Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Education and Engagement

Community Engagement

Creating and implementing effective asset development policies calls for the participation of communities, governments, and the public. Working with its partners and the larger community of asset practitioners, the Institute engages with the public, community-based organizations, and local and state governments to expand knowledge, practice, and action in the asset field. We draw on our research and practice to promote statewide asset initiatives, educate and train the public, speak in public and policy forums on asset issues, engage with the media, and publish reports, tools, and other products that organizations and the public can draw upon to advance this work.

In recent years, IASP has collaborated with Dēmos, the Center for Community Change, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP), and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) through publications, grant-writing, and evaluations. The Institute collaborates with its partners to develop training programs and webinars that inform and educate organizations and the public concerning policy issues related to asset-building and structural barriers to financial stability experienced by many groups. Recent webinars have highlighted the racial wealth gap, the rise in senior economic insecurity, and the responses to homelessness.

Institute staff have presented in such diverse venues as Neighborhood Partnerships, the Eastern Sociological Society, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), the Gerontological Society of America, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), and the Massachusetts Alliance of EITC Coalitions, as well as in national and annual meetings of community action agencies, financial institutions and other organizations. IASP research on the racial wealth gap and senior economic security has received media coverage on CNN, CBS, NPR and MSNBC.

The Institute's ongoing research and capacity building efforts support community engagement in three key areas:

Expanding and Improving Financial Education Programs

Financial education is a cornerstone to asset development, helping individuals and families analyze financial information, make wise and informed decisions, and respond to opportunities and emerging events. IASP collaborates with community-based organizations, government agencies, and financial institutions to expand and improve financial education programming through research and evaluations, technical assistance in program design and implementation, and informing public policy.

IASP has partnered with the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) to support their Asset Formation Initiative, which aims to expand free tax preparation assistance, financial literacy education, and other asset formation services for low-income people through MASSCAP's statewide network of community action agencies. The Institute has provided training for agency staff and is designing and implementing assessments at ten pilot sites–lessons that will aid MASSCAP in scaling up successful asset formation practices in the 24 community action agencies across the state.

Strengthening State Asset Initiatives

Asset Development: Removing Barriers, Building Futures front cover The Institute has worked with other Massachusetts organizations and constituencies to promote the goals of the Massachusetts Asset Development Commission, created to coordinate asset development efforts and make recommendations to establish a comprehensive asset development system in Massachusetts. IASP’s State and City Asset Building Initiatives outlines the formation activities and strategic steps that organizations across the country have adopted to create an asset policy agenda in their cities or states.


The State Asset Learning Project

The Institute has been engaged by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support the development and implementation of the State Asset Learning Project. IASP is assisting the facilitation of an interactive process for the sharing of knowledge and advances in practice to strengthen the capacities of asset building practitioners and advocates. 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 to help inform state and local asset building activities across the country and to address issues of scale and sustainability. IASP is analyzing and documenting the impact of these coalitions to assess the initiative's performance as well as the contributions of state coalitions to creating sustainable asset building policies.

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