Economic Opportunities Program
Economic Opportunities Program
Access to Capital and Credit
Our current work focuses on:
- Scale and Sustainability Although Aspen/EOP's initial research in this area centered on ways the community development finance field could achieve scale and sustainability, it was clear early on that findings would have broad applicability to other fields attempting to reach scale. Early work explored whether improvements in the effectiveness of the community development finance system - greater volume, lower costs, efficient delivery of new programs and services and, ultimately greater impact - could be accomplished through deliberate and better structured connections and integration with mainstream financial and capital markets. Current research is focusing on how shared infrastructure and platforms can help create sustainable models for scale-up in the nonprofit sector more generally. Funders: The F. B. Heron Foundaiton, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the CDFI Fund, the Surdna Foundation and Living Cities.
- Financial Services
Aspen/EOP currently is engaged in the development of two platforms that are designed to increase the capacity, efficiency and impact of community-based organizations with a financial services focus – AssetPlatform.org and EITCplatform.org. Funding for this work is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Living Cities and the Ford Foundation.
- Credit Path®
This project involves a deeper exploration into a conceptual framework known as the “Credit Path®,” which identified four stages people pass through on their way to asset accumulation and greater financial security. Originally developed in 1995 by Alternatives Federal Credit Union's CEO William Myers, the Credit Path® has been used by some financial institutions as a tool to design new products and services that can help people advance toward greater financial security. To refine the Credit Path® and explore its role in the evolving world of the financial services industry, Alternatives received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to work with Aspen/EOP and a select group of researchers to conduct this multi-year research project.
- Earned Income Tax Credit Project
For the past several years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has financed campaigns aimed at helping the working poor access Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). As part of that work, the foundation has financed studies to understand the costs and benefits related to running EITC campaigns. Aspen/EOP received a Casey grant in 2003 to identify promising initiatives and provide subgrants as well as technical support to them. In 2004, Aspen/EOP launched a second research phase to develop case studies on various innovations and provide a small group of EITC campaigns with subgrants to either explore new innovations or take an innovation to the next level. Under the grant, lessons learned from the experimentation are to be collected and broadly disseminated.
- Individual Development Account (IDA) Project
Since late 2002, Aspen/EOP researchers have been conducting an independent, in-depth exploration of the current state of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) structured long-term accounts that provide incentives and supports for low-income people to save for home ownership, business capitalization and higher education. Ultimately, this research is expected to lead to a new strategy for advancing IDAs to the next level, in terms of infrastructure, growth, long-term sustainability and broader asset-building initiatives. Funders: Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
- Community Development Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative
This national project examined the future of community development and community development finance against the backdrop of profound changes in both the economy and the financial services industry. Conducted in the late 1990s, the project was premised on two fundamental questions: What does the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry need in order to have impact in this new economic and financial world, and how can the industry be moved into this new position? Funders of this work included: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the ARCO Foundation, Citicorp Foundation, Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation, J.P. Morgan and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.