Funding Strategies, News, and Events in Philanthropy

June 2015
From the desk of AFN Director, Joe Antolín

Nearly every funder and practitioner strives for innovation.  At its best, innovation is a new way - creative, incremental, and risk taking - to frame an issue, influence behavior, or approach a system to change the outcomes. Therein lies the power of philanthropy. Working with AFN, the shared goal for funders is expanding economic security opportunities for working families, the elderly and especially the future prospects for children. 


Funders simultaneously have the unique responsibility to remind all stakeholders that innovation standing alone is not enough. If the role of philanthropy were only to pursue every new nuance or proposed idea to differentiate strategies, there will be no scaled solutions only small increases in opportunity.  This can be exacerbated when a strategy has a long time horizon  - as many early education, asset building, and research strategies do - while philanthropy focuses on annual grants or short-term outcomes reflecting their short time horizon.


To AFN and its members, innovation remains an important pathway for changing outcomes by increasing opportunity. When an innovative approach is supported with needed capacity building and replicated with fidelity, the result is both scale and sustainability.


AFN elevates innovative and scalable efforts to a growing number of funders and communities, through its briefs, webinars, regional chapters, funder convenings and technical assistance to:

  • Provide a different frame for focusing creatively on developing assets, e.g. using a gender focus as suggested in our Women and Wealth webinar.   
  • Engage and educate new and important stakeholders about the urgent need for more community strategies that address asset poverty e.g. North Texas Funders partnering with North Texas Public Broadcasting for a groundbreaking digital news series 
  • Reinvent with cross sector approaches to alter the impact of each, e.g. increasing the asset building effect of financial education by marrying financial coaching to the approach.  
  • Scale innovation -- so that what works in one community to increase opportunity can be replicated with the best design in another.

Work with AFN to be an effective funder of innovation. Add your voice to our efforts.




Members Making Impact
CFSI and JPMorgan Chase Invest in Innovative Solutions to Address Consumer Financial Challenges


JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) announced the winners of a $3 million competition for technology innovators working to address consumer financial challenges.  The announcement took place during CFSI's 10th Annual EMERGE Forum, the only event dedicated to consumer financial health.  


The announcement concludes the first challenge of the The Financial Solutions Lab, a $30 million, 5-year initiative managed by CFSI with founding partner JPMorgan Chase.  The first challenge was designed specifically for innovators to building products and services that embrace inclusion, build trust, promote success and create opportunity.  Over the next five years, the Financial Solutions Lab will help identify technology-enabled financial solutions and provide winners with direct and indirect support to test and expand the availability of their products and services to consumers.


JPMorgan Chase's support of the Financial Solutions Lab is a part of its broader commitment to helping people better understand and manage their finances to secure their futures.


See the list of winning organizations.  Meet the Judges.  Learn more about The Lab.  

AFN Resources & Events
Webinar: Women & Wealth: 
Insights for Grantmakers

Investing in strategies that promote women's asset building, increase financial stability, and help women build a solid financial base for themselves and their families will not only improve women's financial status, but also the financial status of subsequent generations and our nation's economy.

Click here to view the webinar recording and resources from last week's webinar with presenters Mariko Chang, PhD, K. Sujata, Chicago Women's Foundation, and Dena L. Jackson, PhD, The Dallas Women's Foundation. 
Webinar: Financial Coaching: A New Approach for Measuring Effectiveness


Within the promising and growing field of financial coaching, a significant barrier to effective replication and scale of financial coaching remains: a lack of standardized metrics to help assess effectiveness in a consistent manner across grantees or the broader field. 

By coalescing around a set of measures that organizations can readily integrate into their existing client tracking system, funders, policymakers, and other stakeholders will be able to better understand the outcomes and impact of the delivery of their financial coaching investments.


Join AFN and the Center for Financial Security on July 7th, 12pm CST/1pm EST to learn about a new approach for measuring the effectiveness of financial coaching: The Financial Capability Scale.  


Click here to learn more and register.

Webinar: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap through Business Ownership

One of the primary ways in which households build wealth is through business ownership. However, racial and ethnic minorities have historically been challenged to access the resources (capital, information, markets) needed to start and grow businesses. 

Join AFN on July 16th, 12pm CST/1pm EST for a briefing and discussion to engage funders in a conversation about what we know about business ownership and wealth creation, and ways that they can help strengthen the effectiveness of business ownership as a wealth-building tool for people of color. 

Click here to learn more and register.

Research and Policy Updates

New Research Shows City Leaders are Taking Action to Address Financial Challenges of Families


Mayors and other city leaders know that many low-income families frequently face the kind of financial challenges that can threaten their well-being and undermine local economic development. 


New research released in early June by the National League of Cites (NLC) highlights the growing commitment of city leaders to mitigate the financial hardships many of their residents face on a daily basis. 

In 65 percent of the cities surveyed, mayors, councilmembers and city treasurers are working with community partners to increase the availability of financial education and counseling, build pathways to safe and affordable financial services, connect families to vital public benefits that they may not be aware of and implement other innovative programs to help families build financial stability. 


The report, City Financial Inclusion Efforts: A National Overview, is a result of NLC's in-depth scan of financial inclusion programs in cities across the U.S.  View or Download the Executive Summary.  View or Download the Full Report.



How to Build Financial Security for Boys and Men of Color


A new PolicyLink brief, Building Financially Secure Futures: An Approach for Boys and Men of Color, examines the economic and financial challenges facing boys and men of color and highlights successful practices and policies to promote financial success, including increasing financial education in schools, promoting worker-owned cooperatives, eliminating jail sentences for people who cannot afford to pay fines, and reforming child support policies.


Check out the Webinar that discusses this important work.  View or Download the Full Brief.



Economic Well-Being of U.S Households


The Federal Reserve Board's Division of Consumer and Community Affairs published a new report last month, Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014, that provides a snapshot of the financial and economic well-being of U.S. households and the issues they face, based on responses to the Board's Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED).


The report provides new insight into numerous topics of current relevance to household finances, including economic security and emergency savings, savings and spending behavior, housing and living arrangements, banking and credit access, education and student loan debt, and retirement planning.  View or Download the Report.



Households Approaching Retirement Have Low Savings


Many retirees and workers approaching retirement have limited financial resources. About half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings (such as in a 401(k) plan or an IRA).


According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office's (GAO) analysis of the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, many older households without retirement savings have few other resources, such as a defined benefit (DB) plan or non retirement savings, to draw on in retirement (see figure below). 


As baby boomers move into retirement each year, the Census Bureau projects that the age 65-and-older population will grow over 50 percent between 2015 and 2030.  View or Download the Report.


In the News

Poverty in Public Schools is "Concentrated Disadvantage"


A map from the Urban Institute shows that poor children in the U.S. are far more likely than others to attend high-poverty public schools. 


"This is concentrated disadvantage," according to Reed Jordan, an Urban Institute researcher. "[T]he children who need the most are concentrated in schools least likely to have the resources to meet those needs." Read The Washington Post article. 



Long Commutes Hinder Economic Mobility


Commuting time is the strongest factor limiting upward mobility for those living in poverty, according to an ongoing study by Harvard University. 


Transportation has a stronger correlation to mobility than crime or school test scores, the study indicates. A separate study focusing on New York, from New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation, came to a similar conclusion.

Read The New York Times article.  



Foreclosure-Related Moves Increased U.S. Racial Segregation


Household moves prompted by the foreclosure crisis left the U.S. more racially segregated than

before, reversing progress on integration, research has found. 


White homeowners appear to have left distressed neighborhoods, while minorities facing foreclosure moved to even more distressed neighborhoods. The research also found that the most integrated neighborhoods saw some of the highest foreclosure rates.  Read The Washington Post article.


Housing Matters

Americans Pessimistic about Ability for Economic Mobility, Study Finds


 The high cost of housing across the U.S. has made Americans pessimistic about the prospect of social and economic mobility, a new study by the MacArthur Foundation finds.


Research released states 79% of Americans - across all ages and political party affiliations -- believe it is more common for people to fall out of the middle class than rise up to it.


The study found 55% of Americans have made some sort of financial sacrifice to afford their housing, including no longer saving for retirement or taking on a second job.  It also found Millennials, while optimistic and hopeful for the future, believe chances of economic mobility are bleak. About 70% of Millennials believe it's more difficult today than decades ago to achieve a middle class lifestyle.


The Housing Matters report surveyed 1,401 adults over the span of two weeks for the third annual study, and allowed the respondents to define affordability for themselves. 


Read MacArthur Foundation's news release.  View Full Survey Report.  

Financial Coaching & Education

Better Service for Those Who Served


Whether you're a veteran who has recently transitioned to life in the civilian world, or a consumer facing economic challenges, having a trusted, well-informed advisor can increase your odds of success. 


A recently launched financial coaching initiative, developed in partnership between the Department of Labor, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and more than two dozen nonprofit social-services providers, is providing guidance to recently-transitioned veterans and vulnerable families in places where they're already going for help.


Certified financial coaches are providing one-on-one free coaching to help these consumers craft a personalized plan for financial success.  Read DOL's announcement.  Download a list of financial coaching delivery sites.  


Rewrite the Rules for Equitable Growth

Make full employment the goal. Reduce incarceration rates. Fix the financial sector. Empower workers.


U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz, at the Roosevelt Institute, outlines 30 strategies to address inequality and promote shared prosperity in a new report  Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity.  


In this new report, Stiglitz exposes the link between the rapidly rising fortunes of America's wealthiest citizens and increasing economic insecurity for everyone else. His conclusion is clear: piecemeal policy change will not do. To improve economic performance and create shared prosperity, we must rewrite the rules of our economy. Read or download the Report or the Executive Summary. 



Differences in Worker's Jobs, Earnings and Schedules Perpetuates Racial Inequality 


A new report from Demos and the NAACP reveals how low-wage work is a racial equity issue.  The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century examines the racially disparate outcomes in wages, schedules, and opportunities for promotion throughout the retail industry. 


Retail employers pay Black and Latino retail workers lower wages than white and Asian American retail workers for doing the same jobs, and sort Black and Latino workers into the lowest-paid, part-time positions. These employment practices result in higher rates of poverty among the Black and Latino workforce, compared to white and Asian American workers.  View or download the report 



Inequality Matters


In a new piece in the Atlantic, Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg push back on recent claims that inequality is not as important as concerns about opportunity and mobility. They point to research that finds strong links between inequality, poverty and opportunity.  Read the Article.


Let's Stop Subsidizing Inequality:  Exciting Campaigns for Tax Justice


So many of the things that progressives care about - clean air and water, strong education, accessible and high quality health care, affordable and fair caregiving services for children and elders - depend on adequate tax revenues. Our current tax system, however, subsidizes inequality.


This recorded discussion hosted by the Women Donors Network describes the basics of tax justice and highlights some exciting, recently launched campaigns.  


Speakers include Eddie Kurtz of Courage Campaign, Christina Livingston of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Heather McCullough of the Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility and Chris Brown of PolicyLink.  Listen to the discussion.


Strategies Connect Millennials to Financial Resources They Need


Millennials are having a tough time financially. They have higher levels of debt and lower levels

of employment, income, and savings compared to previous generations. Millennials are also operating in a financial marketplace that has become increasingly complex and difficult to manage.


In response, both private and public sector attention has focused on providing young people with financial education as a way to help them navigate this challenging terrain-with mixed results.


Now, in a new report by the Asset Building Program at the New America, Building Millennials' Financial Health via Financial Capability, evidence is provided that demonstrates a different approach - promoting financial capability (financial education plus experiential learning) - is much more likely to relate to outcomes like lower amounts of debt, more money for emergencies, and less reliance on predatory financial services.  View or download the report

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.