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Every four years, our nation asks the populace eligible to vote to become informed and democratically choose a President who represents a pathway as well as the face of the nation going forward. For just the third time in our history, the electorate can choose a person who is not a White man. This new diversity in Presidential Candidates is both a reflection of the nation's growing diversity and an embrace, if halting, of inclusiveness. Indeed, diversity and inclusiveness are great strengths we all value.  

While the results of the election will matter on a great many issues important to each of us, it is worth noting both campaigns have made great promises about jumpstarting economic prosperity-although the approaches are radically different. 

Within either framework, the challenge for philanthropy will be continued focus on restoring economic opportunity and support movement toward prosperity within the public policy context.  Over the past decade, growing numbers of philanthropic institutions have made it clear that if we want to effectively better the lives of men, women and children living in America we have to continue setting our priorities on asset-building along with an intentional focus on reducing the systemically created racial, ethnic and gender wealth gaps.  

The philanthropic goals of seeding and expanding meaningful opportunity, achieving economic justice, and dismantling or reforming the systems that preserve and institutionalize disparities and inequities will be of primary importance regardless of the election results. Funding not for profits and university researchers has actively taught us that only by intentionally increasing the capacity of our workers, youth, and children to achieve financial security for the short and long term can our nation and our communities truly prosper.

Democracy depends on informed choices not bias.  In every part of the nation, philanthropy builds on best practice and informed programming choices by placing investments that:  
  • Support emerging entrepreneurs to create new jobs
  • Develop and grow financial coaches to work with community residents
  • Increase college aspirations
  • Expand ways for savers to build assets, to become homeowners, to have alternatives to predatory lenders, and to succeed with new business ownership models
  • Fund research and advocates to teach policymakers about what right side up tax reform at the Federal level or EITC expansion at the state level looks like
  • Address the social determinants of health 
  • Increase holistic family approaches such as expanding 2 gen opportunities.
By doing all of this, philanthropy makes known its continued commitment to stay focused on the true task at hand: promoting economic opportunity and financial security for all.

Here's to our continued, if not increased, efforts to actively inform our elected officials and challenging them to do no less. And by doing so, we support the nation's democracy.

Joseph A. Antolín 
Executive Director
Asset Funders Network


CWF's Wealth/Health Strategy Gains Traction

The California Wellness Foundation (CWF) recognizes the connection between income and health, and support work to expand economic and job opportunities.  

CWF's efforts with the Alameda County Public Health Department in California are creating economic conditions that lift people out of poverty and narrow income inequality that then provide increased access to health care.
This unique partnership understands that health is more than health care and how a healthy and inclusive economy is the foundation for a healthy neighborhood.  The creation and growth of the Castlemont Community Market enables residents to shop locally in the Castlemont neighborhood, resulting in more money staying within the neighborhood and increased resources for overall health. 


Investing in Business Ownership for Former Prisoners Helps Narrow Racial Wealth Gap

The formerly incarcerated face multiple obstacles and a lack of economic opportunity as they navigate re-entry. Business ownership and self-employment can play a crucial role in supporting formerly incarcerated individuals, particularly people and communities of color who are disproportionately affected by incarceration rates.

AFN's latest Strategy Spotlight, Prison to Proprietor: Entrepreneurship as a Re-entry Strategy; Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap,  shows how the formerly incarcerated face multiple obstacles and a lack of economic opportunity as they navigate re-entry.  It examines the crucial role business ownership and self-employment play in supporting formerly incarcerated individuals, particularly people and communities of color who are disproportionately affected by incarceration rates.

Programs featured in this Strategy Spotlight  show promising strategies that provide the formerly incarcerated with the tools to support themselves and their families through business ownership. Evidence from these programs show lower recidivism rates which translate to reduced costs to government and society.

Funders play an important role in reducing the racial wealth gap and strengthening families by investing in business development and ownership opportunities that build hope and opportunity for the formerly incarcerated.



6th Annual Asset Building Symposium Breakfast - Fostering Economic Equity In A Changing Bay Area

November 3, 2016  |  8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Join Bay Area funders, nonprofits, public agencies, and policymakers for a conversation over breakfast around fostering economic equity in the Bay Area's rapidly changing economy. This event is designed to bring together the Bay Area asset-building field, from the experts to the newbies!

Conver-Session topics will include:  
  •   The Changing Landscape of Low-Wage Work
  •   New Ways to Connect Health & Wealth
  •   Closing the Racial Wealth Gap through Microenterprise
  •   Homeownership in a Rapidly Gentrifying Environment
Registration is closed at this time, but waitlist opportunities may be available - contact  Mona Masri, Western Region Program Officer, Asset Funders Network,  to inquire.

November 3, 2016  |  3:00pm - 5:00pm ET
Philanthropy New York offices
Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEPs) are a staple of youth development programming in cities across the country. SYEP is often one of the first formal employment opportunities for young adults. Participants learn job skills, work with other young people and adults, and bring home a paycheck.

Beyond a seasonal paycheck, Summer Jobs Connect positions first job experiences as entry points for lifelong success in the financial mainstream.

Our panel will discuss the program model, as well as recent successes and challenges in a program that has run in New York City for the last three years. We will look at opportunities for philanthropy to learn from and build on this important work of integrating banking and financial empowerment opportunities into employment programs more widely.  Register by November 2.

November 17, 2016
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CT
Communities Foundation of Texas
This Forum will provide funders, nonprofits, and policymakers with a deep learning opportunity exploring a new approach for moving working families toward financial independence: The Working Family Success model.  

This half day program brings together the North Texas nonprofit "Early Adopters" of this approach as well as the grantmakers underwriting the implementation of the model for a candid discussion about early learning, key lessons, and plans for 2017 and beyond.

Working Families Success provides a framework for integrating targeted programming delivery along with financial supports that are specifically designed to make it easier for low-income families to obtain critically needed work-support and financial capability services. 


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.


AFN Member's Slow Start Gains Traction Fast

Participating in the North Texas Asset Funders Network provided an opportunity for the Dallas Women's Foundation to leverage grant dollars, elevate its profile, expand its reach, advance its mission and strengthen its impact. 


Student Debt May Be Contributing to Racial Inequality

The pursuit of higher education may be exacerbating gaps in financial well-being between Blacks and Whites, rather than narrowing them.

Black Americans who recently graduated from college owe close to twice as much on their student loans as whites.

Blacks who graduated with bachelor's degrees in 2008 owed $52,726, on average, on their student debt four years later, compared with $28,006 among whites, according to a new Brookings study made public this month. Black graduates, on average, were more likely to fall behind on their education loans.

T he federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating the issue, with a focus on how debt collectors and loan servicers are treating Black borrowers, who default at much higher rates than their white counterparts. Officials also worry that too much student debt among black Americans could be preventing economic mobility.


There's high interest in cracking down on payday lending and it's getting big and nasty.

Federal regul ation of the payday loan industry is on the table, and the latest proposal has all sides seething.
In announcing its proposal in June, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) cited its serious concerns that risky lender practices were "pushing borrowers into debt traps." That's because within a month, almost 70 percent of payday loan borrowers take out a second loan, and one in five new borrowers ends up taking out at least 10 or more loans, paying more fees and interest on the same debt.
The agency's proposed rules would not prohibit all payday, auto title or other hig h-cost loans, but they would require lenders to adopt stricter standards to determine if consumers have the ability to repay.

CFPB has received about a million public comments on rules governing payday lenders since issuing the proposal in June, according to people familiar with the matter. That figure is the highest in the agency's five-year history.
Stay tuned as AFN continues to follow this effort.


Helping Workers Get Ahead by Expanding Paid Sick Leave and 
Fighting for Equal Pay

Last month the White House highlighted two new actions to further support workers.   

First, the Department of Labor finalized a rule
to require employees of businesses doing work on federal contracts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year.  The final rule, which goes into effect January 1, 2017, will:
  • Give additional paid sick leave to 1.15 million people working on federal contracts, including nearly 600,000 employees who do not currently have even a single day of paid sick leave.  Workers will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on (or in connection with) a covered federal  contract, up to 56 hours in a year or at any point in time.
  • Allow workers to use paid sick leave for their own illnesses, preventive care, or other health care needs; to care for a family member or loved one who is ill, seeking preventive care, or otherwise in need of care; and for absences resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 
  • Improve the health and performance of employees of federal contractors and bring benefits packages offered by federal contractors in line with leading firms, ensuring they remain competitive in the search for dedicated and talented employees.
  • Protect public health by reducing the transmission of illnesses in the workplace from sick employees to coworkers or their customers.
  • Respond to employers' concerns by ensuring coordination with existing "paid time off" policies that give workers a flexible bank of leave; existing collective bargaining agreements; and multiemployer plans. 
Second, the EEOC, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, published its finalized revisions to its EEO-1 form, which for the first time will collect summary pay data, broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity, from all businesses with 100 or more employees.  This data collection, which stems from a recommendation by the President's Equal Pay Task Force and a Presidential Memorandum issued in 2014, is expected to cover roughly 63 million employees and 60,000 employers. This action will help EEOC and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) better focus investigations on employers who are illegally shortchanging workers' pay based on their gender, race, or ethnicity.


What is Financial Coaching: High-Level Overview Available

Financial coaching is a strategy to help people improve their financial well-being. It involves an application of coaching techniques designed to develop an individual's capability to manage their finances in accordance with their self-defined goals.   Learn learn more, including the difference between financial coaching, counseling and education. 

CLICK HERE   to review AFN's summary on Financial Coaching.

CFPB Research Brief on Financial Coaching

The CFPB commissioned a study to rigorously evaluate the impact of financial coaching. The study found that access to financial coaching resulted in measurable gains in three areas: money management; objective financial health metrics like savings, debt levels, and credit score; and subjective feelings of financial confidence and financial well-being. You can learn more about the findings in the research brief Financial Coaching: A Strategy to Improve Financial Well-Being.  


Beyond the Box in Higher Ed

The Obama Administration announced last month that 61 higher education institutions and systems have committed to take the   Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge , joining the 25 signatories that took the pledge when it was first announced in June. 

In total, the 61 higher education signatories, representing 172 individual campuses, currently serve over 1.8 million students, and include Columbia University, Cornell University, and the University of California System.

During his  remarks at Rutgers University   last year, the President spoke about a smarter approach to reducing crime and enhancing public safety that begins with investing in all of our communities, and met with participants of NJ-STEP, an initiative that provides incarcerated individuals with the opportunity to enroll in college courses before their release.

By accepting this pledge, higher ed institutions commit to:
  • Adopting fair chance admissions practices like the Beyond the Box initiative, which determines whether justice-related questions are necessary to make an informed admissions decision.
  • Empowering professors and students who want to teach or are teaching in correctional facilities.
  • Ensuring internships and job training opportunities are available to individuals with criminal records.

DOWNLOAD AFN's latest  Strategy Spotlight, Prison to Proprietor , to learn how Funders play an important role in reducing the racial wealth gap by investing in business development and ownership opportunities that build hope and opportunity for the formerly incarcerated.


Reduced Middle Class Wages Stagnate U.S. Economy

In the Washington Post a few weeks ago, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers flagged a working paper published earlier this summer by the International Monetary Fund that detects a massive downturn in consumer spending in the US in recent decades and ties it directly to the declining incomes of the middle class.
Written by Ali Alichi, Kory Kantenga, and Juan Solé, the paper didn't receive very much attention when it was released, but Summers, who has been pushing the idea that the US economy has entered a period of "secular stagnation" says that's a mistake.
The idea of secular stagnation is that a combination of factors including slower population growth and the reduced impact of innovation on productivity has created a persistent economic state in which demand is too low to support robust economic growth, and can't be stimulated even by low-interest rates.
The paper finds a strong link between income polarization -- the shrinking percentage of US households defined as "middle income" while the ranks of both the very wealthy and the very poor swell -- and a significant decline in consumer spending.



With the U.S. election in its final stretch, Brookings experts have ramped up their efforts to provide solutions on nearly every issue the next president will face. 

The  Election 2016 and America's Future  series features 29 policy briefs on everything from race inequalities in health and housing, to reducing poverty and improving opportunity to criminal justice reform.   
Click on the titles below for more information on the issue:    


The Ford Foundation seeks a creative, dynamic Program Officer to join its Inclusive Economies team.

This Program Officer will be part of a global effort to help advance an inclusive economy, where opportunity and prosperity are widely shared regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or caste-through collaborations with governments, business, and civil society.
The Ford Foundation is looking for a thoughtful and engaged team player who has led cross-cutting social justice strategies and has subject matter expertise related to inclusive economies in the US and globally-particularly on the topics of quality work and economic security, including, ideally, consumer financial protection public policy-related  experience. 

For more information or to apply, please click here.

2016 Post-Election Briefing

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. 

Join GIST (Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce) for interactive sessions on:   e lection outcomes and what it suggests in terms of opportunities  and challenges facing families and communities across the nation; u nderstanding 2016 American electorate (who voted and why); i mplications of the elections for effective communications and  messaging; r oundtable discussions on what this means for our work; and r eflections on opportunities for individual and collective action in philanthropy.   REGISTER NOW


2017 Funders' Network 

Annual Conference

Funders from across North America will convene in Minnesota's state capital on the shores of the Mississippi River for learning, networking, sharing, and inspiration.   LEARN MORE

Accelerate Ideas into Action
May 2-4, 2017  |   Indianapolis, IN

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

AFN's unique funders 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.

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