About AFN   |   Steering Committee   |   Network  |    Events   |    Join AFN

JUNE 2016

AFN's purpose to advance economic opportunity and prosperity for low and moderate income people is advanced with each funder's investment designed to alleviate poverty. Whether a funder prefers the framework of financial health, financial inclusion, hierarchy of needs, or increasing opportunity, the investments build on the strengths of the individual by engaging, guiding, and reinforcing their actions to build financial security and wealth. These investments increase the potential for a family to be visible to, and more active with, the right products offered by financial institutions and public-private opportunities.  As complex as that is, the sector has a comfort level with helping individuals better navigate existing systems.  

Is this enough?

This fair question, asked of me by a community foundation leader, calls for system change - for innovation, new technological applications, and strength-based service delivery that also embraces new integrated approaches.  It calls for engaging and changing the primary way employers, community colleges, universities, criminal justice systems, government, housing, health, and an array of mainstream systems by which low and moderate income households are impacted.  Only by pushing the envelope to challenge can we upend how the current systems engage in wealth stripping, restricting opportunity, and constraining low and moderate income households from achieving stability, participating in upward mobility, and seizing economic opportunity. 

AFN members tell us that asset building requires designs that intentionally address the boundaries and outcomes produced by structural racism and gender bias. 

Service approaches, tools, financial product criteria, lending approaches, use of credit scores, and other facially race neutral actions that sustain or grow the racial and gender wealth gaps need to be intentionally addressed and, as needed, upended-to be replaced by new democratizing tools and approaches.  Only by doing so can we make opportunity for all a reality. 

In the next few months, AFN will be contributing to our collective knowledge by addressing structural challenges and elevating innovative solutions that are making a difference. We will Spotlight the challenges faced by persons who were formally incarcerated and the valuable role that entrepreneurship supports can play. 

The 2017 National AFN Grantmakers Conference will offer funders an array of other system-changing approaches.   Let us know about your investments and lessons learned.  It is AFN's commitment to step up our sharing of these ideas and lessons learned among the funder community.  Take a moment to support our collective learning.   Respond to our upcoming call for ideas.
Opportunity and prosperity for all is a challenge. The untapped opportunities for influencing systemic change with proven approaches need to be acted upon. It will be through philanthropy and their grantees that our communities can renew the promise of American prosperity regardless of race or gender.

Joseph A. Antolín 


Mark your calendar for the Asset Funders Network 2017 Grantmaker Conference, May 2-4, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

AFN's unique funders-only 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.

By providing the latest research, insights, evaluation and guidance, this conference brings unparalleled perspective as well as opportunities to learn from each other and foster new partnerships.

The Asset Funders Network (AFN) advances economic opportunity and prosperity for low and moderate-income people through philanthropy. A community of foundations and grantmakers using philanthropy to alleviate poverty, AFN focuses on bringing together grantmakers passionate about promoting economic opportunity and financial security for all Americans.
Planning for AFN's 2017 National Conference is underway.
Share your ideas and insights to make it our best yet!

Weigh in, share your insights, and tee-up ideas that we can turn into an exceptional conference experience that will:
  • Offer opportunities to build relationships, promote collaboration, and strengthen our field.
  • Deliver first-rate content that informs, inspires, and challenges funders to translate ideas into action.
  • Connect AFN's growing network of innovative funders, all playing a critical role in creating opportunity, building wealth and driving community change.
  • Highlight learning-in-action from our host city, Indianapolis, and it's collaborative network of funders who leverage the asset building framework to advance the impact of their work.  
SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  Friday, July 8, 2016

PROCESS & CRITERIA:  Ideas for topics and potential speakers will inform the AFN Conference and Program committees' planning.  Priority consideration will be given to ideas submitted by AFN members. 
AFN is excited to announce it has expanded its reach and capacity with the addition of Karen Murrell.
Karen Murrell joins AFN as the new manager of financial coaching initiatives for AFN.   Murrell has done extensive work on financial coaching, including assisting with research that identifies challenges and opportunities for the financial coaching field; supporting the development of a national financial coaching training program; developing financial coaching curricula and training materials; and serving as an instructor for financial coaching training programs. 
In addition to co-authoring You and Your Money: A No Stress Guide to Becoming Financially Fit which examines how societal change is rapidly impacting personal finances and identifies character traits of financially savvy people, Murrell has received professional coach certifications from the International Coach Federation: Associate Certified Coach and from Coaches Training Institute: Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.
We warmly welcome Karen to the AFN team. 

Closing the Women's Wealth Gap

Wed, July 20th | 11:30am-1:30pm  | Oakland, CA
We invite you to a funder-to-funder discussion about the critical role  of assets in increasing the economic security of low-income women and women of color.   In recent years, a national discussion about the causes and effects of income inequality has played out in our communities, the media, the presidential race, and the halls of Congress. The discussion about inequality has significant implications for women. And yet, a focus on income, alone, leaves out a key part of the story.  
The recent Asset Funders Network report, Women and Wealth: Insights for Grantmakers, reveals that the gender wealth gap is far greater than the income gap.

Consider this:
Single men:
Single women:
  $  3,210
Black women:
  $     200
Latina women:
  $     100

Together with the Women's Foundation of California, we invite you to join us to discuss how grantmakers can employ new data and strategies to impact the women's wealth gap.  
DATE: July 20, 2016   |   11:30am-1:30pm  |  Lunch will be served.

WHERE: Women's Foundation of California - 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 420

Sr. Program Officer, Walter and Elise Haas Fund
Steering Committee Member, Asset Funders Network
CEO, Women's Foundation of California
Heather McCulloch (moderator)
Founder, Asset Building Strategies
Director, Closing the Women's Wealth Gap Initiative 

AFN Launches Financial Coaching Working Group
Financial coaching has gained recognition as a strategy that can improve financial capability and security and consequently an increasing number of funders have expressed interest in this approach.  To support and cultivate this interest and advance coordinated and responsive philanthropy, the Asset Funders Network recently launched the Financial Coaching Working Group.  For purposes of the Working Group, financial coaching can be broadly defined as any intervention that draws on coaching techniques designed to develop a client's personal capability to manage their finances in accordance with their self-defined goals.
The Financial Coaching Working Group is made up of AFN members interested in supporting the strategic and evidence-based growth of the financial coaching field.  The Working Group is open to all AFN members who currently support financial coaching as well as members who are interested in learning more. 
There are three primary goals of the Financial Coaching Working Group:    
  1. Provide a forum for AFN members to learn more about the emerging field of financial coaching and share insights that will further inform funder's strategic investments;
  2. Encourage funders to leverage their funding and explore opportunities for coordination and collaboration;
  3. Connect funders and encourage them to share information about their financial coaching funding priorities with each other and with AFN to inform AFN's collaborative work on financial coaching.
The Working Group has several activities planned in 2016 to accomplish its goals.  In Fall 2016, the Working Group- in collaboration with the Center for Financial Security-will administer the second Financial Coaching Census, which assesses the size and scope of the financial coaching field and explores how best to support it.  Additionally, the Working Group will host educational webinars, virtual learning opportunities and forums for AFN members to have robust discussions about financial coaching and explore opportunities for funders to leverage their investments. 
For more information about the Financial Coaching Working Group or to join the Group, contact Karen Murrell at
CLICK HERE to see all of AFN's free resources on Financial Coaching.

The Important Role Funders Play in CSAs Highlighted at Dallas Roundtable

Hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the AFN recently brought together more than 60 representatives of foundations, financial institutions, municipal, and community-based entities to learn about multiple models for Children's Savings Accounts and various roles funders may play in supporting them.
Discussion explored findings and the role of philanthropy from four different CSA initiatives; two new school-based pilot projects in Texas, an initiative that builds on existing service streams, such as Head Start, and another approach leveraging the commitment of the business and economic sectors of the community combined with the school-based enrollment of kindergartners. 

To learn more, download a fact sheet on each of the CSA projects discussed below:

IDAs in Action - th e Transformative Power of Access to Financial Knowledge and Opportunity

Prosperity Kids, the CSA program initiated in 2013 in New Mexico, is featured in an in-depth video from New Mexico public broadcasting. 

After a general introduction on asset building as an antipoverty tool, the film cuts to interviews with parents and children involved with Prosperity Works, the parent organization for Prosperity Kids. 

Current and former IDA participants speak about the transformative power of savings and financial knowledge. The children speak of their plans for the futures, and parents describe changes in their children's views of savings.

The piece is part of a series, Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America, a multi-platform public media initiative on the impact of poverty. The JPB Foundation provided major funding for the series, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

Schools Chosen for Boston's Children's Savings Account Pilot 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recently announced five Boston Public Schools that will participate in the pilot of the city's new Children's Savings Account (CSA) program.

In Fall 2016, kindergartners at Harvard/Kent Elementary School, James Otis Elementary School, McKay K-8 School, Franklin D. Roosevelt K-8 School, and Conley Elementary School will receive individual savings accounts, seeded with at least $50, to help them start saving for their futures.

A major objective of the CSA program is to promote a "college-going culture," particularly among those families, often low-income or otherwise marginalized, who may not view college as a realistic goal for their children.

Research indicates that a student with up to $500 saved for higher education is three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. Another primary objective of the CSA program is to provide financial education to these families.

In 2014, Mayor Walsh created the Office of Financial Empowerment  (OFE)-the Office of Workforce Development department that oversees the CSA program-to link those seeking financial security and wealth generation with access to capital, financial education, and financial services.

The five participating schools, which serve the neighborhoods of Charlestown, East Boston, Hyde Park, and Roslindale, were selected from an open application process. The CSA pilot will lay the groundwork for the city-wide rollout of the CSA program, expected in Fall 2019.

READ MORE in the Boston Globe's coverage.  

LEARN MORE from the Boston Saves! Office of Financial Empowerment website.

Creating and Protecting Ownership and Economic Opportunity

MetLife Foundation's support recently produced and released, Creating and Protecting Ownership and Economic Opportunity, an  analysis of Self-Help Federal Credit Union's Fresh Start product that shows the loan helps most borrowers increase their credit score.
¨  Customers take out a loan they can afford.
¨  The loan funds go into a locked savings account.
¨  As customers pay off the loan, Self-Help reports the repayments to credit agencies.
¨  When the loan is paid off, customers receive the full amount of the loan, plus dividends.

Borrowers who started out unscored or with scores below 640 were those most likely to see a meaningful increase in their credit score. Unscored borrowers built an average score of 643, and scored borrowers who increased their score saw an average gain of 47 points. If those borrowers who saw a credit score increase applied for an auto loan from the credit union, they would save $3,200 on average in interest as a result of the credit score change.
DOWNLOAD the full report. 

Unstacking the Deck: 
Toward Financial Resilience for African-American Entrepreneurs in the South

The latest research-driven initiative led by CFED, Toward Financial Resilience for African-American Entrepreneurs in the South, aims to create and enhance solutions that help financially vulnerable African-American entrepreneurs weather cash flow difficulties and achieve financial well-being through business ownership.
Through interviews with over 30 practitioners who serve African-American entrepreneurs in the South, CFED pieced together a more complete understanding of the problem that needs solving. The research explores the ways in which these practitioners' clients experience cash flow difficulties, the drivers that cause these difficulties and the solutions currently in place to address them.

DOWNLOAD  the report.
REGISTER FOR WEBINAR Race, Entrepreneurial Success & the Wealth Divide, July 12.
READ Huffington Post's coverage of the latest research.

New FIELD Data Highlights U.S. Microenterprise Industry

Every year, FIELD at the Aspen Institute collects data on the size and performance of the U.S. microenterprise industry through the U.S. Microenterprise Census. In addition, FIELD works with a set of 20-30 microenterprise organizations each year to collect detailed data on the outcomes experienced by the clients they serve. These pages provide highlights from the data FIELD collected in 2015 on the work of microenterprise programs during fiscal year 2014 and collected in 2014 on client outcomes during 2013.

FIELD's body of industry data is housed on  The site's analytic tools allow users to interact with and  analyze data that FIELD has collected since 2008, or to learn more about the close to 550 org anizations that have submitted data through our Census. Reports that share results from data collected in previous years are also available. 

Visit to learn more about the U.S. microenterprise field, including questions such as:  
  • What are the largest microenterprise programs in the United States?
  • How do women clients of microenterprise organizations fare in terms of business survival and growth?
Read the 2014 EntrepreneurTracker Client Outcomes Report.

Separated at Birth

What is the most striking consequence of deepening income inequality? Could it be the rise of social immobility?
A report recently released by the Russell Sage Foundation, Opportunity, Mobility, and Increased Inequalityconcludes  that 60 percent of those born into a bottom-quintile family will themselves be in the bottom two quintiles of the income distribution at age forty, and that 56 percent of those born into a top-quintile family will be in the top two quintiles of the distribution at age forty.

If we focus just on the least well off, the United States today is moving toward "increasing inequality of opportunity," with the gains over the past several decades for those in the bottom of the income distribution modest, at best, or non-existent.

Poor Children: 
Who Stays Poor? 
Who Finds Prosperity?

Children born into  the bottom 20 percent  of U.S. families have  starkly different outcomes as adults depending on  their race,  their mother's marital status 
and their parents' education.

Katharine Bradbury and Robert Triest, economists at the Federal Reserve in Boston who are the editors of the report, argue that when inequality of outcome stems from entrepreneurship and "differences in work effort," the increase in inequality is justified and that therefore "no remedial changes in public policy are needed."  

If, however,  the increase in inequality results mostly from factors largely beyond the ability of individuals to control or counteract, then a strong case can be made for a public policy response.
DOWNLOAD the full report of Opportunity, Mobility and Increased Inequality

The  Kresge Foundation , a national foundation dedicated to creating opportunity for low income people in America's cities through grant making and social investment, is seeking applications and nominations for the position of Deputy Director, Human Services Program.
The Deputy Director will work in partnership with the Managing Director for the Health and Human Services Programs to lead the development and implementation of the program strategy. The ideal candidate will seek opportunities for expanding collaboration across the Foundation and with external partners and grantees while ensuring high performance across the Human Services team. S/he will design and implement systems to realize established goals, directly manage program staff, and oversee grant making processes.

PolicyLink family is growing! We are excited to announce three job openings in our Oakland office:

New America seeks a director for a new initiative devoted to the study of, and advocacy for, property rights. The individual we seek will already have substantial experience in the field of property rights, as a global development professional, civil servant, journalist, or academic. He or she will also be a strong, clear writer and editor, with a desire not only to advance the state of property rights research, but also to parse such research for a non-specialist audience, in the United States and around the world. The successful candidate will also have a good understanding of the impact of new technologies on property rights, which will be a particular focus of the initiative.


Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers Annual Conference
July 18th-20, 2016 |  Indianapolis
The Forum's 2016 Annual Conference is the nation's largest gathering of the CEOs and staffs of philanthropy-serving organizations in the field. This conference addresses issues impacting philanthropy and association management.

Philanthropy Northwest Annual Conference: Under One Sky
September 13, 2016 |  Missoula, MT
In celebration of PN's 40th anniversary, this conference will be the culmination of a year of reflecting, celebrating and inspiring of all the work accomplished together.  
In addition to pre-conference site visits, workshops and other learning opportunities, a highlight of the conference is the evening under the stars at the Grant Creek Ranch hosted by the Washington family.


Asset Funders Network and EITC Funders Network Gathering  at CFED's 2016 Assets Learning Conference 
September 29th, 2016 | Washington, DC

Join funders and national field leaders for a robust conversation about improving the lives of low-income working families and best practices in linking the EITC to savings and programs to increase financial well-being.  Stay tuned for more information!

Innovation Conference
October 9-11, 2016 |  San Francisco, CA
Technology is changing how we live, work and play.   The Innovation Conference will bring together philanthropists, private foundations, community foundations, corporate foundations and CSR professionals to explore how emerging technologies can be used for social good.
Join Silicon Valley Community Foundation in uncovering how technology is transforming the areas of education, health, jobs and the economy, and big data - and how the philanthropic community can play a role.

Philanthropy Southwest's 68th Annual Conference
October 27-29, 2016  |  C olorado Springs, CO

The Philanthropy Southwest Annual Conference draws several hundred attendees each year. 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.

SAVE THE DATE!  2016 Post-Election Briefing
November 16-17, 2016 |  Washington, DC

Assessing the new policy and funding environment that will be created after the 2016 elections will be critical as we build compelling and successful agendas for advancing our work to support low-income families, workers and communities.  Please mark your calendars for this free, invitation-only funders briefing on the national and state elections.  Join GIST (Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce) for interactive sessions on:  
  • Election outcomes and what it suggests in terms of opportunities and challenges facing families and communities across the nation;
  • Understanding 2016 American electorate (who voted and why);
  • Implications of the elections for effective communications and messaging;
  • Roundtable discussions on what this means for our work; and
  • Reflections on opportunities for individual and collective action in philanthropy.
Contact:   Registration will open in early summer 2016.


Like us on Facebook     Follow us on Twitter     View our profile on LinkedIn