After writing about all 13 sessions that vie for attendees during Concurrent Sessions II at the upcoming Assets Learning Conference, I’ve now bitten off a less daunting assignment: to preview the second set of Roundtable Sessions, a more manageable slate of seven workshop alternatives scheduled for Friday afternoon, 4:30 – 5:30. Each of these sessions is facilitated by a prominent expert.
I’ve been curious about the Democracy Collaborative since discovering their blog, Community-Wealth.org, in the blogroll of the Asset Policy Initiative of California. Steve Dubb of the Democracy Collaborative will be facilitating a Roundtable Session on “Building Wealth in Communities by Working with Anchor Institutions.” Working primarily in Cleveland, they have modeled strategies for how major institutions such as universities, hospitals and foundations can increase the share of their spending with local small businesses and support community wealth building. Many people talk about the importance of anchor institutions, but I’ve heard little that really goes beyond the obvious (they can play an important role in community development efforts) to get to concrete strategies, so I’d be interested to hear from the Democracy Collaborative.
I suspect that many of the practitioners at the Assets Learning Conference struggle with various software products for IDA account management. I don’t know as much about such software as I should, since I’m fortunate enough to work with the state-wide Midas collaborative for my back-office account managment. Outcome Tracker, a product of VistaShare, must come recommended by many people in the field because Dave Smucker has been given not one but two different Roundtable Session slots (on both Thursday and Friday). VistaShare will be discussing their web-based account management tool.
Janneke Ratcliffe at UNC’s Center for Community Capital will facilitate a discussion on targeted delivery channels for asset-building tools. That’s an interesting distinction, between channels and tools: we’re often focused on the tool (matched savings account, financial education, etc.) in the abstract, but the specific mechanism for delivering that tool to low-income families can significantly affect its functionality and effectiveness. Sounds like it could be a very lively discussion.
The mystery meat of Roundtable Sessions 2 is “Connecting Assets Research to Practice,” for which no description is available at present.
The description for “Native Asset Building: Is it a Cultural Fit?” begins: Asset building in any community must match with the worldviews of those building/expanding their assets otherwise it may not achieve buy-in from the community…. That struck a chord for me. In running an IDA program for low-income artists and artisans in my community, I’ve been very intentional in trying to frame the issues in ways that resonate with artists, who in many respects see themselves as a kind of tribe. Not that all artists see the world alike, of course, nor indeed do all native Americans in a particular community see the world alike, but when there’s something of a prevailing ethos at work in a community the concept of “cultural fit” really comes to the fore. I’ve struggled with how best to conceptualize this aspect of my work, so I’m strongly interested in this roundtable session with Joanna Donahue of First Nations Oweesta Corporation.
For the sixth roundtable session on Friday afternoon, I’m glad to see the U.S. Department of the Treasury exploring best practices to promote financial access and education among low- and moderate-income families through the Community Financial Access Pilot, to be introduced by director Louisa Quittman. I have to say, it seems to me that most of the best practices have probably been documented at length by CFED and CSD and CFSI and others during the past 10-15 years of growth in the asset development field. Do we really need another pilot aimed at establishing best practices? But I suppose each governmental unit has to explore and decide upon its own set of best practices based upon its own specific mission and responsibilities to the public. So if this pilot will allow the Treasury Department to embark on a more pro-active role in expanding financial access, I certainly welcome it.
Living in a rural area with many manufactured home communities, I’m glad to be introduced to ROC USA, which was set up by the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and CFED to serve as a national resource for residents seeking to acquire their manufactured home communities. I was familiar with CFED’s I’M HOME project, but I didn’t realize that they had moved even further through the launch of ROC USA. Michael Sloss of ROC USA will facilitate a roundtable session titled “Financing Strategies for Homeownership Preservation Since the Mortgage Crisis.” Interestingly, the session description doesn’t mention manufactured housing, and it’s targeted toward funders looking to support homeownership strategies in a time of chaotic capital markets, but I would hope that the session would still provide an opportunity to learn more about the tools that are available through ROC USA and other entities to support resident ownership in manufactured housing communities.
Of these seven roundtable options, the three that interest me the most are: “Native Asset Building: Is it a Cultural Fit?“; “Effective Delivery of Savings Programs through Targeted Initiatives“; and “Financing Strategies for Homeownership Preservation Since the Mortgage Crisis.” I think I’ll personally attend the native asset building session, and encourage colleagues to attend the others so we can share notes.