Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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Strategic Planning and Organizational Development

In a complex and quickly changing economic and political landscape, advancing effective and sustainable asset formation programs and policies requires organizations to think strategically and collaboratively over the long term. Drawing on its expertise and long experience in policy research and program management, and its strong relationships with stakeholder organizations, the Institute helps strengthen and expand the work of our partners through assistance with strategic program planning and organizational development. We collaborate with community-based organizations, constituency groups, foundations, state bodies, and coalitions of asset development organizations. Our current efforts are focused in two areas:

Strengthening State Asset Initiatives

With support from the Hyams Foundation, the Institute has worked closely with key Massachusetts organizations and constituencies to launch the legislatively created Massachusetts Asset Development Commission, which has recommended promising policy and programmatic changes to move families up the economic ladder. (See the final report of the Massachusetts Asset Development Commission, Asset Development: Removing Barriers, Building Futures, June 2009.) At the national level, IASP's analysis of State and City Asset Building Initiatives (2008) outlines the formation activities and strategic steps that organizations across the country have adopted to pursue an asset policy agenda in their cities or states.

Most recently, the Institute has also been engaged by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support the development and implementation of the State Asset Learning Project. The leaders of ten statewide coalitions are working with IASP and other research partners to analyze the effectiveness of practices and strategies in their states and help inform state and local asset-building activities across the country.

Building Resilient Asset Development Organizations

IASP's new project, "From Shock to Structure: Meeting New Human Service Needs Through Asset Building," funded by the Kresge Foundation and conducted in collaboration with the Heller School's Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy, will strategically support and position an important new conversation on the role of foundations and human service organizations in asset building. This collaborative initiative will explore how different vulnerable populations and human service organizations are being affected by and are managing in the new economy, and will identify asset-based policy, institutional and programmatic responses that may improve security, stability and well-being. An important outcome of this work is to better understand how to create and support greater organizational resiliency to meet changing constituent needs, either directly or through new forms of partnership and network activity.

Practical Lessons for Building and Sustaining Effective State Asset Building Coalitions

Occurring 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 Fieldalso 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 more information about the report you may contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738.

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