A Birthright to Capital: Equitably Designing Baby Bonds to Promote Economic and Racial Justice

Building on an idea developed and long championed by economists Darrick Hamilton and William “Sandy” Darity Jr., as well as 15 years of practice and research around children’s savings programs, A Birthright to Capital outlines the case for why the United States government should provide an account, with up to $60,000 held in public trust, to every one of the four million children born each year in the United States, and why this economic right to wealth, often referred to as a Baby Bond or a Baby Trust, should be calibrated to the economic position of a child’s family. In addition, A Birthright to Capital also clearly defines several policy design parameters for creating a national Baby Bonds program that is equitably and meaningfully structured to address rising economic inequality and the racial wealth gap.

Leveraging the Power of Language for Change

We use language to think, to understand and, most importantly, to communicate. The language we use influences not only our thoughts and actions but how others perceive and act on the subject of discussion. Often, however, the significance of the language we use is overlooked, leading to adverse interactions within our daily interpersonal communication. As Prosperity Now continues to cultivate solutions that bridge the divide between the wealthy and those who live paycheck-to-paycheck, we must also shine a light on how the language we use reflects how we and others see the world and the power language has to influence our work.

Communicating on Race and Racial Economic Equity

As the asset-building field works to better understand and address how the racial wealth divide and racial economic inequality affect asset development and economic security, we realized that, due to the lessons we’ve learned and emerging promising practices we’ve identified, we have an opportunity to provide guidance on proper grammar and suggested choice of terms to help people committed to this cause more effectively communicate on racial economic equity. This document is a compilation of best practices and recommendations from a wide range of resources that Prosperity Now’s Racial Wealth Divide Initiative (RWDI) and Communications teams thought would be helpful for naming, framing, defining and understanding the issue. We also provide design guidelines on visually depicting diverse communities and definitions of important terms and concepts for understanding the nuance and complexity of racial economic equity, the racial wealth divide and racial wealth equity.

Mortgage Reserve Accounts: A Mortgage-Match Savings Initiative Reducing Default for Low-Income Homeowners

For most households in the United States, buying a home is the largest purchase in their lives. Given that most homeowners finance their home purchase with a mortgage, buying a home is also one of their largest sources of debt, presenting significant risk. Having an emergency savings cushion can help families weather emergencies and unexpected expenses. However, data shows that nearly 40% of Americans are liquid asset poor—meaning those families don’t have enough in savings to make ends meet at the poverty level for three months if their income was interrupted. Prosperity Now conducted a two-year pilot beginning in 2017 to incentivize to save for emergencies by providing $200 in matched savings through mortgage reserve accounts (MRA). We worked with two housing organizations to serve over 300 homeowners. Our findings show that low- and moderate-income families who recently purchased a home are willing and able to save, and the importance of that savings to potentially stave off mortgage defaults and home foreclosure.

The Power of Connecting CSA and College Access Success Programs

The purpose of this report is to demonstrate the power of connecting CSAs to college access-success programs and show that, when done together, they produce greater outcomes. First, we briefly describe these closely related fields and explain the merit of partnerships between CSA initiatives and college access and success programs. The report will then illuminate the value of collaboration between these fields via four case studies highlighting organizations that have already successfully integrated a CSA program with college access services. Finally, the report concludes with two sets of recommendations: For CSA programs—How to connect with providers in the college access-success field and suggestions for incorporating research-based, college access milestones into existing or planned savings incentives. For college access-success organizations—How to find CSA partners and, when none are available, a simple process for creating a basic CSA model.

Plotting a Path to Prosperity For Our Communities: 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard Local Data Key Findings

The Prosperity Now Scorecard provides data on the financial health of households in the United States. With this report we are releasing new data at the local level: outcomes measures across five issue areas for cities, counties, metro areas, tribal areas and Congressional Districts. When you compare outcomes across communities, it’s clear that where you live matters for your financial security, ability to accumulate wealth and opportunities to prosper.

2020 Prosperity Now Scorecard - What's Most Important: Stories from the Prosperity Now Community

The people of the United States have persevered in the face of a hostile political and economic environment over the past three years. The affirmative decisions to restrict access to health care, particularly for women; to no longer provide fair housing protections to renters, particularly Black renters; and to cut SNAP benefits for more than 3 million men, women, and children—among many other policy and administrative actions—have had overlapping and cascading effects on the economic well-being of many U.S. households. In response, there has been strong collective action in communities across the country regarding how to improve our social and legislative environments. By highlighting national, state, and local data trends in outcomes and state policy responses, the 2020 Prosperity Now Scorecard reveals prospective steps we can take to improve the climate of our country. While some national economic indicators reflect the slow, consistent recovery that has marked the past 8 years—surging stock market values; unemployment rates below 4%; foreclosure rates below 1%; and household poverty rates returning to their pre-recession levels—there remains significant opportunity for legislators and policy advocates to address the drivers of economic inequality, and to develop a more comprehensive distribution of the recovery’s benefits among all U.S. residents.
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