Highlights from This Morning's AFI Grantee Institute
By Jimmy Crowell on 09/19/2012 @ 03:00 PM
The Assets for Independence (AFI) Institute at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference kicked off this morning with over 200 practitioners convening for a day filled with great discussions and activities. The robust and diverse group of Individual Development Account (IDA) providers heard about the incredibly positive impact of savings and building assets for low income individuals from Al Fleming, AFI Program Manager with the Office of Community Services. During the welcome plenary, Mr. Fleming highlighted the fact that AFI has over $30 million in active grants going directly to savers striving to become homeowners, to start small businesses or to obtain educational certifications.
Mr. Fleming reinforced the importance of every grantees' work by inviting a local IDA participant to share her story. Patricia Baker energized the room of practitioners by sharing the benefits she reaped from participating in an IDA program. Not only was Patricia Baker able to save to start her own publishing business, she also took part in financial education classes and learned about her negative financial behaviors. Through her participation in an IDA program, Ms. Baker was able to get herself into the financial mainstream, strengthen her household finances and achieve her dreams of running her own business.
Lorna Moore, an IDA practitioner from Interfaith Housing Services in Kansas, also shared pictures and stories from her savers. She described how important her IDA program is for her community in Kansas and how it is currently serving more than 200 savers. The stories shared during the welcome plenary at today's AFI Institute really empowered the room and gave grantees an important tool to support their work. The energy and drive from grantees at the very front lines of asset building has inspired and reinforced the field.
Photo Contest: Vote for Your Favorite Finalists
By Sean Luechtefeld on 09/19/2012 @ 02:00 PM
This summer, CFED asked Americans what they’re saving for by challenging them to send in their savings stories and photographs as part of the American Dream Photo Challenge. We received over 60 entries from contestants all over the country hoping to win the $500 grand prize. On display at our Conference are the top finalists. So, take a walk just to the right of the registration desk and enjoy the photo gallery. Let us know your favorite on Twitter with the hashtag #ALC2012. The top three winners will be announced on Friday morning during the Breakfast Plenary by CFED President Andrea Levere.
Gearing Up for the Second National Poverty Summit
By Sean Luechtefeld on 09/19/2012 @ 12:30 PM
Just added: Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne to deliver keynote during Saturday's Closing Plenary!
If you haven’t heard, the second national Poverty Summit kicks off at the conclusion of the ALC, and registration is free for ALC participants. If you haven’t yet signed up, don’t worry; you can still register onsite at the Registration Desk located outside the Thurgood Marshall Ballroom here in the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
The Poverty Summit kicks off Friday evening at 5 with an opening ceremony and reception. There, you’ll hear remarks from leaders in the poverty field, including Catholic Charities USA President Father Larry Snyder and CFED President Andrea Levere. On Saturday, we’re offering three Plenary Sessions, which will include high-profile speakers such as Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law Center; David Erickson, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Nancy Andrews, Low-Income Investment Fund; and Michael Morris, National Disability Institute.
In addition to the exciting Plenary Sessions, the Poverty Summit will also offer two opportunities for Breakout Sessions, each of which will include some of the field’s leading organizations such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Coalition on Human Needs.
The Poverty Summit will bring together over 300 professionals committed to reversing the national trend of growing endemic poverty. We hope you’ll be part of that group by joining us at the close of the ALC.
From Saver to Homeowner: IDA Success Stories Part 2
By Bank of the West on 09/19/2012 @ 11:15 AM
To help families achieve the goal of homeowner¬ship, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals saving for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. This is the second story in a six-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country. This story comes from the IDA program at Prosperity Works in Albuquerque, NM. Be sure to look out for more IDA Success Stories at the ALC.
Kayla Resendez’s family of seven lived in a two-bedroom apartment. Her goal: to someday purchase a home big enough for all of them. A school principal’s receptionist, Kayla learned about a financial literacy program through the Albuquerque Public Schools family liaison. She and some of her colleagues decided to take the class.
During the course, she discovered Prosperity Works’ Individual Development Account (IDA) program. After learning more about the 3:1 matched savings program, Kayla opened an IDA at a local bank and began saving for a home with a new strategy. “Any money I made from overtime I put into our IDA account,” Kayla explained. “I could save money and still take care of our bills.”
The IDA program provided valuable lessons in day-to-day money management. “This program challenged my family to save not only for things that we would like to have but for unexpected emergencies as well. Saving can still be a challenge, but after the program, we feel we have definitely been given the tools to help us make reliable decisions. The program has allowed us to think about our savings, retirement and the big picture.”
Kayla realized her dream of purchasing a home in February 2011. Her IDA savings covered the down payment and closing costs. Even after her home purchase, Kayla has retained the important lessons she learned in the IDA program, and plans to remain financially stable, debt free and living within her financial means. “We purchase items in bulk, stay away from vending machines, pack lunches and car pool as much as possible. I thank the Prosperity Works IDA program for all it has done for me, my life and my family!”
Wells Fargo Supports New Strategies for Asset Building Research and Approaches
By Kim Pate on 09/18/2012 @ 06:00 PM
Wells Fargo continues to show tremendous support for community development programs that work to strengthen families through asset building strategies. As our Assets & Opportunity Sponsor at the Assets Learning Conference, they’re sponsoring sessions that tackle important issues in the field, such as predatory lending, diminishing sources of funding and asset tests . Please see full session descriptions below.
- Assets & Opportunity Network Advocates College
September 19, 2012 12:30 - 5:00 pm
- Opening Plenary: State of the Field
September 20, 2012 8:00 - 9:30 am
The Opening Plenary will begin with an official welcome to the Conference by CFED President Andrea Levere, followed by her always highly anticipated “State of the Field” address. Using CFED’s Household Financial Security Framework as a frame, Andrea will introduce the three keynote speakers for the plenary: Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Jon Campbell, Executive Vice President, Director of Government and Community Relations, the Conference’s Assets & Opportunity Sponsor; and Lisa Mensah, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security. After their keynote remarks, Andrea will moderate a panel discussion among the three, highlight connections and themes, and remind attendees to seek out opportunities to turn Ideas Into Action throughout the rest of the Conference.
- Eliminating Asset Tests: New Research, Challenges and Approaches
September 20, 2012 9:30 - 10:45 am
Many public benefit programs – those that provide cash assistance, food assistance, public health care and disability income – limit eligibility to those with few or no assets. Asset limits discourage families from accessing critical income-boosting benefits and from building up the personal savings and assets that would allow them to move off public benefit programs. Important progress has been made in the past decade, particularly on Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) asset tests. Yet, with budget shortfalls at the state and federal levels, that progress is in jeopardy. This session will provide new research on the impact of eliminating assets tests on caseloads, cost savings and error rates in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and SNAP programs; lessons from recent set-backs and challenges to the elimination of SNAP asset tests; and a charge for advocates to protect and expand policy gains.
- State and Local Strategies to Curb Predatory Small Dollar Lending
September 21, 2012 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Predatory small dollar lending strips wealth from financially vulnerable families and leaves them with fewer resources to devote to building assets and climbing the economic ladder. This session will provide an overview of the latest approaches – and industry counter-approaches – to curbing predatory small dollar lending; a concrete example of one newer state-level approach, statewide ballot initiatives; and an example of how local strategies, such local zoning ordinances, can not only curb abusive lending locally, but also build the case for state-level change.
- Winning Strategies for State Asset Policy Change in a Time of Budget Shortfalls
September 21, 2012 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Faced with budget shortfalls and continued high unemployment, federal, state and local policymakers, are focused on trimming spending and creating jobs. Anti-poverty advocates want to protect funding to address immediate needs. Assets advocates (who may also care about those same programs) want to protect spending on assets, but are also still looking for the “big win” that would require new spending on asset-building incentives. This session will explore three strategies to win on an assets agenda in the current environment – building broader alliances with “revenue coalitions”; framing your issues in policymakers’ terms; and focusing on what is achievable now, while teeing up bigger investments for down the road – and a concrete example of one asset coalition’s success.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. We’re deeply grateful to Wells Fargo, our Assets & Opportunity Sponsor. To see our full program agenda, please visit the conference site here.
From Saver to Homeowner: IDA Success Stories Part 1
By Bank of the West on 09/18/2012 @ 04:30 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeowner¬ship, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the savings of low-income Individual Development Account (IDA) participants saving for a new home and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. This is the first story in a six-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country. This story comes from the IDA program at Interfaith Housing Services in Hutchinson, KS. Be sure to look out for more IDA Success Stories at the ALC.
The Hopkins Family’s Story
Emily and John Hopkins work hard for their family of five. Renting a house big enough for themselves and three children was a monthly struggle, despite John’s long hours at a feed yard and Emily’s job at a local gas station, plus babysitting.
They needed their own home, but homeownership seemed impossible. Their assets consisted of only a savings account with a very low balance. Emily and John considered buying a home on a land contract, but that meant the Hopkins wouldn’t own the land until the contract was fully paid off. They brought their contract to Interfaith Housing Services (IHS) where IHS staff reviewed the document and explained its risks given Emily and John’s financial status at the time.
Empowered with better information, Emily and John chose to sign up for the Individual Development Account (IDA) program. Through the program and its workshops, they learned to identify identifying “spending leaks” in their budget. They dedicated themselves to reducing their debt and building new credit. And they were able, at last, to start saving.
Emily and John finally reached their savings goal. “We couldn't have done this without Interfaith Housing Services matching our savings and providing help to repair and build our credit,” says Emily. The Hopkins found a home that was big enough for their family and more affordable than renting.
Emily and John just moved into their new home. Now, with better tools and strategies for spending and saving, they are working towards new goals to provide a better life for their children.
Spotlight on Integrated Service Delivery at the ALC
By Kim Pate on 09/17/2012 @ 04:30 PM
is dedicated to strengthening neighborhoods and helping individuals and families gain greater financial stability. Don’t miss their sponsored session – Integrated Service Delivery Essentials – aimed at highlighting how Integrated Service Delivery, a new approach being used by many in the field, can improve service delivery for clients.
- Integrated Service Delivery Essentials
September 20, 2012 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
Integrated Service Delivery creates streamlined service delivery for clients and leverages scarce resources for organizations. This seamless delivery of services and supports that address all of the issues impacting a given individual/family is a promising approach that is being used by a number of national organizations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the U.S. Department of Labor and many more organizations and units of government. In this session, participants will hear from organizations that have learned how to integrate services, create efficiencies and assist families in achieving their financial goals.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. Please join us in extending our deep gratitude to Bank of America. For the full ALC agenda, click here.
W. K. Kellogg Foundation Supports a Look at the Future of Children’s Savings
By Kim Pate on 09/17/2012 @ 01:30 PM
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recognizes the importance of building strong communities by helping families save for their children’s futures, particularly for education. That’s why they’re sponsoring the 2012 Assets Learning Conference as a way to promote the creation of pathways to financial security for millions of low- and moderate-income families.
As part of these efforts, they’re sponsoring sessions at the 2012 ALC that touch on children’s savings accounts and college affordability. Don’t miss the Conversation with Savers Breakfast Plenary, sponsored by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and featuring speaker Sterling Speirn, their President and CEO. For complete session descriptions, take a look below:
- Children's Savings Account Institute
September 19, 2012 9 am - 4:30 pm
Our Children’s Savings Account Institute will provide all the details needed to design and launch your own savings accounts for higher education, including how to engage families, design and manage accounts, and create powerful savings incentives.
- Partnerships to Promote College Affordability, Enrollment and Success
September 20, 2012 2 - 3:15 pm
The College Board’s Advocacy and Policy Center’s mission is to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. The Center, working with partners committed to similar goals, has developed innovative approaches to inform students and parents about the benefits of postsecondary education and how to pay for it. Learn about three creative projects that have successfully translated data and facts into accessible and understandable messages; and delivered that information using student-centered, parent friendly tools and materials. Panelists will review the results of these projects implemented during the past year that will reach hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income students and their families.
- Piggy Banks and the Public Sector
September 21, 2012 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
The concept of Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) is beginning to gain real traction in the public sector. In recent years, the vast majority of emerging children’s savings programs have included one or more public entities – such as partnerships with school districts, city or county governments, Head Start centers, or other federal programs. In this session, experts will share their experiences in advancing children’s savings initiatives, both legislatively and through agency or administrative partnerships, and describe recent breakthroughs at the local, state and federal levels. Attendees will leave the session with ideas they can take home and start using to connect with agency heads, legislators, child-serving programs, educational entities and others to advance children’s savings strategies.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. We’re deeply grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, our Child and Family Savings Sponsor. To see our full program agenda, please visit the conference site here.
Why I’m Headed to the ALC
By Blair Benjamin, Guest Contributor on 09/17/2012 @ 11:45 AM
We’re just a couple of days from the start of the 2012 Assets Learning Conference and I’m so excited to be returning as a blogger.
In 2008, I attended my first ALC by persuading the good people at CFED that they should invite me – a relative novice in the asset-building field, and someone who had never before attended the ALC – to be their first-ever official conference blogger. I promised that enthusiasm and fresh eyes would help me convey the excitement of the conference. I was given the position, worked my butt off at the conference, and was treated as an interesting, if somewhat alien, presence – “Why is this guy typing furiously on his laptop when he could be chatting with his state’s leading policy makers and funders in the buffet line?” I learned more than I could have imagined, probably developed some inflated notions of what I would accomplish during the following years, but returned to my day-to-day work with renewed energy.
I returned to the next ALC in 2010, this time with the more honorific title of “Innovative Idea Champion.” I and the other champions were carefully positioned to hob-nob and network as part of the “Innovation Marketplace” – no more hiding in the shadow of my laptop screen. I hawked the possibilities of my “Assets for Artists” project, which I’d been piloting for a couple of years in the remote Berkshires of western Massachusetts, and which I intended to scale up. Again, the conference was nothing less than invigorating, and opened a number of doors for me. I came just short of adding “Innovative Idea Champion” to my business card as I spent much of the next two years trying to do what I had told CFED I was planning to do. Looking back at my innovation@cfed profile, I see that I’ve managed to move quite a ways in the direction of what I had envisioned, including an expansion to additional states that we’re about to roll out and some experimentation with “crowd-sourced fundraising” (shameless plug – we’ve got about 35 days to go on our first-ever crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, so check out our great video and give $5 of $10 if the idea inspires you).
Which brings me to 2012, and yes, I’ve been invited to put my “blogger” hat back on for the ALC that kicks off in just a couple of days. Now, perhaps more like the typical conference attendee than I was in 2008 or 2010, my job is pulling me in more directions than I seem able to manage, and I wonder how I can afford to spend four straight days out of the office when there’s so much happening back home. But I also know this: how can I afford not to be at the ALC? Where else can I find over a thousand people who are just as excited by the things that excite me? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Integrating Financial Empowerment Strategies into Housing and Homelessness Prevention Programs
By Sean Luechtefeld on 09/17/2012 @ 11:00 AM
While homelessness has been a “persistent and enduring feature in American history,” the recent economic downturn is producing a new face of those at risk of homelessness and a growing sense of vulnerability among many Americans. Many families live only a few paychecks away from being homeless, lacking the financial cushion to sustain themselves in the event of a job loss or unexpected medical bill.
Recognizing the need to address the increasing vulnerability of families and individuals in their communities, several local governments and nonprofit organizations across the country are implementing innovative financial security and asset-building strategies that seek to expand the financial cushion for their residents and clients. These strategies are those that help individuals and families better manage their finances, maximize their income and build a safety net. They include debt counseling and credit repair, financial education, access to low-cost checking and savings accounts, and free tax preparation assistance.
As the face of those at risk of homelessness changes, so too must the response. This Guide explores the options that exist for these responses, and how financial empowerment strategies can be incorporated to the broad slate of programs offered by housing programs and homelessness prevention programs.
To download “Integrating Financial Empowerment Strategies into Housing and Homelessness Prevention Programs,” click here.
Housing and Asset Building at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference
By Kim Pate on 09/13/2012 @ 02:30 PM
NeighborWorks America, the conference Strong Communities sponsor, creates opportunities for people to better their lives by providing access to homeownership and affordable rental housing options. To learn about the role that affordable housing plays in strengthening communities through asset building, here’s a description of one session they’re sponsoring:
- Affordable Housing as an Asset-Building Platform September 20, 2012 9:30 am - 10:45 am The recent economic downturn has highlighted the vital importance of having savings to weather financial setbacks and new, tighter underwriting standards will likely require higher downpayments for future homebuyers. Innovative affordable housing providers across the country have responded by integrating asset building and other financial services into their affordable housing programs. In this session you will learn how innovative housing authorities, intermediaries and affordable housing developers are helping low-income families build assets through saving or building wealth through renter equity with unique and successful approaches.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of sponsors like NeighborWorks America. For the full ALC agenda, please visit the conference site here.
First Look: FDIC Releases New Unbanked Data
By Ethan Geiling on 09/13/2012 @ 12:00 PM
The number of unbanked and underbanked Americans has grown slightly since 2009, according to new data released by the FDIC yesterday.
More than eight percent of U.S. households – or approximately 17 million adults – are unbanked, up from 7.6% in 2009.* The number of underbanked households rose to 20.1% - or approximately 51 million adults – which is slightly higher than the 18.2% of households in 2009. Overall, the combined number of unbanked and underbanked households jumped three percentage points from two years earlier.
Unbanked rates by geography
Although the unbanked rate appears to have increased and decreased in many states, the FDIC reports that the change is only statistically significant in three states: West Virginia, Wyoming and Minnesota. Because of changes to the survey methodology, underbanked rates from 2009 and 2011 are not directly comparable. However, the proportion of households using Alternative Financial Services did increase in eight states – Alabama, Nevada, Arkansas, Georgia, New Jersey, South Dakota, Vermont, and Rhode Island – and decreased in Alaska and the District of Columbia.
The FDIC looked at unbanked rates in the 71 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Of these 71, there was a statistically significant change in seven of them – the unbanked rate increased in five and decreased in two. The FDIC does not speculate about why rates may have changes in these cities.
Use of savings accounts
For the first time, the FDIC examined differences in checking and savings account usage. A large chunk of Americans (29.3%) do not have a savings account, which is seen as a major opportunity for financial institutions. Some interesting trends also emerge when you break down the data by different subgroups. About half of Black and Hispanic households do not have a savings account, compared to about one-quarter of Asian and white households. The majority (61.0%) of the lowest income households (those making less than $15,000) do not have a savings account, compared to less than 10% of households making $75,000 or more a year.
Future banking plans
The FDIC asked unbanked households whether they plan to open a bank account in the near future. The majority of households (61.7%) said that they are not likely to open an account. However, households that previously had a bank are more likely than never-banked households to report that they will open an account.
One of the most interesting findings from the FDIC’s report is the reasons that unbanked households want to open accounts. The top three reasons are:
The third reason – to save money for the future – is particularly noteworthy, and suggests that many low-income people have the desire to save, but lack the vehicle to do so.
There is far too much rich information in the FDIC’s report to cover in a blog post. However, next week Keith Ernst from the FDIC will be at CFED’s Assets Learning Conference presenting on findings during the Applied Research Forum Kick-Off. If you’re attending the ALC, we encourage you to attend this session to learn more!
Prize-Linked Savings to be Featured at #ALC2012
By Joanna Smith-Ramani, Guest Contributor on 09/13/2012 @ 11:00 AM
Joanna Smith-Ramani is the Director of Scale Strategies for D2D Fund, working on the expansion of successful innovation pilots. Prior to joining the D2D, Joanna was the Director of the Baltimore CASH (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) Campaign, an asset building, tax preparation and EITC coalition in Baltimore, MD.
All too often, the act of saving is seen as a sacrifice and denial. It’s no wonder in that context that when given a choice between saving and spending on entertainment or something “fun,” most Americans choose the fun. It’s about time for Americans to get it all out of saving – an engaging product that powerfully bundles saving, entertainment, and a moment to dream. This bundle is not altogether different from what drives consumers to the $50 billion lottery industry. Imagine how many people could be reached if saving was an exciting game with no risk of losing?
Prize-linked savings (PLS) engages consumers to save by changing the savings experience. Savers are rewarded with prizes and incentives. By doing so, PLS reframes the act of saving into a fun game with real rewards, rules, suspense, and possibility. Different features of the game can be changed or customized to better suit a range of savings products and programs. The PLS game concept has no limit beyond creativity and can be applied in a variety of settings from banks and credit unions to prepaid cards and online financial management systems.
PLS programs began overseas and have been successful in the United States, most notably in Michigan. In 2009, Michigan credit unions participated in the PLS-based program “Save to Win” and rewarded members who saved by entering them into various savings raffles. Annually, one member got the shock of a lifetime when they won a $100,000 grand prize. Michigan credit unions increased their engagement with financially vulnerable consumers and kept them coming back for more – 64% of new savings accounts rolled over from one year to the next. The success of Save to Win Michigan inspired other states and entities to launch similar PLS programs to better serve consumers.
Since the pilot in Michigan, Save to Win (STW) has grown to 58 credit unions, with over 25,000 unique accounts saving more than $40 million. The state of Nebraska signed on to STW at the beginning of 2012 and is showing promising gains. In its first seven months, Save to Win Nebraska has engaged 10 credit unions and opened over 1,300 member accounts. These STW accountholders have saved over $1.1M, representing an average savings of $857. Recent legislation has opened the doors for more states to follow Michigan and Nebraska as they bring innovation to sustainable savings programs. Click here to learn more about Save to Win.
The game frame worked into PLS products has nurtured positive attitudes towards saving and motivated consumers to save for the long term. A new PLS lottery ticket model takes the game concept a step further by offering a “no-lose lottery ticket” offered by the experts in games - a state lottery. A consumer simply buys a designated PLS lottery ticket and the funds are held by the state in a savings account. The ticket is a “win-win” because even if a prize isn’t won, the entire cost of the ticket goes towards a savings fund the consumer can build up and use for their financial needs. The PLS lottery ticket is designed to attract a wider audience with the chance to win, without the risk of losing, generating high levels of excitement and reward-anticipation.
The PLS Lottery Ticket will be debuted at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference, where Doorways to Dreams Fund will be administering their own “lottery” complete with prizes. Join D2D Fund, PayPerks, and MD CASH as they offer insight into the future possibilities of prize-linked savings and how advocates can bring PLS to their state. View the agenda for more information on this session.
ROC On, Minnesota!
By Jimmy Crowell on 09/13/2012 @ 10:00 AM
Residents of the Stonegate Manufactured Housing Community in Minnesota definitely have a reason to celebrate! Last week, with the help of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF), the residents of Stonegate in Lindstrom, Minnesota formed a cooperative and collectively bought the plot of land beneath their homes from Pinewood Properties, Inc. Minnesota now officially has 6 resident-owned manufactured housing communities.
Cooperative ownership of manufactured home communities gives residents of land-leased communities, like Stonegate, security of tenure. They no longer have to worry about being forced from their communities if the property owner decides to sell it. Residents will also be able to enjoy greater financial stability and certainty through the stabilization of monthly fees. Monthly fees will be decided collectively and can no longer be raised by the hands of a singular owner who, often times, is removed from the community.
According to the Chisago County Press, 27 residents, representing more than half of the 50-site community, formed the cooperative. They agreed that current residents who did not want to belong to the cooperative could still pay rent for their plots of land. However; once they leave, their home must be sold to someone who agrees to become a member of the cooperative.
“I’m really proud of us and our neighbors – that we were able to work together to accomplish what we did,” said Stephanie Bushard, Interim President of the Stonegate Cooperative. “We are excited about the future of our community.”
NCF, a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider (CTAP), helped form the cooperative and ensured a successful closing of the transaction. ROC USA Capital, the financing affiliate of ROC USA, carries a portfolio of pre-development and acquisition/permanent loans totaling over $50 million in ten states. Financing for Stonegate Cooperative was provided by ROC USA® Capital.
“We are extremely happy for the members of Stonegate Cooperative. As we learned from the first organizing meeting, many homeowners have lived here for decades. As is demonstrated by their strong leadership and inspiring initiative, Stonegate residents are committed to this community and have a very strong vision that they wish to realize and make happen here,” said NCF’s Executive Director, Warren Kramer.
Resident-owned cooperatives allow residents to build equity, maintain higher home values and exercise greater control over the land beneath their homes. With over 1,000 resident-owned communities nationwide—41 of which were converted by ROC USA CTAPs over the past three years—the movement is growing. There is still plenty of work to do in Minnesota though; over 6% of the state’s residents live in manufactured home communities!
Announcing Our Photo Contest Finalists!
By Veronica Weis on 09/12/2012 @ 03:30 PM
This summer, CFED asked Americans what they’re saving for by challenging them to send in their savings stories and photographs as part of the American Dream Photo Challenge. We received over 60 entries from contestants all over the country hoping to win the $500 grand prize. Here are the top finalists. Let us know your favorite on Twitter with the hashtag #ALC2012.
The top three winners will be announced on Friday morning during the Breakfast Plenary at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference by CFED President Andrea Levere.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in their savings story!
AFI Impacts Featured at the Assets Learning Conference
By Kim Pate on 09/12/2012 @ 10:30 AM
Assets for Independence helps families rise out of poverty through grants to community-based nonprofits, universities, and state and local government agencies. These funds go toward individual development accounts, which are match savings accounts, and financial education and data collection. AFI participants use match funds to purchase a house, start or capitalize a small business, or pursue postsecondary education.
As our conference IDA sponsor, they’re dedicated to fostering new ideas and open forums for those working with individual development account programs as asset building strategies. Their impacts will be featured at the Assets Learning Conference this September at a number of sessions. For complete session descriptions, take a look below:
- Entrepreneurship Development Systems: Creating Strong Native Economies
September 20, 2012 9:30 - 10:45 am
Partners in the S.A.G.E. (Strengthening and Growing Entrepreneurship) Collaborative, one of six Entrepreneurship Development Systems funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will present the findings from their three-year project to create a seamless system of business development products and services for entrepreneurs in Native American communities. The presenters, a Native Community Development Financial Institution and Native Artisan Business support provider, have taken the lessons of the S.A.G.E. Collaborative and developed new strategies to help entrepreneurs in rural Native American communities eradicate barriers to funding and building their businesses. Presenters will describe these strategies in depth and how they have enabled entrepreneurs to access capital and business development services to create and expand viable rural reservation economies.
- The ASSET Initiative - Asset Building for Low-Income Fathers: Emerging Lessons and New Guidance for Asset-Building Organizations
September 20, 2012 2 - 3:15 pm
In 2010 the federal government launched an initiative to connect fathers in the child support system with asset-building services. Building Assets for Fathers and Families is helping child support agencies connect to Assets for Independence (AFI) projects around the country and in seven regions in particular. Come to this session to hear from AFI and child support program managers about lessons that are emerging on how best to provide asset-building services to these fathers as well as how partnerships are being formed between asset-building and child support agencies.
- Using AFI to Maximize the Impact of Asset Building Work
September 20, 2012 2 - 3:15 pm
Learn about how the federal Assets for Independence program can support your asset-building work in the community. The AFI program provides grants of up to $1 million to support Individual Development Account projects across the country. As a demonstration project, it gives grantees the flexibility to design a project that will meet the needs of their target population. Starting an AFI IDA project can multiply the impact of existing economic empowerment projects such as free tax preparation, housing assistance programs and financial education. At this session, you will hear from an AFI Resource Center representative about the process of designing an AFI project and submitting an application, and from a current grantee about how IDAs enhance their other areas of work.
- The ASSET Initiative: Summary, Lessons, Promising Practices
September 20, 2012 2 - 3:15 pm
The ASSET Initiative, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, HHS, brings asset-building tools, strategies and resources to staff and participants of all ACF Programs. Asset-building tools include savings and matched savings, tax credits and tax filing assistance, managing credit and debt, getting banked and financial education, and access to public benefits. This workshop will summarize key lessons and will highlight promising asset building practices within Head Start, child support, child welfare and TANF Programs, among others.
- Financial Education Best Practices
September 21, 2012 9:30 - 10:45 am
Financial Consumers are thinking differently about their financial habits: paying down their debts, saving more and adopting practical spending approaches. To succeed, these consumers need financial education approaches and tools that work for them. This session will offer participants the opportunity to learn about current and emerging trends as well as best practices in financial education from across the country. Participants will come away with new strategies and tactics for implementing effective financial education in their communities.
- The ASSET Initiative - Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Build Assets: Winning Strategies for Partnering with DV Agencies
September 21, 2012 11 am - 12:15 pm
Economic dependence and lack of economic options are the main reasons that domestic violence victims stay with or return to an abusive partner. Over the past several years, domestic violence (DV) agencies and asset-building organizations have begun working together to build the economic capacity of survivors. The lessons that these early pioneers are learning are ready to be shared. Join us in this session to hear about a new toolkit that provides step-by-step guidance on how AFI and other asset-building programs and DV agencies can partner, as well as the benefits that accrue to survivors – and to each organization – when these partnerships are successful.
- Savings Bonds: Tax Time Innovations
September 21, 2012 11 am - 12:15 pm
It is never too late to start saving or investing for the future, even for low-income individuals who have little capacity to do so. Savings bonds, especially those introduced during tax time, are one practical tool for low- to moderate-income individuals to form healthy savings habits and protect themselves from financial setbacks. In this session, participants will have an opportunity to learn about savings bonds and their important implications for practice, policy and research.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. We’re deeply grateful to AFI, our IDA sponsor. To see our full program agenda, please visit the conference site here.
Citi Promotes Financial Capability and Asset-Building Programs at the Assets Learning Conference
By Kim Pate and Brandee McHale on 09/11/2012 @ 10:30 AM
Citi’s financial capability and asset building programs work with local partners to help families achieve financial security through savings for milestones such as buying a home or enrolling in college. As our Financial Inclusions sponsor, Citi promotes the idea of savings as a key to financial security and opportunity and that reflects in the sessions they’re sponsoring at the Assets Learning Conference this September. Stop by Building Assets and Wealth for All: New Developments in Policy and Practice on Friday and take a look at the other sessions below. Notably, don’t miss the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance Project introduction announcing the launch of this exciting new research initiative.
Expanding access to affordable, high quality financial services so that consumers of all income levels can build and preserve assets is core to Citi’s mission and a key component of its commitment to financial inclusion. Citi’s engagement with the Assets field is a good example of this commitment including recent product development efforts such as the college savings platforms developed for the San Francisco Kindergarten to College program and the Partnership for College Completion. The Citi Foundation is also a founding member of CFED’s Asset Building Policy Network, a coalition of national organizations seeking to improve economic opportunities for low-income people by increasing access to responsible and appropriate financial products and services to help families save, invest, build and preserve financial assets. Most recently, the Citi Foundation has partnered with CFED and ideas 42 to launch the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance Project that will use behavioral economics theory to improve the effectiveness and reach of products and services that help people increase their financial stability.
- Behavioral Economics 101: Applying Behavioral Strategies to Improve Asset-Building Outcomes
September 20, 2012 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm
Insights from behavioral economics can help us understand some of the basic aspects of human nature, like why people make financial decisions that seem counter to their own best interests. During the session, speakers will provide an overview of behavioral economics, and introduce the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance (BETA) Project – a new opportunity for asset-building organizations to work with CFED and ideas42 to design and test a behavioral intervention within their own programs. This session is appropriate for practitioners, advocates, funders, financial institutions, researchers and anyone else with an interest in learning how to design, test and implement more effective programs that encourage “smart” financial decisions.
- Promoting Financial Capability by Improving Access to Financial Products: A Winning Strategy for Building Consumer Credit
September 20, 2012 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm
A good credit score is an important financial asset that allows consumers to access necessary resources and can even reduce their cost of living. One of the most effective ways of promoting credit building is through partnerships between nonprofit organizations and financial services providers. These cross- sector partnerships can improve consumer financial capability by coupling credit building products, like secured cards, loans and lines of credit, with financial education and coaching. Learn how Justine Petersen, Aspen Institute FIELD and Citi partnered to help clients build positive credit histories and financial capability. This session will focus on the operational considerations of product distribution and the key elements of forming and maintaining strong partnerships. Panelists will share insights about the value of the partnership for the nonprofit, the financial institution and the clients, along with best practices and lessons learned.
- Building Assets and Wealth for All: New Developments in Policy and Practice
September 21, 2012 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
The wealth gap between rich and poor, and between whites and people of color, has been getting wider, undermining individual well-being and the economies of communities across the country. Closing the wealth gap – and, in particular, the racial wealth gap – is imperative to achieving equity and ensuring that all Americans can achieve a prosperous future. Participants will learn how advocates are coming together to advance innovative policy and practical solutions that help individuals, families and communities rebuild financial security. They will also hear how diverse constituencies are developing shared research agendas and shaping public discourse.
The 2012 Assets Learning Conference is possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and we’d like to extend our deep gratitude to Citi. For the full conference agenda, click here.
Market Opportunity: The New I’M HOME eNewsletter
By Sean Luechtefeld on 09/10/2012 @ 02:30 PM
This afternoon, we sent the first edition of “Market Opportunity,” the new and improved eNewsletter from CFED’s I’M HOME initiative.
This quarterly newsletter will highlight some of the most important developments in the affordable housing field. Recognizing the potential manufactured homes hold as stock of affordable housing, CFED’s I’M HOME Team identifies and develops content for “Market Opportunity” with its highly engaged audience of affordable housing practitioners in mind.
To give you a sense of what “Market Opportunity” offers, check out this edition, which includes:
- Andrea Levere’s (President, CFED) discussion of manufactured housing as affordable housing
- David Dangler’s (National Director, NeighborWorks Rural Initiative) discussion of the need for and ways to mainstream factory-built housing
- The potential Minneapolis-St. Paul holds for bringing manufactured housing to the forefront of the national asset-building dialogue
- Strategies for resident ownership of manufactured home communities, as discussed on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’
- Updates on the latest policies affecting owners of manufactured homes
- Helpful resources for affordable housing practitioners, such as the brand-new I’M HOME State Policy Tracker
We’re excited for the launch of “Market Opportunity” and what it means for our ability to broaden the national discussion about promoting homeownership for Americans everywhere, regardless of their income. If you aren’t currently subscribed, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Webinar: Boosting Participant Retention in a Sluggish Economy
By Jimmy Crowell on 09/06/2012 @ 11:30 AM
Tuesday, September 11, 3:30-4:30 pm EDT / 12:30-1:30 pm PDT
The recession has impacted AFI programs across the country in many ways, including fundraising, participant recruitment, participant retention, and asset purchase completion. This webinar will focus on AFI participant retention. We will explore ways to bolster program success in: finding AFI participants with earned income; ensuring that AFI participants have credit scores and sufficient income to facilitate successful asset purchase completion; retaining AFI participants who have lost a job, had a medical emergency, or are struggling with maintaining secure housing; helping prevent emergency withdrawals from the AFI program.
There are strategies that successful AFI grantees use to retain AFI participants. We will explore these and illustrate their usefulness in running and completing a successful AFI program.
The hour-long webinar will cover:
- Useful strategies and tactics for increasing participant retention.
- Best practices from two AFI grantees with above average retention rates.
- Major causes of attrition and how to minimize them.
- Understanding and mitigating attrition’s negative impacts on successful grant completion and potential future grant funding.
- Kate Griffin, AFI Resource Center (moderator)
- Amy Shir, AFI Resource Center
- Martha Wunderli, State Director, Utah IDA Network; AAA Fair Credit Foundation
- Vickie Johnson, Economic Justice Coordinator, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association.
Click here to register now! The webinar is free to all interested participants. In advance of the webinar, please send any questions you would like our panelists to address during the session to Kate Griffin, or call 202.207.0117.
CFED, ideas42 and the Citi Foundation Launch the BETA Project
Posted on 09/04/2012 @ 04:00 PM
This morning, CFED, ideas42 and the Citi Foundation announced the launch of the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance (BETA) Project. The goal of the BETA Project is to tackle tough social problems by designing and testing behavioral interventions on real world products, processes and/or services.
What is behavioral economics? It is the study of how people make choices – not in a simplified economic model, but in the textured and rich reality of daily life. Traditional economic models assume that people are highly rational and pursue their goals consistently, without mistakes or need for help. For example, retirement planning, under the traditional economic model simply involves a household calculating the funds needed for retirement and then reducing consumption to meet the savings goal. As we all know, however, the reality is that Americans consistently under-save and are often unprepared for retirement.
The BETA project brings insights from behavioral economics to the asset-building field. Through the BETA project, CFED and ideas42 will work collaboratively with three to five organizations to pilot a behavioral intervention within an asset-building program or service. Behavioral interventions come in a wide range of forms, but can be broadly defined as manageable, low-cost program adjustments informed by research in behavioral economics and psychology. For example, an organization may help low-income clients save by sending them short text messages reminding them of their savings goals on payday. Past research has shown that small tweaks like this can have a powerful impact.
These three to five pilot organizations will be selected through a competitive application process. Click here to read more about the project, selection criteria and timeline.
On October 4, CFED and ideas42 are hosting a Q&A webinar to explain the structure of the BETA Project, describe the ideal pilot program, provide tips for a successful application, and give participants the opportunity to ask questions. There will also be multiple behavioral economics sessions at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference, including Behavioral Economics 101 and Behavioral Interventions to Boost Savings Rates.
Through the BETA Project, CFED, ideas42, and selected organizations will participate in a behavioral mapping process to tease out the sequence of events from client engagement to client outcomes. The behavioral mapping process is performed from the perspective of the client or customer, rather than the organization. The goal is to understand every possible step in the process and unearth the barriers and potential psychologies at play that are inhibiting decision choice, action, or both.
CFED and ideas42 experts will work collaboratively with selected organizations to design a behavioral intervention using an understanding of the program's context, processes, goals and barriers. The intervention may involve adding, changing or taking away from current processes. The BETA Project team will then evaluate the intervention and share findings with the broader field.
All of us at CFED, ideas42 and the Citi Foundation are incredibly excited to embark on this project. We believe that applying a behavioral economics lens will provide us with a fresh perspective on many of the challenges asset building organizations are facing.
Click here to learn more and download the request for proposals. Proposals are due October 19.
The BETA Project is part of the Assets & Opportunity Network’s Intensive Learning Clusters – which are time-limited, thematically-based, small groups that learn from each other and outside experts to advance a learning agenda on specific topics or approaches. Learnings from the BETA Project, along with a myriad of behavioral economic-related research and resources, will be featured on CFED's Blog and Behavioral Economics site.
Opportunities to participate in these Intensive Learning Clusters are limited exclusively to members of the Assets & Opportunity Network. Click here to join the Network!
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