3BL Media (CFED)
November 4, 2013
The Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN), a coalition of the nation's leading advocacy, policy and civil rights organizations and Citi (NYSE: C), has launched five new groundbreaking asset building programs funded by the Citi Foundation and designed to build pathways to long-term economic security and expand equal opportunity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities of color.
"Savings, access to responsible credit and financial education are the basic building blocks that enable families to build assets like attaining a college education or starting a business," said Sandy Fernandez, Senior Vice President at Citi Community Development. "The goal of these initiatives is to equip hard-working low-income families of color with the tools and access to financial products and services to build assets and long term wealth."
"Through these programs, the ABPN can develop innovative and scalable solutions to ensure that low-income communities of color participate in an economic recovery that benefits everyone," said Martin Eakes, CEO of Self-Help. "I commend the ABPN for these promising programs and look forward to learning the outcomes of these important initiatives."
According to the Pew Research Center, household wealth declined 66% for Hispanic households, 54% for Asian households, 53% for black households and 16% for white households between 2005 and 2009 - exacerbating pre-existing wealth gaps and reducing the potential for broad economic mobility. Similarly, according to a 2012 report by the Center for American Progress, despite a widely-held cautious optimism about the ongoing economic recovery, communities of color continue to lag behind the nation in terms of access to asset building opportunities like entrepreneurship, naturalization, or ongoing education.
"The programs launched today by the ABPN will provide the blueprints to support economic mobility and sustainable asset building that is so desperately needed in communities across the country," said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, a founding member of the ABPN. "It is in everyone's interest that these innovative programs succeed and get to scale."
The ABPN is a national coalition that collectively advances savings and asset building policy at the federal level, builds national capacity of the network's members, and bolsters long-term financial security for low- and moderate-income communities of color. Citi Community Development and the Citi Foundation helped found the ABPN along with seven of the nation's preeminent civil rights, advocacy and policy organizations.
With $1.8 million in funding from the Citi Foundation, five founding members of the ABPN will pilot innovative solutions to a range of challenges facing low-income communities of color ranging from improving college success rates among underserved/low-income African American youth to rethinking capital access and technical assistance to Latino small businesses looking to grow and create jobs.
"Financial savings and asset building provide greater economic security, upward mobility and opportunities for growth, especially for low-income families and communities of color," said Pam Flaherty, President & CEO of the Citi Foundation. "Consistent with the goals of the Asset Building Policy Network, these organizations are developing innovative approaches that will close the wealth gap by including more people in the financial system and enabling them to move from making ends meet to planning for their future."
The Citi Foundation awarded grants to the following ABPN members:
National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders will develop a small business development model that will seek to address the barriers to market entry and access to capital experienced by low-income Latino entrepreneurs. NALCAB will implement a three market pilot project to measure the asset building impact of expanding access to credit, capital and culturally-relevant technical assistance resources for small businesses. Based on this pilot as well as best practices from its network of organizations, NALCAB will publish an evidence-based model and tool kit for culturally-relevant, small business development services that build assets for low- and moderate-income Latino entrepreneurs, families and communities.
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and National Council of La Raza will use their separate grants to focus on the economic integration of low income legal permanent residents. Access to better paying jobs and education opportunities are just two of the many advantages of naturalization. But for many of the country's 8 million eligible legal permanent residents, the $680 naturalization fee is an insurmountable financial barrier. Both organizations will provide citizenship education, financial education and coaching, and credit building programs to build new financial and national identities to support long-term economic success.
National Urban League will seek to increase college enrollment and completion rates by enhancing Project Ready, its college preparatory program, with a robust set of services that will increase students' understanding of the costs of college, provide access to financial aid, interpret and compare financial aid awards, and prepare incoming college students to manage their personal finances. Research by the Education Trust shows that the six year graduation rates of black students is 39.9%, compared with a graduation rate for Hispanic students of 51% and a rate of 62.1% for white students.
PolicyLink will identify and integrate best-in-class asset building strategies into Promise Neighborhoods, a federally funded initiative to improve educational opportunities and college success rates in high poverty communities. According to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, of people who were born into families in the lowest income quintile, 44% remain in that group as adults.
The Asset Building Policy Network includes the Center for American Progress, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), Citi, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, and PolicyLink.
Citi's collaboration with fellow ABPN members is led by Citi Community Development, which is leading Citi's commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Citi Community Development's focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.citigroup.com/community.