Community Bulletin: A Hopeful Time for the Prosperity Movement

From the Guest Editor

Dear Community Partners and Friends,

As the national conversation focuses so much on fear and division, the prosperity movement focuses on the assets of our communities and the belief that with the right opportunities, everyone can achieve all that they aspire to.  

This was driven home at our highly successful Prosperity Summit, which saw practitioners and advocates engaged in conversations about ensuring that every man, woman and child, whether they are citizens or not, can gain financial independence. During the Summit Hill visits, I witnessed firsthand how impressed the members of Congress were with the thoughtfulness, intellect and passion our Community has for a more inclusive economy that ensures economic mobility for all. 

But this hopeful vision is grounded in the truth and reality of the growing racial wealth and income divides. This theme was woven throughout the presentations and conversations at the Prosperity Summit (which you can read more about below), underscoring the need to be intentional about our efforts to ensure that we leave no one behind as we grow a more prosperous and inclusive economy.

And now, the work continues. You, the Prosperity Now Community, have a wealth of tools to bring to your local area. Prosperity Now Founder Bob Friedman’s new book, A Few Thousand Dollars, provides us with a road map to proven policies and practices that ensure economic equity. And the recently released Prosperity Now video, Opening the Door to Opportunity, is a powerful tool to educate our communities about existing challenges in achieving financial security for all, as well as provide hope to change the narrative and the trajectory of the future.

I am more hopeful now than ever that our best days are ahead. I hope you are equally inspired, and ready to lace up your shoes and continue the work of ensuring prosperity for all.

Sending you well wishes,

Bernie Mazyck.png

Bernie Mazyck
President & CEO, South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development
Chair, Prosperity Now’s Community Steering Committee

If you have any items you’d like to see featured in future Community Bulletins, share them with us at Community@prosperitynow.org

Highlights

2018 Prosperity Summit Sparks New Ideas and Reignites Passion in the Community

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In September, the Prosperity Summit brought together more than 1,100 practitioners and advocates from the nonprofit, private and public sectors. Our Community members and Community Steering Committee (CSC) told us that the Summit was engaging and thought-provoking, and that it highlighted tools and resources that could immediately be taken back to and used in your communities. One of the major highlights of the Summit was the plenaries, which not only delivered insights from financial empowerment experts, but also featured some superstars! Below are links to videos of all Prosperity Summit plenaries:

The Prosperity Summit ignited numerous conversations on the racial wealth divide, both during and after the Summit. CSC member Bernie Mazyck found it easier to convey the impact of the racial wealth divide to his partners and communities using the information provided by the speakers and the materials from Prosperity Now. Bernie’s organization, South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED), plans to bring this conversation back to their local community in Charleston, SC. CSC and Prosperity Now Board member Robin McKinney noted that the Summit influenced how her partner organization, CASH Campaign of Maryland, speaks about their work and the racial wealth divide in Maryland.

Attendees were also thrilled to use all the information and resources gained at the Summit towards advocacy. The Capitol Hill visits allowed attendees to speak with their representatives and advocate for effective policies that promote economic opportunity and narrow the racial wealth divide. We heard that attendees were delighted with how well they engaged with congressional staff, many for the first time.

Let’s keep the momentum going! If you attended the Summit, bring the resources and information that you learned back to your communities and continue to advocate at your state and local levels. If you weren’t able to attend, you can find materials from Summit sessions on the Summit website. Keep the conversation going using #ProsperitySummit18 on Twitter.

African American Financial Capability Initiative Putting Learning and Leadership into Practice

The Prosperity Now Community was introduced to the African American Financial Capability Initiative's (AAFCI) six communities of practice during our February webinar with Prosperity Now’s Racial Wealth Divide Initiative (RWDI) team and AAFCI funder, Northwest Area Foundation. Through the AAFCI, African American-led communities of practice demonstrate why those closest to racial economic inequality are best positioned to address it. With technical assistance from RWDI and ongoing peer learning, AAFCI communities of practice have launched innovative, client-centered pilot projects to strengthen asset-building services, sharpen policy advocacy strategies and grow leadership capacity within and for African American communities.

This summer, the Brunch & Budget Podcast featured the work of the African American Financial Capability Initiative’s (AAFCI) six communities of practice in two fun and informative episodes. Episode 200 spotlights Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington. Episode 201 highlights Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Tacoma, Washington. In September, the AAFCI communities shared their expertise and insights at the Prosperity Summit.

From Lightning Talks to concurrent sessions, and even on the main plenary stage, AAFCI members were highly visible at the Prosperity Summit! Miss the Summit this year? You can watch the recording from the powerful mayoral panel featuring AAFCI member Mayor Victoria Woodards of Tacoma, Washington. Materials from sessions featuring AAFCI members are also available: “Empowering the Grassroots: Innovating Financial Capability from the Ground Up,” “On the Frontline of the Racial Wealth Divide: Strengthening the Financial Security of Frontline Staff” and “Nonprofit Collaboration  and Coalition Building Within the Context of the Racial Wealth Divide.”

Financial Coaches Take a Participant-Centered Approach

Financial coaching programs benefit enormously from a human-centered design that fits the community being served. This is why, when developing the new Financial Coaching Program Design Guide, Prosperity Now relied on six organizations to beta-test the Guide to make sure it was adaptable to their communities. One of those organizations was the California-based Building Skills Partnership, which used the Guide to transition its previously ad-hoc services for a janitor labor union to a robust coaching program.

Building Skills Partnership used the Guide to help build alignment between organization leadership, coaching program managers and designers and frontline staff on goals of the program for their clients, which include improving credit, reducing debt, helping with immigration status and preparing for retirement. This process also included developing and clarifying the outputs Building Skills Partnership would measure to evaluate the program. As a result, the team established that their program would focus on short-and medium-term outputs. While this particular coaching program is still in the implementation phase, the team at Building Skills Partnership is being intentional about the journey their clients will experience throughout the program, from recruitment to signing up, coaching and “graduation.”

What advice does Saul Gonzalez, a coach with Building Skills Partnership, have for other practitioners when it comes to using the guide? “You already know what you already know,” he says. “The guide is not a prescription, it won’t have all the answers. But it is a useful tool for those who are interested in starting a coaching program or have a program and want to scale it.” Further, Saul advises that implementation of a financial coaching program takes time, and to have fun with it. He also cautions that it is important to speak honestly when leadership and program management goals are not aligned. “It behooves practitioners to leave egos aside and collaborate! The goal is to help change the community and bring economic opportunity to your clients.”

Innovative Fundraising Generates Record-Breaking Support for Children’s Savings Accounts

During the 1:1 Fund’s June Graduation fundraising campaign, Promise Indiana raised $83,202 for its children’s savings account (CSA) program—the largest amount ever raised by a 1:1 Fund partner in a single campaign! Expanding its network of CSA champions, focusing on growing the number of campaign participants regardless of donation amount and localizing its messaging all contributed to this amazing success. Programs of all types can learn from Promise Indiana’s multi-faceted, community-based fundraising strategy for their own development efforts.

Resources from Across the Community

Race, Wealth and Taxes: How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Supercharges the Racial Wealth Divide, Prosperity Now & Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP)
In this new report, Prosperity Now and ITEP provide the first-ever quantitative analysis of how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 affects different groups by race. It finds that the TCJA will ultimately grow the racial wealth divide. 

Consumers Need Protection from Predatory Financial Products and Services, Prosperity Now’s Federal Policy team
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and important regulations that protect consumers from predatory financial institutions are under threat. This policy brief outlines why consumer protection is critical and recommends measures to strengthen it.

The Opportunity Atlas, U.S. Census Bureau & Opportunity Insights
This interactive map shows how a childhood's neighborhood shapes financial outcomes in adulthood.

Financial Coaching: Training Rubric, Center for Financial Security at University of Wisconsin-Madison
This is a helpful rubric on financial coaching training for program managers and coaches deciding the right type of coaching components for their unique needs.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Counselors Training, HUD Housing Counselors
Housing counselors preparing for the HUD counselor certification can take free online training courses (including interactive online modules and downloadable PDFs).

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Financial Education Exchange (FinEx) listserv, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Financial educators can sign up for the CFPB Financial Education Exchange (FinEx) listserv to access learning opportunities, including invitations to webinars and seminars, by emailing cfpb_finex@cfpb.gov.

2018 KIDS COUNT, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Annie E. Casey’s 2018 Kids Count Data Book looks at trends in child wellbeing, revealing improvements in some economic indicators, although 13 percent of the nation’s children still live in high-poverty communities. This resource can help support your advocacy, agenda-setting and fundraising efforts.

Facilitator’s Guide for Continuous Improvement Conversations with a Racial Equity Lens, Living Cities
This racial equity guide provides information and tools on applying a racial equity lens to your work and achieve population-level change.

A Municipal Policy Blueprint for a More Inclusive Path to Prosperity, Prosperity Now’s State and Local Policy team
This report focuses on designing, advocating and implementing policies that build financial security within communities of color. Designed for policymakers and advocates, the Blueprint encourages meaningful, manageable and moveable policies that promote racial wealth equity.

Insurtech for Financial Health, Center for Financial Services Innovation
This report explores the rapidly increasing investment and innovation of technology in the insurance industry known as “insurtech,” and analyzes three potential insurtech trends that may promote consumer financial health.

Power Station, Anne Pasmanick
The Power Station podcast provides a platform for nonprofit leaders to discuss building community, advocating for political change and making an impact in overlooked and underinvested communities.

Opportunities & Events

Opportunities 

Bank On Fellowship, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, New York, NY

Events

Robert Friedman Speaking Engagement @ Bay Area Asset Funders Network Conference, Oakland, CA, November 1, 2018

Emergency Savings: A Conversation on Current Trends, Prosperity Now, Webinar, November 1, 2018

Taxpayer Opportunity Network Presents: VITA Training for You! Prosperity Now, Webinar, November 5, 2018

Robert Friedman Book Signing @ Books Inc., Burlingame, CA, November 7, 2018

Research Coffee Break: Insights on the Impact of Fees on Low and Moderate Income Communities with Devin Fergus, Prosperity Now, Webinar, November 7, 2018

Reckoning with Women’s Wealth Inequality, Aspen Institute, Washington, D.C., November 8, 2018

Robert Friedman Book Signing @ San Francisco Foundation Reception, San Francisco, CA, November 13, 2018

Coaching Essentials, AFCPE and Sage Financial Solutions, Norfolk, VA, November 12-13, 2018

Introducing Prosperity Now's Financial Coaching Program Design Guide: A Participant-Centered Approach, Prosperity Now, Webinar, November 14, 2018

Looking Ahead: The Future of EITC and Working Families, Prosperity Now, Webinar, November 15, 2018

Robert Friedman Speaking Engagement @ Assets Matter Symposium, Fresno, CA, December 4, 2018

I’M HOME Conference, Prosperity Now, Nashville, TN, December 3-5, 2018 

Policy Developments

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

We’re calling on the U.S. Congress to provide $20 million in funding for VITA in FY19. With an agreement in place to fund the government through December 7, fiscal year 2019 funding for VITA remains uncertain. Most recently, the House Financial Services Committee agreed to fund VITA at $15 million, while the Senate FSGG Committee’s spending bill would increase VITA funding to $20 million. We’re urging Congress to ensure that the Senate bill will make it into the final FY19 appropriations package.

Last April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan VITA Permanence Act, which would put VITA into law, and in July the Senate introduced the Taxpayer First Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), which includes similar language. Now is the time to call or email your Senators and tell them why VITA should be permanent! #VITAForever!

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs)

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), announced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would provide every newborn with an “American Opportunity Account” seeded with $1,000. Every year, through the tax code, children would receive up to an additional $2,000 deposit depending on family income. Account holders would have access to the account at age 18 to be used for homeownership, higher education or retirement. To address the United States’ vast racial wealth divide, this bill would give the greatest wealth-building support to the most financially vulnerable families. Read our blog to learn more.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Fund My Future program will open a CSA for every five-year-old Kindergarten child enrolled in the Milwaukee Public School system. The initial seed is $25 per student with opportunities to earn more through matching programs and milestones, such as good attendance. Students can withdraw the money for a postsecondary school at age 18 and the program will serve 24,000 students during the first three years. The plan will be paid for with private contributions, not taxes.

In June, Pennsylvania passed a CSA Policy that gives all newborns a $100 scholarship grant at birth. The Keystone Scholars Grant Program is a universal, automatic enrollment program that will give a $100 scholarship to all children in Pennsylvania who are residents at birth or adopted by a Pennsylvania family. Pennsylvania 529 accounts can be used for any higher education expense including vocational programs and trade schools until the age of 29. Pennsylvania joins Nevada and Maine as the only states that offer universal, automatic enrollment.

Massachusetts’ SeedMA Baby initiative will make every Massachusetts baby born to or adopted by a Massachusetts resident eligible for a $50 seed deposit into a 529 college savings account. The SeedMA Baby plan expands the SeedMA program, which initially helped families in selected communities, to include all babies born in Massachusetts and can be used for various post-secondary education costs and will begin in January 2020.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Task Force rejected including a state EITC as part of its final recommendations for overhauling the state tax code in 2019. Although this makes it less likely, the Task Force’s rejection doesn’t preclude legislators from introducing it during the next legislative session.

In Delaware, the legislature passed House Bill 113 to make the state’s EITC refundable, but the governor vetoed the bill. The bill was returned to the Delaware House for further action.

Watch our video, Why I Lend My Voice, and learn why it is important for you and your clients to vote!

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