Prosperity Now Honored with Award for Financial Literacy Work
Editor's note: The following speech was given at the Society for Financial Education and Professional Development's 20th Anniversary and Awards Gala by Prosperity Now President Andrea Levere upon receiving the Community Equality Leadership Award. In her remarks, she reiterates Prosperity Now's approach to financial well-being.
Thank you . . . for the extraordinary honor of receiving the Community Equality Leadership Award. Let me congratulate you on your 20th anniversary and for the transformational work that you and your colleagues have done to strengthen the financial lives of underserved communities, especially institutions and communities of color.
Prosperity Now shares your mission of ensuring that everyone has access to the full range of products and services necessary to achieve financial well-being, delivered in ways that meet people where they are—in terms of skills, knowledge, and institutions and relationships that they trust.
Yet we also understand that while individual efforts are essential in building financial security, the context matters as much, if not more. Our public and private sector policies shape the environment in which people live their financial services as well as their decisions. Thus, our job must also include advocacy on behalf of our communities to ensure that they are offered the opportunities and consumer protections necessary to build assets and secure credit in a safe and affordable way.
Three years ago this month, Prosperity Now published a book with the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank called What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation. The book captured how far our field had come in just a decade in our understanding of how to connect high quality financial education and coaching to the products, services and trusted partners necessary to build a life of financial well-being. I want to share a quote from that book, authored by David Erickson and Laura Choi of the SF Federal Reserve Bank:
Financial health and well-being are preconditions for nearly all the long-term outcomes that collectively allow people and places to thrive.
This quote captures why we have seen leaders across every sector—not only public, private and nonprofit—but also housing, health care, education, social services and workforce—join with us to build financial wellness. We have also witnessed a clear and penetrating focus on the unconscionable racial wealth divide, and how addressing this divide will require that we craft new policies and programs that match the depth and breadth of this profound inequality. And it is in this spirit that I humbly accept your Community Equality Leadership Award, with a caveat that our leadership, and our partnership with all of you in this room and beyond, is just beginning in terms of achieving the equality we all seek.