Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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IASP in the News

"The Widening Racial Wealth Divide" by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker

"Public-interest groups are calling on Education Dept. to track racial disparities in student lending" by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in The Washington Post

"A Rising Force: On the State of Black Philanthropy" by Ade Adeniji in Inside Philanthropy

"As Los Angeles Gets Younger, Skid Row Gets Older" by Stacy Marlena Torres in

"BET's founder on why there aren't more black-owned startups" by Andy Medici in the Washington Business Journal

"Economic inequality is the cause the the consequence of our racial problems" by Michael Hiltzik in LA Times

"Two Stories from the Frontlines of Millennial Caregiving" by Jason Resendez in HuffPost

"Why the Racial Wealth Gap Harms Everyone--Even Whites" by Rebecca Adamson, Rose Brewer, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Meizhu Lui, and Barbara Robles in

See previously published news articles

What's New

November 2016

Boguslaw presents initial results of ESOP research

Associate Director Janet Boguslaw spoke at The ESOP Association's recent conference on a massive research project exploring how ESOPs benefit families and children. Funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, this is the longest, most significant, well-funded study of ESOPs in several years. 

Seventh Secure Jobs Brief issued

This latest report in the Secure Jobs series uses data on Secure Jobs participants who entered skills training to explain how Secure Jobs sites use short-term skills training programs for their participants.  Key findings include: Secure Jobs participants who enroll in skills training programs are comparable to those who do not, and they show moderate employment gains, most notably in job retention.  

Presentation at GSA Annual Scientific Meeting

Research Director Tatjana Meschede presented "Race, Gender, and Senior Economic Well-Being: Financial Vulnerability Among Older Women of Color" at the 2016 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting. The meeting, New Lens on Aging: Changing Attitudes, Expanding Possibilities, was held in New Orleans.

Sullivan presents at APPAM

Senior Research Associate Laura Sullivan presented "How Measurement of Inequalities in Wealth By Race/Ethnicity Impacts Narrative and Policy" at the 2016 APPAM meeting. Her presentation was part of the panel "The Racial Wealth Gap: Measurement, Trends, and Policy Implications (Social Equity)."

Shapiro speaks in Detroit

IASP Director Shapiro participated on the panel "Bearing Witness to Headwinds: Housing, Wealth, Health and Employment" at the conference "Tomorrow's Detroits and Detroit's Tomorrows: The Economics of Race." The conference was organized by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

October 2016

Workforce Diversity presentation

Senior Research Associate Jessica Santos presented "Workforce Diversity in New Hampshire: Findings from the Employer Research Initiative" at the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on the Healthcare Workforce, together with research partners from the NH Office of Health Equity. This was part of a larger presentation about lessons learned from the NH Health Profession Opportunity Project, a federally-funded workforce development program which trained and employed over 600 TANF and other low-income individuals in health professions. 

Meschede a panelist at A Nation That Works Conference

Research Director Tatjana Meschede was a panelist on the session "Aligning and Coordinating Systems to Improve Employment Outcomes for Rapid Re-housing Participants" at the 2016 A Nation That Works Conference. The conference is part of the Heartland Alliance's National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity.

Meschede moderates panel at EMPath Conference

Research Director Tatjana Meschede moderated a panel at EMPath's "Disrupting the Poverty Cycle 2016" conference at UMass Boston. The panel looked at "Neighborhood Poverty and Family Financial Security." 

Santos presents "Inside Inequality" at Dartmouth College

Senior Research Associate Jessica Santos led an interactive workshop, "Inside Inequality: Power & Privilege Across the Life Course," at Dartmouth College as part of Dartmouth initiative to address inequities on its campus. Her talk highlighted findings from her research on opportunity hoarding and other mechanisms that perpetuate racial inequality.

See more What's New

IASP Impact

The new Annie E. Casey Foundation brief, Investing in Tomorrow: Helping Families Build Savings and Assets, draws on IASP's research on the racial wealth gap.

IASP Director Thomas Shapiro spoke to CFED staff on American's growing racial wealth divide in the first of CFED's Race & Wealth podcasts

Sen. Elizabeth Warren used IASP's research in her September 27, 2015 speech at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United State Senate.  

cover of Equitable InvestmentsEnsuring Equitable Investments in the Next Generation

In Equitable Investments in the Next Generation: Designing Policies to Close the Racial Wealth Gap, IASP and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) build on findings from analyses using the Racial Wealth Audit—first launched by IASP and Demos—to focus attention on the ways in which education policy proposals can reduce or exacerbate racial wealth disparities.  The analysis reveals the potential role that educational policies in the areas of student debt, higher education, and asset-development for youth may have in promoting equity and reducing the racial wealth gap.  By comparing racial wealth disparities seen today with projected wealth outcomes by race and ethnicity following the implementation of proposed policy solutions, the report suggests promising frameworks for new policy proposals, including targeted universalism, and cautions policymakers to avoid educational investments that could deepen existing wealth inequalities.

Toxic Inequality coverComing in March 2017: Tom Shapiro's new book

Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future

Economic inequality is at historic highs, but its impact differs by race. African Americans' net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans and in recent decades white families have accumulated wealth at three times the rate of black families. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities--a dangerous combination he terms "toxic inequality."

Toxic Inequality reveals how these forces trap families in place. Shapiro's longitudinal research vividly documents the Great Recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use financial assets, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty. The structure of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and tax code--much more than individual choices--push some forward and hold others back. Toxic inequality has been forged by history and preserved by policy, and only bold, race-conscious reforms can move us toward a more just society. Toxic Inequality is available for preorder from Amazon.

“In this lucid and compelling book, Thomas M. Shapiro convincingly argues why we can’t understand wealth and income inequality in America without also understanding racial inequality, and that any potential solution to the former must also remedy the nation’s widening racial divide. He shows how wealth and race compound historic injustices through their combined effects on housing, schools and colleges, employment, and politics. Everyone concerned about the toxic effects of inequality must read this book.” —R O B E R T B. R E I C H, author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few

 “In this indispensable book, Thomas M. Shapiro connects the stories of individual American families to a powerful and readable analysis of data and policy, revealing the truth about escalating racial inequality in America: it is the result of institutional forces, not individual effort.” —H E AT H E R C. M c GHEE , president, Dēmos

Shapiro discusses the Racial Wealth AuditTM

Featured Projects

SJP7 thumbnailSeventh Secure Jobs brief issued: Skills Training for Homeless Families

This report uses data on Secure Jobs participants who entered skills training to explain how Secure Jobs sites use short-term skills training programs for their participants.  Key findings include: Secure Jobs participants who enroll in skills training programs are comparable to those who do not, and they show moderate employment gains, most notably in job retention.  Secure Jobs participants choose training programs in subjects ranging from health care to manufacturing.  About half have chosen training in healthcare-related fields. Participants who enter training in traditionally female-dominated fields, including healthcare, sales and service, are more likely to find employment than those in traditionally male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing.

MCHC coverBecoming a Culturally Effective Organization: A Case Study of the Manchester Community Health Center

Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to an increasingly diverse population, where disparities in access to care and health outcomes are prevalent. These health disparities are exacerbated by racial and socio-economic inequities in educational attainment, access to quality jobs, and neighborhood resources. Healthcare organizations around the U.S. -- in small communities as well as large urban centers -- will increasingly seek to implement strategies that improve quality and equity. Since 2013 and with funding from the Endowment for Health, the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) has been working on a project to become a Center of Excellence in Culturally Effective Care. IASP partnered with the health center to provide technical assistance and study the implementation of a range of organizational change strategies that move MCHC along their path to becoming a culturally effective organization. This case study, Becoming a Culturally Effective Organization: A Case Study of the Manchester Community Health Center, sheds light on strategies appropriate for community health centers in communities becoming ever more diverse that are read to embark on an organizational change process to deliver high quality care to all. 


cover of Less Debt, More Equity"Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap"

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.

"Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families"

click here to download briefCaregiving 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

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