Funding Strategies, News, and  Events in Philanthropy
About AFN  |   Steering Committee  |   Network  |   Events  |   Join AFN


   Fall Newsletter
   From the desk of AFN Director, Joe Antolín

If you are reading this newsletter, my guess is that you have chosen to think about how you and your institution can help transform the promise of financial security into a reality. 
Asset Funders Network ( AFN) and its members see the role of philanthropy as fundamentally optimistic, using proven strategies that work to preserve and evolve the American opportunity for social mobility and economic stability. Grantmakers understand there are a variety of time-tested, innovative and promising strategies within the big tent we collectively call "asset building." As funders learn, consider, and ultimately invest in forward-looking, asset-building strategies, AFN works to increase the capacity of its members. Through knowledge sharing, AFN empowers foundations and grantmakers to leverage their resources to make more effective and strategic funding decisions, allowing each dollar invested to have greater impact.
Nearly every week, AFN staff finds itself in ever-widening circles of funders who are thinking about or have already invested in responsive, asset-building strategies for their communities across the U.S. Asset building is by no means exclusive to our urban centers. We are discovering the innovations and potential for growth in asset-building investments in small and mid-market communities, in rural and urban settings, and in institutions with a broad mandate in their community, as well as those with narrowly defined purposes.
As part of AFN's effort to help educate funders by sharing the latest ideas on philanthropic support for asset-building solutions, AFN is elevating investment strategies in two new ways: 1) through a new AFN series, AFN Strategy Spotlights, where we focus on a specific investment strategy for achieving a larger goal, and 2) in our online newsletter. This month's newsletter highlights two Children Savings Accounts-funded strategies that are showing real promise in the Midwest, especially in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout the state of Indiana. See below for our first AFN Strategy Spotlight on the important issue of standardization within the growing field of financial coaching. 
In addition, the AFN Steering Committee recently adopted an open engagement structure that encourages member institutions to participate in helping AFN set priorities, deliver on its value, develop ways to engage with and learn from more funders, and advance a shared vision of a future with greater opportunity, equity, wealth, and mobility. Members should look for more information in the coming months.
We value your input. Take a look and learn how you can share your expertise to grow the asset-building field. Contact Annika Little or me to learn more. 


Members Making Impact
This month, we put the spotlight on the impactful efforts of AFN Members

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently announced a total investment of $11.6 million to 14 community-based workforce organizations that have received grants as part of two new pilot study programs to increase employment, workforce mobility and family economic security across the country. The two programs, Supporting Transitions to Employment for Parents (STEPS) and Mobility and Opportunity for Valuable Employment by Upskilling Parents (MOVE UP), are leading on-the-ground efforts to ensure that more low-income parents have the skills and opportunities to move onto and up the ladder of economic success.
Designed to change conditions for both parents and their children, the STEPS grantees are working to provide unemployed mothers with access to short-term, demand-driven, sector-based workforce training, education and support that can lead to employment.
The MOVE UP grantees are partnering with employers to offer incumbent working parents in low-wage, entry-level jobs access to training programs, career development and work supports, like child care and transportation, so that they can move up in their careers and provide better opportunities for their children.
To view the list of grantees and details around each grant,  click here.
Recently, Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) joined municipal leaders to announce a third wave expansion of  their Financial Empowerment Center initiative through In-Kind Technical Assistance grants to four additional cities: Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; and Detroit, MI.
The grant provides robust technical assistance and capacity-building resources aimed at building, launching, and sustaining municipal Financial Empowerment Centers to provide professional one-on-one financial counseling to enable residents to address their financial needs and plan for their futures.  Clients receive assistance with money management, budgeting, reducing debt, establishing and improving credit, connecting to safe and affordable banking services, building savings, and referrals to other services and organizations.
Originally developed by New York City in 2008 during the Bloomberg Administration, CFE was able to replicate the Financial Empowerment Center model and take it to five additional cities: Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio, TX.
Based on overwhelming municipal demand following the success of each of the replications, the CFE Fund expanded the program through in-kind technical assistance grants in 2014 to: Cleveland, OH; Hawaii County, HI; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA . 
LEARN more about the Financial Empowerment Center Replication Initiative.

Strategy Spotlight: Standard Metrics for Financial Coaching
I n response to the tremendous interest in AFN's July Webinar - Financial Coaching: Strategies and Outcomes for Grantmakers, AFN is pleased to spotlight the important topic of common metrics for the financial coaching field.  

In partnership with t he University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Financial Security, AFN has developed two short resource papers outlining the case for standard metrics, an overview of a ready to use approach for standard metrics leveraging the  Financial  Capability Scale.

Click to Read:

Financial Coaching & The Financial Capability Scale: Guide to Using the Scale

Financial Coaching & The Financial Capability Scale: Moving to Implementation

CSAs: Promising Initiatives Take Hold
As Children Savings Account (CSA) programs have emerged in recent years and shown a strong effort in encouraging students to aspire to continue their education after high school, help them prepare for it, and help their parents pay for it, AFN is committed to sharing with funders the latest ideas and initiatives on philanthropic support for CSAs.
AFN speaks directly with those making strategic investments in and/or managing promising CSA initiatives to hear how their programs work and what makes them unique.
The following two examples demonstrate real promise in the Midwest, especially in St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout the state of Indiana.

AFN Events

5th Annual Bay Area Asset Building Symposium:
Building a More Equitable Bay Area
November 12, 2015, San Francisco, CA
Income inequality and persistent racial gaps in health, wealth, income, employment, education, and opportunity continue to prevent low-income individuals and people of color from realizing their full economic potential. Despite the many obstacles and hurdles working families must navigate, innovative cross-sector partnerships offer hope and solutions. 

Supported by progressive philanthropy, social justice groups, nonprofits and local government leaders are coming together to forge partnerships that build equity and boost economic mobility for all. Join Bay Area funders, practitioners, advocates and policymakers on November 12 for a conversation about using asset-building practices, policies and strategies to build a more equitable Bay Area. 

This symposium is being organized by the Bay Area Asset Funders Network and co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.   Check out  AFN's website  in the coming week for additional details and registration.

AFN Member Exclusive

Coming soon in October - a special a webinar briefing just for AFN Members.  

Interested in Financial Coaching? Want to know more about the effectiveness of financial coaching?  Join AFN and special guests from the Urban Institute for Insights from a new Evaluation of the Impacts and Implementation Approaches of Financial Coaching Programs.  More information and registration information coming soon.

North Texas Funders Forum- Save the Date
November 20, 2015

Join funders and practitioners from across the metroplex for an interactive forum about community-based strategies that improve family financial security.  Participants will hear about new approaches and opportunities for connecting low-income consumers with financial tools that can help working families move from surviving to thriving.  More information and registration information coming soon. 

Spotlight on Policy: California's New Asset Building Policies
December 1, 2015, Los Angeles, CA
As policymakers grapple with how to ensure economic security for the 11 million Californians living in asset poverty, two promising new policies are poised to have a positive impact:  State-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Secure Choice Retirement Savings Accounts. 
Join Los Angeles funders, non-profit practitioners, and policymakers on December 1st from 9:30 - 3:00 to learn more about these two policies and what need to happen now and in 2016 to ensure their successful implementation.  We will hear from State Treasurer John Chiang and Controller and State Controller Betty Yee, along with policy and advocacy experts at this day-long event.   More information and registration information coming soon.

Narrowing the Wealth Gap

What's Worse than the Gender Wage Gap? The Wealth Gap

Women working full time earn about 78 percent of what men do, based on median earnings data. But the gender wealth gap is even wider.  

CNBC's coverage of AFN's latest brief, "Women and Wealth: Insights for Grantmakers," interviews the author, Mariko Chang, and highlights how the new report identifies ways grants can be used to help close the gender wealth gap. 

NASCC Survey Provides Clearer Picture on the Racial Wealth Gap

Much has been written about income inequality, but inequality of wealth (or net worth) is particularly pronounced along racial and ethnic lines, where the gap has widened over the past 30 years. 

Unlike existing surveys on assets and debts, the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey provides a more complete picture of the wealth position of communities of color, with the added benefit of providing analysis at the local level.   The survey also ascertains unconventional financial information, such as families' use of payday lending and remittances.
Last month Professors William Darity Jr. of Duke University and Darrick Hamilton of The New School discussed the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color.   VIEW the webinar.
Using data collected by the NASCC survey, the Boston Fed issued a report that demonstrates when analyzed by race, wealth accumulation is vastly unequal.  The net worth of whites as compared with nonwhites is staggeringly divergent. READ The Color of Wealth in Boston.

Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family

Three years ago, Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter published an article in The Atlantic titled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." The article sparked a nationwide debate and quickly become the most read piece in the history of the magazine. As the massive response to her article indicated, Dr. Slaughter's blunt honesty about the realities facing working parents today resonated with countless women, and men, around the country.
Now, in her new book, Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family, Dr. Slaughter takes these lessons and struggles a step further, offering a blueprint for the future of gender equality and workplace policy. In Unfinished Business, Dr. Slaughter challenges the "half-truths" both men and women cling to (whether consciously or not), makes the case for why this is a human issue (rather than a women's issue), and presents her vision for how we move forward to a future where men and women have both successful careers and fulfilling lives outside of work.   READ NYTimes coverage .

The Power of Credit

Can Poor Credit Make You 
Pay More For Car Insurance?

"How well you drive may have little to do with how much you pay," Consumer Reports says.
The consumer watchdog organization learned that in nearly every state, a poor insurance credit score will cost much more than a DWI conviction or even an accident Other factors include a "widow penalty" charged to women who've lost their husbands, higher charges for female customers in general, and lower rates for customers with higher levels of education.

Only three states, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, prohibit the use of credit factors in determining auto insurance premiums. 
Insurance companies use about 30 of the 130 different factors that go into your regular credit score. It is possible to have a good FICO credit score, but a lower insurance credit score, because the factors selected are different - and used differently by the different companies.
READ Consumer Reports article.  

READ AFN's The Power of Credit Building: Credit Building Strategies for Funders 

Microbusiness / Small Business

What Makes a Job Good?

We know microbusinesses create jobs - but are they good jobs? Through interviews with more than 100 employees, FIELD has documented that workers value the flexibility, fulfillment, and skill-building opportunities offered by their microbusiness jobs.
FIELD's findings, with the support of Annie E. Casey, also illuminates the role microbusinesses play in offering opportunity to millennials and those who struggle most to find good jobs; including immigrant DREAMers, people with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, seniors, women working to balance working and caregiving, and workers without a college degree.
In an economy that is creating many low-quality jobs, the benefits of microbusiness extend beyond just creating jobs, to creating good quality jobs.   Read the Report.

New Bill of Rights Aimed at Protecting Small Business

To protect Main Street from predatory lending, a coalition of nonprofit and industry lenders, credit marketplaces, brokers, think tanks, and small business advocates launched the Small Business Borrowers' Bill of Rights at a special event last month in Washington DC.
Karen Mills, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the keynote speaker at the event said, "Small business owners are seeing the number of alternative sources for financing their companies grow at an unprecedented rate, and while this is a good thing in terms of increasing access to capital, borrower protections have not caught up. Seeing industry and other stakeholders take responsible steps like this toward ensuring the basic rights and safeguards is noteworthy and will help shape the dialogue going forward in a way that protects America's small businesses, without stifling innovation and access."
The Small Business Borrowers' Bill of Rights was designed to foster greater transparency and accountability  across the small business lending sector and outlines six key rights all small business borrowers deserve:
  1. The Right to Transparent Pricing and Terms, including a right to see an annualized interest rate and all fees
  2. The Right to Non-Abusive Products, so that borrowers don't get trapped in a vicious cycle of expensive re-borrowing
  3. The Right to Responsible Underwriting, so that borrowers are not placed in loans they are unable to repay
  4. The Right to Fair Treatment from Brokers, so that borrowers are not steered into the most expensive loans
  5. The Right to Inclusive Credit Access, without discrimination
  6. The Right to Fair Collection Practices, to prevent harassment and unfair treatment 
The full text of the Small Business Borrowers' Bill of Rights and other information is available here.   SEE Forbes' coverage .
Funders Better Positioned to Advance Microenterprise through Knowledge and Innovation
The US Microenterprise Census Highlights report is a unique national source of information on the microenterprise industry.  It offers funders data to better understand and communicate a picture of the national microenterprise industry.  It enables microenterprise program comparisons on entrepreneur demographics, microenterprise activities, program costs, and performance.  

Cities Lead Financial Inclusion Efforts
How Cities Set Financial Inclusion Goals to Help Struggling Families

This is the third post in the blog series from the National League of Cities that explains what financial inclusion is and provides examples and action steps to help city leaders start or strengthen financial inclusion efforts. 
As strategies to help families stay connected to the financial mainstream become both more prevalent and innovative, developing a vision and goals is necessary for city leaders to implement effective programs that improve services for financially vulnerable families. 
This NLC blog post focuses on the importance of developing a vision and setting goals to help provide a safety net for struggling families and strengthen local economies.   READ the post.  

Creative Lending
Lending Circles Bridge the Gap

While a range of creative and socially-conscientious products have been developed, Mission Asset Fund's (MAF) Lending Circles are recognized for their capacity to meet consumers where they are and bridge cultural gaps that lead to the exclusion of certain populations from the banking sector.    
Unlike most financial security initiatives that almost exclusively focus on deficits, while overlooking opportunities inherent in their clients, MAF employs an asset-based approach that builds on the assets people already have and the activities in which they are to survive outside of the financial mainstream. Another component MAF's success is its smart use of technology. With an online interface that allows other organizations across the country to implement its product design, MAF's Lending Circles are now offered by 42 nonprofit organizations in 14 states.
LEARN MORE about MAF's Lending Circles.
Events in the Field

October 5-7, 2015, Chandler, AZ
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.   Click to Register .

529s and Child Savings Accounts: New Strategies to Promote
Savings and Development  for America's Children
October 7-8, 2015, St. Louis, MO

Don't miss your chance to join industry leaders in St. Louis for an in-depth look at the emergence of 529 college savings plans and child savings accounts as promising strategies to promote financial inclusion, financial capability, child development, and college attendance 
and completion.  
Click here  to learn more and register.  

WEBINAR: Immigrant Families and Tax Credits - What's at Stake?
October 13, 2015, Online Event
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are widely recognized as critical income supports for millions of low-income families. Despite paying taxes, many otherwise eligible immigrant families are denied participation in the EITC.  

Join the EITC Funders Network and GCIR on October 13, 2015 at 1pm EST to l earn more about immigrant families' eligibility for these important credits, proposals to limit eligibility, and what role funders can play in protecting immigrant families' access to tax credits.
Speakers include  Patrick Hain, Annie E. Casey Foundation;  Wendy Cervantes, First Focus; and  Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli, National Immigration Law Center.  

Click here to learn more and register.  

Philanthropy Southwest's 67th Annual Conference
October 22-24, 2015,  Santa Fe, NM
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  to review registration info.

Equity Summit
October 27-29, 2015,  Los Angeles, CA
PolicyLink hosts its fifth national summit hosted focused on inclusion, justice, and prosperity in the urgent issues of today and connect them to the creativity and bold vision of the equity movement. Advocates from Ferguson to New Orleans, Minneapolis to New York, and all points in between, will be part of interactive panels, tours, and in-depth, skills-building sessions that showcase how local leaders can impact policy change.   Equity Summit 2015: All in for inclusion, justice, and prosperity. 

Southern California Grantmakers Annual Conference
October 28, 2015, 
Los Angeles, CA
Southern California Grantmakers premiere annual event for private, public, corporate, and family foundations, as well as corporate giving, individual philanthropists, government grantmakers, and philanthropic consultants.  

For more information,  click here .

Making Waves:  GIST Fall Meeting
November 2-3, 2015,  Washington, DC

The Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce (GIST) invites you to attend Making Waves: Philanthropy, Communications Investments and Creating Change.

This meeting, open to foundation representatives and philanthropic advisors only, features i nteractive discussions on narrative as a tool for social change, public engagement through pop culture and the arts, building communications infrastructure through networks and hubs, the impact of the changing landscape of the media in how we do our work and more!   Click here to learn more and register..

Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference
November 11, 2015, St. Louis, MO
This annual conference provides comprehensive, educational and professional growth for those committed to excellence in the practice of grantsmanship. 

The conference draws grant proposal writers, grant managers, nonprofit administrators, and consultants of all skill levels, in all areas of practice. 
Click here to learn more and register.
The Collaboration Conference
November 16-17, 2015, Houston, TX

Collaboration allows grantmakers to leverage the expertise and resources of multiple players toward more meaningful impact on systemic problems. It can take many forms, requires time and frequently involves working in ways that run counter to how philanthropy traditionally operates. 

The Collaboration Conference is designed for grantmakers who have experience with some form of collaboration and are looking for ways to improve their approach to be more productive partners and provide better support for nonprofit collaboration.
Click here to learn more and register.
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

Connect, educate and empower.  Join the conversation.  To join or find out more about AFN, contact Kristen Johnson, AFN Membership Coordinator.