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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Brown, Amy
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2005

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been an active supporter of Earned Income Tax Credit Campaigns across the United States. Building on existing services in their communities, these campaigns provide: (1) education and outreach to promote the EITC and other tax credits for qualified working-poor families; (2) free or low-priced quality tax preparation services; and (3) links to other programs and services so that tax filers can use their refunds to build financial assets.

    While the campaigns have helped hundreds of thousands of low-income workers receive tens of millions in tax refunds, they have been expensive and labor-intensive to operate. Given the campaigns’ ambitious goals and limited resources, there is increasing interest in identifying alternative models that have greater potential for scale, sustainability and impact. Beginning in late 2003, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, working through the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program, provided grants and technical assistance to a limited number of EITC campaigns to support the design, development and pilot...

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been an active supporter of Earned Income Tax Credit Campaigns across the United States. Building on existing services in their communities, these campaigns provide: (1) education and outreach to promote the EITC and other tax credits for qualified working-poor families; (2) free or low-priced quality tax preparation services; and (3) links to other programs and services so that tax filers can use their refunds to build financial assets.

    While the campaigns have helped hundreds of thousands of low-income workers receive tens of millions in tax refunds, they have been expensive and labor-intensive to operate. Given the campaigns’ ambitious goals and limited resources, there is increasing interest in identifying alternative models that have greater potential for scale, sustainability and impact. Beginning in late 2003, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, working through the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program, provided grants and technical assistance to a limited number of EITC campaigns to support the design, development and pilot implementation of innovative approaches to EITC outreach, tax preparation and asset development.

    In 2005, five campaigns tested variations of three approaches to achieving scale, sustainability and impact. Those approaches involved partnerships with employers, government and commercial tax preparers. Over the course of the year, the Aspen Institute documented the design, implementation and results of each of pilots. This paper draws on all five experiences to extract common themes. The lessons learned can help expand our understanding of the challenge of scale for the community economic development field.

    The starting point for approaching this topic is a framework developed by the Aspen Institute to describe how initiatives grow. The model proposes that it takes time to move to scale, and that critical steps along the journey – including standardization and infrastructure-building – are often left out in the rush to expand or replicate.

    With this in mind, this paper draws on the five pilot experiences to examine the following questions:
    How can we develop the infrastructure needed to bring community economic development efforts to scale?
    What information or knowledge is missing that can help achieve scale?
    What role does operational capacity play in the pursuit of scale?
    What factors make a model scalable?

    The answers to these questions, as informed by the EITC pilots and described here, are striking in how well they mirror current thinking in the private sector about growth and scale. Indeed, while the language and context of the nonprofit sector are different, the path to scale may be surprisingly similar. Taken together, information culled from the three sources – the Aspen framework, lessons from the pilots and private sector parallels – can help create a roadmap for next steps in the pursuit of scale in community economic development. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Brown, Amy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    Low-income individuals often lack access to financial education, bank accounts and other products and services that can help them manage their money and build savings. The past several years have seen an expansion of programs that attempt to facilitate access to these services, in particular those that use free income tax preparation to help families claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. But while the programs collectively help hundreds of thousands of working families file tax returns each year, they have struggled with a trio of challenges: achieving scale, impact and sustainability. The desire to do better on these three measures has led some programs to search for new approaches to serving the target population.

    The Baltimore CASH Campaign looked to local employers as potential partners in EITC outreach and free tax preparation. These partnerships have been primarily with area hospitals and account for a significant share (approximately 10%) of tax returns completed by the campaign. A new partnership in 2005, with a local retirement community developer/manager, took the...

    Low-income individuals often lack access to financial education, bank accounts and other products and services that can help them manage their money and build savings. The past several years have seen an expansion of programs that attempt to facilitate access to these services, in particular those that use free income tax preparation to help families claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. But while the programs collectively help hundreds of thousands of working families file tax returns each year, they have struggled with a trio of challenges: achieving scale, impact and sustainability. The desire to do better on these three measures has led some programs to search for new approaches to serving the target population.

    The Baltimore CASH Campaign looked to local employers as potential partners in EITC outreach and free tax preparation. These partnerships have been primarily with area hospitals and account for a significant share (approximately 10%) of tax returns completed by the campaign. A new partnership in 2005, with a local retirement community developer/manager, took the model one step further, offering no-cost quick refunds to participating employees as an alternative to commercial Refund Anticipation Loans. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Fellowes, Matt
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    In general, lower income families tend to pay more for the exact same consumer product than families with higher incomes. For instance, 4.2 million lower income homeowners that earn less than $30,000 a year pay higher than average prices for their mortgages. About 4.5 million lower income households pay higher than average prices for auto loans. At least 1.6 million lower income adults pay excessive fees for furniture, appliances, and electronics. And, countless more pay high prices for other necessities, such as basic financial services, groceries, and insurance. Together, these extra costs add up to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars unnecessarily spent by lower income families every year.

    Reducing the costs of living for lower income families by just one percent would add up to over $6.5 billion in new spending power for these families. This would enable lower and modest-income families to save for, and invest in, incoming-growing assets, like homes and retirement savings, or to pay for critical expenses for their children, like education and health care.

    ...

    In general, lower income families tend to pay more for the exact same consumer product than families with higher incomes. For instance, 4.2 million lower income homeowners that earn less than $30,000 a year pay higher than average prices for their mortgages. About 4.5 million lower income households pay higher than average prices for auto loans. At least 1.6 million lower income adults pay excessive fees for furniture, appliances, and electronics. And, countless more pay high prices for other necessities, such as basic financial services, groceries, and insurance. Together, these extra costs add up to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars unnecessarily spent by lower income families every year.

    Reducing the costs of living for lower income families by just one percent would add up to over $6.5 billion in new spending power for these families. This would enable lower and modest-income families to save for, and invest in, incoming-growing assets, like homes and retirement savings, or to pay for critical expenses for their children, like education and health care.

    The policies needed to capture these savings for families will require few taxpayer dollars and true public-private partnership. Together, government, nonprofit, and business leaders can pursue a number of market and regulatory initiatives to improve the cost of living for lower income families. And unlike most traditional anti-poverty initiatives, limited (strategic) public investments can match or seed innovative market solutions.

    This report, analyzing both national data and data from 12 major metropolitan areas across the country, is about this opportunity to put the market to work for lower income families. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hystad, Cheryl
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    For many years public policy makers and advocates have pushed the idea of homeownership as the "American Dream." Numerous resources have been devoted at the federal, state, and local level to helping individuals become homeowners. Unfortunately, not nearly as much effort and energy has been devoted to helping people maintain homeownership. In fact, the attitude has been much the opposite -- many feel that if someone loses their home, it must be their own fault. In many states, foreclosure laws are designed to make it quick, easy and relatively inexpensive for a lender to sell a person's home, while making it difficult and costly for a homeowner to challenge a foreclosure proceeding.

    This report finds that predatory mortgage loan practices continue to be a problem for homeowners in Maryland and that subprime loans account for a disproportionate share of the foreclosures in the state. We conclude that Maryland's anti-predatory lending law, enacted in 2002, is one of the weaker state laws passed in the wake of widespread lending abuses in the 1990s. We found that Maryland's...

    For many years public policy makers and advocates have pushed the idea of homeownership as the "American Dream." Numerous resources have been devoted at the federal, state, and local level to helping individuals become homeowners. Unfortunately, not nearly as much effort and energy has been devoted to helping people maintain homeownership. In fact, the attitude has been much the opposite -- many feel that if someone loses their home, it must be their own fault. In many states, foreclosure laws are designed to make it quick, easy and relatively inexpensive for a lender to sell a person's home, while making it difficult and costly for a homeowner to challenge a foreclosure proceeding.

    This report finds that predatory mortgage loan practices continue to be a problem for homeowners in Maryland and that subprime loans account for a disproportionate share of the foreclosures in the state. We conclude that Maryland's anti-predatory lending law, enacted in 2002, is one of the weaker state laws passed in the wake of widespread lending abuses in the 1990s. We found that Maryland's foreclosure law does not provide homeowners with adequate notice or other protections needed to prevent the unnecessary loss of their homes. We also found that there is little help for homeowners facing foreclosure, even those who are unable to pay their mortgage through no fault of their own. (author summary)

  • Individual Author: Mills, Gregory; Lam, Ken; DeMarco, Donna; Rodger, Christopher; Kaul, Bulbul
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    This study represents the impact study component of the AFI evaluation. It examines the effects of AFI participation on the three forms of asset building targeted by the AFI Program: homeownership, business ownership, and postsecondary education. The analysis also assesses the program’s impact on key components of net worth (financial assets, home equity, and consumer debt) and on employment status and income (whether employed, amount of monthly earnings, and receipt of means-tested benefits from cash assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid). The process study component of the evaluation explores how various AFI projects are planned, implemented, and operated.1 (author abstract) 

    This study represents the impact study component of the AFI evaluation. It examines the effects of AFI participation on the three forms of asset building targeted by the AFI Program: homeownership, business ownership, and postsecondary education. The analysis also assesses the program’s impact on key components of net worth (financial assets, home equity, and consumer debt) and on employment status and income (whether employed, amount of monthly earnings, and receipt of means-tested benefits from cash assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid). The process study component of the evaluation explores how various AFI projects are planned, implemented, and operated.1 (author abstract) 

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