Economic Development

The Future of Wealth Discussion Series: Seeding Startup Capital for Life

August 9, 2023  • The Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy

A successful transition into adulthood requires investment in education and housing, and it’s also the ideal time to lean into entrepreneurship and begin investing for retirement. Though each of these requires substantial capital, the widely accepted means of financing the hard work of adulting is by taking on debt. That’s the very opposite of a wealth-building strategy; it’s bad for people, and it’s killing the American dream.

But we as a country could change that. There are a variety of strategies that could make sure young adults have meaningful amounts of money that can be used to purchase assets and make other investments. This “startup capital for life” was the subject of a recent discussionhosted by the Financial Security Program, the first in a series built around the program’s new report, The New Wealth Agenda.

The event began with a chat between US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Casey (D-PA)—both passionate about this issue—moderated by Joanna Smith Ramani, co-executive director of the program. Next, her program counterpart Ida Rademacher led a discussion with Trina Shanks of the University of Michigan, Hope Wollensack of the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund, and Fiona Greig, Global Head of Investor Research and Policy at Vanguard. Together, they discussed what this wealth-building solution would mean for low- and moderate-income households, how to make it happen, and how it would change the future of wealth in America.

Watch a video of the discussion here

Bonus content: 

Another Institute program, the Aspen Economic Strategy Group, also addressed the topic recently. Based on an interview of the program’s Melissa Kearney, Bloomberg published “Aspen Group Chief Urges Cash for Kids as Seniors Reap $29,000” (also available here without a paywall, but without the video interview).

Democratizing Wealth: A Conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival

There are so many economic and moral arguments for financial inclusion that it should be a self-evident goal of any modern society—but getting to that goal is another thing entirely. For a job this big, we’ll need to draw on a whole host of great ideas.

It’s a good thing that there’s a constant stream of good ideas circulating around the Aspen Institute, most famously during the annual Aspen Ideas Festival. In a session from this summer’s event titled Democratizing Wealth, Ida Rademacher of the Institute’s Financial Security Program joined Robinhood co-founder Baiji Bhatt, John Palfrey of the MacArthur Foundation, and Lata Reddy, SVP of Inclusion for Prudential Financial. The three shared different approaches informed by their organizations’ positions within the economy. 

Read the summary and watch the session video here.


Connecting Minority-Serving Institutions and Rural Research

If you want good data on what’s happening in the rural US, it makes sense to go looking in the rural US—specifically, in the work of Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) located in communities throughout the nation. In a recent brief, the Institute’s Community Strategies Group looked at the potential for MSIs to advance rural research and racial equity by centering minority and rural scholars’ voices and by shifting power and resources to MSIs and rural scholars.

The brief, which builds on the previous publication Building Trust and Visibility Through Community-Based Participatory Research at Rural MSIs, shows that “there is both substantial research activity coming from MSIs and the Indigenous research ecosystem, but also gaps and barriers related to the availability of research support within the context of how MSIs are structured and how research is funded.” The report maps out the current rural research ecosystem, and spells out key considerations and ways to encourage, support, and resource MSIs as a critical player in rural equity research. 

Read the new report here.

This piece was originally published in APIE’s newsletter ‘The Weekly Slice’. Click here to subscribe