Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

IASP in the News

"Cosby Show dreams and African American financial realities" by Antonio Moore in

"What role does race play in investing?" by Kelley Holland in

"Why do blacks and Hispanics accumulate less wealth than whites?" by Gail MarksJarvis in Chicago Tribune

"The Education Myth" by Sean McElwee and Marshall Steinbaum in Aljazeera America

"Hidden Divorce Penalty is Older Age Poverty" by Sharon Johnson in Women's eNews

"College is not the great equalizer for black and Hispanic graduates" by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel of The Washington Post

"The Racial Wealth Audit: Policy Analysis through a Racial Lens" by Beadsie Woo of the Annie E. Casey Foundation

"Black Money Matters!" by Harry R. Jackson, Jr. of The Christian Post

"More U.S. children living in poverty now than during recession" by Brett Wilkins of Digital Journal

"Financial Reform at 5: Some Gains, Some Big Disappointments" by Orson Aguilar of The Bradenton Herald

"Homeownership for Minorities in Schenectady Still Elusive" by Bethany Bump of The Daily Gazette

"Why Now is the Right Time to Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap" by Sabrina Terry of Huffington Post Black Voices

click here to view articles or to see more

What's New

November 2015

IASP and Demos release study of Student Debt

"Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap" is published. Using the Racial Wealth Audit (TM), a framework developed at IASP to assess the impacts of policies on the racial wealth gap, the report highlights how new policies can both lower overall student debt burdens and reduce racial wealth disparities among young households.  

New Leveraging Mobility Brief examines how assets affect women's choices

The seventh brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, "Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families," is published. The brief examines how women and families leverage resources to protect themselves from gendered, wealth-stripping forces when caregiving responsibilities and changes in household composition create financial challenges.  

Presentation at Gerontological Society Scientific Meeting

Research Director Tatjana Meschede and Senior Research Associate Laura Sullivan present "Key Assets for Building Retirement Security: Institutional, Community, and Extended Family" at the 68th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Gerontological Society of America.  The meeting will be held November 18 to 22 in Orlando, FL.  

IASP to co-host webinar on Wealth Inequality and the Tax Code

The Tax Alliance is hosting a webinar focusing on communications and advocacy around wealth inequality and the tax code. Participants include PolicyLink, CFED, Americans for Tax Fairness, and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The webinar was held November 9 from 3pm to 4pm. 

October 2015

IASP Director at Equity 2015

IASP Director Thomas M. Shapiro spoke on Toxic Inequality: Challenges and Solutions for the Racial Wealth Gap at Equity Summit 2015. The conference was held in Los Angeles, CA, from October 27 to 29. To read more about Equity 2015, go here.

Socially Responsible Investments discussed

Associate Director Janet Boguslaw and co-author Alexander B. Kaufman contributed a chapter, "Gaining Traction: Socially Responsible Investments, Targeted Markets, Sustainable Impacts," to Inequalty, Uncertainty, and Opportunity: The Varied and Growing Role of Finance in Labor Relations, Christian E. Weller, ed. The book was published by the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Impacts of race and place on Katrina evacuees

IASP Research Associate and PhD candidate Sara Chaganti is co-author of a new paper that studies the impact of long-term displacement and race on changes in post-Katrina survivors’ employment status. Chaganti and co-author Jasmine Waddell find across their analyses that displacement has a negative effect on employment status and that African-Americans suffered a larger loss of full-time employment status than did whites. 

IASP Director delivers keynote address

Director Thomas Shapiro delivered a keynote speech at the Pathways to Prosperity 2015 Regional Conference, held October 13-15 in Cary, NC.  He spoke on "Looking Ahead: Impacting the Racial Wealth Gap over the next 20 years."  

Empowering Prosperity: Integrating Asset Building within Human Services Webinar

IASP and its partner, The National Human Services Assembly, presented a webinar to review and discuss the new guidebook Empowering Prosperity: Strengthening Human Services Impacts through Asset Integration. Held on October 15, participants discussed supporting human service agencies' efforts to incorporate asset building into their practices. Moderated by IASP Associate Director Janet Boguslaw and Senior Research Associate Rebecca Loya, other speakers included Tonya Wiley-Robinson (National Human Services Assembly); Nancy Yuill (Innovative Changes); Michael Roush (National Disability Institute); Kathryn Crumpton (Aurora Family Service); and Christine Robinson (Kresge Foundation).  

September 2015

Quality Workforce = Quality Health Care

IASP and its partners held an interactive research and policy forum to share findings from the Healthcare Employer Research Initiative and Beyond Supply and Demand.  Titled "From Research to Practice: Expanding and Diversifying New Hampshire's Healthcare Workforce," the event took place at Manchester Community College on September 25.  

Asset building within human service organizations 

IASP and The National Human Services Assembly publish Empowering Prosperity: Integrating Asset Building within Human Services, a guidebook outlining key asset development approaches underway in human service agencies in the U.S.  A webinar will be held in October to review and discuss this new publication.  

Career success for healthcare professionals focus of new paper

IASP researchers published The Networked Workforce:  Maximizing Potential in Health Careers.  This paper examines the importance of strategic relationships and connections to career success for healthcare professionals.   

August 2015

Santos successfully defends dissertation

Jessica Santos successfully defended her dissertation, Beyond Supply and Demand: Networks of Opportunity and Inequality in Health Careers, on August 6. Dr. Santos conducts applied research aligned with her expertise in workforce development and diversity, and refugee and immigrant integration. At IASP she works on two complementary projects, the "Employer Research Initiative," and "Beyond Supply and Demand," both of which investigate aspects of workforce diversity in New Hampshire's health care sector. Dr. Santos holds a Master's degree in Sustainable Development from the School for International Training and a BA in International Studies from Middlebury College.

July 2015

First report for BHA Enhanced FSS Program issued

IASP has issued the initial report to the John T. Gorman Foundation evaluating the new Family Self-Sufficiency program it is supporting at the Bangor Housing Authority. To learn about the early results, check out BHA Enhanced FSS Program Process and Implementation Report.  

Dietrich successfully defends dissertation

Lars Dietrich successfully defended his dissertation, Bullying in Schools: How School and Student Characteristics Predict Bullying Behaviors in American Secondary Schools, on July 22. Dr. Dietrich is a political scientist and Fulbright Scholar from Austria who has many years of work experience with asylum seekers. He is a social policy researcher with a focus on education and racial/ethnic inequality using quantitative and qualitative methods. His expertise is in policy research in bullying behavior in schools, racial/ethnic achievement gaps, employment inequality, and the racial wealth gap.

Graduate Research Associate accepts new and exciting position

Giselle Routhier, a Graduate Research Associate at IASP, has accepted a position at the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City.  As Policy Director, Giselle will be working at the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children.

More What's New


cover of Less Debt, More Equity"Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap"

With rising numbers of young people accumulating student debt as they strive for a higher degree and a more secure economic future, the growing financial burden of student debt on young households is increasingly highlighted on the agendas of policymakers and the media.  However, policy conversations to date have failed to address the racial disparities that exist in student borrowing and how student debt impacts the racial wealth gap among young households. 

Today, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) and Demos are releasing a report, “Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap,” to add a racial equity lens to the discussion.  Using the Racial Wealth Audit™, a framework developed at IASP to assess the impacts of policies on the racial wealth gap, this report highlights how new policies can both lower overall student debt burdens and reduce racial wealth disparities among young households. Such reforms must be designed carefully, directing debt relief towards low and moderate income households.  With momentum growing to address the burden of student loans, policymakers and advocates have the opportunity to develop solutions that could halt the growing tide of student debt in the country, while also reducing the substantial racial wealth gap among young households.

click here to download brief "Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families"

Caregiving responsibilities and changes in household composition, such as divorce or separation, create financial challenges that disproportionately affect women. The seventh brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, “Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families,” examines how families leverage neighborhood, institutional, and personal resources to protect against these gendered, wealth-stripping forces. Framed by national trends that point to racial disparities in access to these resources, the brief uses comparative case studies to explore how unequal access shapes the set of strategies and trade-offs available to women and their families. webinar cosponsored by IASP and PolicyLink will be held on December 10th at 2pm ET. Register for the webinar here.  

Shapiro discusses the Racial Wealth AuditTM

Featured Projects

Empowering Prosperity:  Integrating Asset Building within Human Services

cover of Empoiwering Prosperity paperThis guidebook serves as a primer on asset building within human service organizations.  It outlines key asset development approaches and explores stragegies and efforts already underway in human service agencies throughout the United States.  The guide also provides a snapshot of ideas and models to spur discussion about explicitly integrating asset building into human service missions and practices.  By visiting our Resources page, you may browse the entire guidebook or select just those sections you will find most useful.  

The Dual Impacts of Good Jobs and Good Health

IASP is wrapping up a multi-year research partnership in New Hampshire designed to investigate challenges and opportunities related to workforce diversity in health care. Findings from the Healthcare Employer Research Initiative, a federally-funded initiative with the NH Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs, highlight the role that healthcare employers play as key drivers of workforce diversity and inclusion. In addition, the study Beyond Supply and Demand, funded by the Endowment for Health, offers insights into how healthcare professionals access opportunity and navigate career paths through networks.  Together, these studies point to a need for new collaborative program models and innovative policies for employment and economic inclusion.  Efforts to employ and advance diverse health professionals are critical for creating a secure workforce and economy through good jobs and good health for all.  All of the studies may be found here.

For more information, please contact Jessica Santos at (781) 736-8680 or Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738.

The Networked Workforce: Maximizing Potential in Health Careers

cover of Networked paperHuman capital is a driving factor for career success and advancement, and skill development is a priority area for workforce development policymakers.  However, the study Beyond Supply and Demand, funded by the Endowment for Health, found that healthcare professionals achieve career success and advancement through strategic relationships and connections with individuals, institutions and programs - their networks.  Health professionals who are embedded in quality networks are more likely to end up on a path to good jobs and long-term economic security over the life course.  Implications for policy and practice include the need to move “beyond supply and demand” through strategies that address and strengthen healthcare professionals’ networks and social capital in addition to their human capital.

Job Readiness Training, a Key Strategy for Addressing Unemployment in Homeless

Secure Job's Brief 2IASP is conducting a multi-year evaluation of the Secure Jobs Initiative, in partnership with the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation. Secure Jobs is a new service model for homeless families that integrates employment and housing services to provide holistic support to families in crisis. Initially launched in three cities in Massachusetts in February, 2013, Secure Jobs is now operating in seven regions in the state. IASP's mixed-method evaluation tracks program implementation at all Secure Jobs sites, and short-term participant outcomes.  

Job Readiness Training for Homeless Families: Preparing for Work to Achieve Housing Stability is the second research and policy brief in the Secure Jobs, Secure Homes, Secure Families series. This brief focuses on the job Readiness Training component of the Secure Jobs Initiative. Job Readiness Training is a package of services intended to move job seekers quickly into employment by market their existing skills and abilities, and is central to Secure Jobs at all seven sites. Secure Jobs participants experience Job Readiness Training as supportive and empowering. Recommendations for best practices include using an evidence-based curriculum and providing wraparound supports such as childcare and transportation.

For more information, click: Secure Jobs Project or contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.

How Secure is Your Retirement? IASP Report Reveals Retirement Uncertainty

Click to download reportAll families hope for lasting financial security, but today many families in the United States struggle to make ends meet, let alone prepare for their financial future. In the sixth brief in the Leveraging Mobility Series, “Navigating an Unclear Path: Preparing for Retirement in the 21st Century”, a mixed-methods approach is taken to analyze the long-term financial well-being of middle-aged households as they plan for the future and approach retirement. 

Notably this research suggests that establishing a secure, long-term financial position does not occur in a vacuum. Instead, neighborhood and family resources, as well as institutional setting, are key resources in creating a financial foundation for a family. By understanding the sources of security and the key vulnerabilities families face, policy can be proposed and structural solutions suggested that expand long-term later life security to a greater numbers of families.

Webinar: Building an Equitable Retirement System for the 21st Century

In June, 2015, IASP and PolicyLink hosted a webinar to discuss the findings of “Navigating an Unclear Path: Preparing for Retirement in the 21st Century”. Webinar Speakers included: Alexandra Bastien, Program Associate at PolicyLink (Moderator), Laura Sullivan, Senior Research Associate at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Ramsey Alwin, Director of the Economic Security Initiative at the National Council on Aging, Jody Blaylock, Policy Associate with the Financial Empowerment Policy Project at Heartland Alliance

To learn more about the Leveraging Mobility Series, please click here.

Secure Jobs for Homeless Families: Expanding an Integrated Service Model

Secure Jobs In 2012, the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation, in partnership with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), spearheaded a new service model for homeless families that integrates employment and housing services to provide holistic support to families in crisis. This model, called Secure Jobs, piloted in five cities in Massachusetts in the spring of 2013. Met with widespread support since its inception, Secure Jobs has expanded to two more cities in Massachusetts, is launching in Connecticut, and has been showcased nationally.

This research and policy brief introduces the second phase of Secure Jobs model and documents changes to the model in the second phase of the initiative. Subsequent briefs will focus in on specific program elements, offering information on their impacts and recommendations for best practices.  For more information about this project, please contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.

Paper Demonstrates the Advantages of Combining Public and Private Sector Asset Building

Click to Read ReportDeveloped by IASP and the Asset Funders Network, with the generous support of the Citi Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, Strategic Philanthropy: Integrating Investments in Asset Building offers compelling evidence and examples for achieving stronger and more sustainable outcomes by combining asset building with a variety of public and private sector community partners including employment, education, healthcare and affordable housing.

A promising approach for addressing these challenges is utilizing a framework that more effectively ties together and shapes the disparate policies, investment structures, practices, and stakeholders to leverage resources and impacts. The strategic framework of asset development helps to create an effective, integrated, and sustainable system, enabling families to move through safety nets into financial security and opportunity. Asset building integration shifts investment goals from remedying deficiencies to building on strengths by increasing capability, access, and opportunity. It enables foundations to integrate and expand the scope, scale, and long-term impact of their work, shifting the focus from families' vulnerabilities to their opportunities for success.

For more information, please contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738.

Researchers Design New Tool to Measure the Impact of Public Policy Choices on the Racial Wealth Gap 

Click to read Press Release 

A vast amount of research has focused on how public policy addresses economic disparities but there has not been a systematic analysis of the types of public policies that offer the greatest potential for reducing the racial wealth gap, until now.  In The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, researchers from IASP and Dēmos collaboratively designed a new tool—the Racial Wealth Audit—to evaluate the impact of housing, education, and labor markets on the wealth gap between white, black, and Latino households.  This tool assesses how policies and outcomes in these areas affect the racial wealth gap. To greatly reduce the racial wealth gap, policymakers must confront its historic and policy root causes. 

For more information on the Racial Wealth AuditTM please contact Thomas Shapiro at (781) 736-4671.

Report Reveals “No Significant Improvement” in Senior Security

Post-Recession Senior In-Security Remains HighIndicators such as growth in employment rates and gains in the construction and housing sectors signal that the national economy is on the road to recovery.  Yet, with the economy recovering there has been no significant improvement in senior security.  In the 7th brief in the Living Longer on Less series, Post-Recession Senior In-Security Remains High, IASP explores the obstacles seniors face and the pitfalls Policymakers should avoid.

For more information, please contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.

Study Examines Wealth Creation and Wealth Management Among the Nation’s Wealthiest African Americans

Click to view reportCredit Suisse, in collaboration with IASP, released “Wealth Patterns Among the Top 5% of African Americans” highlighting the distinctive investing behaviors within the top 5% (as measured by net worth) of the African-American community.  The study showed that the top 5% of African Americans invest a greater proportion of their wealth in lower-volatility assets relative to a white comparison group, including insurance, savings bonds, and CDs.  Click here to read more

For more information, please contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.

Issue Brief Presents Program and Policy Implications of Workforce Diversity Research for Health Care Employers and Workforce Development Leaders in New Hampshire

Click to read reportWorkforce development initiatives traditionally focus on increasing access to education and training for low-income individuals.  IASP's research on the health care sector in New Hampshire indicates that a successful response to changes in demographics and the health care environment includes an increased focus on preparing the workplace, together with cutting-edge preparation of the workforce.  Strengthening New Hampshire's Health Care Workforce: Strategies for Employers and Workforce Development Leaders (link) presents four key strategies to enhance the workforce, including a new concept of inter-organizational pathways for advancement.  Developing a diverse health care workforce in order to deliver quality care to all will require the collaboration and investment of employers, educational institutions, workforce development agencies, and community organizations.

This brief represents the third publication in a series of research products developed by the Healthcare Employer Research Initiative funded by the U.S. HHS Administration for Children and Families.  For more information, contact Sandy Venner at (781) 736-8688.

New Report Examines the Disparities in Neighborhood Opportunity

Click to download the reportPeople are drawn to neighborhoods for various reasons—family ties, connections to friends, attachment to institutions—yet, the financial and social resources that a family has access to within these neighborhoods affects a family’s well-being and ability to gain social and economic mobility.  In “Location, Location, Location: The Role Neighborhoods Play in Family Wealth and Well-Being”, the Institute on Assets and Social Policy examines the disparities in neighborhood opportunity. This brief delineates between high opportunity and low opportunity neighborhoods, explains the disparities in neighborhood opportunity and reveals the reasons why families are sorted by race and class into different quality neighborhoods.

Drawing on longitudinal survey and interview data, this brief seeks to understand how families negotiate the diverse structure of neighborhood opportunity and explores their experiences of living in different types of neighborhoods.  National-level longitudinal quantitative data illustrates the consequences of where a family lives and highlights why families place so much emphasis on gaining access to the “right” neighborhood. 

The history of racial segregation in the United States has laid the foundation for ongoing neighborhood opportunity segregation.  Policy has helped structure the segregation of opportunity by race and class, and so policy clearly has a critical role to play in helping to create a fairer distribution of opportunity by neighborhood.

For more information, please contact Thomas Shapiro at (781) 736-4671

Copyright 2015 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved