FROM THE DIRECTOR

APRIL 2019

Is spiraling debt, stagnant wages, a precarious middle class, and the constant struggle where you never get ahead—especially if you are a person of color or female head of household— a matter to be cured by personal responsibility, financial education, and being frugal?

 

No. That represents a necessary but insufficient part of any meaningful solution to end inequality and inequity.

We need systemic reforms and in some cases wholesale changes to the current systems that disrupt economic security, wealth building, and psychological security.  We need to no longer fear that college education is just a source of debt and no longer a path to prosperity.  We need home ownership to be accessible and not seen as the province of the wealthy.  We need government incentives, fees, and law enforcement that support not disrupt stability.

Despite the arrival of the Mueller Report, the federal government appears no closer to focusing on major legal reforms. Thus, we can fairly anticipate that ideas for systemic reforms including tax policy and income support reform will continue to be agenda items to develop and test with local and state governments while we continue to shift the narrative to one expands opportunity by focusing on equity and closing the racial and gender wealth gaps.

The national funders conference that AFN is hosting in early May is the only venue focused on asset building and the role of philanthropy for this effort. Our keynote speaker, Angela Glover Blackwell, will compel attendees to face the challenges, acknowledging realities and the critical role we will play.  Conference participants and speakers will be informing each other and influencing strategies to address systemic change to support expanding opportunity and prosperity particularly through a focus on those who have been systemically excluded and left behind.

If past conferences are a lesson, attending funders will meet and explore ideas with industry peers—both newly met and well known— about supporting and expanding asset-building efforts in their communities and influencing systemic change in the market economy both locally and nationally.

As I write this, two lesser known verses of Woody Guthrie’s song, This Land is Your Land, play in my mind:

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling, 
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling, 
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting: 
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there 
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.” 
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing, 
That side was made for you and me.

The generations of inequity and discrimination is the fog we know we must lift—the challenge to being excluded is to expand inclusion.

Even if you can’t attend the AFN Conference May 7-8, join us to keep the focus on equitable asset building and make this land one for you and me regardless of race or gender.

Thinking you may want to come? It is not too late, we’ve saved you a seat. CLICK HERE to register. See you in San Antonio.