Community Bulletin: Highlighting Women's History Month

From the Guest Editor

Dear Community Partners and Friends,

Women's worknoticed and unnoticed, paid and unpaidis worth celebrating every day. Yet, it is important to take any opportunity, like International Women’s Day, to say, “Thank you for all that you do.”

Women across the world continue to fight for equal access to work, pay and representation in the labor market. In the US, on average, White women earn 79 cents per dollar compared to White men. Yet, Black women and Latinas earn just 62.5 and 54.4 cents on the dollar, respectively. For communities of color and migrant communities, the compounded effects of a pay gap, unequal access to the labor market and the responsibilities of being primary caregivers often leads to lasting economic vulnerability in the household that widens the racial wealth divide in our country.

At Hope Border Institute, we recently asked community members to share their top areas of concern as well as pride in their community. Low-paying and precarious jobs, immigration, education and limited access to financial resources were the major concerns. Diversity and the strength and resilience of local women topped the list of sources of pride. Our community highlighted their networks of mothers, aunts, sisters and grandmothers who allowed them to continue providing for their families. These networks are a source of lasting reductions in poverty and economic inequality in communities across the world. Paired with financial capability and a secure income, women can begin to achieve the financial independence necessary for our society to achieve gender equality. 

In solidarity,

Edith Tapia, Policy Research Analyst, Hope Border Institute
Prosperity Now Community Steering Committee Member

Editor's note: If you have resources, updates or stories you’d like to see featured in future Community Bulletins, share them with us at Community@prosperitynow.org.

 

Highlights

Organizational Spotlight: North Lawndale Employment Network Showcases the Work of Women in their Programs (Chicago, IL)

North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), is located in a high poverty neighborhood with five times the unemployment rate of the rest of Chicago. We spoke with Chief Program Officer, Mark Sanders, to learn more about how they’re working in their neighborhood, including their goal of decreasing the unemployment rate and bringing pay equity to their organization. To achieve this goal, they’re focusing on women, both in the community and in the organization itself. In our conversation, Mark cited research that shows that supporting and advancing the work of Black women in communities can directly contribute to reducing the unemployment and poverty rates.

As a result, NLEN has established programming, during Women’s History Month especially, to showcase the work the women in their programs are doing. This includes hosting a pop-up shop to celebrate women entrepreneurs who graduated from their programs and those that already exist in the community. Coincidentally, two Black women are facing a mayoral run-off in Chicago this month, for which NLEN hosted a debate watch party. Mr. Sanders notes that this had made women at NLEN and in North Lawndale excited to share their stories and experiences about what is happening in City Hall and the community.

We also learned that NLEN provides several employment initiatives in the North Lawndale community, including job readiness training for the formerly incarcerated; Sweet Beginnings, a transitional job opportunity for people to continue building their job readiness skills; a Financial Opportunity Center; customized skills training in a diesel mechanic training program as well as local community programming. At the center of this work is NLEN’s strategic goal of reducing the North Lawndale unemployment rate by 10 percent in the next 3-5 years, which would require bringing 1500 jobs to community members.

Additionally, NLEN has focused on equity internally over the last two years by conducting an assessment of how they are paying their employees and how the rest of the market is doing similar work. As a result, NLEN has made adjustments to job descriptions and has raised salaries for jobs that were not at market pay. NLEN is also being thoughtful about how they support and train their staff who serve their communities, noting that many of their employees have struggled with the same issues their constituents face and thus it is important that their own staff have a living wage job. While Mr. Sanders has said it is too early to see data about the impact their external and internal programming has made, anecdotally, he has seen a new level of energy in the community and in the organization.

Children’s Savings Accounts: 2018 State of the Field Released

The Children’s Savings Account (CSA) movement continued to gather momentum in 2018. CSA programs provide long-term savings or investment accounts with incentives to help children build savings for the future, typically for postsecondary education. Based on Prosperity Now’s annual CSA Program Survey, the recently released report, The Movement Soars Ahead: The State of the Children’s Savings Field 2018, illustrates trends in CSA program models.

Speaking of CSAs . . . the City of St. Paul Builds a Community Driven Savings Program Set for 2020

At his State of the City address on March 14, Saint Paul (MN) Mayor Melvin Carter announced a universal, at-birth Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program set to launch next year—College Bound Saint Paul. This announcement marked a tangible step toward achieving Carter’s promise of creating CSAs for every Saint Paul child. Read more

 

Resources from Across the Community

State of Working America Wages 2018, Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
This report from EPI finds that wages and inequality are rising together; and assesses the effects of the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 on Black workers.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Reports, CBPP
The CBPP released three reports highlighting research on the EITC. They are:

Five Solutions to Some of America’s Biggest Consumer Debt Problems, The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute presents its framework for its new Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative on consumer debt.

Closing the Wealth Gap for Millennial Women, Asset Funders Network (AFN) 
The second in AFN’s Women & Wealth series, this brief discusses promising public- and private-sector policies and practices needed to address the unique financial challenges of millennial women. 

Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, Building Movement Project (BMP) 
The latest report from BMP’s Race to Lead series on race and leadership in nonprofits focuses on the experiences of women of color and how to improve their opportunities in the sector.  

Black Women Business Startups, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
This report from the Kansas City Fed highlights research on and insights from Black women entrepreneurs. 

Overview: Financial Empowerment Center Counselor Training Standards, CFE Fund
This outline of the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model’s Counselor Training Standards covers what's necessary to serve the diverse needs of FEC clients. 

Suspicious Activity Reports on Elder Financial Exploitation: Issues and Trends, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This report addresses issues in elder financial exploitation through the increase in Suspicious Activity Reports filed by financial institutions, and provides strategies to prevent the rising monetary losses endured by vulnerable older Americans. 

How Does Measuring Poverty and Welfare Affect American Indian Children, Brookings
Brookings discusses how sparse data on Native populations and unfamiliarity with these communities has made data unreliable and stresses the need for further legal protections and tribal sovereignty.

Are the Kids Alright? Saving and Wealth Accumulation Among Millennial Generation, Brookings
This article from Brookings finds that millennials have accumulated less wealth than prior generations and are unprepared for retirement despite higher education outcomes. 

Advocacy 101: State Advocacy Basics, Prosperity Now
Use this document to learn about why you should become an advocate, the basics of the legislative process, advocacy strategies, advocacy tools and more. 

 

Opportunities & Events

Opportunities

Now Open: JPMorgan Chase’s Raising Opportunities in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods) CDFI Collaborative Competition is open until April 22, 2019. This opportunity awards CDFIs that develop partnerships and invest in local solutions that address income and wealth inequality. For more information, read this 2018 progress report on the initiative.

The CFPB is starting to accept applications for membership in all four of their advisory committees, including: the Consumer Advisory Board, the Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council and the Academic Research Council. Learn more here.

The Prosperity Now Affordable Homeownership Network has released a survey looking for input on Network members and their organizations in order to develop Network Learning opportunities that best fit the needs of members. Sign up for the Network here and take the survey!

Jobs

Senior Communications Associate, Prosperity Now, Washington, DC 

Human Resources Associate, Prosperity Now, Washington, DC 

Development Director,  United for a Fair Economy,  Boston, MA 

Executive Director, Licking Valley Community Action Program, Maysville, KY 

Bank On Maryland Program Manager,  CASH Campaign of Maryland,  Baltimore, MD 

President & Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Greater High Point, High Point, NC 

Evaluation and Learning Manager, Mile High United Way, Denver, CO 

Training and Development Manager (Human Resources), LISC National Headquarters, NYC, NY 

Program Associate, Learning Communities Resource Center, Community Action Partnership, Washington, DC 

Program Officer – Programs and Operations, Boston LISC, Boston, MA 

Program Associate, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD 

Events

Credit Building Through Rent Reporting, Prosperity Now, Webinar, April 2, 2019, 2-3:30 pm ET

Community Action Immigration Summit: Building Opportunities for Immigrant Families, Community Action Partnership & Project BRAVO, El Paso, TX, April 3-5, 2019

2019 Financial Coaching Network Bi-Monthly Peer Call Series, Prosperity Now, multiple dates starting April 18, 2019, 3-4:30 pm ET 

Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector, Building Movement Project, April 18, 2019 2:00 pm ET 

Northwest Regional Prosperity Summit, Prosperity Now, Boise, ID, April 23, 2019

2019 Maryland Financial Education Summit,  CASH Campaign of Maryland,  Ellicott City, MD, April 24, 2019 

EMERGE, Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), Scottsdale, AZ, May 14-16, 2019

Financial Literacy Seminar Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System & Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, George Washington University, Washington, DC, multiple dates through May 16, 2019

National Health & Human Services 2019 Summit, APHSA, Arlington, VA, May 19-22, 2019

FPP 11th Annual Statewide Training Conference, Florida Prosperity Partnership, Orlando, FL, May 29-31, 2019

2019 Credit Building Symposium, Credit Builders Alliance, Washington, DC, June 12-14, 2019

2019 Colorado Community Action Conference, Colorado Community Action Association, Colorado Springs, CO, July 16-18, 2019

2019 National Urban League ConferenceGetting 2 Equal: United, Not Divided,National Urban League, Indianapolis, IN, July 24-27, 2019

Save the Date: Midwest Asset Building Conference, Detroit, MI, November 13-14. The planning team is currently accepting speaker and session proposals here.

 

Policy Updates

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Sign onto this letter of support by March 29, 2019 at 5 pm ET to push the U.S. Congress to fund the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program at $30 million (up from the current $18 million)!

Public Benefit Programs

The Trump administration's proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) threaten the food security of more than 750,000 people. Prosperity Now wrote a comment letter strongly rejecting this proposal, and now we need your help. Please express your opposition by signing on to the letter today.

Earned Income Tax Credit

A bill to create a new state EITC in Arkansas, SB571, passed the state senate last week and is currently moving through the House, where it is expected to face a tougher fight. The bill would create a refundable EITC worth at least 5 percent of the federal credit funded through a new excise tax on cigarettes.

Tax Prep Regulations

In California, AB 1140, a bill requiring fee disclosures for paid tax preparation of tax returns with a CalEITC claim, was introduced. The bill would fill a gap in California’s current paid preparer regulations by specifically ensuring that low- and moderate-income taxpayers are given upfront and clear information on how much of their EITC would go to tax preparation. The bill would also require tax preparers to inform clients that they may be eligible for free tax preparation services through VITA, and that all disclosures made under the potential law be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

Asset Limits

SB 268, a bill cosponsored by Prosperity Now to remove asset limits for the TANF program in California, known as CalWORKs, is currently scheduled to be heard by the state Senate Human Services Committee on April 8. The bill would completely eliminate CalWORKs asset limits, thereby ending penalties against low-income families that save beyond a certain amount. Read more about the bill and Prosperity Now’s support in our joint letter to the Human Services Committee with our fellow cosponsoring partner organizations.

Predatory Lending

The Nevada Senate Commerce and Labor Committee held a hearing last week on SB201, a bill that would establish a database of high-interest loans made in the state to better hold lenders accountable to existing laws in Nevada that protect consumers from these often-predatory lending products. This bill would help safeguard Nevada consumers from being trapped in an endless and unaffordable cycle of predatory debt while strengthening laws that allow us to keep high-interest, predatory lending in check.

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