Administration for Children & Families
By: Kenneth J. Wolfe
September 10, 2010
The Office of Community Services (OCS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service awarded more than $7.5 million in Assets for Independence (AFI) grants to 33 non-profit community-based organizations; national service providers; and local and tribal agencies across the nation.
Grant recipients will use a combination of the federal AFI grants and private sector funding to enable low-income individuals and families to use matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to accumulate resources for long-term economic stability. Participating individuals and families will take part in classes on financial literacy, family budgeting and consumer issues. They will also receive coaching and an array of other services geared toward enabling them to become more economically secure.
After saving in their IDA for a minimum of six months, participants will be able to use their IDA savings and matching funds to acquire any of three economic assets: a first home; a small business for self-employment; or post-secondary education or vocational training. More than 30,000 AFI IDA savers have successfully made asset purchases since the program's inception in 1999.
"The Assets for Independence program offers community organizations a much needed tool to empower low-income individuals and families," said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "Individuals and families who have never been part of the economic mainstream in their communities have used savings strategies from AFI to become first time homeowners, pursue an education, and start small businesses."
The AFI program is demonstrating and testing the effectiveness of IDAs and related supportive services for enabling individuals and families to become more financially secure. AFI grantees provide information and data for ACF's ongoing research on the impacts of IDAs.
ACF has awarded 53 AFI grants totaling $11,128,526 for the fiscal year 2010.