July 2014
       From the desk of AFN Director, Joe Antolín



    Strategic Philanthropy:

    Creating Opportunity, Building Wealth, 

    and Driving Community Change


I am thrilled to introduce you to the Asset Funders Network (AFN) - the only community of grantmakers focused exclusively on philanthropic strategies that foster financial stability and wealth building.  


I am enclosing the AFN newsletter, delivering right to your mailbox the latest industry research and advocacy, resources and tools for strategically investing in and supporting sustained, impactful asset building and finanacial capability strategies.  We offer this newsletter as a free value to any funder and hope you benefit from the information presented here in your grant giving


AFN delivers much more than just news to its members.  Being a funder means always staying ahead of the game - focusing on the future, taking risks, introducing new solutions, scaling best practices, demonstrating impact and improving lives in our communities. To support these critical changes, leadership, and community impact efforts, AFN works specifically to increase the capacity of funders. Through our membership, supported webinars, briefs, and roundtable discussions, AFN helps funders effectively see what's around the corner, how similar problems are being successfully addressed to promote economic opportunity and financial security amongst low and moderate income individuals. 


To help funders better understand the evidence for integrating asset building strategies into grantmaking, AFN delivers Strategic Philanthropy: Creating Opportunity, Building Wealth, and Driving Community Change. Whether new to the asset building conversation or a proven pioneer, I believe you will find this paper offers you compelling insight about the increased importance and relevance of connecting asset building to existing grant making strategies.


Whether your institution's investments are focused on opportunities to improve early childhood development, education, health, employment, environmental or youth outcomes, when connected to and grounded by asset building strategies, the impacts are stronger and more sustainable.


I hope after reading each future issue you come away with a greater sense of the asset building scope and are inspired to actively engage within AFN regional and national circles.  Enjoy the materials, let us know what you think, and if you can let us know the issue areas related to asset building that interest you most.  Enjoy.


 Funding Strategies for Grantmakers


 AFN's Latest Report: An Executive Summary    

In response to the positive feedback AFN has received on the latest funders' brief, Financial Coaching as an Asset Building Strategy, and requests for additional tools, AFN offers grantmakers a recorded webinar featuring author, J. Michael Collins, who shares highlights from the new report and provides recommendations for funders interested in future investments. 


In addition to the full brief, AFN is also providing funders a quick, high-level overview of Financial Coaching that highlights and outlines the main points every grantmaker needs to best incorporate this growing area into their funding strategies.


To listen to the webinar, click here.  

To read and download AFN's Latest Report: Executive Summary on Financial Coaching, click here.

To download the full brief, Financial Coaching an Asset Building Strategy, click here.


 Reinvigorating the American Dream

The promise of the American Dream is opportunity and the potential for mobility. 


For many, that dream is invested in the children in their family and in the community.  Whether living in urban, suburban or rural communities - including those in communities of color or immigrants - the dream that doors can be opened to seize opportunities even if those doors were once closed to earlier generations, is the hope of every parent and community. 


Yet, there are formidable systemic barriers that close these doors and get in the way of this dream.  Zip codes too often define educational quality, foster poor health outcomes, limit opportunities, and undercut economic mobility. The deepening racial and gender wealth gaps reflecting growing inequity and reduced social mobility.  


Click here to


 New Report Provides Overview on All CSA 

 Research, Practice and Policy Design

With all the recent developments and support surrounding Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs), the New American Foundation pulls together the latest information about this growing field of practice and evidence and explores what it means for designing a truly national CSA plan into a single report, Children's Savings Accounts: Research, Practice, and Implications for Policy Design.


This paper reviews the research foundations for this policy idea, describes the proliferation of recent policy efforts in diverse contexts, and considers some of the key policy design questions relevant for a federal policy effort.


Click here to view the report.




 Paper Places CSAs in the Broader 

 Context of the Historical Political Economy 

 of the American Dream


Keynote speaker at CFED's second national conference on Children's Savings Accounts held earlier this year, Professor William Elliott III of the Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, has produced a thought-provoking paper on the roll of CSAs, titled Redeeming the American Dream: Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs) Build Children's Capacity for Economic Mobility.  

As a leading thinker and researcher who has significantly grown the CSA knowledge base over the last several years, Professor Elliott's new paper places CSAs in the broader context of the historical political economy of the American Dream.  Here he argues that income alone is not enough to achieve the long-held American promise-savings and investments are crucial for getting ahead in today's economy. He describes how existing transfer programs constrain rather than facilitate economic mobility. He also explains how CSAs are an evidence-based policy that is both consistent with American values and could serve as a linchpin for future economic mobility.

To download Redeeming the American Dream, in a four-page summary brief, click here



 CSA Pilot Programs Planned for  

 Native American Families


Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC), made up of tribes and Native nonprofits, are administering innovative Native asset building programs to the thirty-nine recognized tribes and their citizens in Oklahoma.  Dedicated to increasing the self-sufficiency and prosperity in their communities, ONAC has prepared various resources related to Native Children's Savings Account (CSA) programs and is currently seeking funding for pilot CSA projects for their constituents.  To learn more about these investment opportunities, contact ONAC.



For Members Only



 AFN Members Examine how Working & 

 Middle Class Families use Assets to Advance  Security/Mobility, and the Implications for  Philanthropy


Tuesday, September 9, 2014  

1:00pm EDT


The Institute on Assets and Social Policy's Leveraging Mobility series 

draws on a unique dataset of in-depth interviews conducted at two points in time, offering a rare look at family financial lives and the decisions and trade-offs families made between financial security and opportunities during a decade of particular economic volatility. 


AFN Members are invited to join Professor Tom Shapiro and Dr. Hannah Thomas for this exclusive members-only webinar to discuss the findings from this series in greater detail and the implications for strategic philanthropic investments.  


AFN Members - Please click here to contact for exclusive registration.  Attendance is very limited for this engagement. 


Not a AFN Member?  Click here to learn more about our Network


 AFN Funder Convenings


 The Web of Wealth:

 Resiliency and Opportunities, 

 or Driver of Inequality?


Thursday, July 31

1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT


Families often help each other out financially.  This short-term financial help often prevents those in the network from economic collapse or a serious decline in their standard of living. Over the long-term, extended family financial support can provide a stepping stone to better opportunities, such as going to college, starting a business, or purchasing a home. 


Join AFN at 1:00pm EDT, Thursday, July 31, to learn about key findings from The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality?, a new brief from the Institute on Asset and Social Policy's Leveraging Mobility Series.  Participants will explore the role of extended family wealth networks in providing resiliency and opportunity, examine how wealth networks drive inequality, and discuss the implications for funders and practitioners. 


Click here to Register for the Webinar.

Click here to view the brief.




 North Texas Funders Forum - Summer Meeting
 The Asset Building Power of Credit

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
9:00am-12:00pm CDT
Communities Foundation of Texas
5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, Texas 75225

Please join the North Texas Asset Funders Network for an important conversation about credit building strategies that help low-income families move from getting by to getting ahead.

Join your colleagues to learn about how to leverage credit building to help low-income families transition from getting by to getting ahead.  Participants will learn about the concept of credit building and leave with specific strategies for integrating credit building into existing service delivery or strengthening current programming

For more information or to RSVP, email Annika Little, North Texas Program Manager. 




 Bay Area Funders Share Innovative Strategies to 

 Stabilize Housing for Renters and Homeowners


Building upon AFN's national release of funders' brief and webinar, The Asset Building Power of Credit: Strategies for Funders, the Bay Area AFN Chapter hosted grantmakers earlier this month to share two new initiatives currently underway in the housing market to assist both renters and owners in leveraging their housing investments to build savings and improve credit:

  • The Power of Rent Reporting credit building pilot for renters
  • Matched Energy Savings Account (MESA) for homeowners

You weren't able to make the June 5th gathering?  Just click here to get a summary of all the information and materials that were shared.


To view or download The Asset Building Power of Credit brief, click here.   


Events in the Field

 "Platforms for Prosperity"  

  CFED Assets Learning Conference


Sept 17-19, Washington, DC


The 2014 Assets Learning Conference will explore "Platforms for Prosperity" that move individuals and families from poverty to economic success and financial security. These platforms include proven and emerging asset-building strategies that are integrated into the places where people already spend their time, conduct business and get information and assistance. 

Read more & register.




 Federal Reserve in Search of Research & Ideas to Share 

 on Strengthening Families, Communities & the Economy


The 2015 Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference held April 2-3, 2015 in Washington DC seeks to inform a robust public conversation around economic mobility, and invites original, high-quality research from a range of disciplines that can inform and affect how policy is formed and how community practice is carried out.  Submissions are due by September 8th and are invited for the following three broad categories:  families, communities and the economy.


Click here to read more!

Click here to submit an abstract.




 FIELD Launches Microenterprise Census


FIELD at the Aspen Institute has launched the 2014 U.S. Microenterprise Census! Census is crucial to efforts to build the industry and make the case for microbusiness. The fact that the Census data is available online through microTracker.org means nonprofits can leverage the data they provide to strengthen their fundraising efforts and inform program management.  


Have your grantees contribute their data today!




 CFSI Emerge Conference Update


Last month, CFSI gathered their growing network of innovators at EMERGE: The Forum on Consumer Financial Services Innovation. They celebrated ten years of innovation and looked towards a future of advancing the financial health of American consumers.


Watch the video below of CFSI CEO Jennifer Tescher reflecting on the important work they've accomplished and learn how we can all work together to lead America to financial health. 


Learn More from CFSI: 

In the News



 The Balance Sheets of Younger Americans:

 Is the American Dream at Risk?


To better understand the balance-sheet challenges of younger Americans, and consider new ideas and promising policy directions to meet these challenges, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' Center for Household Financial Stability offered this symposium in May. New and cutting-edge research from leading academics nationwide, from within and beyond the Federal Reserve System, was presented on a wide range of topics.


For more on the symposium and materials presented, click here.




 The Merits of Income Inequality:  

 What's the Right Amount?


Economists say too much income inequality is a bad thing.  But they also say some inequality is necessary, and even good for society.  NPR takes a close look into the struggle for getting the balance correct and if it's working for society.


Click here to read more from NPR.



 Harvard's Housing Perspectives: Research Shows  Housing Remains a Strong Asset Builder


Drawing from the ongoing research and analysis of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Housing Perspectives provides ongoing timely insight into the asset building aspects of housing.  


Click here to read more.




 It's Time for a Change. 

 Documentary Illustrates How U.S. Financial  System is Leaving Millions of Americans Behind.


Spent: Looking for Change is a film about everyday Americans without the financial options most of us take for granted and the movement giving them renewed hope.  Turning to pawn shops, check cashing services and using payday loans to meet basic financial needs can be costly. 


It's time for a change.  New technology, new ideas and encouraging dialogue around this issue can help make managing money simple and more affordable.  Produced by award winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim and sponsored by American Express, this documentary was created to help improve financial inclusion in the U.S. 


To view the full documentary for free, click here. 


Financial Security for All
The Asset Funders Network (AFN) is a membership organization of national, regional and community-based foundations and grantmakers strategic about using philanthropy to promote economic opportunity and financial security for all Americans.  AFN works to increase the capacity of its members to effectively promote economic opportunity and financial security by supporting efforts that help low and moderate income individuals build and protect assets.


Newsletter Submissions

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


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