EITC Funders Network eNewsletter
Issue 31 I June 2016 
A Note From the Coordinator

Dear EITC Funders Network,
 
As you may know, The EITC Funders Network has been connecting funders interested in EITC-linked strategies and disseminating information based on field-wide issues and concerns since 2004. After twelve years, we have close to 300 members across 46 states. The needs of our membership drive the work of the Network, and we are always grateful for your feedback.
 
A special thank you to those of you who participated in the 2016 Membership Survey earlier this year. A full write-up of the survey results can be found here, but I wanted to share some of the overarching themes that came out of the evaluation.
 
  • The majority of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with the Network, overall. In terms of specific services, the highest satisfaction scores were awarded to email updates, the eNewsletters, and the webinars.
  • Respondents noted the importance of linking the EITC to other asset-building initiatives and also framing conversations and resources specifically from the point of view of funders.
  • Substantive knowledge and the dissemination of resources related to the EITC were named as primary strengths of the Network. More opportunities to network with other funders and sharing lessons learned were named as suggestions for moving forward.
 
Your input has been helpful in assessing Network activities and planning for future work.  Please know that we are always open to your feedback. Feel free to pick up the phone or send us an email with additional thoughts on ways we can help support your work and collaborate more effectively.
 
 
Sincerely,

Ami Nagle, Coordinator
EITC Funders Network
919-493-4393
ami@eitcfunders.org

Inside This Issue
  • News from the Field / Research News:
    • States without EITCs Rank Low on Social Justice Indicators
    • Tax Preparation Fees, the EITC, and the Case for Certification
    • What it Means to Live in a Banking Desert
    • Lessons Learned from the Work Supports Strategies Initiative
  • Network Events:
    • Upcoming Webinar: Leveraging the Tax Moment to Build Financial Capability
    • Recent Webinar: Women's Economic Opportunity and the EITC
    • Save the Date: EITC Funders Network Gathering at CFED's 2016 Assets Learning Conference
  • From our Partners:
    • Asset Funding Network Strategy Spotlight: Building Wealth through Tax Reform
Interview with a Funder InterviewwithaFunder
Steven Lee
Managing Director, Income Security
The Robin Hood Foundation

The Robin Hood Foundation, New York's largest poverty-fighting philanthropic organization, is taking on a bold new initiative to enroll currently unenrolled, but eligible low-income New Yorkers in the EITC and other public benefits. We recently sat down with Robin Hood Managing Director Steven Lee to learn more about the Foundation's "Billion Dollar Challenge."
News from the Field / Research News News
 
EITC POLICY:
States without EITCs Rank Low on Social Justice Indicators
 
Loyola University's Jesuit Social Research Institute has issued a report  that assesses how all 50 states are faring in three overlapping dimensions of social justice: poverty, racial disparities, and immigrant exclusion. As this Tax Credits for Working Families post points out, the states at the very bottom of the overall rankings (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and New Mexico) are also states that either have no state EITC or a state-level EITC at a very low percentage of the federal credit. In contrast, states such as Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts - all of which offer some of the highest state-level EITCs in the nation - ranked near the top of the list. Additional maps and index data are also available. 
OUTREACH & FREE TAX PREP:
Tax Preparation Fees, the EITC, and the Case for Certification

The Progressive Policy Institute's (PPI) new report highlights the ways in which tax preparer fees diminish the value of the EITC for low-income working families. The report, a follow-up to a 2002 Brookings Institution/PPI report on the same topic, finds that the pattern of exploitation of EITC recipients documented in the earlier study is ongoing 14 years later. Workers eligible for the EITC continue to spend large sums (an average of $400) at tax preparation chains and these chains are targeting low-income communities as they cluster in high EITC-zip codes. The report also cites GAO studies showing high error rates by paid tax preparers. Suggested remedies include tax simplification and outreach on VITA as well as requiring competency tests for tax preparers.  The Center for American Progress lays out the case for regulating tax preparers in this post: 3 Reasons Why We Should Certify All Paid Tax Preparers .

FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT:
What it Means to Live in a Banking Desert

A recent Atlantic article, Life in a Banking Desert , explores the implications of the increasing percentage of households living in communities without access to mainstream banking services. The article cites a March New York Fed study that highlights the decades-long trend of bank branches closing in lower-income communities and communities of color. Similar to convenience stores moving into food deserts and impacting communities' physical health, alternative financial services providers such as check-cashing stores and payday lenders moving into "banking deserts" keep residents from building long-term financial health.

BENEFITS ACCESS:
Lessons Learned from the Work Support Strategies (WSS) Initiative

Approximately five years ago, the   Work Support Strategies (WSS) initiative provided a group of diverse states (Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, and Idaho) with funding and technical assistance to streamline and integrate the delivery of key work supports. In April, CLASP released a comprehensive report on lessons learned from the significant work to integrate and align across systems in WSS states. A summary of each state's context and a video from each state can also be found here , and findings from the initiative's evaluation will be presented at the Research and Evaluation Conference on Self Sufficiency on Friday, June in 3rd in Washington, DC.

Network Events NetworkEvents

UPCOMING: 
Leveraging the Tax Moment to Build Financial Capability
A webinar co-sponsored by the Tax Opportunity Network, JP Morgan Chase, and the EITC Funders Network
Thursday, June 9th, 2016 
2-3:30pm EST
Please join the Taxpayer Opportunity Network, JPMorgan Chase and the EITC Funders Network for an engaging discussion on lessons learned and opportunities for discovery about leveraging the tax moment to build financial capability for low- to moderate-income taxpayers. Click here for more information and to register for the webinar. 

RECENT WEBINAR: 
Women's Economic Opportunity and the EITC
A webinar co-sponsored by the Women's Funding Network and the EITC Funders Network
On April 27th, the EITC Funders Network partnered with the Women's Funding Network to focus in on women's economic opportunity and the role of the EITC. Speakers Amy Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Government Relations at the National Women's Law Center and Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women's Foundation discussed the role of the EITC in promoting economic opportunity for women and families and ways in which grantmakers can incorporate the EITC and refundable tax credits into their funding strategies.

SAVE THE DATE: 
Washington, DC
September 29th, 2016
Stay tuned for more information!

The EITC Funders Network is thrilled to host a gathering just for funders on the afternoon of September 29th at CFED's 2016 Asset Learning Conference (ALC). ALC conference registration is not required for this funder meeting. More details on the meeting coming soon. We hope to see you in Washington, DC! 

Asset Funders Network's Strategy Spotlight: Building Wealth Through Tax Reform

Federal and state tax policies contribute to the growing wealth divide by incentivizing higher-income households to continue to build assets while limiting wealth building opportunities for lower-income households. Funders have long played an important role in supporting work to advance more progressive and equitable tax policies. The  Asset Funders Network's new Strategy Spotlight report  highlights innovative tax reform efforts and proposes ways funders can engage to take these efforts to scale.

About the EITC Funders Network
The EITC Funders Network brings together funders interested in the Earned Income Tax Credit, free- and low-cost tax preparation, and asset building. The Network seeks to increase awareness of EITC-related projects, foster collaboration, share information about the current status of EITC-related work, and help shape the future of the field. 

The EITC Funders Network is generously funded by:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation

www.eitcfunders.org