This paper is aimed at generating discussion among funders and practitioners on approaches necessary for scaling innovative approaches to expanding savings opportunities in low-income communities.

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. This paper is based on insights developed from interviews with approximately 25 practitioners working in the field of asset-building and a meeting conducted by the Living Cities’ Income & Assets Working Group on July 26th, 2011. We hope to generate discussion among funders and practitioners on approaches necessary for scaling. With this paper as a guide, funders can better assess the elements of scale best suited for their investments, while practitioners can more effectively design projects for scaling.

The tools and conceptual framework presented in this paper include:

  • Definition of Scale: A working definition of scale for asset-building products

  • The Five Ps: A five-element tool that can be applied when moving projects toward scale.

  • System-Wide Change: A discussion on the uses of complexity analysis to understand system-wide change in asset-building programming

  • Case Studies: An active application of the Five Ps to two different asset-building efforts