Our June 2017 newsletter includes:

  • a profile of Wende Burton, the Community Philanthropy Director for Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT),
  • a video on closing the women’s wealth gap from AFN national steering committee member Elena Chavez Quezada and Robert B. Reich, former Secretary of Labor,
  • Ida Rademacher’s keynote address, “The Assets Movement at a Moment of Reckoning” from our May 2017 grantmaker conference,
  • news and updates from the likes of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., CEO Bill Bynum from the Hope Enterprise Corporation, and Inside Philanthropy,
  • The latest research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, FIELD at the Aspen Institute, and the Center for Financial Services,  
  • and of course a letter from Joe Antolin, AFN Executive Director.

FROM THE DIRECTOR
JUNE 2017

At the national, regional and local levels, AFN members and partners are committing to the real work necessary to change the course and create opportunity for low and middle income Households. We are doing so even while national political leaders disconcertingly seek to cut taxes on the wealthiest (adhering to the unfounded belief that such tax policy invigorates the economy – even through recent events in Kansas reflect yet another state where this approach has failed), reduce the support for affordable or publicly funded health insurance, reduce support for food programs supplementing the wages of workers and feeding children and otherwise make economic instability greater.

Funders are investing in the short- and long-term approaches and developing deeper and broader systemic solutions. They are incorporating the implications of the research reported in both Jonathan Morduch & Rachel Schneider’s The Financial Diaries and Tom Shapiro’s Toxic Inequality.

The issues of income volatility, financial stress, flat or regressing wages, and the risk shift for benefits and salaries from employers to employees – all contributing to racial, ethnic and gender wealth gaps – are not about individual choices, but about the effects of forces not in the control of the wage earner, the family, and in most cases the community. It is a time for real problem solving. We need to accept the cold realities confronting households in order to face down counterproductive approaches reflecting bias and faith in the older American dream of individual upward mobility over the life course.

Let’s face it:

  • 60% of the workforce earns hourly income with significant volatility,
  • the gig/independent contractor income is, at best, an imperfect income source to supplement or smooth out household balance sheets,
  • since the 1970s, separation of productivity from pay has flattened wage growth,
  • continued gender and racial bias, codified by the tip minimum wage laws, depresses earnings,
  • low minimum wage eliminates disposable income,
  • expensive or high deductible medical insurance is destabilizing,
  • debt loads building up for college or short term needs are making households insolvent, and
  • the tax code benefits the richest at the expense of low and middle income households.

The answers to the question of financial stability and prosperity are indeed more about the need for systemic and cultural change.

Philanthropy will keep stepping up to innovate and develop new models refining how to achieve prosperity for an American dream to address the real situation of American households today. Both policy reform and new tools for prosperity are needed to achieve deep market penetration in community and scale. Led by health funders focusing on the social determinants, community and family foundations confronting the effects in their communities, and financial institutions seeking to innovate and to build up financial coaching capacity to bend the curve, we understand and acknowledge that prosperity growth involves addressing multiple cross sector realities faced by households.

Because the gender, racial, ethnic, and generational wealth gaps require policy and product solutions in tandem, this work requires States and Cities along with institutions who are closely tied to their communities to work in partnership. Thankfully, many AFN foundations, non-profits, public health systems, high road employers, and local public officials are working in partnership to develop solutions.

AFN supports its members and the sector emphasizing intersectionality of disciplines:

  • Health-Wealth,
  • Employers and Wealth building,
  • Immigrants Reinvigorating Community Prosperity,
  • Small Business Development for Closing the Racial Wealth Gap, and
  • Women’s Wealth Gap.

We also see these as national issues affecting households in blue and red states-urban, suburban, and rural.

Join AFN, be a contributor or a collaborator, help us to define or to elevate the solutions.

Joseph A. Antolín
Executive Director
Asset Funders Network