As you may know, Ray Boshara recently left his day to day gig at New America for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. We're really excited for Ray (and that we still maintain a strong relationship with him.) One of the reasons we're so excited is that Ray will bring his unique perspective and focus on asset building to an institution as powerful and important as the Federal Reserve Bank. In fact, Ray started on that endeavor a while back, publishing a piece in the St. Louis Fed's Bridges newsletter, "Seven Surprising Findings from the Asset Building Field."
It's a really nice introduction for people who are new to the asset building framework and a great reminder for people with some more familiarity with the subject.
On Tuesday, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) gave the keynote address at an event organized by the Center for American Progress and Women of Color Policy Network on Measuring Our Progress in Reducing U.S. Poverty. In a political environment where existing poverty fighting tools are fending off rescissions in the name of deficit reduction, Congressman McDermott insisted that, as the wealthiest nation on Earth, the U.S.
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 use. 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.
Last week, YouthSave members from CGAP, Margaret Miller and Tanaya Kilara organized a panel event at the World Bank called “Entertainment as a Catalyst for Social Change in India,” which focused on how to integrate social messaging into mainstream Indian entertainment, namely film and television, towards achieving behavior change.
In December we noted that the leaders of the Education Department, FDIC, and the National Credit Union Administration signed on for a partnership to "encourage schools, financial institutions, federal grantees and other stakeholders to work together to increase financial literacy, access to federally-insured deposit accounts and savings among students and families across the country."
That sounds great, but how many of these things have we seen come and go with nary a whiff of activity? Well the partners here seem determined to prove that this one will be different.
Arne Duncan is out with a new video pushing educational institutions, banks and credit unions to get into the game of promoting financial access, education and savings for elementary and secondary students across the country. He specifically cites two projects that we've long been advocates for, Bank On and San Francisco's Kindergarten-to-College initiative, as examples of home grown, local partnerships that can improve the financial futures of children and their families.
While the Administration didn't promote savings proposals in their budget as much as we'd hoped, it's encouraging to see that a recognition of the power of savings is still present and worth the time of senior administration officials. Here's Secretary Duncan:
I wanted to live on our block from the first moment I saw it. I wish I could tell you that some quirky, perfect detail captured my heart, but there was no such “movie moment.” Somehow, the genteel dilapidation of its creaky row houses and elderly trees was just slightly more charming than on any other block of Washington, D.C.
In January, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg noted in his State of the City address that the City has an important role to help New Yorkers be self-sufficient. One of his proposals for accomplishing this is to take a privately funded pilot program that offers one-on-one counseling at Financial Empowerment Center locations across the City, and expand its critical financial services to help residents eliminate their debt and increase their savings.
Hot off the presses, a new study has been released evaluating the ten-year impacts of an intervention featuring Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The idea behind IDAs is to provide an incentive for savings that is used to purchase a specific set of assets, such as homes, by directly matching deposits into designated accounts.
In the Western world, government-mandated biometric IDs -- identification systems that identify individuals based on fingerprints, irises, and other unique physical traits -- are often regarded with suspicion, even hostility.