better than conventional loans with mortgage insurance. The report also finds that lenders and HFAs that practice “high-touch” servicing (reaching out early and often to late-paying borrowers and offering short and long-term loan adjustments and loan modifications as may be required) enjoy strong performance on manufactured home loans. The report praises PHFA and IHFA specifically for their customer-driven servicing policies and the large proportion of their portfolios that are non-delinquent (97.5 percent average combined) of their manufactured home loans.
The report concludes with some recommendations. First, citing a lack of comprehensive data, CFED calls for the collection of additional data and analysis on affordable manufactured home loans to help attract more lenders and investors. This includes a recommendation that NCSHA and state HFAs work with government officials and private sector parties to develop loan data delivery protocols that ensure that manufactured loan data can be tracked and analyzed.
Second, the report suggests that stakeholders work to promote development and innovation in manufactured housing to increase manufactured housing lending. It also recommends developing best practices for manufactured housing lending.
Video: How Your Voice Shaped the #CFEDscorecard Conversation
By Veronica Weis on 04/04/2013 @ 11:00 AM
The release of the 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard received unprecedented mainstream media coverage and visibility online. We truly could not have done it without the support of our partners, funders and most importantly, you. You helped start the conversation about how financial security in America is in danger. Check out the video below to see all of our shared successes during the release and don't forget to continue the conversation with us by commenting and sharing. Thank YOU!
Why You Should Take the Microenterprise Census Survey
By Katherine Lucas McKay on 04/03/2013 @ 11:00 AM
The 2013 U.S. Microenterprise Census—the nation’s leading source of data on the microenterprise industry—launched yesterday! The Census, created by the Aspen Institute’s FIELD Program in 1992, has become the most comprehensive and widely used source of information on this field. It provides quality, up-to-date information illustrating the size, scale and impact of the U.S. microenterprise industry.
If your organization offers microenterprise training and technical assistance, IDAs for microenterprise, or microloans, please take the survey! Even if that’s only one part of your mission, your input is valuable. The first organization to complete the Census will receive a prize, and additional incentives will be offered throughout the course of FIELD’s Census campaign. Also, CFED will raffle off a free registration for the 2014 Assets Learning Conference (a $700 value) to those who fill out the Census by June 2. All you need to do to enter the raffle is complete the survey.
The Microenterprise Census is important to CFED because it demonstrates the power of microenterprise ownership to help lower-income families lift themselves out of poverty. Throughout CFED’s 33-year history, we have promoted microenterprise as an asset-building strategy, and, thanks to the Census, we have the data to prove it. One analysis of Census data, for example, found that microenterprise owners who received training and loans over a five-year period increased their revenues by 60 percent; the percentage of clients living in poverty declined from 16 percent to 9 percent, a reduction of more than 40 percent.
By participating in the Census, you not only help make the case for microenterprise as an income- and asset-building strategy, you also help your organization succeed. MicroTracker is increasingly becoming a valuable source of data and information on the micro industry for funders, the media and other stakeholders. Participating in the Census also gives you access to valuable data that can help you manage and showcase your program’s performance, including metrics that compare your organization to industry averages. Join the more than 800 organizations that have participated just in the past five years and take the Microenterprise Census today!
From Saver to Homeowner: Hassan Rasheed's Story
By Bank of the West on 04/02/2013 @ 05:00 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeownership, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals save for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. As part of Financial Literacy Month in April, this is the first story in a three-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country.
Hassan Rasheed's Story
Ever since he moved to Portland in 1996, Hassan Rasheed dreamed of owning a home for himself, his wife and their five children. His team of GOALS coordinators at Home Forward, formerly the Housing Authority of Portland, introduced Hassan to Individual Development Accounts, and encouraged him to save $50 each month instead of the minimum of $25. Hassan beams as he describes the team that helped him “get on his feet by saving” his way to a downpayment on his 2,725-square-foot home, a vast improvement on the 900-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment where his family of seven lived for five years. Reflecting upon the moment he received the keys from his broker, Hassan says, “I sat in the car and started crying. I couldn’t believe it.”
His favorite part of his new five-bedroom home? “It’s all my favorite,” smiles Hassan, who is originally from northern Iraq. When the country eventually became unsafe for him and his family, they were forced to flee to Turkey and Guam before settling in Oregon. Now, in their new home, everyone has their own space to thrive and a community in which they feel safe. Describing IDAs as “a good program for people to stand on their own feet, move to work and don’t [sic] stay in the same position,” Hassan adds that now that his dream of homeownership has been achieved, he has begun saving to help send his five children to college.
Wilma Mankiller's Legacy: Every Day is a Good Day
By Bob Friedman on 04/02/2013 @ 12:15 AM
I remember when I first met Wilma Mankiller, thirty years ago at the first convening on women’s economic development hosted by Jing Lyman and Sarah Gould of CFED at Wingspread. After dinner the first night, one incredible woman after another introduced herself, including Kathy Keeley, who had just founded WEDCO, the first women’s microenterprise program in the country, and Rebecca Adamson, who introduced what would become First Nations Development Institute. But, when Wilma, then Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation, stood up, it was like the world stopped, and centered on her quiet, grounded, visionary voice.
Wilma understood and believed in what I now believe is the most crucial insight in economic development—that common people, including low-income and very poor people -- are capable of leading their own development, as entrepreneurs, students, skilled workers, homeowners, savers, investors and crafters of their own futures. The new movie on Wilma’s life and work, The Cherokee Word for Water, elaborates on this basic insight, even as it tells the story of Cherokee volunteers building an 18-mile waterline. Click here for the movie’s trailer, or visit the movie’s website at www.cw4w.com.
I and CFED continued to learn from Wilma throughout our lives. Having her say that individual allotment of communally held native lands was one of the greatest disservices done to native peoples by the federal government, it was with trepidation that I brought her Michael Sherraden’s idea of Individual Development Accounts. She loved the idea—a not-unimportant judgment given that she led the economic development committee of the Ford Board of Directors while Melvin Oliver, Frank DeGiovanni and Lisa Mensah funded the birth and growth of the assets field, and the American Dream Demonstration.
In 2006, Wilma keynoted our Assets Learning Conference in Phoenix, underscoring that what may be most important about matched saving and asset building is not the money, but the sense of empowerment and possibility that accompanies the money.
As I think about Wilma now, I recall so many of her simple summaries of profound truth, including:
“Every day is a good day,” which is the title of her second book, drawn from her interview with Carrie Dann.
“Things have a way of turning out the way they’re supposed to.” To which my wife, Kristina, would respond, “That’s the way you lost a continent.” To which Wilma would respond with, “I did not lose a continent.” In my old age, I recognize the way she meant her statement, and trust much more in the aspects of this life that I scarcely understand. I remember as well how, when I stayed with her during her last weeks, Spring seemed to hold off as she clung to life. The moment she died, the trees sprung into bloom, the birds into song. It was as if her life had spread to the universe, even, as the tradition held, she climbed the Milky Way, eating strawberries as she went.
It is my hope that all CFEDers and all our friends, when you have occasion to be in the Mankiller Room in our Washington, DC, offices, will reflect a moment on the untapped promise of all people, and the wisdom, humor and faith Wilma conferred.
Asset-Building News Roundup - March 29, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 03/29/2013 @ 06:00 PM
Measuring Financial Health
We've teamed up with the CFPB to understand what combinations of knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes help consumers succeed in achieving their own financial goals that will help us improve policies and practices. To build this knowledge, we are working with the CFPB to develop rigorously tested measures of consumer financial knowledge, behavior, wellbeing, and related factors. We hope to learn which elements of financial knowledge have a positive effect on financial wellbeing, and what else contributes to financial wellbeing. We will share the critical elements we identify with other financial educators and help them build it into their work. More information here.
Mississippi KIDS COUNT 2013
The latest MS KIDS COUNT report has been released. This edition specifically addresses the effects of housing and employment on the economic well-being of children. To download the full PDF, click here. Be sure to check out their housing and employment, health and wellness and education infographics, as well.
April is Financial Literacy Month
April is a time for planting gardens and watching things bloom. It’s also Financial Literacy Month, which makes it the perfect time of year to consider savings options from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help grow your savings and take control of your future.
Whether you are an experienced investor or someone who is just starting to save money, the Treasury Department’s safe, affordable and convenient savings options can help you reach your goals.
Make an effort during April Financial Literacy Month to visit the Treasury Department’s Ready.Save.Grow. site – www.treasurydirect.gov/readysavegrow – to learn more about Treasury savings options. You can create your free online TreasuryDirect account today and build tomorrow’s savings.
Pittsburgh-Area School Offers Incentives to Save for College
Students at Propel charter schools in Pittsburgh now have an incentive to set some extra money aside for college. Called Fund My Future, the program sets up savings accounts in the child's name and offers raffles for gift cards as incentives to make deposits. The plan is designed to make savings fun and simple for low-income students and their parents.
From the Assets & Opportunity Network
Maryland CASH posted a call to action regarding a new gas tax. It calls for the state to increase the refundable EITC to offset the negative individual economic impacts on low- and moderate-income workers of the increases in the gas tax. Read more here.
The Illinois Asset Building Group is honoring Women's History Month by recognizing the gender wealth gap. In a recent blog post, they note the many gender disparities with regard to income, credit card debt, median wealth of full-time workers, homeownership rates and overall assets.
National Study: Manufactured Home Mortgages are Excellent Loans
By Juliana Eades, Guest Contributor on 03/29/2013 @ 10:30 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's post is the latest in a series on the new I'M HOME Data Report. It comes to us from our friends at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
It isn’t often that a nonprofit from little New Hampshire gets to speak into a big megaphone. But in 2009 the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund received a national honor, the NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance, for being the first organization in the US to make real mortgage loans for manufactured homes (sometimes called mobile homes) located in cooperatives.
You might be surprised to learn that manufactured homes are usually financed like cars, with personal property loans at rates 3 to 5 percentage points higher than traditional mortgage loans. This financing is patently unfair, because not only do these short-term, higher-cost loans limit the affordability of these homes, lack of access to mortgages make them harder to resell.
We had seen the positive effects of offering fixed-rate, real mortgage loans for manufactured homes: Families became more financially stable and their homes gained value. So I used our NEXT acceptance speech to urge a roomful of community-lending peers from across the country to make loans like this in their states, too.
Acting on my request was heard as an act of faith, or wishfulness. Lenders regard owners of manufactured homes as riskier borrowers than other homeowners. Our peers weren’t convinced that our low loss record (1.6 percent—excellent loan performance by any standard) could be replicated outside of N.H.
This week the I’M HOME Loan Data Collection Project released its first report, which analyzed data from 23 organizations (including us) that originate or purchase manufactured-housing loans. It found that these are good loans, as good as mortgage loans for site-built homes. It also found that lenders like us, who accept low down payments, make decisions based on an applicant’s total financial picture (not just their credit scores), and who work with borrower through difficulties, were almost as successful as those with the most-stringent standards.
The national report validates our experience in New Hampshire. Our Welcome Home Loans for manufactured homes in resident-owned communities proved so successful over a decade that last year we started offering them to homeowners on their own land, who weren’t getting fair financing either.
And we’re still urging lenders to recognize that manufactured homes are real homes that deserve real mortgages, and that their owners are responsible borrowers—maybe even more responsible than most.
Juliana Eades is President of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
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