May 2015 

      From the desk of AFN Director, Joe Antolín


     Philanthropy: A Catalyst for Change       





     AFN, as defined by its members, is an affinity group with a point of view that philanthropy must be a catalyst for change.  That change is neither liberal nor conservative, but grounded in research and in the principle that the United States is about opportunity and upward economic mobility.


     When we look at market forces for the last decade and current data regarding the severe wealth gaps and reduced mobility, advancing the AFN principle is arguably at risk of being unattainable. The wealth and homeownership differences between white households and Black and Latino households are too extreme to not confront. Understanding that a gap exists and that change will take long-term investments is an important first step.  Accepting this reality is essential to constructing a path to grow wealth-building opportunities. In serving its members, AFN is committed to confronting reality and exploring the various ways philanthropic investments can change the reality of today for many households.


     Our upcoming brief on Women and Assets is part of this commitment. We are focusing the lens on women to better understand both the gender wealth gap and potential opportunities for philanthropic action. Women are key contributors in the workforce, many lead households as the primary or only wage earner, and they often live longer than men.  In every state, there is research-based advocacy and concern about the wage gap between men and women.  This wage gap intuitively contributes to a gender-based economic hardship and insecurity.


     Our brief illustrates, however, that the asset and wealth gap is even more significant and not solved by eliminating the wage gap. It is a sobering analysis and reflects many changing trends in society. New approaches are needed to focus on this set of disparities even to level the table, if not to close the gap. One such new approach highlighted in our April webinar is innovative retirement policy and strategies that can help close the gender gap, since women are disproportionately in jobs that do not offer a pathway to save for retirement.


     Opportunity and mobility are part of the American fabric and are why investment in asset-building opportunities and strategies matter.  To have a vibrant economy for all Americans is the goal and philanthropy is positioned to help redefine how well we achieve that goal in the coming years.   We urge you to consider the gender lens as you develop strategies to address asset poverty and financial insecurity.


     Join AFN discussions and add your voice, ideas, and experience to this effort.





D3 Improves Economic Stability 

of Low-Income Families


Contrary to common perceptions of North Texas' relatively high income levels, the region's poverty is worse than the national average. 


Not only does financial insecurity destabilize families, it also jeopardizes the long-term vitality of cities and local economies. To further support the Dallas-Fort Worth community in addressing the findings of the study, Communities Foundation of Texas launched the Data Driven Decision-Making (D3) Institute.


Watch this video to learn more about what nonprofits are saying about participating in this unique data boot camp and CFT's other working family success programs.




Building Assets and 

Economic Opportunity 

through Career Pathways


June 2, 2015

Communities Foundation of Texas


Good jobs with career pathways benefit both families and communities. Good jobs are asset-building vehicles that help workers advance across the life course, provide their families with financial security, support wealth building, and strengthen whole communities. 


A lack of relevant in-demand skills often puts good jobs out of reach for low-income workers and fuels gender and racial wealth gaps.


Join the North Texas Asset Funders Network for its Summer Funders Forum, an important conversation about the roles that philanthropy and the nonprofit sector can play in helping low-income families succeed in North Texas. 


Who should attend?  Nonprofit staff serving low-income working families. Grantmakers concerned about helping working families move from getting by to getting ahead.


Plinio Ayala, Per Scholas
Loh-Sze Leung, Jobs for the Future
Mark Popovich, The Hitachi Foundation 






Spotlight on Asset Building Policy:

The Power of the 

Earned Income Tax Credit

at the State and Federal Level


June 4, 2015

East Bay Community Foundation 


As policymakers grapple with how to ensure economic security for the 11 million Californians living in asset poverty, a promising policy agenda should include a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). A state EITC would reduce the regressive tax burden on California's working poor, put more money in their pockets, and make saving for the future possible.


This forum will spotlight current legislation in Sacramento that would enact a refundable EITC giving millions of Californians a much-needed economic boost. Specifically, we will discuss California bills AB 43, SB 38, and SB 152, and provide an overview of the federal EITC and how federal tax expenditures, originally designed to help all Americans build financial security, favor the wealthy and mistakenly shut out those with less.   


Who should attend?  Nonprofit staff serving low-income working families. Grantmakers concerned about helping working families move from getting by to getting ahead.


Chris Hoene, California Budget & Policy Center
Pete Manzo, United Ways of California
Heather McCulloch, Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility


Cohosted by: 


The 2015 Grantmaker Conference Resources and Recap are available! Click here to review the conference highlights and available presentations.


Upcoming AFN 2015 
Webinar topics include -

Women and Assets
Microenterprise Strategies
Investing in State and Tribal Advocates
And more! 



Flexible Savings:

The Missing Foundation For 

Financial Security & Economic Mobility


Much of the national conversation about wealth inequality has focused on the gaps in retirement savings, home equity, or net worth. While these are important elements of the debate, the ability of Americans to build and secure those assets rests on a more fundamental financial requirement. Without a pool of flexible savings, there's no foundation to obtain or maintain those big picture investments. As it stands today, federal policy does not recognize this need, and Americans suffer as a result. Financial security, economic mobility, and long-term well-being are inextricably linked. Federal policy needs to recognize this clearly.

New America's latest publication, Flexible Savings: The Missing Foundation for Financial Security and Economic Mobility, highlights the financial fragility of huge numbers of American families and offers a series of policy changes that could promote greater levels of flexible savings in support of increased financial security and opportunity.


Click here to read the full paper.



The Color of Wealth

in Boston

The widening wealth gap in the United States is a worrisome sign that millions of families nationwide do not have enough in assets to offer better opportunities for future generations. Wealth allows families to make investments in homes, in education, and in business creation. On the basis of data collected using the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reports that, when analyzed by race, wealth accumulation is vastly unequal.


By means of the NASCC survey, researchers have collected, for the first time, detailed data on assets and debts among subpopulations, according to race, ethnicity, and country of origin-granular detail ordinarily unavailable in public datasets. In this analysis the Boston Fed focuses on estimates for U.S. born blacks, Caribbean blacks, Cape Verdeans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Their analysis shows that with respect to types and size of assets and debt held, the data collected on white households and nonwhite households exhibit large differences. The result is that the net worth of whites as compared with nonwhites is staggeringly divergent.


Click here to read the report.




"We don't need to be 

charged for being poor."


The Cost to Families of 

Paying Fees to Access 

Public Assistance


Across the country, the vast majority of families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other forms of public assistance get it through Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT). States determine, through TANF and other program rules and via the terms of state contracts with EBT service providers, how these cards can be used to get cash and at what cost. Typical fees that families pay include transaction fees charged by the EBT provider that states pass on to recipients as well as surcharges imposed by ATM owners that consider EBT cards "out-of-network." To pay the fees families have to use a portion of their monthly grants which may be their only source income and already insufficient to lift them above the federal poverty line.


The California Reinvestment Coalition teamed up with the California Community Colleges CalWORKs Association (CCCCA) and the Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA) to survey EBT card users to learn how their families deal with these fees, including what they do to try to avoid them, how the fees impact their families, and what they think should be done about these fees.


Click here to read the report.  




Raise the Wage


The Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization, has found 57 percent of small business owners support increasing the federal minimum wage and adjusting it annually to the cost of living.  And small business support is on the rise - recent polls show results ranging from 61 percent to two-thirds of small business owners support increasing the minimum wage, and even a poll of all employer sizes, including small business found growing support within the business community for raising the minimum wage.


The Small Business Majority has released a series of online guides to help small employers understand how efforts to raise the state's minimum wage would impact their businesses, and the state's economy on the whole. Businesses in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York are able to use the websites to send comments directly to lawmakers to show them how real entrepreneurs feel about this issue.






Place Matters:

Neighborhoods and Upward Mobility


For years, academic studies, social experiments and basic intuition have suggested that growing up in bad neighborhoods is bad for upward mobility. 

But in two breakthrough studies by Harvard University economists, data now shows that neighborhoods themselves can actually cause people to earn greater or lesser incomes when they're older.  Interpreted in another way, the longer kids spend in nicer neighborhoods, the better they'll do as adults. 


NPR's Kojo Nmamdi explores what the data mean for counties in our region, and how families can improve their children's lives even if they can't move.  Guests include Isabell Sawhill, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies; Co-Director, Center on Children and Families; Co-director, Budgeting for National Priorities project, Brookings Institution and Nathaniel Hendren Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University.


Click here to listen to the podcast.



Smart Social Programs


Do government efforts to support low-income families work? 


Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, skeptics have argued that even if these programs provide temporary relief, the only long-term impact is increased dependency - witness, they say, the persistent lack of mobility in places like inner-city Baltimore.


But a growing body of research tells a very different story. Investments in education, income, housing, health care and nutrition for working families have substantial long-term benefits for children.


Click here to read the article.



Why Education Alone 

Won't End Income Equality


Even without a plan for how to achieve or pay for vastly more higher education, everyone seems to agree it is somehow the solution to poverty, economic disenfranchisement and inequality.  


Alas, it almost surely will not work.


The Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunity Program explanation is covered in Time.  Click here to read the article.



Dying Penniless -

It's Not Just the Poor


One in five of the oldest retirees is dying with no assets except a home, according to a new study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And almost a quarter of those 85 and older are dying with less than $10,000, including the value of their homes.


Nowadays, a 65-year-old man in the U.S. can expect to live to 84, while the life expectancy for a 65-year-old woman is 87. The Center for Retirement Research estimates that 52% of working-age adults were "at risk" in 2013 of not having enough when they retire. That's up from 43% in 2004.


It's not that simple to just save more and work longer. Health problems and age discrimination can make it impossible to work as long as you want. And stagnant wages and everyday life make it tough to save the 15% of household income that the Center for Retirement Research suggests.


To read more on what the future holds for retirees and recommendations provided by the Center for Retirement Research, click here. 




Dallas Fed Highlights

CSAs with Mandated

Financial Education  


The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas highlights OpportunityTexas' work to expand access to college savings accounts in conjunction with Texas' financial curriculum. 


To read the article, click here.



Are your nonprofit partners 

looking for additional funding? 

The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration

Program is seeking applications for the Assets for Independence (AFI) demonstration program.


AFI enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement asset building AFI participants use their IDAs and matching funds for one of three allowable assets: projects serving low-income individuals and their families. AFI grantees enroll participants to save earned income in special-purpose, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Every dollar that a participant deposits into an AFI IDA is matched (from $1 to $8 in combined federal and non-federal funds) by the AFI project, promoting savings and enabling participants to acquire a lasting asset.


    *  Purchase a first home;

    *  Capitalize or expand a business for self-employment; or

    *  Fund post-secondary education or training.


AFI grantees also assist participants in obtaining the skills and information necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Grantees are encouraged to tailor the strategies and services they offer to the needs of their project participants and the opportunities in their community. The awards of up to $1 million cover a 5 year project period.


Application Deadline:  June 15, 2015


To view the AFI Funding Opportunity Announcement click here.



Call for Articles:

Russell Sage Foundation 

Journal of the Social Sciences


Growing concerns about high and rising levels of economic inequality have brought into focus the very unequal distribution of wealth. Recent research documents increasing wealth concentration at the very top, the loss of much of middle class wealth, and an increasing share of households with zero or negative net worth in the wake of the Great Recession. For this special issue, The Russell Sage Foundation invites new and innovative contributions that address the determinants of high and rising levels of wealth inequality, its economic and social consequences, and potential policy responses.


Click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers, due no later than 5 PM EST on June 12, 2015


To learn more on the process and how selected papers will be a part of a conference in NYC on October 30, 2015 and later published, click here. 




Below the Surface: 

The Cumulative Costs of 

Abusive Lending


Newseum, Knight Conference Center

Washington, DC

Tuesday, June 16, 2015  8:30am - 12:30pm


Consumer credit is an important tool that helps millions of families gain access to opportunities and build wealth. Predatory lending practices, however, make consumer loans abusive; these loans, in turn, ultimately create billions of dollars in unnecessary costs for consumers and communities, costs that fall disproportionately on low-income families and communities of color.


The Center for Responsible Lending takes a broad look at responsible and abusive consumer lending products and practices.  Spend the morning with a team of nationally-recognized experts as it goes beyond the data to look at the differences between fair and affordable loans and the predatory loans that fall hardest on those who could benefit most from wealth-building opportunities.


Click here to register now.




Southern California Grantmakers 

presents Lessons from the Field: 

Nonprofits Models to Support Prosperity 

in Low-Income Immigrant Communities


Los Angeles, CA

June 17, 2015  9:00am - 11:30am

Newer immigrants and low-income community members face difficult odds in finding well-paying jobs to support their families. Join SCG to explore this issue and two nonprofit models that are making a long-term impact on family income. 


Click here to learn more and register.






Chandler, AZ

October 5-7, 2015


Whether you're looking to challenge your assumptions or hungry for practical knowledge, CONNECT offers something meaningful for everyone. Find inspiration in sessions that explore innovative strategies for advancing philanthropic impact or immerse yourself in sessions on philanthropy's fundamentals.  


CONNECT offers a safe, empowering space to build critical skills and knowledge while forming real, lasting relationships with peers and other experts. We bring together our welcoming staff, field thought leaders and expert partners to facilitate connections and weave networks through a variety of casual conversations and structured experiences.


Click here to learn more - Register before June 1 and save. 




Philanthropy Southwest's 

67th Annual Conference


Santa Fe, NM

October 22-24, 2015

Philanthropy Southwest's Annual Conference consistently draws several hundred trustees and staff attendees from grantmaking organizations of all types and sizes. Registration is open to trustees and staff of grantmaking organizations and provides the opportunity to connect with fellow philanthropists located or making investments in the Southwestern United States.


Click here for registration tips.






Deputy Assistant Director


Office of Financial Empowerment

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Office of Financial Empowerment is currently seeking a Deputy Assistant Director to join our team. The Office of Financial Empowerment works to empower low-income and economically vulnerable consumers to make informed financial decisions by providing them with tools and information and by promoting a more inclusive and fair financial marketplace.

The position is open until June 4. Check out the job posting here.

Engage Now - Join AFN

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 low- and moderate-income 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. 


AFN is a must for funders wanting to see families and communities move from surviving to thriving, from vulnerability to opportunity, and from insecurity to long-term well-being.  Through membership, innovative and promising approaches are shared, promoting both scale and effectiveness while also increasing financial security for individuals and working families.  


Connect, educate and empower.  Join the conversation. 


To join or find out more about AFN, contact Kristen, AFN Membership Coordinator.

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