History & Highlights

We've been leaders in the field dedicated to building prosperity for 38 years. Below is a timeline of our history and accomplishments since being founded in 1979.


  • In the first six months of the year, we worked with Congress to introduce bipartisan bills in both the House and Senate to permanently authorize the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs. These bills – particularly in the challenging political climate – mark an important step towards a fairer tax system.
  • March saw the publication of A Downpayment on the Divide, an important and well-received new report that explores barriers to equal housing opportunity and proposes a number of policy recommendations to reduce racial inequality in homeownership.
  • In April, we released Beyond the Next Paycheck: Creating Opportunities for Young Workers to Thrive, an important new report that shines a light on the financial needs of young workers.
  • Also in April, our Taxpayer Opportunity Network (now serving more than 1,200 members) celebrated the end of one of the most challenging tax seasons in memory – having successfully supported the VITA field throughout, and standinga strong as a champion and voice for community tax preparers and taxpayers nationwide.
  • A report released in June reveals that since its inception in 2012, the 1:1 Fund has raised $1.8 million in savings incentives for children’s savings programs from individual donations, large and small.
  • June saw the years-in-the-making debut of our new Prosperity Now name and brand, to warm and appreciative acclaim.
  • Also in June, we relaunched the Assets & Opportunity Network as the Prosperity Now Community – to make it even easier for our field to learn, connect with others, and take action, all through a customized experience that can be tailored to individual interests and needs.


  • In January, CFED and Assets & Opportunity Network members engaged in the first-ever National Week of Action. The goal for the Week of Action was to capture and sustain national, state and local attention among media, policymakers, funders and community stakeholders to the financial insecurity facing families, as well as successful strategies for increasing financial stability, financial capability and asset ownership.
  • January also brought a significant policy victory in the form of a $3 million increase (to a total of $15 million) in the federal appropriation for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
  • For Financial Capability Month in April, CFED got to celebrate the work we do together and shed light on all the ways the organizations and agencies we work with are empowering people to build better financial lives. We introduced the Financial Capability Lifecycle to kick off the month.
  • In August, CFED and the Institute for Policy Studies released The Ever-Growing Gap, a new report that showed just how significant the racial wealth divide has become and how, absent intervention, the divide will never close.
  • In September, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network broke the 1,000-member mark – and kept growing fast.
  • Later that month, the 2016 Assets Learning Conference was a huge success, and left us feeling more optimistic and more energized than ever before about our work to create a prosperity.
  • Just before the election, we released A Federal Policy Blueprint to Close the Ever-Growing Wealth Gap, our clearest and boldest articulation to date of the full range of our policy strategies for reducing wealth inequality.
  • We made a quick pivot in mid-November to address the new post-election political environment. We developed and executed a new strategy for our federal policy work and launched campaigns in four key policy areas: consumer protection, support for working families, turning the tax code right-side-up and affordable homeownership.
  • Also in November, we hosted our largest-ever I’M HOME Conference, featuring a rich array conversations and learning opportunities related to manufactured housing products, services, and policy.
  • We celebrated a major victory in December when the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its long-anticipated final Duty to Serve rule, which specifies how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will meet their obligations to support underserved markets, including manufactured housing. The rule, for which Prosperity Now was a primary advocate, has the potential to significantly improve housing financing options for low-income buyers of manufactured homes who are often relegated to high-cost, risky loans.


  • The eight edition of Prosperity Now's Assets & Opportunity Scorecard revealed that the post-Great Recession economic recovery was excluding millions from the economic mainstream.
  • Prosperity Now's brand-new initiative, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network, celebrated the first-ever VITA Awareness Day by announcing that an astonishing $3.2 million had been kept in the pockets of low-income taxpayers thanks to community tax preparers.
  • In August, Prosperity Now announced the launch of its new Racial Wealth Divide Initiative. Designed to stem racial wealth inequality by advancing assets-based solutions, the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative marks the next step in Prosperity Now's commitment to ensuring that the opportunity economy works for all families.
  • More than 200 people came together in November for the 2015 Platforms for Prosperity Summit. The day-long event focused on using workforce-based solutions to boost workers' financial capability.
  • In partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and with the generous support of Citi Foundation, Prosperity Now published What It's Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation, a new book which launched in December at the Financial Well-Being Summit in Washington, DC.


  • In late January, Prosperity Now released the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, the signature measure for which - Liquid Asset Poverty - was found to have remained steady at 44% of American households. In other words, nearly half of all households in the US lacked the liquid savings (i.e., cash) necessary to weather a financial storm in the event a job loss or other emergency left them without their primary source of income.
  • On April 29-30, nearly 300 people came together in Washington for Prosperity Now's 2014 Children's Savings Conference, From Aspirations to Achievement. As the first large-scale gathering of the children's savings field in five years, the event laid forth a vision for the next five years of initiatives designed to help families save for their children's financial futures.
  • The 2014 Assets Learning Conference was held September 17-19 in Washington, DC. This ALC was the largest convening of the asset-building field to date, and included 80 plenary sessions, roundtables, concurrent sessions and capacity-building intensives focused on the Conference theme, Platforms for Prosperity.
  • Prosperity Now celebrated the 35th anniversary of its founding in September, including a celebration at the 2014 Assets Learning Conference.
  • The 10th I'M HOME Conference brought together nearly 150 advocates of manufactured housing in Seattle, WA, in mid-November.


  • Prosperity Now released the 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which earned mainstream coverage on NPR, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times, among others.
  • Prosperity Now hosted a public policy forum focused on asset building, with a particular focus on upcoming opportunities in tax reform. Titled "Can America Save Itself? Tax Reform, Savings and Financial Security," the forum featured Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Commissioner Jonathan Mintz of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes, compiled and analyzed $1.7 billion of MH mortgages, with major findings identifying manual underwriting and "high-touch" loan servicing as product features correlated with loan performance as good or better than that of site-built home mortgages.
  • Prosperity Now launched Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance Project (BETA Project), a Citi supported innovative new project designed to apply the insights and lessons of behavioral economics to asset building programs. In collaboration with ideas42, Prosperity Now began working with three test sites to design, implement and report on experimental research regarding the impact of behavioral interventions on program and participant outcomes.
  • I'M HOME released its Data Snapshots and Policy Snapshots for nine metropolitan areas across the country. These four-page documents provide comprehensive information for stakeholders and policymakers as Prosperity Now makes its case for manufactured housing. WNET's Need to Know broadcast a 13-minute piece on the 1:1 Fund's partner in Mississippi, the Mississippi College Savings Account Program, which was developed with technical assistance from Prosperity Now and funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  • 1:1 Fund staff participated in a conversation with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about San Francisco's path-breaking Kindergarten to College (K2C) initiative. The event was sponsored by San Francisco Mayor, Edwin Lee, and Treasurer Jose Cisneros, and they were joined by an intimate audience of 50 policymakers, educators and advocates from the local community.
  • Assets & Opportunity Network developed a six-point federal policy agenda and passed the 1,000 General Members mark. The Assets & Opportunity Network Steering Committee came to Washington, DC, to shape the direction of the Network and meet with federal policymakers.
  • The Entrepreneur Financial Services Study (EFSS) supported by Mastercard directly engaged low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and examined the financial risks and challenges they experience and the types of financial product and service needs they have that are currently unmet in the market place.
  • The ABPN held its first Regional Convening, "Growing Assets: Closing the Wealth Gap," in Chicago. The convening drew over 60 attendees from a range of civil rights, asset building and advocacy organizations from across the state and included the national members of the ABPN.
  • Prosperity Now and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas hosted a policy forum titled "Examining the Impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," which featured a keynote by Senator Warren and looked at the impact the CFPB has had in establishing and enforcing consumer protection laws and the critical role the consumer protection watchdog will play going forward.
  • Prosperity Now was invited by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) to testify before the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access. The topic of the subcommittee's hearing was "Private Sector Initiatives to Educate Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs."


  • In January, Prosperity Now released the 2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which earned front-page status on the Huffington Post. The Assets & Opportunity Network grew to 60 Lead State and Local Organizations.
  • Partnerships You Can Bank On: Sustainable Financial Institution Engagement in Bank On Programs explored, for the first time, the sustainability of Bank On programs from the perspective of the financial institution.
  • With the Stroke of a Pen: Twenty Low-Cost Federal Policies to Increase Financial Security and Opportunity in Tough Fiscal Times, a guide designed to identify for lawmakers at the federal level manageable and moveable policies that combat asset poverty, was released.
  • The 1:1 Fund Pilot was launched with partner sites in San Francisco and Mississippi.
  • The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) passed the Uniform Manufactured Housing Act which provides a simpler and more uniform system for converting manufactured homes from personal to real property and serves the best interests of manufacturers, lenders and homeowners.
  • Prosperity Now convened the 2012 Assets Learning Conference, the largest convening of the assets field to date, with over 1,200 participants.
  • Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, Ohio, announced a universal college savings account program that will create a savings account for every child entering kindergarten starting in fall 2013. The program, which will initially serve nearly 15,000 public, private, charter and parochial school students in the county, will be the largest such effort of its kind in the nation. Prosperity Now helped Cuyahoga County develop the program.
  • In November, Prosperity Now held the first in a series of public and private forums focusing on asset building. with an event featuring Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jim Tankersley of the National Journal and three panelists: Prosperity Now Board Member and Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell; Ray Boshara of the St. Louis Federal Reserve; and Jim Carr of Opportunity Agenda.
  • The Asset Building Policy Network was launched. The ABPN seeks to improve the opportunity for economic progress for low-income individuals and families and in communities of color by increasing local access to responsible and appropriate financial products and services that can enable families to save, invest, preserve and build financial assets.


  • In cooperation with the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE), Living Cities and the Surdna Foundation, Prosperity Now released a special report, Building Economic Security in America's Cities – New Municipal Strategies for Asset Building and Financial Empowerment
  • Complementing this report, Prosperity Now also fielded multiple requests to prepare Local Assets & Opportunity Profiles, a diagnostic and communications tool that helps city leaders and local advocates work toward practical solutions to address asset poverty in their communities.
  • The 2011 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard was released. Prosperity Now used the Scorecard to broaden the poverty discussion in this country from focusing solely on income to one that adds an assets-based framework.
  • Prosperity Now's Household Financial Security Framework was released, helping organizations think through what it takes at the household level to build financial security over time.
  • Prosperity Now released With the Stroke of a Pen, a report identifying two dozen low- or no-cost approaches that states could take to help their citizens achieve financial security.
  • With nine bills in play, Prosperity Now made more than 250 Hill visits to 180 legislative offices, 10 Congressional Hispanic Caucus members, 20 Congressional Black Caucus members, nine Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus members and 28 Republican Study Commission members. We met with nearly every office of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees.
  • Prosperity Now worked closely with the Department of Education to embed financial education and Children's Savings Account access into the GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) – a federal initiative designed to help middle school students become focused on and prepared for academic achievement and college.
  • Prosperity Now was awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families to provide capacity-building support to grantees of the federal Assets for Independence (AFI) program, the largest source of IDA funding nationally.
  • With assistance from Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Prosperity Now launched a new project to enhance the impact of the Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) approach by strengthening asset-building components and opportunities at the community level.
  • Michelle Greene, Executive Director of NYSE Euronext Foundation and Prosperity Now Board member, invited Prosperity Now to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange as a call to business and government leaders to support policies and programs ensuring financial inclusion for low- and moderate-income individual and families.


  • Prosperity Now brought together 1,000 asset-building professionals in Washington for the Assets Learning Conference: The Assets Movement at Its Moment: Creating the Save & Invest Economy.
  • Prosperity Now announced the release of Upside Down: America's $400 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget, a report highlighting the problematic nature of federal programs designed to help Americans save and invest their money.
  • Prosperity Now launched the 2010 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard and the Assets & Opportunity Network.
  • Prosperity Now and a coalition of corporate and nonprofit supporters worked to expand the Saver's Credit.
  • Prosperity Now completed the field demonstration phase of the 10-year SEED Initiative. Longitudinal research on all aspects of the SEED Initiative continued through 2010 under the leadership of our partners at the Center for Social Development at Washington University and the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. Prosperity Now also published Hope in Concrete Form, a book that shares major findings from the research.
  • Prosperity Now tested the model for the 1:1 Fund through the development of the American Dream Match Funds (ADMF), a program piloted in the Bay Area. This regional matched savings infrastructure leveraged the stories of savers, efforts of organizational partners and the generosity of funders to expand access to financial incentives to promote savings.
  • Prosperity Now led efforts to expand resources for the Microloan Program, Women's Business Centers and the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME), at the Small Business Administration. We also led efforts to improve a number of small business programs for microentrepreneurs at the SBA. Our changes were included in the Small Business Jobs Act (H.R. 5297) President Obama signed into law.


  • Prosperity Now released the 2009-2010 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, the most comprehensive tool available to measure assets and financial security at the state level.
  • Two days after the launch of the Scorecard, 150 key advocates, policymakers, financial services providers and researchers from the public and private sectors came to Washington, DC, for the 2009 Assets & Opportunity Institute. The Institute focused on action, providing participants with concrete strategies for advancing asset-building policies in their own states. The Institute also brought 50 practitioners to Capitol Hill to discuss asset-building policies with staff for their members of Congress.
  • Prosperity Now celebrated three decades of expanding economic opportunity with the Future of Economic Opportunity Awards presented at our Anniversary Gala.



  • Two days after the launch of the Scorecard, 150 key advocates, policymakers, financial services providers and researchers from the public and private sectors came to Washington, DC, for the 2009 Assets & Opportunity Institute. The Institute focused on action, providing participants with concrete strategies for advancing asset-building policies in their own states. The Institute also brought 50 practitioners to Capitol Hill to discuss asset-building policies with staff for their members of Congress.
  • Prosperity Now convened the 2008 Assets Learning Conference: Advancing America's Assets Agenda: Expanding Opportunity, Promoting Prosperity and Mobilizing Communities. Prosperity Now arranged for 400 people to visit 250 Capitol Hill offices (a total of nearly 900 visits) to convey information on the compelling need for asset-building policies.
  • Prosperity Now led efforts to exclude IRAs, 529 and Coverdells from asset limit tests in SNAP, previously referred to as Food Stamps. Prosperity Now also promoted asset-building policy recommendations to presidential candidates throughout the election cycle. Then-candidate Barack Obama added two key proposals to his platform: the Saver's Credit and Automatic IRA policies. Prosperity Now also led efforts to secure funding for both the Assets for Independence program and the Office of Refugee Resettlement IDA program, which together have provided funding for more than 85,000 IDA savers across the country.
  • Prosperity Now and four partners launched ROC USA (Resident Owned Communities USA), a pioneering social enterprise that will help residents of manufactured home communities buy the land on which their homes sit and secure more of the benefits of homeownership they have been previously denied.
  • Prosperity Now coordinated numerous state-based organizations in a campaign to use Assets & Opportunity Scorecard data to push for changes in state policies that would further asset-building opportunities for low-income families.
  • Prosperity Now produced the first Assets & Opportunity Municipal Profile for Columbus, OH. The profile found Columbus to be a city with a great number of resources, most notably its young, educated population and diverse economy. However, it is also a city of growing poverty and large disparities between racial and ethnic groups.
  • Prosperity Now launched innovation@cfed at the 2008 Assets Learning Conference. Its goal was to accelerate the development of next generation asset-building and enterprise strategies.
  • Living With a Hole in Your Pocket, a video documentary produced by Prosperity Now in partnership with the Northwest Area Foundation and Twin Cities Public Television, was nominated for a regional Emmy award. The documentary features struggling families and service agencies trying to maneuver through a web of counterproductive policies.


  • Prosperity Now released the 20th edition of the Development Report Card For The States.
  • Prosperity Now released the 2007-2008 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, and hosted the first Assets & Opportunity Institute in San Francisco. The event brought together more than 150 state-level policymakers and advocates for a two-day forum to learn, share and explore ways to expand asset policy.
  • Through Prosperity Now's Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment Policy and Practice Initiative, there were 1,253 active SEED children's savings accounts at 12 demonstration sites with a total accumulation of $1.6 million.
  • Return on Investment? Getting More from Federal Asset-Building Policies explored the costs associated with federal asset subsidies – some $367 billion distributed in fiscal year 2005 – and how these incentives might be fueling the widening gap between the rich and the poor in this country. It also recommended ways in which we can improve these systems so that Americans living on low incomes can build assets.
  • Native Entrepreneurship in South Dakota: A Deeper Look, a report developed with support from the Northwest Area Foundation, uncovered the innovative Native entrepreneurship development efforts in South Dakota and offered lessons for other Native communities nationwide.
  • Prosperity Now's Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI) completed a two-year demonstration in 2007 that proved how the federal tax code and the tax preparation process could be used to support – rather than hinder – low-income entrepreneurs and startup microbusinesses.
  • Prosperity Now convened four successful Capitol Hill briefings in 2007, educating Congress members and their staff on Prosperity Now's economic development research, matched savings accounts, asset limits and the 2007-2008 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard.


  • Prosperity Now released the 19th edition of its annual economic development benchmarking tool, the Development Report Card for the States (DRC).
  • Prosperity Now hosted the 2006 Assets Learning Conference—A Lifetime of Assets: Building Families, Communities & Economies. Over 1,000 people attended.
  • Through the Expanding Native Opportunity: Native IDA Initiative, Prosperity Now furthered its mission to help the country's Native communities build assets and create sustainable local economies. The Native IDA Initiative was a training and technical assistance program developed to enable Native communities to create and administer Individual Development Account (IDA) programs.
  • Prosperity Now's collaboration with the Hawai'i Alliance for Community- Based Economic Development (HACBED) culminated in the release of Asset-Building Policy for Hawaii.


  • Prosperity Now and partners in California presented Integrating Savings and Credit: A Training for Microenterprise and IDA Practitioners.
  • Prosperity Now continued its partnership with the Federal Reserve System to host Innovations in Asset Building Policy, Products and Programs, a series of forums across the country.
  • Prosperity Now, with a host of partners and major support from the Ford Foundation, launched Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I'M HOME), an initiative designed to help owners of manufactured homes, by some counts more than 10 million families in the United States.
  • Prosperity Now collaborated with the Federal Reserve System to develop and implement a regional forum series on asset building.


  • Senate Appropriators created a $1.5 million earmark for Marriage Development Accounts - matched savings accounts for married couples and youth in the District of Columbia.
  • The 2005 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard was released.
  • Prosperity Now turned 25.
  • REAL (Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning) merged with Prosperity Now.


  • Prosperity Now published Hidden in Plain Sight: A Look at the $335 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget.
  • Prosperity Now's Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment Policy and Practice Initiative continued to develop, test and impel matched savings accounts and financial education for children and youth.
  • The Savings for Working Families Act passed the Senate.
  • Prosperity Now publicly launched the Local Capital Markets Investment Fund's Integrating Savings and Credit initiative at a half-day gathering of financial institutions and practitioners in New York.


  • Prosperity Now surveyed and created an online directory of the IDA field.
  • The Savings for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) Policy and Practice Initiative was launched.
  • The Savings for Working Families Act passed the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Prosperity Now hosted the first international IDA Learning Conference, in Windsor, Ontario.
  • Prosperity Now created the IDA Training Institute.
  • The American Dream Demonstration (ADD) ended.


  • State Asset Development Report Card was created, a groundbreaking benchmarking tool that considered 68 socioeconomic and policy measures—including wealth data never before available at the state level—to compare states on how assets are accumulated, distributed, and protected among their citizens, particularly among those often left out of the economic mainstream.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions: Providing Capital, Building Community, Creating Impact provided an in-depth analysis of data collected from 512 community development financial institutions for fiscal year 2000.
  • Prosperity Now led the Microenterprise Anti-Poverty Consortium through the reauthorization of the PRIME Act and a $5 million federal microenterprise appropriation.
  • Prosperity Now advised the California state legislature on global policies of specific concern to the state and, in particular, its low-income communities.


  • IDA State Policy Guide: Advancing Public Policies in Support of Individual Development Accounts,?an informational tool kit for developing state policy in support of IDAs, was released.
  • Individual Development Accounts for Youth: Lessons from an Emerging Field was released as the first attempt to document the activity in and lessons learned from the emerging youth IDA field.
  • Prosperity Now started its endowment with a $2 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and $1.5 million in donations.
  • Approximately 250 U.S. IDA initiatives were in operation.
  • Center for Social Development published Savings and Asset Accumulation in Individual Development Accounts, the first comprehensive report on data generated by the ADD.


  • Congress considered the Savings for Working Families Act—a multibillion-dollar tax legislation to promote IDAs.
  • Prosperity Now created the National Fund for Enterprise Development (NFED), a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) subsidiary to support work at the state and regional levels to leverage resources for low-income entrepreneurs.
  • Prosperity Now celebrated its 20th birthday at the Prosperity Now at 20 celebration, which combined a party with the Ideas in Development conference.
  • President Clinton presented Prosperity Now with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Microenterprise.
  • President Clinton discussed the IDA-like savings accounts in his State of the Union address.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement made funds available to establish and manage IDAs for refugees.
  • Local Capital Markets Investment Fund (LCMIF) was created—a research and development fund which invests in products and services that enhance the financial performance, social impact or operating efficiencies of development finance institution.


  • The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Data Project was started to create and implement a sustainable data collection and management system for the nation's CDFIs.
  • Prosperity Now worked with the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to revamp the strategic planning process used by several hundred economic development agencies throughout the U.S.
  • The Assets for Independence Act (AFIA) became law, establishing a five year, $125-million federal IDA demonstration.
  • The Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act (PRIME) became law, providing funds to support low-income entrepreneurs.
  • The White House presented the first Presidential Awards for Excellence in Microenterprise.
  • Prosperity Now hosted the first annual State Microenterprise Association Initiative convening in Washington, D.C.
  • Prosperity Now launched the IDAnetwork—an online community to foster information exchange on IDAs.


  • Building Assets for Stronger Families, Better Neighborhoods, and Realizing the American Dream,?a report on research related to assets and asset-building policies, was released.
  • Enterprising Youth in America: A Review of Youth Enterprise Programs in the United States considered the ways in which entrepreneurship can be used to engage the energies and talents of young people in America.
  • Microenterprise development was included as an eligible activity in federal welfare-to-work legislation.
  • Federal welfare reform law included IDAs as a permissible use for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, protecting families from asset penalites if they are in an approved IDA program.
  • Prosperity Now launched Counting on Local Capital, a national research project to survey and evaluate the Revolving Loan Fund industry to assess the opportunities and challenges for growth. Prosperity Now prepares a national census and researches five state RLFs.
  • Prosperity Now began creation of the State Microenterprise Association (SMA) Initiative to promote microenterprise practitioner networks.
  • Prosperity Now was contracted by The Nature Conservancy to work with citizen-based task forces in different regions to develop action agenda for environmentally compatible economic development. Prosperity Now published Building Healthy Communities: Resources for Compatible Development.
  • Realizing the Promise of Microenterprise for Welfare Recipients provided guidelines for states to harness welfare reform in support of low-income entrepreneurs.
  • Improving Your Business Climate: A Guide to Smarter Public Investments in Economic Development provided a definitive state model for economic development that includes a healthy state business climate.
  • Prosperity Now launched the State TANF-Microenterprise Initiative, a three-year, five state demonstration with state leaders who advocate for the use of TANF funds for microenterprise as a path out of poverty.
  • Prosperity Now, the Center for Social Development, and 11 funding partners launched a national IDA policy demonstration—the American Dream Demonstration (ADD)—with 13 sites.


  • Building Healthy Communities: Resources Compatible Development promoted environmentally compatible economic development.
  • Rethinking Urban Economic Development provided policymakers with the basic understanding and tools necessary to create more dynamic and inclusive local and regional economies.
  • Microenterprise development was included as an eligible activity in the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (known as welfare reform).
  • Prosperity Now hosted the first national IDA conference.


  • Massachusetts and North Carolina sought assistance from Prosperity Now in examining the practice of tax-based business incentives and work to make public investments more equitable and cost-effective.
  • Prosperity Now released the first edition of the IDA Program Design Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Designing an IDA Program.
  • Prosperity Now presented policy alternatives to tax-based business incentives.


  • Prosperity Now published the first edition of the newsletter "Assets: A Quarterly Update for Innovators," which highlights developments in the IDA field.
  • Bidding for Business: How Cities and States Sell Themselves Short provided a critical analysis of how cities and states can erode quality of life when led astray by tax-based business incentive competition.
  • Community-based organizations implemented the first IDA initiatives.
  • Iowa enacted the first state IDA law.
  • The federal Community Development Financial Institutions Act passed, expanding access to credit, investment capital and financial services for underserved communities.
  • Prosperity Now developed, tested and promoted an economic analysis tool to create a benchmarking system for regional development.


  • Rethinking Rural Development reported Prosperity Now's work with development practitioners in sparsely populated areas to test ideas, tools and policies to promote economic investment outside urban centers.
  • Regional Performance Benchmarks System: Policymaker's Guide and User's Manual provided a methodology and database to support state and local economic planners and policymakers in their efforts to stabilize and develop rural regions.


  • The Nature Conservancy partnered with Prosperity Now to facilitate a community-wide, environmentally compatible development plan in Virginia. Prosperity Now trained activists and opinion leaders on the importance of equity, accountability and quality of life in making economic decisions.
  • Hard Times, Smart Choices provided guidance about how to manage effective economic development in the midst of recession.
  • The Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis published Assets and the Poor, Michael Sherraden's germinal book outlining the conceptual framework for IDAs.
  • U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Hunger hosted the first federal hearings on IDAs.
  • The Aspen Institute launched the Self-Employment Learning Project—a five-year longitudinal study of low-income entrepreneurs.
  • Microenterprise development became an eligible activity under the Job Training Partnership Act, which launches a grant program for state microenterprise training and technical assistance.
  • With help from Prosperity Now, the Small Business Adminstration (SBA) launched its Microloan Program to assist microentrepreneurs.


  • The Assets for Independence Act (AFIA) was introduced in Congress.
  • Prosperity Now incubates the Association for Enterprise Opportunity—microenterprise trade association.
  • Prosperity Now broadened its mission to include "all economic development and human investment strategies that help people enter the economic mainstream."
  • Congress considered the Freedom from Want Act—the first comprehensive microenterprise capacity-building legislation.
  • Prosperity Now kicked off the Ford Rural Project—resulting in the opening of Prosperity Now's NC office—to identify innovation in rural development.
  • Prosperity Now conducted the Seed Capital Survey—the first of eight annual efforts to capture data on microenterprise loan fund performance.


Prosperity Now and the Progressive Policy Institute published the first Individual Development Account (IDA) policy reports.


Playing by New Rules outlined a new framework for state development agencies to achieve more equitable, accountable and sustainable economic success.


  • Women & Self-Sufficiency: Programs that Work, Policy that Might, analyzed some of the more successful programs that specifically seek to aid low-income women in transition from economic dependence to economic self-sufficiency.
  • Prosperity Now launched the Development Report Card for the States, a broad-based report that used multiple indicators to rate the economies of all 50 states.
  • Prosperity Now launched the Self-Employment Investment Demonstration to test if self-employment could offer a route out of poverty. With 1,300 welfare recipients enrolled in eight microenterprise programs (many of which are still operating today) in five states (IA, MI, MN, MS, MD), Prosperity Now proved self-employment is a viable option for some people on welfare, and provided the policy framework to build the microenterprise field.


Prosperity Now conducted research on economic climate that critiqued existing scorecards and policies, and frames the need for new measurements.


Building the New Economy: States in the Lead—the first model agenda for what states should be doing to foster healthy economic development—was released.


Prosperity Now refined its mission to "focus on new enterprise development specifically in terms of the poor and unemployed with the goal of influencing local and state policy."


  • Prosperity Now conducted a study tour of Europe which brings to the U.S. new ideas on self-employment and job creation in the wake of plant closings.
  • Prosperity Now started the HUB Project on Women's Enterprise which influenced the development of the microenterprise field.


  • Prosperity Now launched the State Entrepreneurial Economy Strategy Development and Demonstration Project to study policies and programs in Ohio, Michigan, and South Carolina.
  • Prosperity Now launched its first periodical, the Entrepreneurial Economy Review, describing what works in economic development and who can do it.


  • Prosperity Now convened its second conference: "Expanding the Opportunity to Produce: Revitalizing the American Economy through New Enterprise Development."
  • Prosperity Now's first major publication, Expanding the Opportunity to Produce: Revitalizing the American Economy through New Enterprise Development, was released.
  • Prosperity Now was founded by Bob Friedman.