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Ownership & Assets

The Financial Health Check: Building Behavioral Econ into Financial Coaching

March 6, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building Program released a paper today titled “The Financial Health Check: A Behavioral Approach to Financial Coaching.” The paper, coauthored by Antoinette Schoar, a professor at MIT, and Piyush Tantia, executive director at ideas42, presents the findings of a pilot organized by ideas42 to test the effectiveness of a new way of offering financial coaching called a “Financial Health Check,” or FHC. The new type of financial coaching differs from the traditional form of financial coaching in a number of ways. Perhaps most importantly, FHC attempts to adopt behaviorally informed strategies of simplicity and automation to maximize the utility of coaching time and eliminate key obstacles to successful interventions and increased saving.

Connecting Tax Time to Financial Security

  • By
  • Rachel Black,
  • Elliot Schreur,
  • New America Foundation
February 25, 2014
The ability to accumulate and access savings is a fundamental determinant of economic security for many families, especially those with low incomes and limited resources. Since every family’s circumstance is different, so too are their savings needs, which can range both in time horizon and flexibility of purpose. Current federal policy favors longer-term, targeted purposes, such as savings for retirement, leaving a void in policy supports for households whose savings needs are more immediate.

Asset Building News Week, February 17-21

February 21, 2014
Publication Image  The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include postal banking, housing, income inequality, and public assistance.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Postal Banking

February 20, 2014
Publication Image The Weekly Wonk is a digital magazine and podcast from New America focused on the ideas and policy challenges that will shape our future. In this week's edition, Elliot Schreur from the Asset Building Program explains the dynamics and challenges around a recent proposal for the United States Postal Service to offer financial services.

Exploring Civic Innovation

February 4, 2014
Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the California Civic Innovation Project blog.

Last Tuesday I co-hosted an event at New America with the Open Technology Institute and the Asset Building Program that explored civic innovations in policy, community organizing, technology, and government. “Civic Innovation, Can It Save Our Democracy?” was the first of a series of events focusing on ways that civic innovation changes how people relate to one another and to government.

This event was really the jumping off point for a broader conversation about civic innovation. To support our thinking about the field, last year CCIP interviewed twenty practitioners and put them in a virtual conversation to tease out the expanse of the field. The report, The 2050 City: What Civic Innovation Looks Like Today -- and Tomorrow,shaped our thinking of civic innovation less as a concept or thing, and more as a process with multiple actors and enablers. This ecosystem, which is how we began to talk about it, is made up of government, civic groups, residents, foundations, academics, and civic hackers. 

Civic innovation is more than just a compilation of projects; it can be a process as well, inspiring institutional change. This is an important point to consider because the spread of civic innovation throughout communities and government will require a culture shift that reframes current processes. 

CFED’s Scorecard of the States: Making the Case for Assets Reform

February 3, 2014
Publication Image 44 percent of American households live in liquid asset poverty. That’s the key takeaway from CFED’s 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which was released last week. Liquid asset poverty is defined as a household’s inability to survive at the poverty level in the event of a job loss or other emergency because of a lack of savings. That the American public is so financially vulnerable should come as no surprise, though, as the liquid asset poverty rate remained unchanged from CFED’s 2013 Scorecard.

Obama Cares about Improving Economic Mobility – But Where are the Specifics?

February 3, 2014
In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama called on Congress to play a role in reversing persistent trends of stagnant wages, deepening inequality, and stalled upward economic mobility. Obama asked to see renewed efforts to "build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class." And while he offered a few tangible and important solutions to these profound challenges (such raising the minimum wage, introducing a new mechanism for retirement savings, opening up the Earned Income Tax Credit to assist single workers without children), he failed to get into the details - the nitty-gritty of what these "new ladders" should look like. He also skimmed over any explicit acknowledgment of the work already happening across the country to build economic opportunity at the community level. 

Asset Building News Week, January 27-31

January 31, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include myRA, the Farm Bill and SNAP, and asset limits.

As Farm Bill Moves Forward, Indiana Mulls Asset Limit Reform

January 28, 2014
Publication Image This week, following months of negotiations, Congress is moving towards finalizing a Farm Bill, which will establish funding levels and eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). Though it staves off the $40 billion in SNAP cuts proposed by the House,  the final bill will still be a blow to low-income families, cutting over $8 billion from the program—on top of the $5 billion slashed just last November, which has already left food banks incapable of coping with a surge in demand.
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