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IASP in the News

Rethinking Ways to Help Oregon Families Get Ahead by Oregon Public News Service

This is What the Legacy of "White Privilege" Looks Like in Bill O'Reilly's Hometown by Emily Badger of the Washington Post

We Need to Focus on Strategies for Building Generational Wealth by Solana Rice of The Root

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What's New


Director Shapiro Speaks at Gettysburg College

As part of Gettysburg College's Civil Rights Movement Series, IASP Director, Thomas Shapiro, spoke to students and faculty on "Navigating Toxic Inequality".  

Director Shapiro Speaks at Neighborhood Partnership RE: Conference

Thomas Shapiro was the lunch plenary speaker at the Neighborhood Partnership RE: Conference this year.  He presented the fourth brief in the Leveraging Mobility Series, "The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality".  Attendees included those interested in housing opportunity, nuturing small business, increasing access to the tools and resources needed to thrive, and providing individuals and families the financial bedrock needed to overcome the barriers of everyday life.


IASP Presents at CFED Asset Learning Conference

IASP Associate Director, Janet Boguslaw, and Senior Research Associate, Hannah Thomas, presented at this year's CFED Asset Learning Conference.  Janet discussed "Wealth Building and Protection in the Workplace" and Hannah spoke on "Household Economic Well-Being and Mobility".  Both drew from findings in recently released briefs from the Leveraging Mobility Study. 


Director Shapiro Discusses Key Driver to Racial Wealth Gap on Al Jazeera America

Director Tom Shapiro appeared on Real Money with Ali Velshi to discuss the role that homeownership plays as a key driver of the racial wealth gap. Director Shapiro explained, using Ferguson, MO as a real-life comparison, that housing is the largest driver of the racial wealth gap.  Real Money with Ali Veishi airs on Al Jazeera America weekday evenings at 7 pm, click to check your local listings.

JULY 2014

Web of Wealth Webinar

Asset Funders Network hosted a webinar that explored the role of extended family wealth networks in providing resiliency and opportunity, examined how wealth networks drive inequality, and discussed the implications for funders and practioners.  Hannah Thomas, Senior Research Associate, presented findings from the latest IASP Leveraging Mobility Series brief "The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality?.  To view the webinar, click here.

Research Director selected as Visiting Scholar at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank

IASP Research Director, Tatjana Meschede, was selected to be this year’s Visiting Scholar at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, joining the Department of Community Development to carry out two projects analyzing recently collected data, the National Asset Scorecard and Communities of Color (NASCC) survey for Boston.  Dr. Meschede’s projects include a description of the Boston Racial Wealth Gap and analyses on the impact of financial resources in kinship and social networks on household wealth by race and ethnicity. Dr. Meschede will also collaborate with colleagues at the Bank on additional analyses using this new data set.

JUNE 2014

Strengthening Family Resiliency Webinar

Senior Research Associate, Hannah Thomas, presented the findings of latest report, "Keeping Dreams Alive: The Lane-Changer Costs of Financial Disruptions", in the Leveraging Mobility series. Hosted by PolicyLink, additional insights were provided by David Pate, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin, Marissa Guananja, Director of Chelsea CONNECT, and Mattias Kraemer, Deputy Director of Asset Building at Mission Economic Development Agency. Click to view webinar.

IASP Presents at Work and Family Researchers Network Conference

Associate Director, Janet Boguslaw, and Senior Research Associate, Hannah Thomas, spoke at the 2014 Work and Family Researchers Network Conference. They discussed "Family Wealth and Well-Being in the 21st Century: A Job Is More than Income". The theme of this years conference was "Changing Work and Family Relationships in a Global Economy".  

Associate Director Speaks at Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce Conference

Janet Boguslaw participated in a panel discussion on "Where We Are: The Faces of Poverty" at the Poverty at Home/Reasons for Hope conference. In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a  symposium to discuss the current economic trends in the community, explore the causes of poverty in the community and provide inspiration to change the patterns that lead to poverty.

MAY 2014

IASP Presents at WREC Conference

Senior Research Associate, Hannah Thomas, spoke at the 17th Annual WREC Conference in Washington, D.C. Hannah discussed the drivers of economic mobility and which factors matter for families' who are trying to move up the economic ladder.  To view the conference click on the link:

Senior Research Associate Selected to be an SSRC Emerging Scholar

Hannah Thomas, Senior Research Associate at IASP, is a SSRC Emerging Scholar.  SSRC’s Emerging Scholars Initiative publicizes the work of emerging scholars who have produced research on topics relevant to economic self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families. Each SSRC Emerging Scholar serves a three-month term and four scholars are featured each year. During her term Hannah will host a Webinar to present and discuss her research with SSRC users.

APRIL 2014

Director Receives Asset Builder Champion Award

On April 30 Director Tom Shapiro received the Asset Builder Champion Award.  Tom has dedicated his career to bringing awareness to racial inequality. His most recent work includes identifying key drivers of the racial wealth gap.  Also receiving the award is Kilolo Kijakazi of the Ford Foundation. Kilolo has long been a powerful advocate for economic security issues. The award is part of the 2014 Color of Wealth Summit which is organized in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Director Speaks at University of New Hampshire

IASP Director, Thomas Shapiro, addressed the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute on April 28.  Director Shapiro's lecture, "The Racial Wealth Gap: Moving Evidence and Narrative Into Policy", examined the art of creating and moving evidence into the public arena as an oppositional narrative. From strategic research to partnering, to grass roots community conversations to communications to dissemination to impact.

Director Presents "Navigating Toxic Inequality" at University of Pittsburgh

The Center on Race and Social Problems hosted a lecture on "Navigating Toxic Inequality" presented by IASP Director, Tom Shapiro. Director Shapiro spoke about the struggles that families face to financially stay above water while wealth inequality is at an all time high. 

Director Participates in Launch of The State of Black America 2014 Report

On April 3, the 38th edition of the State of Black America,One Nation Underemployed:  Jobs Rebuild America was released.  IASP Director, Tom Shapiro, participated as a panelist discussing the Equality Index™ which includes a newly added metropolitan section that ranks approximately 80 U.S. citis from most-to-least equal in employment and income.  

Final Report on Multi-Year Assessment of FSS Program finds Promising Outcomes

IASP Research Associate Delia Kimbrel and Policy Director Sandra Venner completed the final report for Compass Working Capital. This 3 year evaluation focused on how families use this opportunity to move toward economic stability, positive impacts sustained after program graduation, and the cost-effectiveness of taking the program to scale.

MARCH 2014

Associate Director Presents Employment Capital Report During Webinar

Janet Boguslaw, Associate Director, participated in a Webinar "The Work to Wealth Escalator: Why a Quality Job is More than Just Income" hosted by members of the Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime Initiative of the Ford FoundationPolicyLinkJobs with Justice, and Family Values @ Work.  The webinar focused on the second report in IASP's Leveraging Mobility series, Employment Capital: How Work Builds and Protects Family Wealth and Security.  Click to listen to the webinar.


New Assessment on the Bangor Housing Authority FSS Program Development Completed

Policy Director, Sandra Venner, and Research Associate, Deliah Kimbrel, completed an assessment on the Bangor Housing Authority Family Self Sufficiency and Savings Development program.  Findings were presented to the funder and the housing authority along with other key organizations that can be instrumental in future program design and implementation.  To view the report click here.  

"Leveraging Mobility: How Employment Builds and Protects Family Wealth and Security" Webinar

Senior Research Associate, Hannah Thomas presented findings from the Leveraging Mobility study in a webinar sponsored by the Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison. A summary of her presentation can be downloaded here.  Presenters also included Erin Currier, Director of Economic Mobility for The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Ray Boshara, Senior Adviser and Assistant Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

IASP Research Director Addresses the Pressing Concerns of Homelessness

Tatjana Meschede, Research Director at IASP and Senior Lecturer at the Heller School for Social Policy, presented at 'DEIS Impact.  During the conference titled, "A Focus on Homelessness in Local Communities,"  Research Director Meschede shared her knowledge and experience on homelessness and spoke about the pressing concerns regarding homelessness.  The conference was sponsored by members of Habitat for Humanity and Hunger and Homelessness, along with active clubs under the Waltham Group.  

Congratulations to IASP Graduate Research Assistant

Alicia Atkinson, MPP '13, has accepted a position at CFED as a Policy Analyst.  While at IASP Alicia assisted with social media and research on the leveraging mobility project.  She also co-authored "Employment Capital: How Work Builds and Protects Family Wealth and Security".  CFED is a nonprofit based in Washington, DC dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families and communities in the US.  The IASP & Heller family is excited for Alicia as she begins this new chapter.


IASP Director Honored for Lifetime Work

Thomas Shapiro, Director at IASP, received the "Distinguished Member Award" from the Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center.  This award recognized Tom's dedication to social justice, racial inequality, and the racial wealth gap.  The Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center is a nonprofit tennis club built by and for the African American community whose focus is on the well-

More What's New


IASP Statement

Upcoming Webinar: Location, Location, Location

Wednesday, November 12 at 2:00 pm EST

Utilizing IASP's most recent brief in the Leveraging Mobility Series, "Location, Location, Location: The Role Neighborhoods Play in Family Wealth and Well-Being", this webinar will explore how policy can help create a fairer distribution of opportunity by neighborhood.  Moderated by Alexandra Bastien of PolicyLink, participants include:

  • Alexis Mann, Research Associate at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy
  • Deborah Goldberg, Special Projects Coordinator at the National Fair Housing Alliance
  • Christopher M. Brown, Director of Government Affairs at PolicyLink

The webinar is free to attend.  Registration is required.  

IASP is Hiring

Would you like to be a core member of a dynamic team?  Does our work excite you?  If you answered YES to both of those questions then you may be the team member that we are looking for.  IASP is looking for a dynamic individual excited about advancing IASP’s research and policy agenda in two areas: understanding the major drivers of the racial wealth gap and advancing our understanding of wealth mobility and economic security for families with children.  Click to read more.

Featured Projects

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.

IASP Launches Racial Wealth Audit™ Tool

Evidence that the United States’ racial wealth gap is large and persistent is undeniable with disparities in household wealth by race/ethnicity well-documented by researchers. What communities and policymakers do next to address and alleviate the existing racial wealth gap will be crucial for shifting the dynamics of racial and economic equality in the country.

To help bring policy action to the next level in this crucial area, today the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and Demos announce a new research framework and tool for understanding how proposed and current policies influence the racial wealth gap: the Racial Wealth Audit™.  This new analysis tool will shift both policy discussions and actions to ensure that racial wealth disparities are at the forefront of policy decision-making throughout the policy process.  By establishing a structure for understanding impacts of policies on the racial wealth gap, the Racial Wealth Audit™ will promote policy action that directly combats the racial wealth gap we see today.  By providing better knowledge at the fingertips of policymakers, advocates, and communities, the Racial Wealth Audit™ will be a key resource for promoting dialogue that shifts policy efforts toward much-needed solutions to the racial wealth gap.

The Racial Wealth Audit™: Measuring How Policies Shape the Racial Wealth Gap,” outlines the need for the Racial Wealth Audit™, its applicability to policy, and our agenda for putting this new tool to work in a series of reports over the coming year in collaboration with our partners at Demos, who will help us to expand the reach and impact of the Racial Wealth Audit as we engage the public and policymakers in efforts to close the racial wealth gap.

Report Seeks to Understand Whether Extended Family Wealth Networks Provide Resiliency and Opportunity or Drive Inequality.

Click to Download ReportClick to view the webinar

The fourth report in the Leveraging Mobility series, "The Web of Wealth: Resiliency and Opportunity or Driver of Inequality", explores family financial assistance and seeks to understand whether extended family wealth networks provide resiliency and opportunity or drive inequality. Families often help each other out financially. In the short-term, financial help limits those in the network from economic collapse or a serious decline in their standard of living. Over the long-term, extended family financial support can provide a steppingstone to better opportunities, such as going to college, starting a business, or purchasing a home. 

Financial transfers can fundamentally change a family’s lot in life. This network of extended family financial assistance is a “web of wealth” that, in the U.S., profoundly shapes individual family members’ social and economic trajectories beyond their own achievements in work and education. A web of wealth depends on the financial resilience and affluence of its members. Some wealth webs are packed with prosperous individuals. Many family webs have no wealth, especially low-income, African American, and other family of color networks. Across generations, historic policies have contributed to this inequitable wealth distribution.

For media inquires or to receive a hard copy, please contact Charity Adams at (781) 736-8685.  For more information on this report or the Leveraging Mobility series, please contact Hannah Thomas at (781) 736-3819.

Report #3 in the Leveraging Mobility Series Explores Financial Disruptions

Click to view ReportClick to view webinar

Income-disrupting life events–divorce, unemployment, poor health, caregiving–occur far more frequently than we think with real costs and consequences for financial well-being. These life events can have deeper consequences that shift life’s trajectories and curtail family-member's dreams.

Not everyone experiences the same risk of income-disrupting life events. Nor do all families have the same depth of resources to navigate them. The result, these life events affect families differently. This new Leveraging Mobility series research brief, Keeping Dreams Alive: The Lane-Changer Costs of Financial Disruptions, reviews how families bear the costs of income-disrupting life events and the financial context that impacts how they make decisions to maintain immediate well-being. This report looks at ways policy can increase the capacity of families to stay on track as well as methods that policy can generate opportunities for families to overcome income-disrupting life events. 

For media inquires or to receive a hard copy, please contact Charity Adams at (781) 736-8685.  For more information on this report or the Leveraging Mobility series, please contact Hannah Thomas at (781) 736-3819.

Issue Brief Assesses Workforce Diversity in New Hampshire's Health Care Sector

Click to View the BriefNationally, it is well known that African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and certain members of the Asian/Pacific Islander population are underrepresented in certain segments of the U.S. health care workforce.  This mismatch between the patient and provider population contributes to health disparities and excludes minority professionals from jobs that pay well and offer advancement opportunities.  For the first time, Missing Persons?  Health Care Workforce Diversity in New Hampshire examines available data to assess whether the health care workforce in New Hampshire mirrors national trends and answers two questions:  To what extent is New Hampshire "missing" certain groups of people in its health care workforce?  What are some key trends by race and ethnicity in Southern New Hampshire's health care workforce?   

Findings demonstrate that racial and ethnic minorities are over-represented in nursing and residential care facilities, and underrepresented in hospitals and ambulatory care settings, indicating that workers of color may be missing out on jobs that pay well and offer opportunity for advancement.  This brief was produced under the ongoing research projects Beyond Supply and Demand funded by the Endowment for Health, and the Healthcare Employer Research Initiative funded by the U.S. HSS Administration for Children and Families. For more information, contact Jessica Santos at (781) 736-8685.

Report Provides Practical Lessons for Building and Sustaining Effective State Asset Building Coalitions

Click to view reportOccurring amidst the backdrop of the Great Recession, 10 state asset building coalitions were able to demonstrate that efforts to build greater financial security and economic opportunity do not have to stall-out or simply tread water in economic downturns.  The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation selected these ten coalitions through a competitive process.  All ten participated in a three-year coalition development and peer-learning process aimed at advancing asset building policies and practices in their states.  The Institute on Assets and Social Policy served as a research and learning partner to this initiative.  IASP documented those key lessons learned in the just released report State Asset Building Coalitions: Perspectives from the Field.”  This report uses concrete examples from the ten state asset building coalitions, offers practical tools to help states build their residents’ financial security and stability, and demonstrates the importance of peer-learning.

The report reveals that state asset building coalitions can take big and small steps to advance policies and practices that open the doors of opportunity to both middle and low income residents in their states.  Coalitions in Michigan and Maryland incentivized and accelerated savings among low-income families.  Illinois eliminated major barriers to saving by abolishing asset limits for TANF eligibility.  Texas is giving young people hope for a college education by providing financial education and matched college savings accounts.  State Asset Building Coalitions: Perspectives from the Field also details the efforts of California, Arkansas, Washington State, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.

Who should read this report?  Those with a stake in the economic and social well-being of their state: funders, nonprofits, government representatives, members of the business community, elected officials and others.  It provides compelling evidence of ways coalitions are coming together to use asset-based strategies to improve family self-sufficiency and strengthen the economic and social fabric of their states, and highlights the importance of networking across states to advance effective and efficient practice.  

For media inquires or to receive a hard copy, please contact Charity Adams at (781) 736-8685.  For more information about the report you may contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738 or Martha Cronin at (781) 736-8680.

Report Looks at the Important Role that Employment Plays in How Families Build and Protect Financial Assets

Click to view briefThe second report in the Leveraging Mobility series, “Employment Capital: How Work Builds and Protects Family Wealth and Security,” suggests the link between employment and building wealth goes far beyond the paycheck.  Drawing on the lived experiences of families, this report adds a critical new understanding of the connection between work and wealth.

Interviewing young families in the late 1990s—when the economy was growing and prosperous—and again in 2010—during a stagnant economy amid dramatic wealth loss—we were surprised to find that more than two-thirds had seen their wealth increase.  As we talked to them, it became clear that many factors were at play.  One important observation was that for many of the families that built wealth, the characteristics of their employment facilitated a pathway to accumulating wealth that income alone could not provide.

A puzzle remained, however.  African-American families in our interview sample saw their incomes and educations rise in relation to those of white families, and yet their wealth increased at a significantly lower rate.  Sifting through the interview data and aligning it with national data as a comparison, it became clear that wealth-building job characteristics are distributed unequally, and sorted through race, class, and occupation.

The findings were presented in a webinar in February 2014.  This webinar was sponsored by the Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  During this webinar IASP Senior Researcher, Hannah Thomas, took a closer look at the implications of the study answered: What is employment capital? What role does it play for families? How does it drive wealth accumulation?  What are the current trends in economic mobility in relation to employment? And what are the policy implications? You can view the PowerPoint presentation here and the handout here.  Contact Hannah Thomas at (781) 736-3819 for more information.

WebinarAssociate Director Presents Employment Capital Report During Webinar

Janet Boguslaw, Associate Director, participated in a Webinar "The Work to Wealth Escalator: Why a Quality Job is More than Just Income" hosted by members of the Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime Initiative of the Ford FoundationPolicyLinkJobs with Justice, and Family Values @ Work.  The webinar focused on the second report in IASP's Leveraging Mobility series, Employment Capital: How Work Builds and Protects Family Wealth and Security.  Click to listen to the webinar.

Leveraging Mobility Brief Looks at How Families Build Wealth and Finds Surprising Results

Click to view briefIASP releases the first brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, "Leveraging Mobility: Building Wealth, Security and Opportunity for Family Well-Being", that looks at how families build and secure wealth.  

In a decade of stagnating economic mobility, and increasing income and wealth inequality, how have families built and secured a nest egg for their own retirement security and to leverage their children’s future well-being?  What are the pathways and structures that helped them get on and stay on the wealth escalator? Drawing on a unique dataset of longitudinal interviews conducted twelve years apart, families with children in three major cities across the nation were asked about their assets, wealth, income, economic security and life aspirations. The Leveraging Mobility series examines how working and middle class families use assets to advance security and mobility, or struggle to gain ground in the absence of assets.

This first brief “Leveraging Mobility: Building Wealth, Security and Opportunity for Family Well-Being” highlights some surprising key findings, and provides information on how families in the study have fared over the first decade of the twenty-first century. 

Contact Hannah Thomas at (781) 736-3819 for more information.

Report Focuses on Workforce Diversity Opportunities and Challenges in Health Care in New Hampshire

Click to view reportIASP releases the report, Perspectives and Practices of New Hampshire Health Care Employers: Improving Quality, Reducing Costs, and Planning for the Future by Building Culturally Effective Health Care Organizations. Drawing from over 50 interviews, this report gives voice to what New Hampshire health care employers and workers are saying about how the health care system can better serve the growing minority patient population and all New Hampshire residents through increased diversity in the workforce. It is the first of a series that will examine best practices for effectively responding to the changing health care environment through a focus on workplace and workforce innovations that lead to more culturally effective organizations. This initiative is funded by a grant from U.S. HHS Administration for Children and Families.

Contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738 or Sandra Venner at (781) 736-8688 for more information.

Utilizing Research from IASP, PEW Explores Damaging Effects of Unemployment & Unexpected Wealth Losses on Mobility and Economic Security

Hard Choices BriefIASP produced a new study published by The Pew Charitable TrustsMaking Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment, examines how American families manage unexpected financial setbacks and how those periods of economic uncertainty draw down financial resources, leaving them more insecure in the future. The report studies families across race and income levels, revealing different experiences resulting from unemployment and the difficult choices many of them face. 

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, the study takes a close look at varying experiences of unemployment across race and family income from 1999 to 2009.  The research shows that families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment and other financial setbacks, but families at the bottom of the income ladder, Latinos, and blacks had the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative impacts.

Krissy Clark of NPR's Marketplace reported on the study in "Recovery from Job Loss: Easier for Whites than Blacks".  Click below to listen:

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