June 01, 2016
Hello SRABC Supporters,
This is the first of our quarterly newsletters designed to keep you updated on what’s going on in the asset-building world, nationally, and within our four state coalitions. Much has changed since our 2015 Conference held in Biloxi. SRABC is now a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization which allows us opportunities outside the conference to raise funds for operational support and special initiatives. We say thank you to the Ford Foundation and the BESOL, “Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime,” initiative which was our primary funding source since we began more than eight years ago. We would also like to thank Realize Consulting who provided us with a high level of technical assistance. We certainly would not be here if it were not for them. SRABC partners continue to help economically empower our communities through innovative asset-building programs and asset policy work. Please spend a few minutes reading this email to catch up on what’s going on in your community and the nation.
What are your poverty survival skills? That was a question the Center for Asset Development asked partners and peers, while challenging each other to find the answer. On April 5, the Center partnered with Total Community Action of New Orleans to host a poverty simulation called “A Day In Their Shoes.”
A diverse group of representatives from the financial community, higher education, social service agencies, faith-based groups, and policy makers came together to get a deeper sense of what daily life is like for citizens who live in poverty.
During the simulation, participants assumed the roles of low-income individuals living on limited budgets. Each participant had to maintain their necessities of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and utilities using the limited resources while facing daunting obstacles. The simulation was a powerful, experiential opportunity that allowed participants to see up close how low wealth people continuously juggle limited resources to sustain the basics of life. Participants said they walked away from the simulation with a greater understanding and appreciation for the complexities faced to get financial assistance. Many agreed that the Day in Their Shoes deepened their commitment to accelerate their efforts to help change the circumstances low-income families face.
The Alabama Asset Building Coalition has partnered with Birmingham Childcare Resources to develop a children savings account program to assist working Alabama families with the cost of childcare, provide parents with financial coaching, and help children save for college.
The program, Building Brains and Bank Accounts, has the potential to expand educational and economic opportunity for low-income and moderate-income families. Building Brains and Bank Accounts aims to change the dialogue in the home to include resources and an actual plan for sending a child to college.
Parents enrolled in this program will be recipients of financial assistance for childcare administered by Childcare Resources. They will also receive financial coaching by Birmingham’s Gateway Financial Freedom and will establish CSPs with matching funds provided by PNC Bank. AABC will administer the CSAs and the Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition will provide technical assistance. New Rising Star Community Development Federal Credit Union in Birmingham will serve as the home financial institution for establishing the accounts. For more information about the program, contact AABC.
Partners with Louisiana Building Economy Security Together recently gathered in Baton Rouge for a daylong advocacy training hosted by RESULTS, a national grassroots organization.
LABEST volunteers from across the state received training on how to effectively advise and guide policy makers towards decisions that improve citizens’ access to economic opportunity, said Joyce James, LABEST state director. "With every hour of our time, we multiply our impact through the enormous power of advocacy. The skills learned in this event help our advocates become powerful agents for change, " she said.
Kristy Martino, U.S. poverty grassroots organizer, said RESULTS is supported by staff with legislative expertise and in-depth research strategies. During the May 24 training, Martino told advocates Louisiana “citizens posses the incredible power to use collective voices to change the world.”
LABEST is a project of the Middleburg Institute, a 501c3 charitable organization whose mission is to raise the economic, educational and social level of low- to moderate-income communities. According to James, Middleburg has a longterm goal to improve citizens' ability to maintain assets by advancing policies and programs that build economic security over a lifetime.
SRABC is pleased to celebrate a great accomplishment of one of our own. Gena Gunn McClendon, who is the vice chairman of the SRABC board, has earned a doctorate in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Gena works for the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis as project director. She provides technical assistance for SRABC partners and coordinates the SRABC national conference. Congratulations Gena!