Aiming to push Atlanta to be a smart, equitable, and engaged city, the Center for Civic Innovation supports and invests in people and organizations working to make Atlanta’s public sector more effective, innovative, and participatory. Through its Civic Innovation Fellowship, the Center provides Atlanta social entrepreneurs with business and leadership development programs, free workspace, and mentorship. In partnership with the Food Well Alliance, the Center also has a Food Innovation Fellows program to support entrepreneurs, educators, and community organizers working to build healthier communities by connecting food growers to consumers. Most recently, the nonprofit launched its Westside Innovation Lab in 2016 to identify and support community-driven and community-built ideas and interventions within Atlanta’s westside neighborhoods.
While the pay gap between men and women is widely discussed, the wealth gap is even more pronounced: single women own 32 cents for every dollar owned by men, with women of color owning pennies to the dollar. This new report from the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative discusses the systems and dynamics that generate this gap, including disparate access to business equity and home ownership opportunities. The author recommends tax reforms that make wealth building subsidies more accessible to women of color in particular, as well as strategies like cooperative ownership and more flexible savings account options.
Founded in 2008, the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) fosters entrepreneurship as a way to create economic and social mobility. To do so, RMMFI provides skill-building, mentorship, and small loans to low and moderate income entrepreneurs. Its Business Launch Boot Camp is credited with graduating entrepreneurs who currently own and operate 31 area businesses.
Based in Denver, the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC) strives to nurture an economic system characterized by inclusion by advocating for and providing pathways to employee ownership. To do so, RMEOC offers consultation services to business owners interested in transitioning to employee ownership and promotes employee ownership across the region by advancing legislation and fostering a range of educational events and efforts.
Operating since 1976, Mi Casa focuses on fostering the economic success of Denver’s Latino and working families. Through its Mi Casa Women’s Business Center, the nonprofit offers entrepreneurial training, business counseling, technology training, and networking opportunities to support entrepreneurs and emerging businesses. In 2015, Mi Casa served 2,724 people and helped launch 82 new businesses. To diversify and expand its revenue base, Mi Casa also operates two social enterprises, Mi Casa BackOffice Solutions, which provides nonprofits and small businesses with accounting and bookkeeping services, and Mi Casa TalentSolutions, which is a staffing agency specializing in bilingual talent.
Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, Thomas Shapiro, Dedrick Asante-Muhammed and Emanuel Nieves
Median Latino and Black households have over $100,000 less in wealth than median White households, a disparity that persists despite reductions in income inequality. This new report from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and CFED puts forward a “racial wealth audit” framework, assessing how specific policies either lessen or inadvertently perpetuate the racial wealth gap. The authors call for “targeted universalism” noting that policies such as Children’s Savings Account and eliminating student debt will only successfully address the racial wealth gap if they focus in particular on low income households.
Aiming to catalyze successful small business development in New Haven, Elmseed Enterprise Fund provides entrepreneurs with small, low-interest loans and technical assistance. Since its establishment in 2001, Elmseed has disbursed more than 30 loans totaling over $70,000.
In 2015, Congress increased funding for VITA—for the first time in six years—by $3 million. However, in order for the program to meet the growing demand for its services, VITA must be authorized, expanded and modernized. This paper explores how the VITA program has developed over time and how local VITA programs serve their communities. It then highlights the VITA program’s present challenges and opportunities for valuable reforms that would enable VITA sites to serve more people.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Aspen Institute invited a number of leading practitioners to a one-day meeting centered on the question: “How can we expand the definition of employer engagement to include influencing businesses’ human resource and training practices in addition to responding to pipeline needs?” The question was meant to be provocative and to elicit lively discussion, not necessarily neat conclusions.
William Elliott III, Melinda K. Lewis, Anthony Poore and Brian Clarke
This paper, jointly produced by the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI) at the University of Kansas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, was informed by a roundtable on CSA delivery systems, held at the Boston Fed in December 2014. It describes the design, key features, and respective challenges of each principal delivery system. Assessed in light of the CSA field’s guiding principles for delivery system design (universal and automatic enrollment, national footprint, cultivation of a saver identity, asset-building, administrative efficiency, and adequate consumer protection), these models have distinct advantages and limitations. This paper attempts to contribute to the critical task of building the knowledge base needed to help children’s savings programs begin to weigh the pros and cons of each of these existing delivery systems.
More comprehensive restructuring and truly innovative approaches are needed to meet the human capital demands of employers. More and better information is also needed to inform job seekers about an increasing range of private and public options from which they can obtain the skills and credentials to be successful. It is in response to these and other trends that Transforming U.S. Workforce Development Policies for the 21st Century was developed. The book provides thoughtful perspectives on how workforce development efforts, often based on approaches from decades ago, might be rethought to better respond to these trends.
EARN is a leading nonprofit provider of microsavings programs in the US. EARN commissioned a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to measure the impacts of TripleBoost, a program designed to help working families save for their children’s education. The primary goal of the RCT was to understand how the first 6 months of TripleBoost participation influences the amount of money that families save for their children’s education.
To answer this question, the study randomly placed qualified TripleBoost applicants into Treatment and Control groups, where the Treatment group immediately began participation in TripleBoost, and the Control group was placed on a 6‐month waiting list. Families were asked a series of questions at the time of application and on a 6‐ month follow‐up survey. Actual deposit data from families in the Treatment group also was analyzed.
RCT findings reveal that during the 6‐month study period, TripleBoost families saved an average of $681 for their children’s education, more than 10 times the average amount saved by families in the Control group. A majority of families in the Control group saved $0 during the study period, while 90% of TripleBoost families saved $500 or more. The results are statistically significant. Thus, EARN’s TripleBoost program effectively drives families to set aside 10x more in savings for their children’s education than they would save without the program.
Douglas J. Gagnon, Marybeth J. Mattingly and Andrew Schaefer
University of New Hampshire
This brief documents the proportion of Americans who would have been poor absent the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), all else being equal, across 2010–2014. We examine Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rates as well as hypothetical increases in the rates of SPM poverty in the absence of federal EITC benefits. It is important to note that we do not model behavioral changes that might result from the removal of EITC benefits, so the analyses presented here are a simplified representation of such a hypothetical scenario. The SPM is an obvious choice for this analysis because unlike the Official Poverty Measure (OPM), which only accounts for before-tax cash income, the SPM also considers in-kind benefits, tax credits, and out-of-pocket work and medical expenses when estimating resources. We present SPM rates for all individuals as well as for children only, analyzing trends across regions, metropolitan status, and by state. Importantly, geographic differences in the cost of housing are accounted for in the SPM rates, and consequently the analyses presented here give a more accurate sense of the poverty reducing impact of EITC benefits.
Tatjana Meschede, William Darity Jr. and Darrick Hamilton
This issue brief examines the extent to which family financial transfers occur among Boston residents of color. New data collected for the Boston metro area, as part of the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey, for the first time provide detailed information on financial assets that allow analysis to be broken down beyond the traditional black-and-white divide at the metropolitan-area level. Targeting U.S.-born blacks, Caribbean blacks, Cape Verdeans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans, findings show that households of color consistently receive fewer financial transfers than whites, while at the same time providing more financial assistance to their families and relatives. Particularly striking are differences in parental payments toward higher education expenses and financial support for the down payment of a home. Immigrant status further explains differences between white and nonwhite households as well as between households of color.
This study, generously funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, leveraged the 2012 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) to investigate the state of Millennials' financial health and to provide a preliminary test of the effectiveness of financial capability—an intervention that has the potential to improve financial health by combining financial education and financial inclusion. In particular, this study asked whether being financially capable was associated with metrics of Millennials' financial health such as locating $2,000 for an unexpected expense, saving for emergencies, using alternative financial services, carrying too much debt, and being satisfied with their financial condition. In addition to joining the national dialogue regarding the state of Millennials’ financial health within the current macroeconomic context, this study offers financial capability as a potential solution.
Allison Daminger, Jonathan Hayes, Anthony Barrows and Josh Wright
Ideas42 has engaged with more than 70 domestic poverty experts over the past year, including academics, practitioners, and parents raising young children. We have studied academic liter- ature from multiple disciplines and directly observed 15 programs serving families with low incomes. This paper distills the lessons we’ve learned and the best practices we've observed in this process. We do not claim exhaustive knowledge of poverty; instead, we intend this document to serve as a well-researched conversation starter that will help catalyze the behav- ioral innovations our society desperately needs. In the pages that follow, we share behavioral insights that shed new light on the many challenges facing families with low incomes and those who seek to support them. We also put forward three design principles that follow from these insights and can be tailored to t the needs of a wide range of communities, organizations, policies and programs.