As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, funders are looking for ways to support good financial habits like saving money. One interesting effort along these lines is the Kellogg Foundation’s multi-year investment in prize-linked savings accounts through D2D.
Recently we talked with Bob Friedman about the early days of the asset building movement and how this work drew in funders. Here, in our second article based on that conversation, we hear his thoughts on where the movement is today and where it may be going.
Criminal justice is one of those areas where funders have been banging their head against a wall for years—working against harsh practices that defy social science research, not to mention common sense.
Now, that blood-stained wall is finally starting to crack, as policy leaders and the public alike wake up to the negative consequences of embroiling so many Americans in the criminal justice system. With the wind finally blowing in the right direction, some foundations are stepping up efforts to make change.
In recent years, the bank has dramatically ramped up its grantmaking to help revitalize cities and bolster urban workforces. Now it’s getting more intellectual firepower on its side by hooking up with a top think tank.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Washington, DC – Today President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the statement below applauding the President’s proposal:
“The President’s budget would take significant steps toward a fairer tax system while also making major investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. This is particularly important in Rhode Island, where we have some of the oldest roads and bridges in America and where new construction projects could provide badly needed jobs. I’m also glad to see that the proposed budget would implement several policies I’ve been fighting for in the Senate, including the Buffett Rule for tax fairness and an Automatic IRA program to help millions of Americans save for retirement. From tax credits for working families to paid sick leave, the President’s budget includes many bold proposals to help middle-class families succeed. I look forward to debating the details of these and other provisions in the Budget Committee in the weeks ahead.”
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation sees itself as a catalyst for change and a leader in the community foundation sector, and for good reason. It gives out more grants than any other community foundation in the United States. With more than $6 billion in assets, this philanthropic powerhouse can push hard on new initiatives and set high standards for the rest of the community foundations in the country to aspire to.
One area where SVCF is aiming to do this is in curbing predatory lending, as part of its broader strategy of promoting economic security. SVCF gets that usurious wealth stripping practices can keep low-income households from ever building assets and getting ahead. You can’t build economic security when you’re in the red thanks to outrageous interest charges.
I am thankful for Bill and Melinda Gates and all they have done for so many poor people in the world. But I don’t think philanthropy really has the teeth to address inequality in our country. It’s like in Medeival times when the Queen would give out gold coins to the poor. It’s a nice gesture, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Unless philanthropy can change the tax structure and income distribution problems we have, it will remain a token effort to address inequality.