Advocacy Community Updates

January 2016

Advocacy Spotlight

Join us During the National Week of Action!

The Assets & Opportunity Network will be launching the first National Week of Action, taking place January 25-29. With each day focusing on a different asset-building strategy, the Week of Action provides local organizations and advocates an opportunity to plug into a national effort around particular solutions through traditional and social media engagement, local events and more. Below is the list of days and how you can engage.

January 25 – 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard release: The Scorecard is a great data source to help you advocate for state asset-building policies. On January 25, the Scorecard website will be updated with new 2016 data. Create custom reports to share with partners, media and policymakers here. Join us for the Scorecard release webinar, which will cover national data. Look out for the social media toolkit to share the Scorecard with your Facebook and Twitter followers.

January 26 – Credit Building: You can show your support for credit building and engage with other Network members online during Credit Builder’s Alliance’s Twitter Townhall from noon – 3 pm EST. You can ask questions related to credit reports, credit scores and credit building using #creditbuildingday.

January 27 – Predatory Lending: Using this social media toolkit, show support for the #ConsumersCantWait campaign. Send a message to the CFPB that strong rules are needed to protect consumers against predatory payday lending. Additionally, join us for a webinar on the impact of predatory lending on small businesses.

January 28 – Children’s Savings: Children’s Savings Account (CSA) programs have been launching throughout the country over the past few years. Join us to hear about the promise of children’s savings and learn about new programs like Oakland Promise, during this virtual event, 12-1 pm EST.

January 29 – VITA and EITC Awareness Day: The last Friday of January has historically been EITC Awareness Day, and this year we’re also taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of the VITA program in unlocking the EITC and other tax credits for millions of taxpayers. In partnership with Tax Credits for Working Families, we will host an event on Capitol Hill to discuss the future of refundable tax credits for low-wage workers.

Please feel free to use this social media toolkit and shareable images throughout the week. Have questions or want to tell us about an event you are planning for the Week of Action? Email assetsandopportunity@cfed.org.

Policy Developments

Affordable Housing:

The U.S. House of Representatives introduced the First Time Homeowner Savings Plan Act, which increases the amount one can withdraw from an individual retirement plan for first-time homebuyer distribution from $10,000 to $25,000.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a proposed rule that would provide guidance on the established duty for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve low- and moderate-income families by supporting manufactured housing finance, housing in rural markets and affordable housing preservation. For more information, read CFED’s analysis of the proposed rule.

Tax Credits for Working Families: 

In December, the U.S. Congress passed a spending bill that permanently extends the improvements made to the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit, ensuring that 16 million families will no longer face the prospect of being pushed into or deeper into poverty.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance:

The U.S. Congress spending bill passed last month also increases funding for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program by 25%, from $12 million to $15 million in 2016. This increase will allow for an additional 550,000 tax returns and $550 million in refunds throughout the US.

Minimum Wage:

Continuing his push to raise the state minimum wage, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for workers at state universities, which will include students with work-study jobs. New York City state university affiliates will reach $15 per hour at the end of 2018, while the rest of the state will reach $15 per hour in July 2021.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 per hour by the end of 2018. The Mayor’s plan mirrors Governor Cuomo’s plan to raise the minimum wage for state employees.

Tip: As the presidential primary season approaches, there is extra attention on your issues. Take advantage of it by finding your state’s primary date here and talking about your issues with partners and the media. You can also use CFED Scorecard data to help make your case.

Resources and Publications

Featured Resources:

Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap: In The Racial Wealth Gap: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap through Business Ownership, the Asset Funders Network examines business ownership’s role in growing wealth, historical challenges to minority business ownership and tools and strategies funders can invest in to strengthen access

Updated Local Data: CFED recently updated the Assets & Opportunity Local Data Center with new unbanked and underbanked rates at the city, county and regional levels. Check out city, county and regional asset poverty and liquid asset poverty rates and create reports to share with partners, media and policymakers.

Additional Publications:

Small Business Ownership Borrowers’ Bill of Rights, FIELD at the Aspen Institute.

Good News for Retirement Policy in Spite of Gridlock, Brookings.

Strategies to Strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit, Brookings.

Investing in Educator Capacity: An Analysis of State Race to the Top Spending, Center for American Progress.

An Opportunity Agenda for Renters: The Case for Simultaneous Investments in Residential Mobility and Low-Income Communities, Center for American Progress.

Building Financial Security by Overcoming Identification Barriers, Center for American Progress.

Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents with Criminal Records and Their Children, Center for American Progress.

What It’s Worth, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco & CFED.

Events and Opportunities

Opportunities:

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires all states to submit new workforce development plans to the Department of Labor by March 2016. Many states have drafts available for public comment. Encourage your state to integrate financial capability services, which are now an allowable use for workforce development funds, into its plan. More resources here.

Webinars:

The Hidden Financial Lives of America’s Poor and Middle Class, January 21 & February 4, Stanford Social Innovation Review.

National Release: 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, January 25, CFED.

Impact of Predatory Lending on Small Businesses, January 27, CFED.

Webinar Recordings:

Virtual Coffee: Promoting Financial Capability in State and Local Workforce Development Plans, CFED.

Events:

Save the Date: 2016 Assets Learning Conference, September 28-30, 2016, Washington, DC, CFED.

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