The Inclusive Economy
Network Leaders Convene to Educate Lawmakers, Set Agenda for Racial Wealth Equity
By Craig Sandler on 08/04/2016 @ 12:00 PM
Last week, the Steering Committees for both the Assets & Opportunity Network and the Taxpayer Opportunity Network convened in Washington, DC. Steering Committee members are local and state leaders who represent our Network members at the national level to inform and advise on the needs and opportunities facing the field. Not only was this the first time both Steering Committees have come together to collaborate on shared goals, but it was also the first-ever in-person meeting of the recently minted Taxpayer Opportunity Network Steering Committee.
During last week’s meetings, the Steering Committees addressed pressing topics such as each Network’s programmatic and advocacy priorities for the year to come. The two groups of leaders also agreed that we’re all more powerful when we work together. In so doing, these leaders made a bold, unprecedented commitment on behalf of the field to grapple together with some of the most important issues before us: closing the racial wealth divide and turning our inequitable tax code “right-side up.” These are not small tasks, to be sure, but they are critically important in terms of opportunity for reaching both scale and impact to bring economic opportunity to all.
Both Steering Committees also spent time during the week engaging in advocacy. A&O Network leaders visited their U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill to urge them to maintain funding for the Assets for Independence program, which provides federal support for Individual Development Accounts. Meanwhile, Taxpayer Opportunity Network leaders met with IRS representatives to advocate for improvements to the VITA program.
Other key takeaways from these meetings included:
- Expanding engagement. Both Networks committed to reassessing how it communicates its work, with the goal of expanding engagement among existing and potential new members.
- Deepening focus on racial wealth inequality. Both Networks will take steps to examine their work through the lens of racial wealth equity and to be more inclusive of populations that have traditionally been excluded from the financial mainstream.
- Building members’ capacity to advocate. The A&O Network in particular is committed to building member organizations’ advocacy capacity and to supporting emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds to engage more deeply in the Network’s efforts.
- Educating the public. Taxpayer Opportunity Network leaders voiced a commitment to educating the public on the role that taxes and tax-time savings can play in financial security and economic mobility.
Comments from members of both groups of leaders demonstrate their excitement and energy for addressing financial security issues, sparking thoughtful conversation and building strong partnerships that put economic opportunity within reach. If you aren’t already a member, signing up for the Assets & Opportunity Network or the Taxpayer Opportunity Network is fast and easy – please join us!