September 2014 

      From the desk of AFN Director, Joe Antolín



     Asset Building  

     Gaining Traction Nationally 



In recent months, asset building has moved across sectors and institutions to gain momentum and push the needle forward to revitalize hope in the American dream of opportunity and mobility to counter the wealth gap and reverse the income inequality that has grown over the past 30 years. 


Mayors are becoming active.  Some - not nearly enough yet - are working with their residents on debt collections instead of the quick turnover to credit damaging collection agencies.  Others are taking policy positions that define addressing asset poverty as a key measure of their community's wellbeing.


State Treasurers are creating Financial Inclusion offices, which are effectively leading the expansion of Children's Savings Accounts for children starting kindergarten and are leading discussions to integrate the asset building lens into how government interacts with workers.  


Governors and state legislatures are also getting into the game  -- creating formal, legal recognition of lending circles (California), expanding Children's Savings Accounts in several states (e.g. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Colorado), providing employee access to payroll deductions into retirement accounts where the employer did not provide them (Illinois), and creating financial empowerment centers with coaches in Delaware. 


And there is promising action at the Federal level, from the Department of Defense's proposed rules to prevent predatory lending against those who served in the military,  CFPB rulemaking to protect consumers, Congressional leaders discussing the value of Children's Savings Accounts and tax policy reform, to the Federal Reserve Chair Yellin's commitment to support asset building as a way to promote a health economy. 


Philanthropy has been, and continues to be, a key player in this expansion of asset building. as an integrated, outcome focused strategy helping to make investments in education, youth, workforce and housing outcomes more sustainable.  They also are funding approaches that build credit and reduce asset poverty.  Financial institutions and their foundations are reinvesting in community, offering more products that do not leach away savings, and funding efforts that help families increase the value of the children's account through coaching, matching and other incentives. 


From AFN's perspective, philanthropy retains the capacity to advance social justice, foster racial economic equity, and close the wealth gap to achieve financial security.  Philanthropy will help to move asset building through multiple replications on the path to needed scale. As many more non-profits and systems coach and connect asset-building as part of the bandwidth of low and middle-income parents the economic trends can be reversed.  We cannot be satisfied with the significant gains of recent years, but we can build upon them across many sectors to replicate what works and grow opportunity.  As we do so over time, a more just, civil society based on social mobility and opportunity is possible - that is the promise of asset building.



AFN 2015 Grantmaker Conference



What latest Trends, Research, 

Projects, or Strategies do you want 

to learn more about?  


Asset Funders Network (AFN) invites grantmaker submissions for breakout session ideas to be considered to for the the 2015 Grantmakers Meeting, to be held in Dallas, TX, April 7-9, 2015.


This unique conference brings together a diverse group of national, regional and community-based funders concerned about a common goal - providing individuals, families and communities with greater economic security and opportunities for growth. 


Click here to learn more or submit a proposal.  Grantmaker submissions are due October 10, 2014.

Member Spotlight




Levi Strauss Foundation

Grants $75K to Build Upon AFN's Success


The Levi Strauss Foundation just announced a $75K commitment to AFN to promote wealth-building for low-income people as an effective 

strategy for philanthropy.


"The Levi Strauss Foundation is pleased to join AFN in its work to improve the opportunity for economic progress for low-income individuals and families," said Daniel Lee, Executive Director, Levi Strauss Foundation.  "As a leader in asset-building, AFN continues to demonstrate that access to responsible and appropriate financial products and services enables families to save, invest, preserve and build financial assets.  The Foundation's support seeks to build upon that momentum which is particularly critical in the context of today's startling asset poverty statistics and widening racial wealth gap.  In partnership with AFN, LSF seeks to address this disparity head-on."


Grantmaker Peer Learning - 

Latest Strategies


Grantmaker Webinar: 
Investing in Savings at Tax Time: 
Insights for Funders

Tax time is a critical moment in the financial lives of working families.  

The Earned Income Tax Credit is widely regarded as one of the most effective poverty alleviation programs in the country because it puts money back into the hands of working families, lifting millions of families and children above the poverty line every year.  However, for many working families, the EITC alone is not enough to build financial security.  

Funders, practitioners and policy makers across the country recognize the potential impact of integrating asset building services into tax time efforts as a way to help working families leverage their tax credits and begin saving.


Join the Asset Funders Network and EITC Funders Network for a briefing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Ready, Set, Save initiative and learnings from the 2014 Tax Season.  Participants will learn about best practices for leveraging tax time and the EITC to help low-income families get on a path to financial security. Whether you currently support tax time efforts or have a focus on low-income families, this session will provide you with actionable ideas for strategically investing in building savings at tax time.


Speakers include David Sieminski, Policy Analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Office of Financial Empowerment. 


Please note, this webinar is for funders and philanthropic advisors only and co-sponsored by the EITC Funders Network and the Asset Funders Network.


Please click here to register, or click the button below. 





Protecting Assets:

Developments in Payday Lending Reform

and the Role of Faith-Based Organizations


In the next several months, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is poised to issue a new national rule aimed at curbing high-cost payday and car title loans across the country. These new rules could preserve billions of dollars for low-income families and borrowers of color. Moreover, they indicate possible directions for future financial reform efforts involving the CFPB.  


In this just-released AFN webinar, Funders learn about the recent policy developments, how faith-based organizations are successfully contributing to reform efforts, and what is expected to happen in the coming year. Funders share learnings and best practices as well as offer ideas for how others can get involved in helping low-income families who are affected by high-cost credit.  

Webinar Participants:

  • Moderator:  Aimee Durfee, Y&H Soda Foundation
  • Debbie Goldstein, Center for Responsible Lending
  • Molly Fleming-Pierre, PICO National Network and Missouri Faith Voices
  • Ned Wight, Director, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Click here to view the webinar and and download the presentation and resources. 




The Health/Wealth Connection:

Going Beyond the Data


"An African-American child born in West Oakland, CA is seven times more likely to be born into poverty and is expected to live 15 years less a white child born in the Oakland Hills, CA."


But how are the health and asset-building fields actually working together to support families and communities holistically?  How can asset funders and health funders better collaborate?  


This event, hosted by the Bay Area AFN Chapter (BAAFN), was the first in a series of conversations BAAFN plans to host among health and asset-building funders on the intersection of their work.  Presenters included Dr. Tony Iton of The California Endowment, Kiko Malin and Jessica Luginbuhl of ACPHD's Family Health Services team and Dana Harvey and Mariela Cedeño of Mandela Marketplace.


Click here to View and Download the meeting presentations.    

Pentagon Takes on

Predatory Lenders



Defense Dept. Proposed Rules Close Predatory Loopholes in Military Lending Act, Increasing Financial Protections for Service Members


Late last week, the Department of Defense released proposed rules to further protect service members and their families from predatory lending practices. 


If fully implemented, these rules will strengthen protections under the Military Lending Act and close loopholes unscrupulous lenders use to target military families with unconscionable high-cost loans.


Click here to read the statement from Department of Defense.

Click here to read the statement from the White House.

Click here to read the proposed rule.

Click here to read the Military Times news story.

Credit's BUILDING Power




Credit for Renting:

The impact of positive rent reporting on

subsidized housing residents


Experian RentBureau recently published a new report examining the impact of positive rent reporting on the credit files and credit scores of subsidized housing residents. This study involved analysis of over 20,000 subsidized rental leases from across the country.


Some of the report's key findings include:

  • 100% of previously unscorable residents became scoreable;
  • Nearly 75% experienced a score increase - the majority of which experienced an increase of 11 points or more.
  • 84% of subprime residents and 50% of nonprime residents experienced positive score change.

Click here to read the full Experian report.    





Can a secured credit card teamed with

education help entrepreneurs build their

credit and business?


That's the central question posed in FIELD's Asset Building through Credit (ABC) Pilot Program. Together with with Justine Petersen - a leader in microenterprise development and credit building - the pilot offered five microenterprise organizations a Citi/Banamex secured card, accompanied by credit education, to microenterprise clients.

Many low-income microentrepreneurs have 'thin files', or slightly impaired credit histories, that make it challenging for them to access business loans.  Against this backdrop, the pilot explored the following questions:

  • Do secured cardholders build credit and progress towards their business goals?
  • Does offering a secured card help microenterprise organizations build scale?
  • Can microenterprise organizations sustain the delivery of the secured card?
Click on the following links to download:

The most recent report on Client Gains in Credit Scores
Financial Coaching



One-Stop-Shop for all 

Financial Coaching Training Programs


The University of Wisconsin's Center for Financial Security released a new brief that conveniently summarizes and inventories existing financial coaching training programs available in the field of Financial Coaching. This brief is intended to provide a basic characterization and description of the training programs included. Common elements of the programs are included, partnerships between programs are described, a training curricula matrix of training characteristics was devised, and a summary section of recommendations for future research and study is provided.


Click here to read the brief.  




AFN's Financial Coaching Report Shares

Strategy for Helping People Build 

Financial Capability and Assets   


Financial Coaching is a promising new strategy to help people improve their financial well-being by learning to set financial goals, adhere to their goals and gain confidence to problem solve.


AFN's funders brief, Financial Coaching as an Asset Building Strategy, offers insights on the differences between coaching and counseling and offers grantmakers a wide range of models and best practice approaches for incorporating financial coaching into their funding strategies.


In connection with the brief, AFN offers a recorded webinar featuring Financial Coaching author, J. Michael Collins, who shares highlights from the new report and provides recommendations for funders interested in future investments.     

 Events in the Field




October 15

Creating Financial Opportunities: The Tax-Time Moment

8:00am - 1:00pm

Chase Tower, 21 S. Clark St., 57th Floor, Chicago, IL

This free event brings together leaders from philanthropy, government, policy practice, and academia to examine current and future savings opportunities around tax time.  Participants will discuss next steps and consider potential implications for policy and practice.  Keynote address by Melissa Koide, Deputy Assistant Secretary Office of Consumer Policy, Treasury.

Click here to learn more and register - RSVP required.



October 15 - 17

2014 Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families Annual Conference

Detroit, Michigan.

Click here to learn more and register.



October 19 - 22

Council on Foundations

2014 Fall Conference for Community Foundations

Cleveland, Ohio

Click here to learn more and register.



October 30 - November 1

Exponent Philanthropy 2014 National Conference: "Cause. Effect. Change."

Washington, DC

Click here to learn more and register.



November 12

Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Northern California Grantmakers present:

Corporate Philanthropy Institute: "Time is Now"

Oracle Conference Center, Redwood City, CA

Click here to learn more and to register.

Contact Melanie LeGrande, or 650-450-5511



November 14

Southeastern Council of Foundations Annual Meeting

New Orleans Marriott, New Orleans, LA

Click here to learn more and to register.

For questions, contact Marianne Gordon, or call 404-524-0911



April 7-10, 2015

Asset Funders Network 2015 Grantmaker Conference 

Dallas, Texas

Click here to learn more.  Registration will open in October. 


The Latest on 
Children's Savings Accounts

New Report Provides Overview on All CSA 

Research, Practice and Policy Design


Properly designed Child Development Accounts (CDAs) can have lasting, positive effects on children's educational development and can improve their long-term economic outcomes. 


That's the argument of a new paper released by the New America Foundation, Investing in Children: Child Development Accounts as an Early Childhood Intervention, authored by two scholars at the University of Kansas' School of Social Welfare, Terri Friedline, an Asset Building Program Research Fellow, and Nik Schuetz. 


While much discussion of CDAs treats the accounts in isolation, Friedline and Schuetz argue that, to be most effective, CDAs should be situated within the broader context of other early childhood interventions like pre-K and Head Start.


Click here to read the report.   

Building Financial Capability


Insights from Practitioner Roundtable:

Leveraging Youth Programs Increases Financial Capability Amongst Young People


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), along with its federal agency partners on the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, recently released a paper increasing the financial capability of young people through youth employment programs. The overview of lessons provided are drawn from an earlier roundtable meeting that brought together leaders from promising programs that included three important components: integrating financial education into youth employment programs, establishing partnerships with employers, and identifying effective strategies to collaborate with financial institutions.

The key takeaways from the roundtable are:

  • Partnerships with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, financial institutions, and youth are necessary for successful program implementation. 
  • Financial education should be tailored to the needs of youth, employers, and financial education providers. 
  • Financial products offered to youth should be carefully selected by weighing the costs and risks of various options. 
  • Organizations should develop explicit strategies for engaging youth in the short and long term. Efforts to engage youth are important both during and after the employment program.

Click here to read CFPB's Report 




Impact of Finances 50+ on Financial Behaviors


One of the most rapidly growing populations facing some of the most diverse and complicated of financial issues, is that of older adults aged 50+. Older adults encounter some of the most intense and important life decisions during this point in their life course, including preparation and participation in retirement, healthcare related needs, the changing roles and circumstances of children reaching adulthood, and transitioning needs in housing.


To help identify successful strategies, the AARP Foundation designed and disseminated a financial capability curriculum targeted to the 50+ age group to approximately 11 organizations nationwide. Classes were offered beginning in September 2012 through December 2013.   Approximately 2,775 people participated in these classes.

The purpose of the report is to evaluate the impact of the financial training by:

  • Comparing behaviors relating to key financial topics before and after participating in the class
  • Determining whether desired financial behaviors increased after participating in the class  

Overall the study shows positive and statistically significant changes in financial behavior and attitudes when comparing people to their responses before taking part in Finances 50+SM. These results are consistent with the goal of the program, namely to help a targeted population of vulnerable households to improve their financial practices.

Click here to read the report. 



America's Wealth Gap 'Unsustainable' 

according to Harvard Study


The widening gap between America's wealthiest and its middle and lower classes is "unsustainable", but is unlikely to improve any time soon, according to a Harvard Business School study released earlier this month.

The study, titled "An Economy Doing Half its Job", said American companies - particularly big ones - were showing some signs of recovering their competitive edge on the world stage since the financial crisis, but that workers would likely keep struggling to demand better pay and benefits.


Click here to read Harvard's announcement

Click here to read the Study.






Illinois Legislature Signs 

Payroll Card


Last month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a bill that allows employers to use payroll cards as long as they don't make them a condition of employment.  The new law requires employers to inform workers that enrollment is voluntary, provide them an itemized list of fees and offer a paper check option or direct deposit.  The bill also ensures workers will get free access to their wages once per pay period and unlimited telephone access to customer service.


An increasing number of employers nationwide - especially those in low-wage industries such as retail and fast food - are implementing the cards, which look like debit cards, in lieu of traditional paychecks.  Businesses prefer the cards because they save $2.75 each time they electronically load the card instead of cutting a check.




California becomes 1st State
to Recognize Credit Building


Legislation SB 896 offers a refreshing way to deal with a real problem - the lack of lending opportunities for people without credit histories.  The legislation proposes establishing a licensing exemption within the California Finance Lenders Law (CFLL), which is intended to help nonprofit organizations that facilitate affordable, credit-building, small-dollar loans expand their lending presence throughout California.


SB 896 was sponsored by Mission Asset Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps low-income people gain access to small loans by servicing "lending circles."  In these circles, small groups of people contribute monthly amounts to a fund, and those dollars are then available to members of the group for no-interest loans on a rotation basis.




Upside Down:  

Homeownership Tax Programs

"Homeownership remains the largest source of wealth for the majority of Americans".


In a newly released report, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) finds that homeowners collected $200 billion in 2013 from an assortment of different tax deductions.  But the vast majority of those benefits accrued to the wealthy.  


For example, a household in the top .1 percent receives an average of $17,276 in annual benefits from homeowner tax programs.  


For a household in the bottom 20 percent, it's just $3.  The report highlights how these tax deductions are not subsidizing homeownership but, instead, bigger homes and more debt.


Click here to read the report. 


Is Our Newsletter? 


AFN is working to improve its electronic newsletter.


Please help us and complete this survey about your satisfaction and newsletter needs - it will take no more than five minutes.  Your input will pay off - resulting in a more effective industry news vehicle delivered to your inbox. 


Tell Us. Click here to take the Survey.

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:  All materials undergo a review process.


Contact Us                 AFN Steering Committee             Membership