Assets@21: Lessons from the Past, Directions for the Future

A Symposium and Ideas Summit

May 1 and 2, 2012

Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Online registration is closed. Please email Hannah Emple at to attend.

Program Agenda

May 1, 2012

1:00 - Registration

1:30 - Welcome

Reid Cramer, New America Foundation

1:45 - The Evolution of Anti-Poverty Policies and Programs

Trina Williams, University of Michigan
Bob Friedman, CFED

2:30 - Household Balance Sheets and the Racial Wealth Gap

Tom Shapiro, Brandeis University
Clinton Key, University of North Carolina

3:15 - Break

3:30 - The Promise and Perils of Homeownership

Carolina Reid, Center for Responsible Lending
Allison Freeman, University of North Carolina
Janneke Ratcliffe, University of North Carolina

4:15 - Funding the Work, Building the Field

Kilolo Kijakazi, Ford Foundation
Brandee McHale, Citi Foundation
Benita Melton, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Andrea Levere, CFED

5:00 - Reflections on the Field and Next 20 Years of Assets Policy

Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

5:20 - Reception

6:15 - Keynote and Dinner

Governor Jack Markell, The State of Delaware
Introduction by Mary DuPont, Director of Financial Empowerment, State of Delaware

May 2, 2012

8:00 - Continental Breakfast

9:00 - Pam Flaherty, Citi Foundation

9:10 - Financial Empowerment: Access and Engagement

Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

9:40 - Assets and Children

Willie Elliott III, University of Kansas
Terri Friedline, University of Pittsburgh
Margaret Clancy, Center for Social Development
Signe-Mary McKernan, Urban Institute

10:30 - Savings Interventions, Pilots, and Policies

David Rothstein, Policy Matters Ohio
Josh Wright, Ideas42
Michal Grinstein-Weiss, University of North Carolina

11:20 - Accessing Financial Services

Jennifer Tescher, Center for Financial Services Innovation
Lisa Mensah, Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security
Devin Fergus, Hunter College

12:30 - Working Lunch

1:00 - Discussion: Getting to Scale and Challenges for the Future

Frank DeGiovanni, Ford Foundation

1:30 - Policy Ideas and Opportunities

Karen Harris, Shriver Center
Reid Cramer, New America Foundation

2:30 - Reflections and Future Directions

Michael Sherraden, Washington University in St. Louis

A copy of the agenda is available here.

A list of research and discussion papers can be viewed here.

Research and discussion paper abstracts are available here.

Please click here to read biographies of the paper authors and event speakers.

Symposium and Ideas Summit Description

The 1991 publication of Michael Sherraden's book, Assets and the Poor, offered a ground-breaking critique of prevailing social welfare policy, which had traditionally focused on income maintenance to facilitate immediate consumption. As an alternative, Sherraden elevated the role "assets" play in promoting social development over the life course. These insights, and the advancement of targeted policies designed to help families save and build up resources over time, catalyzed the dynamic emergenceof the asset building field. The subsequent work of practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and funders collectively fueled a reassessment of our approach to social policy.

The 21st anniversary of Assets and the Poor is an opportune time to look back on developments within the field, to share ideas about current work, and to look forward to the challenges ahead.

This invitation-only symposium will commemorate the contributions of a wide range of actors, critically examine changes in the policy world, and discuss potential ways to more effectively incorporate the "assets perspective" in future policy efforts. Attention will be given to identifying lessons learned from focusing on the outcomes of particular interventions as well as the process which contributed to these efforts gaining support.

While 1991 may have been a seminal moment for the asset building field, 2012 is potentially a watershed moment for how we conceptualize and implement broader social policy reforms. It is a fitting time for thinking about the skills, education, assets, and policies that promote mobility, economic security, and resiliency in the 21st century. By bringing together a diverse group of practitioners, researchers, policy analysts, and funders, the symposium and ideas summit will facilitate focused discussion and honest reflection in the pursuit of new ideas that can inform contemporary policy debates and invigorate the asset building field.

Major funding for the Assets@21 Symposium and Ideas Summit has been provided by the Ford Foundation and the Citi Foundation. Additional financial support has been provided by the Assets Funders Network, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.