SSIR Webinar Collective Impact: Creating Large-Scale Social Change
By Lauren Stebbins on 01/14/2011 @ 02:46 PM
On Wednesday, January 19 at 2pm ET, Stanford Social Innovation Review will host a webinar on collective impact, a strategy for collaboration and partnership that differs from most in that involves a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants. The webinar discussion is a follow up to the December SSIR article “Collective Impact” by John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG Social Impact Advisors that features the Strive Partnership in Cincinatti, OH as a premier example of collective impact and how it has been effective in significantly improving student achievement in the area’s public schools. Webinar speakers will include the article authors, Jeff Edmondson, Executive Director of the Strive Partnership, and Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Moderating will be Eric Nee, Managing Editor of Stanford Social Innovation Review and there will be a Q&A session.
Registration to view the webinar is $49 and includes an unlimited number of accesses to the archived webinar for 12 months. For more information and to register, click here.
2011 Social Innovation Fund Competition
By Lauren Stebbins on 01/11/2011 @ 01:43 PM
Just before the start of the new year, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) released a draft Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the 2011 Social Innovation Fund. Right now, CNCS is currently accepting comments and feedback on application and program guidelines for the Fund in 2011, specifically four changes CNCS have made to this year’s competition:
- Clear articulation of CNCS requirements for transparency
- A decrease in the maximum dollar amount for which intermediaries can apply from $10 million to $7 million
- Elimination of the provision allowing applicants to “pre-select” subgrantees
- General streamlining and clarification of the overall content of the NOFO
Inaugural Meeting of the Global Assets Action Network (GAAN)
Posted on 01/07/2011 @ 02:52 PM
The Global Assets Action Network (GAAN) held its inaugural meeting on the eve CFED's 2010 Assets Learning Conference. In attendance were 32 people from 22 organizations working in over 54 countries to create asset-building opportunities for economically disadvantaged people. Participants discussed six common challenges in their work and shared potential solutions. The discussion yielded agreement among the participants that a global network through which they can access and leverage to each other's knowledge and practices would add value to their current and future work, and greatly advance the assets movement, both in their respective countries and worldwide. Participants agreed upon immediate next steps to further explore the development of GAAN.
Download the full report on the meeting, which includes specific information on the work of the organizations in attendance and how these organizations envision GAAN's mission and impact.
Native Community Development Financial Institutions Network Launched
By Lauren Stebbins on 01/07/2011 @ 11:45 AM
A new year brings new and exciting beginnings. As 2010 came to a close, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, a leading Native Community Financial Development Institution (CDFI) intermediary, announced the launch of the Native CDFI Network. With the mission of supporting the growing field of Native CDFIs and economic development in Native communities, the Native CDFI Network was formed with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Over the next year, the Network will seek strengthen the voice of Native communities and native CDFIs at the national policy level and organize networking opportunities to better connect leaders and practitioners of the Native CDFI industry.
First Nations Oweesta will serve as a partner of the Native CDFI Network as it moves forward and becomes more established. Click here to read the press release about the launch of the Native CDFI network.
Plaza Adelante: An All-in-One Model for Service Delivery and Community Development
By Lauren Stebbins on 01/04/2011 @ 09:41 AM
Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), a community-based organization in San Francisco that provides asset development services for low- and moderate-income Latino families, unveiled in March of 2010 Plaza Adelante, a “one-stop” center housing several community-based nonprofits, an in-house café, exhibits of work from local artists and a market that serves as a business incubator. The nonprofits housed in Plaza Adelante provide a wide range of services including technical assistance for microenterprises, homeownership counseling and foreclosure intervention, financial education, technology education and training, affordable financial products and services and tenant counseling.
Not only does Plaza Adelante provide a central location for low-income Latino and immigrant individuals and families to access critical services, it also offers a solid model for integrated service delivery and cost savings by pooling administrative resources and sharing space. This enables each organization to devote more resources to their programs and services. This method of collaboration also supports greater efficiency of nonprofit operations and maximizes benefits received by community residents in need of financial security.
El Mercadito, Plaza Adelante’s market and Mission Street retail business incubator is part of a larger program to develop businesses owned by low-income, Latino entrepreneurs. Although Plaza Adelante has been open since March, the grand opening of El Mercadito took place in late October. Entrepreneurs that secure a space in El Mercadito are contracted to operate in the space for up to five years, with the goal of growing enough in a minimum of three years to be able to secure their own space. MEDA assists businesses in this process by providing legal assistance and counseling.
The process for selecting the businesses for El Mercadito starts by participating in free business development classes on marketing, financing, management, and operations. Students in these classes are provided with one-on-one support in developing their business plans. Upon completing the classes and the business plans, participants engage in selling their plans to a panel of judges that selects occupants for El Mercadito.
Plaza Adelante is a great example of how merging nonprofit operations can go well beyond reducing administrative costs for organizations and also produce a bounty of benefits for communities served. innovation@cfed is particularly excited to highlight MEDA’s success in launching Plaza Adelante and El Mercadito as MEDA's Executive Director is innovation@cfed Strategic Advisor Luis Granados. In addition, one of the nonprofits housed in Plaza Adelante is Mission Asset Fund, which is directed by Innovative Idea Champion José Quiñonez.
To watch a video on El Mercadito’s grand opening, at which San Francisco City and County Treasurer Jose Cisneros was in attendance, click here.
Seeing is Believing
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/22/2010 @ 11:29 AM
At CFED’s 2010 Assets Learning Conference, Innovator-in-Residence Hilary Abell presented during the Worker-Owned Cooperatives conference session where she spoke about her work in leading the expansion of WAGES’ green housecleaning cooperatives in San Francisco and the East Bay, and the creation of a Co-op Network to support growth and sustainability of mature cooperatives.
WAGES celebrated its 15th anniversary in late October 2010 with a reception and dinner that featured testimonials from members of WAGES cooperatives, who are mostly Latina immigrant women. A brief video produced for one of these testimonials tells the story of Bertha Naranjo, a founder of and worker-owner in the Eco Care Professional Housecleaning Cooperative. The Levi Strauss Foundation also produced a short video on the work that WAGES does in developing and supporting green housecleaning, worker-owned cooperatives.
These videos highlight the drastic difference in income, benefits and assets earned by the worker-owners in the cooperatives compared to that earned through their previous jobs. They also show how the cooperatives enable members to develop valuable business management skills. The stories of the women featured in the videos are a powerful testament to the efficacy of the WAGES model and, more broadly, how economic opportunity and financial security pave the way for healthy lives and futures.
Happy holidays to all! The innovation@cfed blog is taking a brief hiatus and will be back the first week of the new year.
Macroeconomics and State Economic Development
By Bill Schweke on 12/20/2010 @ 08:49 AM
Economic development policymakers and practitioners generally do not focus much on macroeconomic policy. This is understandable, given the obvious fact that such policy is the province of the Federal Reserve and the federal government.
But the subject should get more of their attention for a number of reasons.
- It matters. National monetary and fiscal policies are the “big guns.” Their positive and negative effects dwarf even the largest state development policy efforts. (The Great Recession has underscored this point.)
- The internet, the dot.com firm start-ups, and the broad spread of information technologies throughout the economy, and other such mega-trends did not abolish the business cycle. (The major asset bubbles of the past few decades make this idea almost self-evident.)
- States need to develop their own counter-cyclical strategy and stop thinking that it is not their job. States can craft their own fiscal policy. In their better years, they can set more money aside for their Rainy Day Funds. State policy staff should look at their tax structure and judge whether it is overly responsive to business cycles (relative to their peers), identify when in the cycle they are hit the hardest, and alter their tax mix if need be. (However, there are limits. States, at best, can smooth out their fiscal flows, not eliminate a recession’s impact. Likewise, we cannot orchestrate full employment in a particular state or locality.)
- Upfront planning of state-based counter-cyclical efforts would help. Having so-called “shovel-ready” public works projects make sense. Private sector hiring subsidies and public service employment could be triggered by the achievement of a certain unemployment rate. (In fact, since recessions do not hit all 50 state economies at the same time, state fiscal policies can be in theory, more well-timed.)
- A steep downturn is hard on “mature” firms. Fortunately, not all of these business enterprises are doomed to fail. Well-run business retention efforts can turn around some troubled, but still viable firms. Ideally, professional business visitation programs can do most of the firm or sector identification activities, in a proactive fashion.
- Wise economic development investments at the state and local levels can make for a more efficient and innovative economy, encouraging a more reliable and higher level of growth. The boom times can be more steady, broad-based and less dependent on a single factor (e.g., housing, new financial instruments, the auto industry, etc.).
- We need to put our economic development work in context. This means encouraging a place-based development dynamic that meets our scale concerns. And it means doing so smartly. We get more “bang for buck” with good government practices: a moderate but adequate tax system, thoughtful but needed approaches to regulation, exemplary pre-K through high school institutions, world class universities and colleges, solid and market-sensitive technical institutes and community colleges, modern public infrastructure, professional and customer friendly public services. Obviously, these move much more money and have greater effects on the private sector’s bottom line than even the most well-endowed state economic development program.
- Improving government efficiency and effectiveness helps as well. Indeed, it is often said that policymakers should never miss a chance to transform a difficult challenge into an opportunity for a needed and long-awaited reform.
- There will be a severe revenue squeeze in state and local government for much of this decade, economic development programs must meet a harder ROI standard, or risk termination. And we cannot expect that we will be rescued by another twist or turn in macroeconomic policy. Economic development policymakers and professionals must become much more persuasive and evidence-based.
- It would not hurt for the field to become more conversant with the three main elements of national macro policy: assistance to those hurting (e.g., unemployment compensation, etc.); recovery (getting the economy growing again, giving it an initial boost via appropriate monetary and fiscal actions); and regulatory restructuring of financial services. Here, I recognize that this suggestion is outside the developer’s comfort zone and daily work. But greater macro literacy would be a good thing.
Despite the “foreign” quality of macroeconomic policy and the central role of microeconomics in the field of economic development, there are lessons to be learned and applied from the former.
Unleashing Youth Entrepreneurship
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/16/2010 @ 01:53 PM
It’s never too early to develop an entrepreneurial interest and spirit. When we talk about entrepreneurs we often subconsciously refer to adults, but youth are more than capable of creating and sustaining businesses as well. Two organizations that help support and develop youth entrepreneurs, Ogallala Commons and YESCarolina, focus on tapping the energy and potential that lies in youth to transform their interests and values into successful enterprises.
Ogallala Commons, a nonprofit that works to foster a holistic approach to community socio-economic development in the rural Great Plains region centered over the High Plains-Ogallala Aquifer, views youth engagement as critical in helping the region’s overall development and vitality. Last month, the organization held its 4th Annual Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Fair. The purpose of the Fair is to encourage youth to pursue business ventures in their hometowns and connect them with an adult support system. Thirty-four teens presented their ideas with the teens associated with the three top-rated ideas receiving cash prizes.
Also last month, one week after the Fair, Ogallala Commons sponsored Campo Youth Engagement Day, a conference geared toward youth in Baca County, CO to promote youth leadership and community service as a means for being proactive in planning for the future. Ogallala Commons' executive director, Dr. Darryl Birkenfeld, gave a keynote speech through which he informed students about skill-building internships offered by Ogallala Commons and encouraged them to consider building their futures in their rural hometowns after completing their education.
YESCarolina, a nonprofit that focuses on developing youth entrepreneurs in South Carolina, trains educators from across the state to teach young people entrepreneurship skills. The only organization of its kind in the state, YESCarolina views youth entrepreneurship as essential to the future of South Carolina'sbusiness development.
YEScarolina has trained and certified over 500 South Carolina teachers on the subject of entrepreneurship. Through the training of these teachers and its Summer Business Camps, YESCarolina has helped thousands of students learn business development skills and start their own enterprises. YESCarolina recently released a new book, The Spirit of Outreach, which is a compilation of 20 stories of youth that have launched successful small businesses as a result of the knowledge and skills they gained through YESCarolina programs. The book is authored by the organization’s Founder and Executive Director Jimmy Bailey, who previously served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1988 to 1994. The Spirit of Outreach is available to purchase through Amazon.com.
Registration Now Open for the 2011 Underbanked Financial Services Forum
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/10/2010 @ 12:57 PM
The 6th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum, presented by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, will be held from June 8-10, 2011 in New Orleans, LA. Pre-registration is now open and from now until December 31, you can receive a discount of $200 on the lowest conference rate.
The Underbanked Financial Services Forum brings together leaders and practitioners from financial institutions, government agencies and nonprofits to explore cutting-edge innovations in financial products and services designed for underbanked consumers and also new and emerging strategies for helping underbanked consumers improve their financial health and move further into the economic mainstream. For information on last year’s forum including highlights and the agenda and to register for the 2011 forum, click here.
Good News for Small Businesses
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/07/2010 @ 03:33 PM
Last week, the Baltimore Business Journal reported that M&T Bank has launched its Built for Business Program, which is targeted specifically to small businesses making less than $1 million in annual sales. The Built for Business Program includes discounts on financial services and products such as credit-card processing and business checking and (drum roll) an expanded microloan program that makes available no-fee lines of credit totaling between $25,000 and $250,000. M&T has instituted this program in Baltimore and its other mid-Atlantic markets.
The expansion of M&T’s microloan program is no doubt great news for small-business entrepreneurs that are struggling to obtain growth or start-up capital. The articles notes how that is increasingly difficult for these entrepreneurs in this tough economic climate where it is hard to obtain home equity loans because of falling property values and to use credit cards because of cuts in spending limits. With this being the context surrounding the availability of business growth or start-up capital for small businesses, the importance of additional affordable options to obtain credit cannot be understated given the crucial role these businesses often play in driving community economic development and employment.
As I read about the Built for Business Program, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of a post I wrote in early November about the success of a small dollar loan program in Baltimore. M&T’s program is not limited to Baltimore, but two things came to mind:
- The parallel between the significant positive impact low-income people and small businesses receive from affordable financial products and services better tailored to their needs
- That fact that programs offering these products and services have been established or brought to Baltimore, a city that had experienced a long period of economic decline and has sizable population of low-income residents and thus definitely can benefit from the availability of these programs
As these programs continue to be offered and hopefully grow, it will be exciting to see what I optimistically predict to be the positive effects and impacts they may have on more individuals and whole communities.
Don’t Miss This Opportunity!
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/03/2010 @ 02:51 PM
Next year’s Opportunity Collaboration, a four-day problem-solving, strategic retreat for nonprofit and for-profit leaders and social entrepreneurs working in the fields of poverty alleviation and economic justice, is scheduled to be held October 17-20, 2011 in Ixtapa, Mexico. Applications for Opportunity Collaboration delegates are now being accepted and there are fellowship spots available!
Specifically, Opportunity Collaboration offers the Cordes Fellowship to innovative and effective entrepreneurial nonprofit and for-profit executives with a demonstrated commitment to poverty alleviation and economic justice. In addition to participating in all parts of the Opportunity Collaboration retreat, Cordes Fellows attend a special networking breakfast on the first day of the retreat and participate in the University of the Pacific Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship training program.
The Fellowship covers all on-site costs of attending the Opportunity Collaboration. As such, financial need is a primary consideration when reviewing applications for the Cordes Fellowship. Applicants from both nonprofit and for-profit organizations with adequate resources are less likely to be selected for a Fellowship.
Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and are being accepted only through January 30, 2011 so apply soon! For detailed information about eligibility requirements for the Cordes Fellowship, the retreat agenda, and other pertinent information regarding Opportunity Collaboration, click here.
Mistakes and Lessons of the Obama Stimulus Package
By Bill Schweke on 12/02/2010 @ 01:01 PM
Despite the efficacy of the Obama Administration's package in preventing a full-scale Great Depression Number Two and cutting the unemployment rate by a significant factor, it is widely regarded as a political and policy failure. In fact, it can be even regarded as toxic to be too associated with it.
This chain of events did not surprise me, but the scale of the reaction was much larger than I expected. I thought that this might be a minority reaction, and not a response of a significant portion of the electorate.
My worries were expressed in two articles I wrote during November of 2009. I stated a strong concern that the Bush Recession was becoming an Obama problem and that more needed to be done, regarding aiding and persuading the people that the President was talking all necessary action. Couple this state of affairs, with the easier-to-succeed strategy that conservatives had to execute, "just say, no," the chronic problems that the Administration had in generating awareness and excitement about its accomplishments in general, and the difficulty that the average citizen has in grasping Keynesian economics, then you have a tough set of cards to play.
Sadly, there were other mistakes as well. The major one was packing the stimulus package with too many long-term investments. At first, I thought that this approach had some clever angles. President Obama took office with a major recession going on and few funds to keep his promises and make the sorts of public investments that he wanted to, regarding education, electronic health data, research and development, and so forth.
But it turned out that things were so bad, that there was the opportunity to use the stimulus package as a vehicle for doing what he wanted to do anyway (public resources permitting.) Obviously, given the crisis, this would have made his political base happy, as well as the Democratic Congress (who, largely, crafted the legislation). Moreover, it was much easier to execute this strategy in our ideologically conservative body politic. (Americans tend to be philosophic conservatives and liberal pragmatists.)
A deep recession and slow job recovery backfired. Support from independents fell. Eventually, taking this course meant that Republicans were able to paint the package as tax-and-spend, liberal business-as-usual. Moreover, a lot of the spending would take quite a while to happen, since many of the investments were more competitiveness programs and projects, not economic stabilization initiatives. Conservatives could even claim that the many might take so much time that they would turn out to be pro-cyclical and not-counter-cyclical. It could even be argued that they could turn out to be inflationary, if the Administration was successful in their efforts to spur recovery and it was really happening in the same time frame of the longer term investments.
Not intending to be a smarty-pants Monday morning quarterback, I still believe that something more successful could have been launched. (And in spite of the fact that I liked many of the long-term investment alternatives and viewed them as needed on their own grounds. It might turn out that a decade from now, this approach was a big success.)
Let's start with a few political points.
- For a stimulus package to be popular, its effects must be visible. If you have to do a statistical study to prove it is working, your position is already lost. Citizens and their kin and friends economic position must be improving or starting to turn around for you to earn any political capital for a jobs program
- The only number that really matters is the rate of joblessness. Miles of roads re-paved does not cut it. You will get a few brownie points for maintaining unemployment benefits as they run out, but what people really want is a job.
- Americans and the unemployed will only cut you so much slack. They are very impatient and are not policy wonks.
Consequently, the package should have replaced most, if not all, of the longer-term investments (even culling the public works projects since they are expensive and slow to implement) with more anti-recessionary fiscal assistance to states and cities to keep schools, the police, and other critical public services largely intact, tax incentives for work-sharing, support for youth conservation corps in rural and urban settings, hiring subsidies for business (both large and small), increased availability of money for post-secondary education, incumbent worker retraining, transitional public service jobs, and microenterprise. I would also throw in direct tax cuts for households (temporary payroll tax holidays for individuals) and direct grants — a few thousand of taxable monies for families.
Maybe next time.
A Glimpse into the Future
By Lauren Stebbins on 12/01/2010 @ 11:09 AM
On November 18, PBS aired a special “Fixing the Future,” which featured innovative initiatives happening across the United States that are achieving positive social and economic change and present viable solutions for creating a more economically and environmentally sustainable future for the country.
This special included two segments on worker-owned cooperatives, one of which was the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative in Cleveland, OH – a collaboration between the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, which is led by Innovative Idea Champion Ted Howard. This segment featured portions of host David Banaccio’s interview with Howard and an inside look at one of the three Evergreen co-ops, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, including an interview with the co-op’s Operations Manager, Mendrick Addison. The segment highlights the multi-faceted mission of the Evergreen initiative, which is that in addition to providing an opportunity for stable employment and asset-building for underserved residents of Cleveland, the co-ops are the core component of a broader economic development strategy for the whole city.
To watch the segment on the Evergreen initiative and other segments comprising the “Fixing the Future” special, click here.
Good Jobs, Bad Jobs and Those In-Between
By Bill Schweke on 11/24/2010 @ 11:54 AM
Given today’s high unemployment rate and slow economic recovery, many American ex-workers would appreciate landing any job. But when they return to the workplace, issues of wages and working conditions will return. Two complimentary books that I recently ran across focus on these issues admirably. The first is authored by economist Francis Green and is a clearly written scholarly treatise that probes the major issues in “Demanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent Economy.” (2006) The second work, “Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America’s Best Workers are Unhappier than Ever” (2008) is a fascinating and moving exercise in the journalistic art. It tells a good story.
“Demanding Work” follows the trends since the eighties, regarding five dimensions of job quality – skill requirements, work effort intensity, job autonomy, wages, and employee security. His findings are mixed – some traits are getting worse, while others are improving or holding their own. For instance, job insecurity has not risen on a secular basis. It does increase during downturns of the business cycle. However, there is an increased use of part-time employees as a means of lowering costs that is troubling for those seeking or retaining full-time jobs.
In Britain, worker discretion, or the ability to make decisions and have a “say,” declined in all occupational groups, but especially for professionals. At the same time, job skill requirements have increased since the mid-1980s. And it appears that the increased use of computers and skill-biased technological change are the major causes.
Interestingly, work intensity has definitely risen for public employees. Two-income households in general are experiencing lots of work stress and family versus work conflict. Declining employee bargaining power in the US has contributed to a steady American trend to fail to share broadly the fruits of productivity gains during the last couple of decades. Green also discovers evidence of skill polarization – lots of good and bad job creation, with little in the middle.
Readers should not regard these facts fatalistically. The countries studied exhibit a lot of differences in their performance, management philosophies and strategies, trade union power, and public policies. For instance, Scandinavian countries are doing the best at encouraging and retaining good jobs.
“Demanding Work” is also exemplary in its subtle discussions of methodology and data. It makes a persuasive argument for doing more comprehensive surveying of the labor force in an effort to collect the data needed to monitor trends in good jobs availability and access.
David Kusnet’s “Love the Work, Hate the Job”(2008) looks at a segment of the workforce: those who express their unhappiness with their jobs, despite the fact that their work has become more intellectually challenging and less physically overwhelming. The author tracks workers in four Seattle-based companies: Microsoft, Boeing, Kaiser Aluminum, and Northwest Hospital. The employees are not as focused on pay and benefits as one would think. Instead, they are far more concerned about respect and a say in shaping the future of the business. Ironically, in each case these are highly skilled employees, who are critical to any effort to pursue the high road to economic growth by competing on the basis of quality, not lowest costs.
Likewise, circumstances arose that led to a less than ideal situation for both workers and management and financiers. Boeing professional workers went on strike. At Microsoft, employees became annoyed about the thousands of “temporary” workers that were hired, with lower pay and more meager benefits. These “perma-temps” appeared to undermine the security of the original workforce, as well as the quality of the Microsoft product line. At the local hospital, employees believed that patient health was being sacrificed to the bottom line and became so frustrated that they elected to join a union. Similarly, Kaiser workers were involved in a protracted labor-management squabble that dragged on for two entire years, leading eventually to a new employee alliance with environmentalists.
Thus, in each example, workers felt thwarted in their aspirations to be “real” professionals. They want to do the work they care about and enjoy, but they are put off by shrinking health coverage, shaky pension plans, workplace autocracy, “short-termism”, and decreasing company loyalty to their labor force.
Ride the Wave: Innovations in Native Financial Education and Entrepreneurship
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/24/2010 @ 10:36 AM
Four Bands Community Fund, one of the nation’s leading Native CDFIs, set out to challenge the entire Cheyenne River Indian Reservation community to engage in learning and promoting key tenets of financial literacy and entrepreneurship through the launch of its Making Waves Campaign. The campaign is a major initiative to create economic opportunity and spur business development for the current and future generations of the Lakota Tribe. Four Bands works with schools and community organizations on the reservation to actively promote and teach members of the Tribe, especially children and youth, the guiding principles, or the “ABCs,” of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. In its work with the schools, Four Bands created Making Waves Teacher Tool Kits for teachers of grades Kindergarten through 12 that contain lessons on financial literacy and entrepreneurship designed to build the teachers’ own financial literacy skills as well as complement the four core subjects of the school curriculum (math, science, language arts/reading, social studies).
Making Waves has delivered these tool kits to teachers throughout the reservation, and is now able to offer them to teachers in other communities. Adding to this success, Mark Peacock, a local entrepreneur and business and financial education trainer with Four Bands’ Making Waves Teacher Institutes and C.R.E.A.T.E. (Cheyenne River Entrepreneurial Assistance Training and Education) classes, will soon be releasing a new motivational book on effective approaches for teaching financial education.
In moving forward with the Making Waves Campaign, Four Bands is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to make an even bigger impact on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and other communities interested in their model.
For more information about the Making Waves Teacher Tool Kits or Mark Peacock’s upcoming book, contact Tanya Fiddler, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s Awards Season, Part 2…
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/23/2010 @ 09:32 AM
This past summer, Bank of the West launched its Philanthropy Awards to recognize nonprofit organizations in California that are achieving significant social and economic impact in their local communities, particularly underserved populations. Earlier this month, Innovative Idea Champion José Quiñonez’s organization, Mission Asset Fund (MAF), received the top award for the Innovation in Philanthropy category, which recognizes “an emerging nonprofit organization that is directly improving the quality of life for individuals and catalyzing greater systemic change.” MAF has developed innovative financial products and services that enable members of immigrant communities in the Bay Area to build assets and credit by tailoring these products and services to cultural traditions and practices.
In addition to a $15,000 cash grant, Bank of the West awarded MAF and the recipients of the Community Impact and Team Member Commitment award categories with a short video highlighting their outstanding work. To watch the video featuring the Mission Asset Fund, click here!
innovation@cfed congratulates José and MAF on this fantastic recognition!
FDIC Shines a Spotlight on Children’s Savings Accounts
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/18/2010 @ 03:52 PM
On November 16, 2010, the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion held its most recent committee meeting which included a panel discussion on one of CFED’s core areas of work: children’s savings accounts (CSAs). Guest speakers on this panel included moderator Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School and Founder and CEO, D2D Fund; José Cisneros, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco; Robert Annibale, Global Director, Citi Microfinance and Community Development; Katryn Gabrielson, Deputy General Counsel, Finance Authority of Maine; and CFED Founder, Board Chairman and General Counsel Bob Friedman.
Bob summarized remarks from the previous speakers and highlighted the key aspects of CSAs that speak to their effectiveness and success in providing asset-building opportunities to low-income and underserved children:
- Savings. The savings patterns of participants of the SEED Initiative showed that low-income and very poor families will save for their children’s economic futures given the opportunity.
- Automation. CSAs need to be opened automatically to ensure higher take-up and participation rates, and then linked to financial education. Overcoming barriers to automation such as obtaining Social Security numbers and parental consent are hefty challenges but necessary to ensure wide access to these accounts.
- Lifelong. There is a false dichotomy pitting children’s savings against retirement savings. The fact is these two are not really in opposition. CSAs are and should be the first step on a path to lifelong savings and interaction with the mainstream financial system.
- Incentives. Research (from the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis) suggests that the amount of incentives is perhaps less important than the pure existence of the account. Specifically, this research found that youth with savings accounts expecting to graduate from a four-year college were 4-7 times more likely to go to college. Given the high levels of asset poverty for adults and children however, matching funds are still essential components of CSA programs.
- Affordability. The ASPIRE Act, which would create a savings account every child born in the United States, would cost $40 billion over 10 years. That cost is minimal compared to the current federal asset-building subsidies that disproportionately benefit high-income Americans. Eliminating some of those subsidies would save taxpayers money and easily pay for CSAs and other asset-building incentives such as expanding the Saver’s Credit.
- Politics. Polling data collected during the SEED Initiative showed the impact of including CSAs in a platform for hypothetical candidates. CSAs have always been a “bipartisan” issue, but the word “bipartisan” doesn’t go very far in our current political climate; rather, CSAs are a “Republican idea and a Democratic idea.”
- Growth. The reach of CSAs needs to be significantly expanded in order to deal “back into the system the majority of families that I think right now are dealt out.”
For more facts about Children’s Savings Accounts, check out this CFED Assets and Opportunity Scorecard factsheet.
To watch parts or the entire webcast of the meeting, click here. More information about the FDIC’s economic inclusion initiatives can be found here.
This Week in Events...
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/16/2010 @ 01:31 PM
I’M HOME Webinar on Single-Family Financing for Manufactured Homes
On Wednesday, November 17 from 2 – 3:30pm ET, CFED’s Innovations in Manufactured Homes initiative, I’M HOME, will host a webinar on single-family financing for manufactured homes. Historically, residents of manufactured homes have faced predatory lending and limited financing options. This webinar will discuss conventional lending practices, the history of manufactured housing financing and issues regarding current single-family financing options. Speakers will include:
Kathryn Gwatkin Goulding, Director of I’M HOME at CFED
Lisa Davis, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation
John Van Alst, Staff Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center
Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director at Housing Advisory Services
Lewis Dancy, Assistant Director of Mortgage Lending at Self-Help Credit Union
To register for this webinar, click here!
11th Annual World Congress on Disabilities
The 11th annual World Congress on Disabilities (WCD) takes place this week from November 18-19 in Dallas, TX. The mission and vision of the WCD is to educate, inform, and provide a useful exchange of ideas for people with disabilities and special health care needs and those involved in their care and development. Emceeing this year’s event is renowned TV host and correspondent Rita Cosby and keynote speakers include Carmen Irwin, Health Insurance Specialist and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Representative, and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
For more information and to register for this year’s WCD Exposition and Conference, click here!
This month’s issue of Exceptional Parent magazine, a sponsor of this event, features a full-page ad on innovation@cfed which spotlights Innovation Portfolio members Tom Foley, Joyce Armstrong, and Nora Bishop.
Addressing ALL the Costs of College
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/11/2010 @ 01:07 PM
There’s no doubt about the grim context currently surrounding the subject of college affordability in the United States given the skyrocketing costs of both public and private colleges and universities. With that in mind because of a recent conversation I had with a friend about steep tuition hikes at private universities, I was happy to read about a program called Dreamkeepers, which provides funding in the form of grants to college students facing unexpected financial emergencies. Although Dreamkeepers is not a tuition assistance program, it does play a vital role in helping students stay in school and graduate on-time, ultimately helping them to stay on track to start a career or move on to a four-year college or university. Because the aid is issued to the students in the form of a grant, they are not required to pay it back and thus do not accumulate additional debt. Another great component is that students who receive aid through the program are also given access to a financial education tool so they can learn how to effectively manage their money. When Dreamkeepers was implemented in 2005, it was offered through 11 community colleges. Since then the program has expanded and is now offered through 19 additional community colleges plus one four-year university and one inner-city college.
The future of college affordability right now seems uncertain and even glum, but I think programs like Dreamkeepers prevent that future from looking too bleak. To read more about innovative concepts and programs addressing college affordability, check out the profile pages for Innovators Maggie Reilly and Peter Blanchard.
Signs of Success for Small-Dollar Loan Program in Baltimore
By Lauren Stebbins on 11/09/2010 @ 02:26 PM
An article in today’s Baltimore Sun reported on the expansion of a relatively new small-dollar loan program called Borrow and Save, which provides low- and moderate-income Baltimore residents with low interest (7.99%), small loans that range from $300 - $1000. Loan recipients that save a minimum of $5 each month during the repayment period will have the total amount of their savings matched once the loan is fully repaid.
Borrow and Save has made substantial progress in its short existence of less than 2 years. It has gone from serving just residents in East Baltimore to serving those in all neighborhoods of the city. Modifications to the program such as a required financial literacy course before receiving the loan have already been instituted and are making progress to address the default rate of 20 percent.
Low-interest, small dollar loans are a much needed alternative to costly payday loans and credit cards, which often have extremely high interest rates that make repaying the loan or debt prohibitively difficult. Given the large financial toll that unexpected and high-cost expenses (e.g., car repairs, medical bills) can have on individual and household finances, it is very encouraging to hear about programs like Borrow and Save that not only help people manage these expenses without accumulating large amounts of debt but also encourage them to start or continue building their savings.
Currently reading page 33 of 47.