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Spoiler Alert: A 2014 Assets Learning Conference Update

By Kim Pate on 11/11/2013 @ 11:15 AM

Tags: ALC 2014, Events

I think I speak for my fellow 2014 ALC Planners when I say I’m extremely proud of our progress so far! Here’s an update and sneak peek into what the 2014 ALC has in store:

Title and Dates
We have a title for the 2014 Assets Learning Conference, “Platforms for Prosperity,” and dates, September 17-19, 2014. Conference registration opens with a new 2014 ALC website at assetsconference.org in late Spring.

Venue
The 2014 ALC will be in a brand-new hotel, DC’s biggest and most modern conference venue. We are watching, and helping to inform, the design of this new venue and will share details of it soon!

Fundraising
We’ve been hard at work and are happy to say we are 40% towards our fundraising goal. We sincerely thank Citi for its support at the Premier Sponsor level; Met Life, our Marquis Sponsor; and Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, our Emerald Sponsors. We are actively securing more sponsors now so we can reach our goal and offer a discounted rate to attendees. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact me at kpate@cfed.org.

Program
One critical way we will build our program is through a Call for Ideas. We find out about great topics, speakers and formats we should incorporate into the conference from you, and we take your suggestions very seriously. We will be sending out a Call for Ideas in the coming months, so please be sure to complete it and share your ideas.

Networking
Attendees asked for more formal and informal networking opportunities in their 2012 ALC evaluations. We listened and are building in some very exciting new ways to meet people and learn what’s working in their communities. More on this later!

Capitol Hill Visits
A key component of the ALC is the Capitol Hill Visits we schedule as part of the conference. In 2014, we will make it easier than ever to engage with lawmakers on the Hill and in federal agencies with a time set aside for these activities. We will let you know more soon.

Volunteers
As in prior years, we will have volunteers for various important roles at the conference, from registration to social media to note-taking during sessions. We may even have some new ideas for how volunteers can be important parts of the conference. Stayed tuned for more information when registration opens.

Evaluation
We have always taken the evaluation of the sessions and overall ALC seriously and used the results to continuously improve the planning and delivery of the conference. In 2014, we will work closely with CFED’s Evaluator, Bill Pate (no relation!), to improve the data we collect and report and be able to get a better sense of the conference’s impact for attendees.

Stay tuned to the blog, Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

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Texas Regional Opportunity Index

By Don Baylor, Guest Contributor on 11/07/2013 @ 11:30 AM

Tags: Financial Empowerment, News

EDITOR'S NOTE: We received the announcement below from CFED Board Member Don Baylor of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas. The Texas Regional Opportunity Index, or TROI, is an incredible tool for assessing the financial security of familes across Texas and is definitely worth checking out!

Courtesy: CPPP.

On October 23, the Center for Public Policy Priorities (www.forabettertexas.org) launched the Texas Regional Opportunity Index (TROI)—a project of OpportunityTexas— a new interactive data tool and the first and only one-stop-shop for economic opportunity data for all Texas counties and regions.

Pulling together 65 indicators across eight opportunity clusters (Credit & Debt, Family Budgets, Health, K-12 Education, Nutrition, Postsecondary Education & Skills Development, Savings & Assets), the TROI allows various stakeholders to view and understand a larger picture of how individuals and families are navigating these various systems.

A unique feature of the TROI is the extent of state agency data analyzed at the local level and the ability to access regional data across five of Texas’ regional jurisdictions, including Higher Education regions and Workforce Board areas.

The TROI is easy-to-use and motivates communities and policymakers to understand their strengths and challenges while also setting goals and benchmarks against other Texas regions. While data sharing is important in its own right, the ultimate goal of the TROI is driving effective community practice and improving public policy.

We look forward to enhancing the user experience, making periodic updates, and identifying new TROI indicators.

More importantly, we would welcome any feedback from members of the network. Please send your input to Jennifer Lee, our Research Associate (lee@cppp.org).

Visit the Texas Regional Opportunity Index here.

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Tour the New Communications Creative Suite

By Kristin Lawton and Veronica Weis on 11/06/2013 @ 03:30 PM

Tags: Just For Fun

The Communications team has had a blast over the past year decorating and making the new wing of the office our own. Modeled after collaborative workspaces, we picked modern decor to make the space feel more open and creative. We even found a small business owner in Virginia through Etsy to create the custom letters (bottom left, below).

To make staff more comfortable when they come to the Creative Suite for meetings, we got a pair of green chairs. We paired these with some brightly-colored lockers for storage and a sleek, little table (upper right, above). The best part is that we've added an entire dry-erase wall to help Roberto, our Creative Services Specialist, come up with ideas and play around with new designs.

To make the space feel more like home, we had an awesome team retreat at Art Jamz, a paint-and-drink space in Washington, DC. Each team member created their own painting to frame our new TV (upper left, above). Can you guess who painted each canvas?

To show our love of all things new media, we also found Twitter and design-themed pillows for the two chairs (note the Twitter fail whale). With some recent changes, the move is almost complete and the entire team is together in the Communications wing.

In the DC area? Come by and say hello next time you're in the neighborhood!

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How Community-Based Organizations Can Do Business with the CFPB

By David Gragan, Guest Contributor and Stuart Ishimaru, Guest Contributor on 11/05/2013 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: Events, News

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was initially posted on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's blog. Read it here.

So often, the work that we do relies on the knowledge and expertise that community-based organizations provide us. These organizations are our eyes and ears on-the-ground, and they give us feedback on how our work can impact people. We want to make sure that we not only informally include these organizations in our meetings and events, but also offer them the chance to do business with us through contracts.

Like any other federal agency, CFPB procures goods and services through the federal procurement process. We are always seeking the most qualified and innovative firms to do business with us, which include community-based organizations. Typically, these organizations may not use government contracts as a funding source, for various reasons, but we would like to make that option less difficult for them.

We will be hosting a training conference for community- based organizations on how to do business with us on Thursday, November 14 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The conference will be held in our Washington, D.C. headquarters office and we will have procurement and financial education experts who will walk through the basic steps of federal contracting and what to prepare for. There will be a teleconference line available as well. If you’re interested in attending in-person or by phone, please e-mail cfpb_procurement@cfpb.gov by Friday, November 8. Please make note of any reasonable accommodations you may need. This event will be jointly hosted by our Office of Procurement, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, and Office of Financial Empowerment.

In the coming months, we’ll be launching several new initiatives that may focus on financial education and capability programs. We’ll be looking for organizations to work with on these programs, and we’ll be procuring these services through federal contracts. Community-based organizations are encouraged to consider these opportunities. For example, we’ve released a draft solicitation on the “Bridges to Financial Security” initiative. This initiative aims to provide financial education to individuals with disabilities who are transitioning into the workforce, increase their financial capability, and help them take control of their finances.

We want to take full advantage of technology, transparency, open communications, and best practices during the procurement process for these initiatives. That’s why we’ll provide organizations with the resources and opportunities to compete for working with us.

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Staff Profiles: Meet CFEDer Elizabeth

By Veronica Weis on 11/04/2013 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Just For Fun

I recently sat down with CFED's receptionist, Elizabeth Musyoki, to learn a little bit about her fascinating story of life in Kenya, her move to the United States, her work for CFED and some other personal fun facts.

Q: Where did you grow up and what're some memories from home?

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to the United States in March of 2011. Growing up in Kenya meant lots of family and relatives around all of the time so it was a lot of fun, especially during the holidays. During extended school holidays, different relatives would come from around the country and stay with us for sometimes as long as a month.

Q: Do you have family in the US?

My immediate family is here and some of them live in Baltimore. I have two brothers. One is older and lives in New Hampshire. My younger brother lives in Baltimore and just started college. Since he's younger, settling into life here has been easier. Between my aunt's house and my family's house in Baltimore, I'm usually spending time with family on the weekends.

Q: We heard you started your own organization back in Kenya that focuses on girls' empowerment. What's the mission?

The organization is called Tumaini Kenya which means hope in Swahili. The mission was to empower the girl child, especially through education. One way we addressed that was by giving girls in school sanitary pads. We found that doing so improved their grades because they were less likely to miss class or drop out early. The second way was finding sponsors for girls in high school. Families would rather send boys to school than girls and girls would be married off early. Teen pregnancy meant they're less likely to head back to school. So, sponsors would encourage them to stay in school.

I worked in a very rural environment for 1.5 years. I also focused on fundraising and held a dinner to raise funds which was really successful and provided funding for 2 years.

Ultimately, the government saw our results and started giving sanitary pads to girls in school so Tumaini Kenya started to transition away from this project.

Q: What attracted you to CFED and how has the experience been so far?

I really love the core value of empowering people through different programs, research and policy. The organization is all about empowerment. One thing is reading the profile online in the job ad but working here and seeing the reality, it's been encouraging and exciting.

I get to work with all of the teams so I'm one of the most fortunate since I get to see what's happening across the organization and get more exposure. In the job listing, one line said that you really go home happy knowing you added value to a team and that's definitely true here. I've been really challenged in terms of my perspective and intellect because everyone here is on top of their game.

Q: You're currently working on your dissertation for school. What topic are you exploring?

I'm doing an evaluation of the Open Government Initiative that was instituted by the Obama Administration. It's goal is to make all federal agencies more transparent. The questions I'm focusing on are, "Has it worked?" and "Have they been able to achieve the three goals of transparency, participation and collaboration?" One challenge has been the more rural communities in the US where there is less internet access. I'm still surveying people but I'm interested to see what these questions and initiative mean to the common citizen here.

Q: What's your favorite activity in DC?

Definitely the museums. Most of them are free. Visiting them has helped me to learn more about the US. The impression that you have in Kenya is that everything in the US is cheap and accessible. You really learn that there's a high cost of living which makes the savings initiatives that CFED promotes all the more important. Learning how to manage a budget and learning to save is very important in this country.

Q: Are you saving for anything special?

I hope to visit Kenya next year so I'm saving for the airfare.

Q: Last question is a fun one. Do you have a favorite song?

Benson, my partner, and I's song is God Bless the Broken Road by the Rascal Flatts.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Elizabeth!

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Asset-Building News Roundup - November 1, 2013

By Veronica Weis on 11/01/2013 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: News

Events

Next week, join us for How the Federal Tax Code is Driving Inequity and What You Can Do About It on Thursday, November 7 from 2-3pm EST. This webinar is co-hosted by the Asset Funders Network, CFED, PolicyLink and others. To RSVP, please click here.

The New America Foundation is hosting an event this month, Jobs, Investment, and Rebuilding America, on Tuesday, November 12 in Washington, DC. This symposium will cover jobs, investment, and security - and why they should trump today's disastrous preoccupations with budget balance, spending cuts, sequestration, and the debt ceiling.

News

The Center for American Progress' Half in Ten initiative released their annual report on Monday. The report includes data from the Scorecard, a section that touches on asset limits (see pp. 93-94), describes trends in asset poverty (p. 107) and recommends lifting asset limits and curbing predatory lending (p. 97).

This week, Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and 17 Democrat and Republican cosponsors introduced the SAVINGS (Save Access to a Valuable Investment Needed to Generate Savings) Act. This legislation would protect the tax-time savings bond policy, the policy that allows tax filers receiving refunds of at least $50 to purchase a Series I Savings Bond directly on their tax form. For more on this important piece of legislation, check out Ezra Levin's take on the blog.

From the Assets & Opportunity Network

Wondering what's going on with the farm bill? Due to the recent federal government shutdown, the farm bill was placed on the backburner until now. Legislators will convene again tomorrow to discuss and write a final bill. The Southern Bancorp Community Partners have assembled some highlights of the 2013 legislation here.

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Lessons From UNICEF on Halloween: How Small Donations Can Support Big College Dreams

By Andrea Levere on 10/31/2013 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Education, Financial Empowerment

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post and you can read it here.

CFED President Andrea Levere

My earliest experience with charity was collecting pennies and nickels in my orange UNICEF box on Halloween. Even as a child, I remember how important it felt to pick up my box at school. I relished watching those coins drop into the UNICEF box as much as I delighted in the candy filling my trick or treat bag. For me, Halloween became as much about helping a needy child in a distant country as counting my sugary Halloween bounty.

Today, as an adult who tries to count how much candy I don't eat, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can leverage charity in the United States in more effective ways -- to not only provide help to the hungry and homeless but to set struggling children and families on a permanent path out of poverty. Unlike the faraway kids who benefited from UNICEF, these children reside in our own cities and towns, in neighborhoods where hopes and dreams are too often halted by the knowledge that opportunities available to children in high income families are not available to them.

In fact, from the time they are very young, many low-income children (and their parents) assume that the best ticket out of poverty -- a college education -- is prohibitively expensive and therefore not a realistic option.

Such thinking is all the more tragic because with very little effort, each of us has the power to change that scenario. New research shows that low-income students with just $500 or less in college savings are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate than those without a savings account.

Of course, even saving a small amount is challenging for families who in a given month may have to choose between paying the heating bill and putting food on the table.

That's where we can help.

My organization recently developed an online platform called the 1:1 Fund that allows donors, large and small, to help low-income families save for college by matching their contributions in special children's savings accounts. During the past few years, a growing number of cities and states have launched programs that provide students with children's savings accounts, seeded typically with $50-$100 and earmarked specifically for college. Through the 1:1 Fund, donors help young students and their families grow those accounts with dollar for dollar matches.

The accounts give low-income families the confidence that post-secondary education is a real and attainable goal -- and the incentive to plan and save. Once they know college is possible, students are more likely to take the right courses and exams, win the best scholarships and learn about other forms of financial aid.

They are students like La Terra Cole, a former foster child who participated in a financial education and matched savings account program called the SEED Initiative and is now in her third year of law school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. "The account gave me a new way to think about the future. I wouldn't have to be defined by poverty," said Cole. "We need to build in a culture of college expectation and then enroll kids in programs like the one I participated in. Less than 3 percent of kids in foster care go on to complete a college degree so we need programs on a larger scale."

Encouraging families to save can also significantly help decrease college debt. Currently, less than 10 percent of students from low-income families graduate from college by their mid-twenties, in large part because they lack the savings to help make up the difference between financial aid and the full cost of tuition. Again though, even a small amount of savings can pay big dividends. Studies show that just $23 a month in a children's savings account grows into $16,000 in savings by age 18, significantly decreasing the burden of college debt.

It is rare to be able to draw such a clear line between charitable dollars and genuine impact. So this Halloween, particularly as UNICEF boxes have become a less common sight, perhaps we should all make a commitment to contribute a few dollars a month to help send a child to college. After all, every child deserves a chance at a real future, but without our help many won't get there.

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Empowering Low-income Families with the SAVINGS Act

By Melanie Kwon Duch, Guest Contributor on 10/30/2013 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy

Today, Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and 17 Democrat and Republican cosponsors introduced the SAVINGS (Save Access to a Valuable Investment Needed to Generate Savings) Act. This legislation would protect the tax-time savings bond policy, the policy that allows tax filers receiving refunds of at least $50 to purchase a Series I Savings Bond directly on their tax form. This option has been available since the 2010 filing season, but is not guaranteed beyond the next one. The SAVINGS Act would protect it until 2018 while pushing the Treasury Department to come up with a more permanent tax-time savings bond solution, one that is in line with its goal of paperless bonds.

Savings bonds may seem quaint to some, but they are one of the best products available for small savers and investors. For them, bonds fill a conspicuous gap in the marketplace. There has been much discussion about how to curb the predatory financial products and services that target low-income and unbanked communities, but what has been largely absent from this discussion is the role that the lack of accessible savings products plays in people’s reliance on them. More than one in four American households is underserved by the traditional financial services industry—banks have been pulling out of low-income communities even as they expand in wealthier ones. Tax-time savings bonds do the invaluable work of bringing safe, competitive, accessible savings products to low- and moderate-income households. Importantly, they do this tax time, which, thanks to refundable tax credits like the EITC, is one of the most “savable” moments of the year. For many low-income families, a tax return can comprise as much as 15% of their annual income.

The tax-time savings bond policy grew out of pilot tests that began in 2007 and has proved successful in the four years it has been offered nationally. More than 100,000 tax filers have purchased U.S. Savings Bonds through the policy since it began, setting aside more than $60 million dollars for themselves and their loved ones. Although it is open to all tax filers who receive a refund, the majority of bond purchasers have adjusted gross incomes below the national median and nearly one in three is an EITC-recipient. Furthermore, about 25% of bond buyers buy again the following year, evidence of a growing savings habit.

Saving is hard. We need to find ways to make it easier to save, not eliminate them. The tax-time savings bond policy is a much-needed solution, one that leverages the existing assets and infrastructure of the U.S. Savings Bond Program. It compliments existing federal asset building programs and policies, the majority of which focus on the tax code. There are few good options for low- and moderate income Americans who want to invest in their futures. The SAVINGS Act preserves one of them and takes the important first step towards making tax-time savings bonds a permanent option for all Americans.

To join the effort to preserve tax- time bonds, e-mail the author at mduch@d2dfund.org or visit http://www.d2dfund.org/SBWG.

Melanie Kwon Duch is an Innovation Strategist at the Doorways to Dreams Fund.

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Bipartisan Legislation Supports Innovative Strategies to Help Working Families Save

By Ezra Levin on 10/29/2013 @ 03:00 PM

Tags: Policy Alerts, Federal Policy, News

Yesterday, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) was joined by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to introduce the American Savings Promotion Act (see Sen. Moran’s press release here). Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA), joined by Representatives Tsongas (D-MA) and Cotton (R-AR), led the way in the House of Representatives with a companion bill introduced today as well (see Rep. Kilmer’s press release here). This commonsense legislation will encourage the growth of Prize Linked Savings (PLS) accounts, which have already succeeded in increasing the financial capability of working families in many states and have the potential to spread throughout the country.

“Prize-linked savings” is the brainchild of former Harvard Business School professor and now Dean of Oxford University’s business school Peter Tufano. Doorways to Dreams (D2D) has worked the last several years testing the theory on the ground by partnering with local credit unions to run “Save to Win” programs in four states. These programs allow savers to open a 12-month “Save to Win share certificate” (essentially a certificate of deposit). For each $25 deposit, savers are entered into both a monthly drawing for small cash prizes and an annual drawing for a grand prize of $10,000 or more.

For savers the math is simple: they get a chance to take home cash prizes while saving for the future—it’s a win-win. D2D research has found that these prizes encourage healthy savings behavior, and the results are impressive. In less than five years since its inception, the number of participating credit unions has grown from eight in Michigan to more than sixty in four states. In just two of the states where Save to Win operates—Michigan and Nebraska—42,000 people have opened accounts and saved $72 million.

Many of these accounts are opened by families who have never had significant savings before. This includes former non-savers, families who are asset poor, and families who are low- and moderate income. In short, without a dime of government subsidy, Prize Linked Savings accounts are helping families enter the financial mainstream and attain financial security. What a deal!

Unfortunately, federal law prohibits banks from offering Prize Linked Savings products, which is why only credit unions in some states have participated so far. This is where the American Savings Promotion Act comes in. This legislation would remove the regulation banning banks from the Prize Linked Savings field, allowing these savings products to spread further and faster throughout the country. It’s no wonder why this legislation has attracted support from a wide range of groups and an ideologically diverse group of Senators and Representatives—it just makes sense.

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Redesigning the 1:1 Fund Website

By Kristin Lawton on 10/29/2013 @ 11:16 AM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Just for Fun

Last week, CFED launched a new website for the 1:1 Fund - our social venture that matches kid's college dream dollar-for-dolla. Here is the inside scoop on the process of redesigning the website. (Note: Click on the image to see the full size; click again to enlarge the image.)

website redesign image

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Building Assets Part of American Dream

By Bob Annibale and Noel Poyo on 10/28/2013 @ 04:30 PM

Tags: Financial Empowerment

EDITOR'S NOTE: This op-ed originally appeared in the San Antonio Express News and can be read here.

A genuine opportunity to achieve upward economic mobility is central to the American dream that Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned at the March on Washington. This is fundamentally the same goal that has long beckoned hard-working immigrants to the United States and drives families to work long hours and multiple jobs. Upward mobility is about more than simply getting a job — it is about building assets through activities such as purchasing a home, starting a business, or attaining a college degree.

Growing assets begins with basic building blocks — starting with access to financial information and education, a savings account and a good credit history built through responsible use of credit.

Savings provide a financial cushion against unexpected emergencies like medical bills or car repair costs. In the long term, saving can increase the likelihood of buying a home, starting a business or going to college. For instance, children with college savings accounts in their own names are seven times more likely to go to college than children who do not have an account. For the 1 in 10 Texan households, and 30 percent of all households in the U.S., that don't have savings accounts, savings are an asset worth building.

Responsible credit opens the door to lower costs, wider choices and greater financial freedom. But for those with poor credit, many can expect to pay up to $250,000 more in interest payments than those with good credit over the course of a lifetime. For the 65 percent of Texans with subprime credit, improving their credit score can reduce the cost of borrowing and would be another valuable asset.

Savings and good credit allow families to be more financially resilient and build long-term wealth. A recent report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, or CFED, found that many households in Texas, especially households of color, are extremely financially vulnerable because of their limited savings and credit. CFED found that over a quarter of all households in Texas are living in asset poverty — meaning that they lack sufficient available net worth or savings to subsist at even the poverty level for three months in the absence of income. The report also shows that the asset poverty rate among households of color is twice that of white households. CFED has ranked Texas 39th in the nation for household financial security. In response, cities such as San Antonio and Dallas are developing innovative programs aimed at restoring household financial security for all residents.

In 2010, CFED did a similar analysis of San Antonio and found that 34 percent of the city's households lived in asset poverty. Mayor Julián Castro's commitment to growing savings is resulting in a lasting infrastructure that will bolster household financial security and ensure more households, especially in low-income communities of color, are able to reach more of their financial goals. San Antonio's participation in the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition ensures that the city contributes and benefits from cutting-edge approaches to asset building. A recent example of this was the opening of two financial empowerment centers in east and west San Antonio earlier this year, replicating New York City's model for providing free financial counseling to low-income residents.

Today, the Growing Assets: Closing the Wealth Gap Regional Convening will take place in San Antonio. Organized by the Asset Building Policy Network, a coalition of the nation's leading civil rights and asset-building organizations and Citi, the convening will gather national asset-building experts and civic and community leaders from across Texas to exchange ideas and develop the solutions to Texas' asset-building challenges.

Bob Annibale is global director of Community Development and Microfinance at Citi. Noel Poyo is executive director of the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders.

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Asset-Building News Roundup - October 25, 2013

By Veronica Weis on 10/25/2013 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: News

Events

On November 7, the emerging Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative will publicly launch at an event in New Haven featuring New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Jonathan Mintz.

The Consumer Federation of America will host its Financial Services Conference December 5-6 in Washington, DC.

News

The 1:1 Fund has launched an awesome new website that makes matching kids' college dreams dollar for dollar even easier. Check it out and donate $25 today.

The Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN) – a coalition of the nation's leading civil rights and asset-building organizations and Citi – hosted its second Growing Assets: Closing the Wealth Gap Regional Convening in San Antonio, Texas this week. Don't miss this blog post for key highlights and a video from Mayor Castro.

Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation we'll be able to strengthen the capacity of state and local nonprofits to ensure greater access to products, programs and policies that expand financial asset-building opportunities for low-to moderate-income consumers. Click here for more information.

From the Assets & Opportunity Network

The Midas Collaborative shared a blog post on applying "financial coaching" to scale.

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The Inclusive Economy Editor is Getting Hitched!

By Kristin Lawton, Roberto Arjona, Kim Pate and Veronica Weis on 10/25/2013 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Just for Fun

A hearty congratulations to the Editor of this blog, Sean, who is getting married this weekend! We are so excited for your wedding and we couldn't be happier to share in your joy.

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Growing Assets: Closing the Wealth Gap Regional Convening in San Antonio, Texas

By Jeremie Greer and Emanuel Nieves on 10/24/2013 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: Events

Today, the Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN) – a coalition of the nation's leading civil rights and asset-building organizations and Citi – hosted its second Growing Assets: Closing the Wealth Gap Regional Convening in San Antonio, Texas. The convening, which gathered 60 people representing more than 50 organizations across 11 states is part of a collective strategy to build the capacity of ABPN Network members and their affiliates through the sharing and learning of best practices.

Highlights from the convening so far have included a welcome from Mayor Castro (video below), opening remarks by Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte that set the stage and context for the convening and a conversation with local councilmembers Ivy Taylor and Diego Bernal.

The convening has also offered participants a host of breakout sessions that dived deeper into both the policy and practice side of asset building. The panels have focused on various topics ranging from how the African American, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander communities are faring in the economic recovery, to a discussion on the state of inequity in Texas by race and geography, to a conversation on what the federal policies are that can help to close the racial wealth gap and a panel focused on what local organizations are doing to ensure Texas communities are financially empowered through the use of alternative financial products and services.

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CFED Expands Programs to Improve Asset-Building Opportunities for Low- and Moderate-Income Households

By Kristin Lawton on 10/24/2013 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: News, Assets & Opportunity Initiative

News Alert

$500,000 grant from The JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support and strengthen local asset-building opportunities

CFED is excited to announce today that it will deploy $500,000 to strengthen the capacity of state and local nonprofits to ensure greater access to products, programs and policies that expand financial asset-building opportunities for low-to moderate-income consumers. The expansion is made possible by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and is part of the firm’s broader efforts to provide $1.4 million in grants to leading nonprofits that promote the financial capability of consumers.

“Our goal at CFED is to develop and support programs that empower low- and moderate-income households. This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase will help us continue to work to achieve this goal,” said, Jennifer Brooks, Director of the Assets & Opportunity Network, CFED.

“Strengthening the pipeline of high-capacity organizations is critical to providing asset-building services to underserved communities. We are proud to support CFED’s efforts to share innovative financial capability strategies, build partnerships and support asset-building nonprofits to enhance their impact,” said Janis Bowdler, Managing Director, Financial Capability and Affordable Housing, JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation grant will support the following 2014 CFED activities:

  • One-year pilot of the Capacity Building Initiative, a program designed to provide customized technical assistance to local and state asset-building leaders.
  • Development and deployment of resources that help Assets & Opportunity Network members connect to, and learn from, peers and experts.
  • Expansion of the Assets & Opportunity Network by recruiting and supporting nonprofits to deliver asset-building services and lead effective assets coalitions.
  • 2013 Assets & Opportunity Network Leadership Convening, a national conference in Washington, D.C. The goal of the conference is to set the priorities for the CFED Network for the coming year, build relationships with peers and funders, and educate policymakers about financial access and inclusion issues.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

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Check Out the New and Improved 1:1 Fund Website

By Carl Rist on 10/23/2013 @ 09:00 AM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Education

We are very excited to announce the launch of our new website for the 1:1 Fund and invite you to take a look! The 1:1 Fund is a CFED platform that supports the college dreams of low-income children by ensuring that those dreams are matched with savings in the bank. The 1:1 Fund has learned a lot in our first year and we’re striving to create a more interactive, easy to share and exciting platform to match kids’ college dreams dollar for dollar.

Visit the new website to:

  • Get the latest updates, read savers stories and donate to a program in your area all from our dynamic program pages.
  • Learn about the impact of child savings programs.
  • Stay current on what's happening at 1:1 Fund and in the world of children's savings accounts on our blog.

The 1:1 Fund team hopes you enjoy our new website and visit often to see how our child savings programs are doing! Also, if you have any feedback or comments on the new website, our team would love to hear from you.

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Webinar: How the Federal Tax Code is Driving Inequity and What You Can Do About It

By Veronica Weis on 10/22/2013 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: Events

Thursday, November 7 | 2 - 3 pm EST

The primary purpose of the U.S. tax system is to generate public revenue, but it also serves as a vehicle to advance public policy goals. For example, the tax code includes provisions that incentivize taxpayers to take certain action – like buying a home, or saving for higher education or retirement – by providing them with tax credits, deductions, exclusions, and preferential rates. These tax benefits, known collectively as “tax expenditures,” reduce government revenues, disproportionately benefit wealthier households, and provide limited benefits for low- and moderate-income families and households of color.

Deliberations about reforming the federal tax code – including discussions about the cost and benefits of various tax expenditures – are underway in Congress. These discussions provide a unique window of opportunity for advocates to call for a more inclusive, progressive, and equitable tax code – one that provides fair benefits to all U.S. households.

Please join the Asset Funders Network, CFED, PolicyLink and our co-hosts (listed below) for this upcoming webinar about why tax reform matters and opportunities for change. This webinar is intended to prepare practitioners and advocates for critical windows of opportunity to engage in tax reform debates and advocate for policies that enable low- and moderate-income families to access a greater share of the benefits.

Featured Speakers:

This webinar is free, but advanced registration is required. Click here to register.

Webinar Co-hosts: CFED, The Center for Global Policy Solutions, Center for Social Development, ColorOfChange, The Greenlining Institute, Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, New America Foundation, Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, PICO National Network, and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

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SF Savers: College is Part of “How to Have a Fun Life” for Barry and His Son Jaray

By Claire Sorrenson, 1:1 Fund on 10/21/2013 @ 01:30 PM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Featured Stories, Matched Savings

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared on the 1:1 Fund blog, which you can read here.

Barry & Jaray Perkins

Jaray Perkins, an energetic kindergartener at Sherman Elementary School, loves riding his bike and doing sports as diverse as martial arts and rock climbing. When it comes to school, “you have to drag him away,” according to father Barry Perkins.

The landscape of education has changed a lot since Barry’s youth. “College is way more expensive than when I went.” In fact, Barry calculates that his son’s preschool cost more per semester than his college undergraduate degree. But, says Barry, “I believe in planning” now for Jaray’s future education.

Barry highlights the importance of setting early expectations for his son. “We talk about your choices as an adult and how you can have a fun life.” A fun life means having the freedom to make choices, which means having a job that allows you that freedom. Says Barry, “we talk about how you have more options” with a college degree. Barry definitely sees college in Jaray’s future. For Barry, it goes beyond surviving in today’s economy: “college is a good place to figure out what you do and don’t like.”

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Asset-Building News Roundup - October 18, 2013

By Veronica Weis on 10/18/2013 @ 03:00 PM

Tags: News

Events

A&O Network Lead Organizations, Illinois Asset Building Group and Hawai’i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development, will be presenting during a webinar hosted by the Shriver Center, Encouraging Savings: How Hawaii and Illinois Eliminated their TANF Asset Tests, on October 22.

On November 7, the emerging Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative will publicly launch at an event in New Haven featuring New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Jonathan Mintz.

The Consumer Federation of America will host its Financial Services Conference December 5-6 in Washington, DC.

News

Enforcing Small Dollar Lending Protections: Arkansas Attorney General McDaniel filed a lawsuit against three companies offering payday loans online, a practice that is prohibited in Arkansas. One organization, Western Sky Financial, claims to be a tribal entity exempt from the law. Separately, an Iowa administrative court ruled that online payday loans made by tribal lenders are subject to the state's payday lending law. Read more here.

Consumer Protection: The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reiterated that employers cannot require employees receive pay on a payroll card of the employer’s choosing. The CFPB also articulated payroll card regulations, including the requirement for financial institutions to disclose all fees associated with the cards.

The CFPB conducted field hearings in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and Chicago, Illinois. In Mississippi, CFPB Director Cordray and staff heard from consumers about the effects of predatory lending in the region. In Illinois, the CFPB shared results of a report on the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) and heard from consumers about the use of credit products in the community.

From the Assets & Opportunity Network

Think there's nothing going on in Washington? Even after the The House continues to push for drastic cuts to the food assistance program, SNAP. Continued pressure from you can maintain states' right to waive asset tests! Last week, the House named conferees for a House-Senate committee that will reconcile differences between versions of the Farm Bill. The main sticking point will likely be funding for SNAP. Where the Senate bill cuts $4 billion over 10 years and retains state flexibility to waive asset tests, the House bill cuts nearly $40 billion, achieved largely by eliminating "broad-based categorical eligibility"—the mechanism states use to waive the SNAP asset test. If enacted, the House version would force more than 40 states—probably including yours—to reinstate low federal asset limits and would deny SNAP to 4-6 million low-income people.

The YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas reports that although women have regained more jobs than men since the end of the Great Recession, most of those are in low-paying jobs such as waitresses and housekeeping, according to a recent study.

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In Photos: Opportunity Finance Network Conference & Native CDFI Gathering

By Kim Pate on 10/18/2013 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Economic Inclusion, Events, Just For Fun

All week, I've had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference here in Philly. It's been an incredible experience, and it's been great to see old friends and meet new ones from across the country.

While I'm still taking it all in, I wanted to share a few photos. This first one is the outgoing Board of the Native CDFI Network, whose mission is to be the national voice and advocate for creating access to resources for Native people. Right after this photo was taken, we elected new Board members for the upcoming year.

Here's another shot of some of the board members, this time signing the Native CDFI Network Articles of Incorporation.

Tanya Fiddler, Chair of the Board of the Native CDFI Network, opened the meeting. Tanya also sits on CFED's board, and has been a longtime friend to CFED and to me.

If you ever get the chance to head to OFN, do it. It's a great conference with a really diverse program, making it ideal even for those who don't work directly with CDFIs.

Did you attend OFN or the Native CDFI Network gathering? Share your thoughts with us below!

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