Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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Empowering Prosperity Webinar

Empowering Prosperity: Integrating Asset Building within Human Services

A Guidebook for Discussion and Action

Thursday, October 15, 1:00pm -2:00pm ET

View the video of the complete webinar here:

This webinar featured a discussion of a new guidebook that can support human service agencies’ efforts to incorporate asset building into their practices by:

  • Understanding the complex economic challenges faced by diverse populations.
  • Comprehensively addressing barriers so that long-term strategies and solutions "stick"
  • Cultivating a prosperity grid for stability, opportunity and mobility
  • Increasing opportunity and well-being by focusing on and eliminating structural barriers shaped by race, ethnicity, and culture.

Speakers include:

National Human Services Assembly
Tonya Wiley-Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Membership

Institute on Assets and Social Policy
Janet Boguslaw, Associate Director, IASP

Becca Loya, Senior Research Associate, IASP

Innovative Changes
Nancy Yuill, Executive Director, Innovative Changes

National Disability Institute
Michael Roush, Director, Real Economic Impact Network

Aurora Family Service
Kathryn Crumpton, Manager, Center for Financial Wellness,

Kresge Foundation
Christine Robinson, Senior Program Officer

Questions & Answers from Empowering Prosperity Webinar

Q:        Kathryn, is there an asset de-accumulation strategy for older adults that has a time and a place within the holistic strategy? How is that important but different from the approach with working families? 

A:        When working with our older adults, we do use the physical, emotional and financial wellness model. Our goal is to make sure they are taking care of their physical health by seeing their doctor as needed and taking their meds as prescribed. To stabilize them financially we want to make sure they apply and receive all benefits that they qualify for and to maintain them. For emotional health we try to keep them involved with family, friends, community and church groups. With our working families we strive to help them gain assets and with our older adults to preserve what they can without losing needed benefits. –Kathryn Crumpton, Aurora Family Service

Q:        How do you create a resource map, and how does it help your organization to strengthen asset building services?

A1:      I think it is important to know who the agencies are in your community and what they do. Knowing that no agency can be all things to all people, it is important to collaborate whenever possible. In Milwaukee, we have the Alliance for Economic Inclusion which brings many of the financials and organizations together on a quarterly basis for an educational presentation as well as networking opportunities. The coordinator for this is from the FDIC. –Kathryn Crumpton, Aurora Family Service

A2:      The toolkit developed by CFED and Administration for Children and Families called “Building Financial Capabilities” has some great tools to get you started, such as inventory of Community Service Providers. --Nancy Yuill, Innovative Changes

Q:        Speakers [on the webinar] mentioned serving women. Are outreach and recruitment also targeted for men, particularly fathers? And parents who may not reside with their children (again, primarily fathers), but could definitely benefit from asset-building support?

A:        Yes, many asset building programs are open to all low- and moderate-income parents, and these would include fathers. Opportunities specifically for non-custodial fathers also exist, including an initiative funded by the Assets for Independence Initiative: –Becca Loya, IASP

Q:        Have the speakers encountered any identification issues (i.e., USA Patriot Act) for clients establishing banking accounts, and if so, what are some of the solutions?

A:        It can be a problem. If a client does not have a social security number they are allowed to use their passport or state ID and an individual tax ID number (ITIN) to open a bank account. Work with financial institutions that are willing to accept that documentation, as not all are. We ask that question of any Bank On financial institution participant so we know ahead of time if they will work with an undocumented person. Work with the IRS and Tax Aide to get ITINs issued. –Nancy Yuill, Innovative Changes

Q:        I work with a domestic violence social service agency. If I'm looking for partnerships with financial institutions for IDA Accounts or other financial accounts, who should I be looking for?

A1:      Check out the Empowering Prosperity guidebook’s section on asset building for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. See also: the Assets for Independence Initiative's resources for serving DV survivors: and information on financial education & microenterprise for DV survivors: –Becca Loya, IASP

A2:      DV survivors may have derogatory banking and credit history due to the perpetrator's abuse of their finances. Survey financial institutions (FIs) to make sure they are able to work with your folks, using things like second chance bank accounts. Start with any Bank On participating FIs, and look for FIs that are local, small, credit unions, they tend to be able to be more flexible. – Nancy Yuill, Innovative Changes

Q:        What strategies exist to promote asset building at the Federal level to promote family stability when Federal and State law around asset limits often times encourage families to spend down?

A:        Federally, the SNAP and TANF programs allow states leeway to raise asset limits, and many states have done so. Also, savings in federally funded IDAs don't count toward asset limits for SSI, SSDI, or other federal programs. For more on what states are doing, see: An Asset Agenda for the States: Policy Ideas and Recent Developments (p 1-3 & Appendix A) by Karen Harris, New America Foundation and State Asset Limit Reforms and Implications for Federal Policy by Aleta Sprague and Rachel Black, New American Foundation --Becca Loya & Sandy Venner, IASP

Q:        Someone [on the webinar] mentioned having to frame questions to clients regarding their finances in a manner that made it easier to get them to open up... what are some examples of these types of questions/framing?

A1:      Sample questions: What concerns you most about your family finances? Do you feel you have enough financial resources to make it through the month? Is there anyone who helps you make financial decisions? How do they assist you? We found that everyone has a different comfort level and they need to find the questions that they feel comfortable with which usually means the question gets at the information without the counselor feeling overly intrusive. –Kathryn Crumpton, Aurora Family Service

A2:      Frame that they are not alone, "Did you know that over 70% of Oregonians don't have a rainy day fund?" Share your own personal experience, "I get so stressed in the last week of the month because I never have any slack in my bank account." and check out the scripts in "Your money your goals" toolkit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And most of all, don't judge, meet them where they are at, and acknowledge. Our first class includes a tool about how to decide which bills not to pay based on the financial consequences of delaying the payment. That makes the participant realize their situation is not unusual and they can take control of the decision about which bill to pay based on good information. –Nancy Yuill, Innovative Changes

Q:        For Christine: Wonderful presentation and vision. You refer to urban areas and cities. What is your approach to rural America where poverty is just as high if not more so?

A:        Thank you for your question. The Kresge Foundation has a deep interest in well-being and creating paths of opportunity. Clearly all populations are important. The foundation had to make a series of tough choices about the focus of its limited resources. Therefore, the foundation elected to prioritize urban areas due to the concentration of poverty and the sheer numbers of populations effected. However, there are a number of tools developed as a result of foundation investments that build the capacity of providers and practitioners in the human services sector. The Empowering Prosperity guidebook is an example of a field building tool that might be utilized by human service organizations from any geographic area. It is likely that additional resources will be forthcoming that are useful to all communities in the U.S. –Christine Robinson, The Kresge Foundation

Q:        What is the threshold for savings for families living in public housing?

A:        For Section 8 or HUD federally funded public housing, there is no general limit on the amount of assets families can own. However, a portion of interest earned on assets is counted toward the annual income determination. For more information, see: and HUD Voucher Guidebook Section 5.4 –Becca Loya, IASP

Q:        Do any of the speakers have, or know of, a resource that inventories evidenced-based practices in asset building?

A:        Efforts are underway to catalog evidence-based practice in the areas of Individual Development Accounts, Child Savings Accounts, and financial coaching, but the speakers do not know of a comprehensive inventory at this time. –Sandra Venner & Becca Loya, IASP

Q:        Ms. Kathryn, when your organization assists a client what is the most important information you need to know about the client to start the process?

A:        We ask our clients to be prepared for their appointment with information in regards to their income, debts and living expenses so we can do a thorough assessment of their financial situation. From there we discuss their financial goals and strategies to achieve them. –Kathryn Crumpton, Aurora Family Service

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