Community Bulletin: Program with a Health-Wealth Lens, Ways to Build a Coalition, and Feedback from the Community Steering Committee

From the Editor 

Dear Community Partners and Friends, 

The start of Fall this month means that leaves are beginning to transition so that new leaves can bloom in the Spring. We love metaphors on our team, and I can’t help but think about how this is similar to what is happening at Prosperity Now—our leadership has transitioned so that a new leadership team can take us into the future. And like trees, our roots will remain grounded while our leaves transition. Our relationships with partners in the field is one of the most essential components of these roots. Partners who share our vision and help ground our work in what is happening in communities and who inspire us every day to create tools, compile data and develop pathways to make taking action easier for systems change.  

One key group of partners is our 12-person Community Steering Committee members—a diverse body of leaders from across the country that help advise our work with the 23,000-person Prosperity Now Community. Each year, we gather in-person with the Community Steering Committee to discuss pressing topics facing our work with the field. This year, we discussed:   

  • How can we better match our federal policy priorities with the priorities of our field? 
  • Are Prosperity Now’s main resources still bringing value to the field? How can we improve them and stay relevant for you all?
  • What is Prosperity Now’s role as an intermediary in vetting FinTech products for our Community?
  • In order to address the Racial Wealth Divide, how can we begin to address where power is held in the asset building field, particularly at decision-making tables in local communities?
  • Reflecting on two years of the role of Community Champions—how is the role working and is there anything we’d want to change? 

We’re currently working through next steps on each of these discussions from the meeting and we’re excited about the future of this work with you all, our Community members. If you have thoughts on any of these topics, feel free to share them with us at Community@prosperitynow.org. Thank you for continuing on this journey with us—and for showing up every day to make sure prosperity is in reach for all.  

In Partnership, 

Fran Rosebush Baylor 
Director of Field Engagement, Prosperity Now 

P.S. If you have items you’d like to see featured in future Community Bulletins, share them with us at Community@prosperitynow.org.   

Highlights 

Nurse-Family Partnership Program in Dallas Weaves Together Health and Wealth 

When Prosperity Now launched the Health and Wealth Network this past Summer, we knew the topic was a growing area of interest due to the ever increasing research about the social determinants of health and what we’ve been hearing from partners like you. Many of our Community members have been paving the way for this integrated field of health and wealth, including Community Champion WiNGS in Dallas, TX who created a program to connect first-time mothers with financial coaching services. In order to lift up and share more about their work, we spoke with Ramell Grant, Director of the Nurse-Family Partnership Program at WiNGS.

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program at WiNGS provides first-time expectant mothers in Dallas County with health services that aim to lead to an increase in healthy pregnancies and prevention of pre-term labor. Mothers stay in the program until their child is a toddler so that they can troubleshoot any other issues like weight gain, nursing and at-risk home behaviors. In order to participate, mothers have to be Medicaid eligible. Program staff saw how low-income mothers in the program were also grappling with financial stability and now have over 50 of their 290 program participants enrolled in at-home financial coaching. That’s right, financial coaches visit mothers at home and develop a personalized program with the mothers that cover issues like credit building, savings, budgeting and more.  

Ramell credits the at-home service as the biggest resource in this program because it helps break down the number one barrier to financial coaching participation: access. She also cites readiness as a key indicator for success in the program. Mothers are dealing with more immediate financial emergencies are not quite ready for the program, but plenty of mothers just need coaching to direct them towards increased savings and improved credit scores. Additionally, integrating these two programs together has helped WiNGS think through how they can integrate all their services in order to holistically serve the whole woman, including connecting participants to their Women’s Enterprise Center. In the future, Ramell sees WiNGS using emergency assistance funds to help mothers who are not yet ready for financial coaching but are in a financial bind.  

As for Ramell, she began her nursing career in 2006 and has since worked in labor delivery units and prenatal care. Ramell’s heart has always been with her community and the mothers she has met and worked with. She was attracted to the Nurse-Family Partnership Program because of who it serves and the opportunity to work with mothers over the course of two years, allowing Ramell to enjoy the experience of seeing them go into the next phase of their lives. Join Ramell and other in exploring the impact of wealth on health by joining the Health and Wealth Network here.  

Hawaiian Coalition Comes Together to Address Housing Crisis

Over the past few years, 93 state, local, and tribal coalitions have partnered with us as Community Champions—our coalition partners who are working to advance economic opportunity with and for their communities. One coalition striving to make that difference is in Hawaii and its partners are comprised of Hawaiian Community Assets, Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, and the Hawai’i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development. In Hawaii, there is a housing affordability crisis and this coalition has brought together these three organizations to find ways to take on this challenge together.

The coalition is currently in phase 1 of a 3-phase stage: planning, development and implementation. The coalition’s goals that evolve with additional community input currently include:

  • Willingness to arrive as people first and step into a shared commitment of housing for all
  • Willingness to partner and build relationships with those most impacted by the issue
  • Openness to diverse perspectives
  • Openness to creative solutions that build community and are connected to ‘āina

The coalition’s goals include building new political will for change, promoting community control by highlighting the voices of impacted communities, encouraging creative solutions that build on the knowledge of those most impacted and producing homes that are affordable for households earning $75,000 or less per year

The coalitions plan on achieving these goals by:

  • Advocating together for affordable housing policies
  • Creating a learning community to share knowledge and best practices to build shared capacity
  • Incubating and accelerating creative community solutions to the affordability crisis.

You can learn more about coalitions and the powerful work happening across the Community in Prosperity Now’s newest brief, As Vehicles for Change, Coalitions Can Have Great Impact. The brief examines how community-based coalitions can be a powerful tool in creating social change and collective impact that helps communities thrive and succeed. It also explains how your organization can start a coalition in your community by highlighting promising practices on coalition building and development.

Community Steering Committee Reflects on Two Years of the Prosperity Now Community and What Comes Next 

Every summer, the Prosperity Now Community Steering Committee meets in-person for two days in Washington, DC to advise on our programmatic, advocacy and networking opportunities with the asset building and financial capability field. The 2019 meeting, which happened in July, was our most productive meeting yet! With the Steering Committee, we tackled how we better integrate Prosperity Now’s advocacy priorities with the field’s, making our resources more digestible, how we improve the role of Community Champions and how we can start addressing power and equity in the field.

Since the meeting, the Prosperity Now team has been working to take in the feedback we received from our Steering Committee and incorporate it into our workplans. While we do not have all the answers yet, there were some common themes that came up during the meeting: 

  • The policy issues that Prosperity Now focuses on are relevant, but need to be communicated better with our members, likely by connecting them with our programmatic areas. 
  • Using stories and narratives will help us connect our issues better with the Community and help Community members develop stories around their issues for better mobilization. 
  • The context and history of a region matters when it comes to policies and the language we use to mobilize there. 
  • Prosperity Now needs to communicate expectations and roles more clearly within our Networks and to our Community Champions. 
  • A racial equity framework and the Racial Wealth Divide need to continue being used in everything Prosperity Now does. 
  • The sharing of power in the field will not happen unless those already in power are willing to give something up. 

We are grateful to our Steering Committee members for having an open and honest conversation with us in July and we are committed to sharing more about what resulted from that meeting with the Community in the future. 

Resources from Across the Community  

Building a Bridge to Credit Visibility | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  
This report highlights the key takeaways from the Bureau’s first fair lending Symposium in which they discussed the issues of access to credit.  

Financial Coaching Census 2019 | Asset Funders Network 
This brief explores the evolution of financial coaching, identifies key funding strategies and describes common challenges in the field. 

3 Ways to Improve the Outcomes for African Americans in the Rural South | Center for American Progress  
The brief pushes for policymakers to broaden their scope beyond African American’s living in urban and suburban areas and evolve their policies to uplift those in the rural South as well. 

Unlocking Assets: Building Women’s Wealth Through Business Ownership | Asset Funders Network  
This report highlights the gender wealth gap and describes how business ownership and investment can address it. 

Spreading Fintech Solutions into New Crucial Sector | Financial Health Network 
This report shares the findings and lessons learned from the Financial Solution’s Lab cohort of 8 fintech companies. 

Designing Children’s Savings Account Programs with an Equity Lens | Prosperity Now 
This report provides a framework for how CSA programs can be designed and implemented with equity in mind. 

Opportunities and Events

Opportunities

The Credit Builders Alliance Training Institute is hosting Credit as an Asset (CAAA) Training Session. This is a six-week session designed to help non-profit organizations, and financial capability professionals learn about the credit industry, and share best practices to building credit. The sessions begin on September 30th 2019. Register here!

Events

Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference | Center for Community Progress | Atlanta, GA | October 2-4, 2019

Realizing the Dream: Centering Race and Economic Security for all in California | California Asset Building Coalition | Los Angeles, CA | October 8, 2019

Pathways to Prosperity Conference | The Collaborative | Raleigh, NC | October 29 – 30, 2019

RE: Conference 2019 | Neighborhood Partnerships | Salem, OR | October 29 – 30, 2019

Midwest Asset Building Conference | Detroit, MI | November 13-14, 2019

Homes Within Reach Conference | Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania | Harrisburg, PA | November 18 – 29, 2019 

I’M HOME Conference | Prosperity Now | Portland, OR | November 20, 2019

Policy Updates

American Opportunities Accounts Act

Commonly referred to as “baby bonds”, Senate Bill 3766, was reintroduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker and introduced into the House by Ayanna Pressley. This bill would grant every child born in the United States an American Opportunity Account starting with $1,000. Learn more here

If you would to help push this bill forward, take a moment to e-mail your Representative and Senators and ask them to cosponsor the American Opportunity Accounts Act by clicking here!

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new rules that would end automatic eligibility for people already receiving government assistance and limit access for households with savings and other assets, potentially removing 3 million Americans off food stamp assistance. Learn more here

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Oregon passed HB 2164, which renewed the state’s EITC until 2026. The bill also increased the tax credit from 11% to 12% for individuals with dependent children three years older or younger, and increased the credit from 8% to 9% for all other eligible taxpayers.

Manufactured Housing

Delaware passed HB 45, which adds a requirement for landlords of Manufactured Homes to provide a receipt within 3 days if rent is paid in cash. This protects renters form foul claims of late rent and future forced evictions.

Delaware also passed HB 46 which requires manufactured homeowners to pay a $0.50 monthly fee to support an Attorney Fund administered by the Department of Justice for the payment of legal representation or advocacy for manufactured homeowners in disputes with community owners.

New York passed S. 6458, which is a rent control bill that puts a 3% increase cap on rent for residents of manufactured home communities. A few other protections include the right of first refusal waiting period increased from 6 months to 2 years, limits on evictions and specifications for rent-to-own agreements.

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