Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
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.
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. A webinar cosponsored by IASP and PolicyLink will be held on December 10th at 2pm ET. Register for the webinar here.
This 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.
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.
Human 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.
IASP 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.
All 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.
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.
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.
Developed 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.
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.
Indicators 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.
Credit 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.
Workforce 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.
People 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