Highlights from This Morning's AFI Grantee Institute

The Assets for Independence (AFI) Institute at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference kicked off this morning with over 200 practitioners convening for a day filled with great discussions and activities. The robust and diverse group of Individual Development Account (IDA) providers heard about the incredibly positive impact of savings and building assets for low income individuals from Al Fleming, AFI Program Manager with the Office of Community Services. During the welcome plenary, Mr. Fleming highlighted the fact that AFI has over $30 million in active grants going directly to savers striving to become homeowners, to start small businesses or to obtain educational certifications.

Mr. Fleming reinforced the importance of every grantees' work by inviting a local IDA participant to share her story. Patricia Baker energized the room of practitioners by sharing the benefits she reaped from participating in an IDA program. Not only was Patricia Baker able to save to start her own publishing business, she also took part in financial education classes and learned about her negative financial behaviors. Through her participation in an IDA program, Ms. Baker was able to get herself into the financial mainstream, strengthen her household finances and achieve her dreams of running her own business.

Lorna Moore, an IDA practitioner from Interfaith Housing Services in Kansas, also shared pictures and stories from her savers. She described how important her IDA program is for her community in Kansas and how it is currently serving more than 200 savers. The stories shared during the welcome plenary at today's AFI Institute really empowered the room and gave grantees an important tool to support their work. The energy and drive from grantees at the very front lines of asset building has inspired and reinforced the field.

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