The mission of the Asset Building Program is to significantly broaden access to economic resources through increased savings and asset ownership, thereby providing families with enhanced economic security, a direct stake in the commonwealth, and the means to pursue their aspirations.


Asset Building

If you are like most Americans, you cringe at the thought of tax season. You get nervous about doing your taxes, a process that you don’t entirely understand. However, the truth is that you most likely have good reason to look forward to this time of year: very few ...

Recent Content

article | April 19, 2016 | Asset Building
Why Work for Welfare Doesn't Work

Why Work for Welfare Doesn't Work

"Hi, you’ve reached Just Harvest, this is ——— speaking, how may I help you today?”  

Variations of this refrain were basically background noise in the Pittsburgh office of the anti-hunger nonprofit where, until recently, I worked as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow. They were background noise until, both slowly and ...

article | April 15, 2016 | Asset Building
Asset Building News Week, April 11 - 15

Asset Building News Week, April 11 - 15

TOPICS: Tax Time and Financial Security, The Gender Pay Gap, Bank Size and More


Monday marks the end of tax season, which is a good time to consider steps that can be taken to improve the tax filing process. In New America Weekly, Jane Oliphant and Michal Grinstein-Weiss explored how filing taxes could “become less cringe-inducing, and ...

in the news | April 13, 2016 | Asset Building

Booker, Moran Introduce Bill Empowering Taxpayers to Defer Refund for Rainy Day Savings

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced the Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act, a bipartisan proposal that would enable Americans to more easily build emergency savings during tax season by allowing tax filers to defer/save a portion of their refund for a “rainy day” later in the year. The bill also includes provisions to create a series of federal pilot programs to explore the potential of matched-savings initiatives at tax time. The Asset Building Program successfully lobbied to expand the pool of potential savers to include all filers who have a refund delivered via direct deposit.

in the news | April 13, 2016 | Asset Building

Should Cities Pay Criminals to Not Commit Crimes?

For the past five years, Richmond, Calif., has identified the young men (and they’re mostly men) most at risk of either being killed or killing someone themselves, convinced them to join a mentorship program, and paid them not to commit crimes. The program has been widely reported on, and a handful of other cities are considering following Richmond’s lead. Last month, the city council in Washington, D.C., which saw a 54% increase in homicides last year, voted unanimously in favor of a similar policy, though it remains to be seen whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will implement it.Mayor Bowser opposes the plan because, among other reasons, it’s never been studied rigorously in a controlled experiment. Officials in Richmond, which is just north of Berkeley, Calif., and across the bay from San Francisco, have attributed the city’s halved murder rate to the program, called the Operation Peacekeeper Fellowship, but critics argue there is no way to know whether the drop is the result of the program or other, unstudied factors.

article | April 08, 2016 | Asset Building
Asset Building News Week, April 4 - 8

Asset Building News Week, April 4 - 8

TOPICS: Social Safety Net, Fiduciary Rule, Secure Choice, Child Poverty, and More


On April 1, hundreds of thousands of childless adults in 21 states lost access to SNAP benefits because of the return of a policy that was implemented during welfare reform in 1996. The return of this policy has reignited the debate ...

article | March 31, 2016 | Asset Building
Asset Building News Week, March 28 - April 1

Asset Building News Week, March 28 - April 1

TOPICS: Household Expenditures, College Savings, Jobs, and more


The Pew Charitable Trusts released a new analysis that explores fluctuations in household incomes and expenditures over the past two decades. Placing special emphasis on the extent to which households have slack in their budgets, the report details the impact of financial flexibility on ...

article | March 25, 2016 | Asset Building
Asset Building News Week, March 21 - 25

Asset Building News Week, March 21 - 25

TOPICS: Wealth and Work, Marriage, Entrepreneurship, and More


The news this week suggests that a stronger safety net for workers would not only increase Americans’ access to wealth, but also improve workers’ dismal work-life balance and perhaps reduce the poverty rate. In an opinion column for CNN, The Aspen Institute’s Maureen Conway ...

in the news | March 08, 2016 | Asset Building

Asset limits in calworks

Legislation was introduced in the California State Assembly to remove the asset limit in the state's welfare program CalWORKs. The report that was commissioned as the research foundation for this effort is built substantially on the Asset Building Program's work.