Webinar: Strategic Philanthropy, featuring the Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University

May 06, 2015

Despite philanthropy's commitments to improve family economic security, stability, and growth, a lack of cross-sector collaboration limits the impacts including constrained public resources and siloed programmatic services.   

A promising approach for addressing these challenges is utilizing a framework that more  effectively ties together and shapes the disparate policies, investment structures, practices, and stakeholders to leverage resources and impacts. The strategic framework of asset development helps to create an effective, integrated, and sustainable system, enabling families to move through safety nets into financial security and opportunity.  Asset building integration shifts investment goals from remedying deficiencies to building on strengths by increasing capability, access, and opportunity. It enables foundations to integrate and expand the scope, scale, and long-term impact of their work, shifting the focus from families' vulnerabilities to their opportunities for success.

We convened a peer-learning session on May 6, 2015 to hear from Janet Boguslaw from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University and Daria Sheehan from the Citi Foundation to discuss the strategic framework of asset development, how it can impact sector-based strategies, and examples of how funders are applying this strategic approach to effect greater social and economic impact. 

Webinar speakers included: 

  - Janet Boguslaw, Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University

  - Daria Sheehan, Citi Foundation

  - Rafael O. Morales, Silicon Valley Community Foundation



Asset Funders Network Brief: Strategic Philanthropy - Integrating Investments in Asset Building: a Framework for Impact, May 2015

Click here to review or dowload the presentation PDF.

Click here to view the recording. 



From the Institue on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University:

Why Assets?

Assets are the foundation of resources that families and communities draw on to meet more than their basic needs. 

Assets are resources used to promote family mobility and well-being and include such things as savings, education, good health, home ownership, and the connections people have to each other as pathways or networks to other resources and mutual support. Nearly two in five families in the US are asset-poor—their financial assets cannot bridge essential living expenses for three months during times of economic difficulty without falling into poverty.

Income, when coupled with assets, provides a family with economic security and the opportunity for moving aheadIncome provides an important basis for building assets needed to save for future needs, pursue an education, buy a home, start a business, live securely in retirement, and weather economic challenges of unemployment, illness, or disaster. Families use income to meet daily needs while assets provide stability and security and can grow and accumulate over time.

The opportunity to build a life of security, stability, and well-being is at the heart of the American Dream. Opportunities for success rely on individual effort in a context of formal and informal public policies, programs, and institutions. Today, there is growing recognition that family assets play a key role in building this ideal life, and that family asset development and protection should be a critical focus of policies designed to alleviate poverty and to increase opportunities for social and economic mobility and security.

Research demonstrates that while all families need opportunities for asset building and social mobility, sufficient and appropriate opportunities are not universally available. America needs a broader set of asset-building policies to reach outwards and downwards to those who have not yet been included. Families need opportunities to:

  - build an asset base through adequate wages and benefits to ensure stability and well-being

  - expand their knowledge and capacities through new and continuing education and training in content areas and around issues of financial literacy

  - grow and protect financial assets such as savings accounts, home ownership, and retirement plans

  - provide equitable access to opportunities for asset formation available through our tax system to those with higher incomes

Social policy must go well beyond patching the social safety net. Increasingly, costs are shifting from social investment in the common good associated with health care, education, retirement security and other areas, to family wallets and a focus on personal responsibility alone. Social policy is needed to renew a withering opportunity structure by creating a set of social investments that can serve as a platform for mobility and security.

The survival of the American Dream rests on our ability to be a competitive player in the global economy while broadening access to its benefits across all members of the nation. IASP is dedicated to advancingopportunity, security, and equity for all Americans through asset-building polices and programs.