AFN New Logo
December  2013 

Note from AFN Director, Joseph Antolin


Philanthropy, Asset Building, and the American Ideal


"What are the American ideals? They are the development of the individual for his own and the common good; the development of the individual through liberty, and the attainment of the common good through democracy and social justice"      

Justice Louis Brandeis  "True Americanism" (1915) 


"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Attributed to Justice Brandeis by Angus Deaton in Harvard Business Review (December 2013)


A century ago, Justice Brandeis captured the essence of the American ideal and the risk presented by an extreme wealth gap.  Today, voters of both major parties still believe that economic opportunity and upward mobility are key American principles defining the social contract. Yet by every measure, the social contract is broken. The promise of economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for growing numbers of Americans.  


Even as leaders as different as President Obama and Pope Francis call for a change in the economy of inequality as a matter of opportunity and social justice, the paths are not well defined.  To paraphrase a colleague at a recent AFN convening in Detroit, it finally seems that many forces are moving to be the catalyst for the same thing only differently - achieving the same goal in a different way responding to different circumstances.


His comment was telling-- herein lies the challenge and opportunity for philanthropic leadership.


The last quarter has been full of new ideas, expansion, and reassessment to take stock of where the best impact can be had. And 2014 appears full of possibility for grantmakers to continue being a substantial catalyst framing the discourse on what creates opportunity and family financial mobility - a goal to which AFN is committed to helping grantmakers advance through networking, Issue Briefs from a funder's viewpoint, webinars, and regional networks.


AFN's Grantmaker Conference on "Access, Opportunity, and Mobility: Strategies that Move Families Forward" in Washington, D.C. provided a key avenue for learning and exchanging ideas and perspectives. With nearly 90 attendees, our members and the presenters all contributed to the urgency and opportunity presented by philanthropy and asset builders. In the opening panels, Bob Friedman and Lisa Mensah both noted the tremendous innovation and testing on how low and moderate income families can develop assets and grow wealth, and reflected that we know how to do this.  The challenge is to resolve to relentlessly move forward to reinvigorate the American ideal Justice Brandeis articulated.  


Panel after panel at the AFN Conference drove home this growing consensus: grantmakers can and will be the catalyst if they invest in both moving forward and growing to scale. The members of AFN -- community foundations, financial sector foundations, microenterprise investors, United Ways, family foundations, and national foundations -- voiced a call to action to address wealth gaps and grow family household balance sheets. 




By expanding investment in what works: attaching asset building strategies to other sector efforts, e.g. workforce and education and fostering urban and community focused collective efforts. The integration of income supports, credit score improvement, asset building and workforce with financial coaching to achieve lasting goals and economic stability and mobility are underway with support from United Way and Annie E. Casey Foundation as implemented by LISC and many community non profits.


By informing local officials directly, or through grantees, as they make policy choices. In a growing number of States and Cities, leaders are emerging who support asset building strategies often with direct philanthropic support.  For example, Kate Marshall, the Treasurer of Nevada, spoke to CFED's advocacy network about the catalytic support from a foundation that when combined with public funds led to children's savings accounts using 529 accounts being established statewide - as evidence of good public policy aligned with the American ideal.


The changes that can happen to include asset building tools to restore financial security will keep happening on a local level. AFN is actively cultivating local chapters of funders -- who know their communities and needs, but who can benefit from tapping into and guiding the network.  What we do locally impacts our efforts nationally. 


What we do together is inextricably tied to the future well being of families, our communities and the nation as a whole.  Here's to you as a catalyst to making 2014 a new year that reinvigorates our shared American ideals.

In This Newsletter
AFN Member News
Events for Grantmakers
AFN Steering Committee


Beadsie Woo  
Benita Melton 
Steering Committee
Aimee Durfee
Y& H Soda Foundation

Amanda Feinstein
Walter and Elise Haas Fund

Angel Zapata
Wells Fargo

Carla Thompson
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Daniel Delehanty
Capital One  

Daria Sheehan  

Citi Foundation


K. Sujata


Kilolo Kijakazi


Megan McTiernan

Thomson Family Foundation


AFN Supporting Members









Wells Fargo Foundation
To Contact Us

Administrative & Marketing Coordinator

AFN Congratulates Amanda Feinstein on Receiving Philanthropic Award 


The Asset Funders Network is delighted to celebrate AFN Steering Committee member Amanda Feinstein of the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation who has been named 2013 Philanthropist of Year from California Asset Building Coalition at their 4th Annual Asset Building Conference this week in San Diego, CA. 


Congratulations, Amanda!


AFN Welcomes New Steering Committee Members

At the AFN Annual Steering Committee in October 2013, the new Steering Committee were selected.  


Beadsie Woo has accepted the Co-Chair position to serve alongside Benita Melton. We are delighted to have their leadership and guidance going forward.

Also at the Annual Steering Committee meeting, the following new Steering Committee members were onboarded.

Aimee Durfee

Aimee Durfee is a Senior Program Officer at the Y & H Soda Foundation, managing Family Economic Success grantmaking for Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  Please see Aimee's full bio here.


Megan McTiernan

Megan McTiernan is the Executive Director with the Thomson Family Foundation in the San Francisco and Dallas areas in workforce development and asset-building. Please see Megan's full bio here.


Angel Zapata

Angel Zapata is Senior Vice President at the Wells Fargo Foundation and National Manager for the Wells Fargo Foundation's Hands On Banking.

Please see Angel's full bio here.


Carla Thompson 

Carla Thompson is the Vice President-Program Strategy for the W. K. Kellogg FoundationPlease see Carla's full bio here.


AFN Welcomes New Staff Members
As we expand to achieve our mission, AFN has added two key staff members.

Jill Geltmaker

Jill Geltmaker recently joined AFN as Operations and Grant Manager and has a wide range of program, management and leadership experience having served in several sectors of the non-profit community over twenty years. Please see Jill's full bio here.

Meggan Redmond
Meggan Redmond has been recently added as AFN's Administrative and Membership Coordinator.  Meggan brings over ten years of executive level administrative support to this position. 

AFN Announces Microenterprise Brief 
In partnership with FIELD at the Aspen Institute, AFN is pleased to release its latest issue brief for grantmakers: Building Assets Through Microbusiness.  Businesses are a key source of assets and wealth for Americans. Microenterprise programs work with low-income individuals who face challenges in starting or growing their businesses because of lack of access to credit, lack of credit and financial capability, and limited access to business knowledge and networks  This brief identifies the asset-building outcomes associated with microenterprise development, and suggests ways that asset funders can support business ownership among the populations they seek to target.  
Click here to read AFN's new brief.

AFN Grant Makers Conference 2013

Asset Funders Network's 2013 Grantmaker Meeting in Washington, DC, October 2-4, brought together a diverse group of national, regional and community-based funders concerned about a common goal - financial security for all.  This gathering offered a neutral forum for candid conversations amongst grantmakers, as well as opportunities to learn from leaders in the field and shape the discourse about what is possible through effective grantmaking.

Close to 100 people attended the conference and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive with almost 90% stating they will incorporate the ideas offered at the conference into their future planning and funding strategy.  

Topics of discussion included:

  • A keynote address from Eldar Shafir featuring his new book Scarcity.
  • The Causes and Consequences of the Wealth Gap: What Do We Know and How Did We Get Here?
  • Exploring Policy and Practical Solutions:  Where Do We Go From Here?
  • The Transformative Power of Credit: Strategies for Converting Credit Building into Asset Building
  • Improving Household Balance Sheets: Savings Strategies with Promise
  • Community Based Asset Building: Community Foundations as the New Asset Advocates
  • Microenterprise and Jobs
Session summaries and copies of speaker presentations are available as a special benefit to AFN members.  Please contact Meggan Redmond with any questions.  We hope to see you at future AFN meetings! 
Tax Policy Project Updates

Practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and grantmakers who care about family financial security are increasingly viewing federal tax policy reform as a critical strategy for advancing asset-building opportunities that will significantly benefit low-and moderate-income people and people of color.


Asset Funders Network (AFN) believe that the passage of universal and progressive asset-building policies hinges on funders supporting the field to unify around shared principles to guide decision-making about tax reform options; a small number of short-term and long-term policy recommendations; and a coordinated advocacy agenda. AFN launched the Tax Policy Project in 2013 to undertake this important work.  The AFN/TPP is working with an advisory group (The Tax Policy Advisory Group) of 30 national leaders including asset-building advocates, tax reform experts, researchers, representatives of organizations of color and grassroots constituents, and others to build a shared understanding of opportunities to advance asset-building policy in the context of tax reform; understand trade-offs, based on independent third-party analysis, between policy options; and build consensus among stakeholders on shared priorities.


AFN is grateful for seed funding to support this initiative from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Friedman Family Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.

Recently, the Tax Policy Project updated its Guiding Principles, you can read them here.

To view and listen to the latest TPP webinar "How the Federal Tax Code is Driving Inequity and What You Can Do About It" please click here
AFN Member News

Federal Reserve of St. Louis Introduces Newsletter
We are excited to share with you the inaugural newsletter of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank New Center for Household Financial Stability.  The Center is headed by Ray Boshara, who worked on federal assets policy at both the New America Foundation and CFED.  The Center will be conducting research on family balance sheets to help strengthen both families and the economy.
If you would like to subscribe to this periodic newsletter, please click here.
AFN Grantmaker Events 

AFN and Aspen Institute Announce Webinar

AFN and the Aspen Institute are developing a webinar to accompany the microenterprise brief, Building Assets Through Microbusiness.  We will email you an invitation to join this event with in the next few weeks.
Asset-Building News & Information

US Labor Department Announces New Facts & Data on Barriers Women of Color Face in the Workplace
The  Women's Bureau of the United States Labor Department is committed to reducing barriers that inhibit or prevent women from getting and keeping better jobs, and we recognize that some women may face more barriers than others.


To raise awareness about the uphill battle that many women of color face when trying to support themselves and their families, we recently published fact sheets about the economic status of women of color.


Please also read the updated Data & Statistics page, where you can find interesting facts and figures about women in the workforce, including earnings, education, unemployment rates, and more. 

For more information about your equal pay rights and what we're doing to close the wage gap, please visit the Equal Pay site at the Department of Labor.

Brookings Center Holds Anti-Poverty Strategy Forum
The Brookings Center on Children and Families held a forum, "Paycheck Plus: A New Antipoverty Strategy for Single Adults in New York City," focusing on a path-breaking demonstration by New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity and MDRC that is rigorously testing a new earnings supplement for low-income single adults - mostly men - with the goal of promoting work and reducing poverty. A direct response to the downward trend in employment, wages, and earnings among the least skilled, the project will simulate an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income single workers without dependent children. To view the forum and learn more, please click here.


"Handed to Them on A Plate-Mapping the Gap Between Expert and Public Understandings of Human Services"
This publication by the Frameworks Institute was commissioned by the National Human Services Assembly with support from The Kresge Foundation's Human Services Program.  
The paper has begun an internal conversation about how the sector can deepen its understanding of the public and professional views and perceptions about the role the sector plays and value the sector adds to society.  
The project is a first step in a process that The Kresge Foundation hopes will inspire explorations and applied research.  

Report Links Immigration to Job Creation

In a new report by Jack Strauss at the Reiman School of Finance at the University of Denver  assessed the temporal ordering of immigration and labor market conditions in an MSA (metropolitan statistical area). Results demonstrate one-way  causality from immigration to rising job growth and lower unemployment.  Tests further reveal that foreign-born inflows cause higher self-employment rates, which in turn contribute to job creation. Results reject the booming city hypothesis that immigration and labor market outcomes are spuriously correlated due to improving labor market conditions attracting immigration to an MSA. Download the full report here.

NYC to Test New Tax Credit for Working Poor
New York City began recruiting and enrolling 3,000 city residents this fall in a three-year pilot project called Paycheck Plus that adds to the annual amount that low-income workers without dependent children receive through the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For more information, please click here.


New Findings on NYC's Conditional Cash Transfer Program
These are interesting new findings on NYC's conditional cash transfer program--in particular, the 41% decrease in severe poverty, increased savings and financial security and an increase in educational completion. Read the report here.

How Great of an Impact Does Microbusiness Have on Our New Economy? 

A lot greater than many previously thought. Microbusinesses, defined as enterprises with fewer than five employees, including the owner, are the small businesses on Main Streets and cross streets all over this country and they cover the full gamut of economic activity


The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) has long recognized the substantial contributions made by microbusinesses to local economies across the country. In AEO's earlier report, The Power of One in Three: Creating Opportunities for All Americans to Bounce Back, showed that "If one in three Main Street microbusinesses hired a single employee, the United States would be at full employment."


In the new report, Bigger than You Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States, microbusinesses are an increasingly feasible and attractive option to those for whom a precarious economy and mercurial labor market no longer serve. Ninety-two percent of all U.S. businesses are microbusinesses, and in 2011, the direct, indirect, and induced effects of microbusinesses on employment amounted to 41.3 million jobs, or 31% of all private sector employment. Direct sales and receipts and indirect and induced economic output of microbusinesses combined to result in an almost $5 trillion economic impact.


The link to the Executive summary is here.  The full report is expected mid-December. 


Racial Divide Extends to Retirement Readiness  

New National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) research examines racial disparities in retirement readiness among working-age Americans and households. A new report calculates the severity of the U.S. retirement security racial divide. The analysis finds that every racial group faces significant risks, but people of color face particularly severe challenges in preparing for retirement. Americans of color are significantly less likely than whites to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA), which substantially drives down the level of retirement savings.  Please see the full report here. 

Events for Grantmakers


Webinar: Small Changes, Real Impact - Applying Behavioral Economics in the Asset-Building Field

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | 3 - 4 pm EST

 On December 17, join CFED, ideas42 and the Citi Foundation to discuss findings from the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance (BETA) project. During the webinar, speakers will report on the research conducted at BETA Project partner sites, explore the implications of applying insights from behavioral economics to asset-building program design and provide helpful tips on how to incorporate the behavioral perspective into your organization. More information on the project is available here.


Advanced registration is required for the event and space is limited. Click here to sign up.


If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Pamela Chan, Senior Research Manager, at


January 8, 2014 I 9am-11am EST
Exactly 50 years after President Johnson declared a "War on Poverty," Spotlight, with support from the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Russell Sage Foundation, will host a forum offering diverse perspectives on the effects of anti-poverty policies in the U.S. over the past five decades and in the years to come. The event will focus on research highlighted in a new book, "Legacies of the War on Poverty" (Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013), featuring a discussion among the book's editors and commentators from across the political spectrum. The event will also be webcast live. For more information and to register, click here.

Save the Date for the CFED Conference - September 2014

Save the Date! Mark your calendars for the 2014 Assets Learning Conference, September 17-19, in Washington, DC, bringing together over 1,200 stakeholders during three days of capacity-building plenaries, sessions, in-depth explorations, Hill visits and much more! 

Newsletter Submissions

Does your organization have asset-building news or event information to share in the next AFN newsletter? Please send materials to:  All materials undergo a review process.

Asset Funders Network Mission

The mission of the Asset Funders Network is to increase the capacity of our members to effectively promote economic security by supporting efforts that help low and moderate income individuals build and protect assets. 

AFN Membership

 Are you a grantmaker and want to get more involved with AFN and asset-building grantmaking?