Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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Asset Integration

Asset development and protection is increasingly recognized as a critical component of policies designed to alleviate poverty and increase opportunities for social and economic mobility. The Institute works to identify administrative, inter/intra-organizational, and stakeholder engagement avenues for integration of asset formation opportunities into service and program delivery. IASP collaborates with a range of partners, including the Kresge Foundation, the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP), and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, to expand and enhance how social service organizations and government agencies integrate asset-building policies and programs into their activities and institutional agendas. The Institute's policy research both draws on and informs our work in building the capacity of practitioner groups. Our current efforts focus on three areas:

Going Beyond the Safety Net

IASP and MASSCAP have partnered to expand the capacity of the state's community action agencies (CAAs) beyond traditional “safety net” financial and social supports to provide asset formation services to more effectively help low-income people attain financial stability and economic well-being. The goal of MASSCAP's Asset Formation Initiative is to build the capacity of CAAs to offer a continuum of asset formation services, with financial education and free tax preparation at their core. As the research partner, IASP designed and implemented the data gathering, analysis, evaluation and training components of the initiative. The Institute also provides technical assistance for partnering CAAs to understand and improve the impact of their financial education programs.

Meeting New Human Service Needs Through Asset Building

A 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 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.

Strengthening State Asset-Building Initiatives

The Institute has been engaged by the Mott Foundation to support the development and implementation of its State Asset Learning Project. IASP is helping facilitate 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 and programs.

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