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.
The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) and Demos released “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 while also reducing the substantial racial wealth gap among young households.
The latest brief focusing on the healthcare workforce in New Hampshire and elsewhere, Improving Quality and Performance: Cultural Competence and Workforce Diversity Strategies, shows that employing a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community while simultaneously achieving cultural competence benchmarks can have multiple benefits including a positive impact on the bottom line.
In 2012, the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation, in partnership with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, 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, met with widespread support and now serves seven cities in Massachusetts, is launching in Connecticut, and has been showcased nationally. The third brief in this series describes Secure Jobs as an application of systems thinking. Systems thinking suggests that a social problem needs to be viewed holistically in order to understand and address its multiple sources in a coordinated effort with sustained impact. By forging a strong link between traditionally separated services, Secure Jobs creates the infrastructure to institutionalize service provision through a collaborative network, in which providers of different types of services partner with each other to examine and address clients’ multiple challenges in an integrated package.
For more information about this project, please contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.
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 was held on December 10.
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.