How to build financial health in Native communities

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) peoples have long faced barriers to asset building. More than half of AI/AN populations are un- or underbanked, financial services often don’t operate on reservations, and access to capital is difficult. Native peoples have been excluded from financial wealth accumulation through government asset stripping, industry redlining, and simple neglect, thanks to historic (and ongoing) discrimination, exclusion, and racism baked into government and private-sector policies. Solutions are within reach.

Recently, the Financial Security Program, the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc (ONAC), and the Center for Native American Youth hosted an event featuring Native leaders representing various geographies, experiences, and tribal affiliations. The group discussed experiences in building assets and Indigenous perspectives on generational financial wealth. Finally, the speakers gave recommendations on how foundations, corporations, non-profits, and others can partner with tribal governments and Native-led nonprofits to build financial wealth in Native communities.

ONAC has produced a “List of Eighteen Suggestions to Better Support Native Practitioners Administering Asset Building Programs in their Communities”. 



101 solutions for inclusive wealth building

Having wealth, or a family’s assets minus their debts, is important not just for the rich— everyone needs wealth to thrive. Yet building the amount of wealth needed to thrive is a major challenge. Nearly 13 million U.S. households have negative net worth. Millions more are low wealth; they do not have the assets or liquidity needed to maintain financial stability and invest in themselves in the present, nor are they on track to accumulate the amount of wealth they will need to have financial security in retirement.
Together, these groups represent at least half of all U.S. households.

This report examines what it will take to create truly shared prosperity in the United States. It is focused on solutions that would grow the wealth of households in the bottom half of the wealth distribution, and it explores reparative approaches to building the wealth of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC).



Start at the Beginning; a Person-Centered Design and Evaluation Framework for Policies to Boost Household Cashflow and Beyond

The financial hardships households faced in the midst of the pandemic reveals the scale of the precarity that millions of households were experiencing well before the crisis began. This highlights the urgency of the need to reimagine our system of benefits—both public and private—to effectively and equitably support households to recover from this pandemic and build security for the future.

The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (Aspen FSP)’s Benefits 21 initiative is dedicated to integrating and modernizing the American system of benefits to ensure all households have financial security and can live economically dignified lives.



Social Listening: Covid-19, Social Media, and The Path to a Better Safety Net

This brief outlines how beneficiaries are using online platforms to identify breakdowns in public services, celebrate the positive impact of public policy and urge reform. Ways in which government can capitalize on widespread social media feedback and begin to build long-term measures to center people’s experience as an important component of policy design are explored.



Lifting the Weight: Consumer Debt Solutions Framework

Aspen Financial Security Program’s the Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC) has identified seven specific consumer debt problems that result in decreased financial insecurity and well-being. Four of the identified problems are general to consumer debt: households’ lack of savings or financial cushion, restricted access to existing high-quality credit for specific groups of consumers, exposure to harmful loan terms and features, and detrimental delinquency, default, and collections practices. The other three problems relate to structural features of three specific types of debt: student loans, medical debt, and government fines and fees.

This report presents a solutions framework to address all seven of these problems. The framework includes setting one or more tangible goals to achieve for each problem, and, for each goal, the solutions different sectors (financial services providers, governments, non-profits, employers, educational or medical institutions) can pursue.



Short-term financial stability: A foundation for security and well-being

Short-term cushions are key to longer-term financial security and well-being. 

 

This report shines a light on the central role that short-term financial stability plays in a person’s ability to reach broader financial security and upward economic mobility, a measurement of whether an individual moves up the economic ladder over one’s lifetime or across generations.

The insights presented in this report draw primarily on evidence provided by members of the Consumer Insights Collaborative (CIC), a group of nine leading nonprofits across the United States convened by the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program. These diverse organizations offer a window into the financial lives of the low- and moderate-income individuals they serve.

 



Responses to and Repercussions from Income Volatility in Low- and Moderate-Income Households: Results from a National Survey


This is the second in a series of briefs produced by a partnership between the Aspen Institute’s Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC), Washington University’s Center for Social Development (CSD), and the Intuit Tax and Financial Center. The first brief highlighted new data on the prevalence of income and expense volatility in low- and moderate-income households. This brief will focus on the potential consequences of volatility and how it relates to financial behavior.



EPIC Income Volatility Survey Findings

Income Volatility: A Primer

Income Volatility: Managing the Swings