Research & Development

Asset Building

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Income & Assets Working Group

Living Cities believes that in order to achieve economic stability and maximize financial opportunity, families need the means to both increase their income and build their assets.The Income & Assets Working Group is focused on enabling deep and wide impact in the asset-building field. This field has significant creativity and innovation, but few efforts have reached enough of the market to make a material difference. For the most part, existing efforts focus on stand-alone centers or singular services or products. Our goal is to help institutionalize the integration of income and asset-building within our existing social service delivery systems and mainstream public sector innovations.

Current Investments and Initiatives

Municipal Asset-Building Grant Portfolio

In late 2011, the Working Group approved grants to the following organizations to embed financial empowerment trainings into the frontline of the homeless service continuum. Strategies include intensive financial coaching of case managers, new data tracking and client assessment strategies, and contract changes that would make financial empowerment strategies a required service throughout the homeless services continuum

City of Seattle Human Services Department
Partners include: City of Seattle, Mayor’s Office; International District Housing Authority; Muslim Housing Services; Neighborhood House; Solid Ground; Wellspring Family Services; YMCA of Greater Seattle; YWCA of Seattle; YWCA of King County; YWCA of Snohomish County; Seattle-King County Asset Building Collaborative; the Seattle-King County Financial Education Providers Network; and Burst for Prosperity

Louisville Metro Department of Community Services and Revitalization
Partners include: Louisville Urban League; Network Center for Community Change; Creative Solutions; University of Louisville; Consumer Credit Counseling Services; Women 4 Women; and nearly a dozen Community Development Block Grant sub-recipient organizations.

To learn more about these grants, click here.

Scale Pathways - Bringing Asset-Building Products and Services to Scale

This report provides a framework for asset-building funders and practitioners to evaluate approaches necessary for scaling. In cities across the country, practitioners in the field of asset-building are developing innovative approaches to expanding savings opportunities in low-income communities. Unfortunately, these programs and services rarely reach enough scale to transform entire cities, regions, states, or even neighborhoods. To download, click here.

Asset-Building Publications
In 2011, the Working Group partnered with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) to produce a series of asset-building publications focusing on how specific systems can integrate asset-building into their work.

Federal Stroke-of-a-Pen Guide - This report provides 20 actions the federal government can take to help constituents – more and more of whom are facing financial insecurity – weather a bad economy.

State Stroke-of-a-Pen Guide - This report provides two dozen approaches that states can take to help people achieve financial security without putting additional strain on states’ bottom lines

Integrating Financing Empowerment Strategies into Housing & Homeless Prevention Programs – This guide explores the financial options that exist for those at risk of homelessness and how financial empowerment strategies can be incorporated into housing and homelessness prevention programs.

Getting a Head Start on Financial Security – This guide examines a range of strategies that stakeholders in both the Head Start community and the asset-building community can undertake to link Head Start families, children, and teachers with asset-building opportunities.
Since 2008, the Working Group has supported The Aspen Institute in the creation and build out of This is an online resource, which includes training, calculators, assessment tools, consumer-friendly financial products and links to experts. This year, the team at Aspen Institute will focus on a launch of three pilots focused on incorporating products used by credit unions, improving private sector products, and creating local resource pages. The Aspen Institute is currently looking to transition the platform to a host organization for whom the maintenance and continued development of the platform is integral to its core mission.

Working Group Membership

  • Brandee McHale, Citi Foundation


  • Emily Allen, AARP Foundation
  • Wendy Jackson, The Kresge Foundation
  • Chauncy Lennon, Ford Foundation
  • Kimberly Ostrowski, Prudential Financial, Inc.
  • Alandra Washington, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Beadsie Woo, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

If you have any questions, please contact Juan Sebastian Arias at