Tag Archive: Asset Funders Network

  1. Working Towards Wage & Wealth Equality for Women

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    Women do not make as much money as men. This fact enters our daily discourse frequently — when it’s raised by political candidates, when female celebrities protest being paid less than their male counterparts, and when women of all ages and education levels try to make their paychecks cover the costs of life and family.

    While we know the wage gap is significant, the gap between genders when it comes to wealth doesn’t get nearly as much air time — even though it’s far greater. As a result, proposed solutions tend to focus more on income than on wealth. This leaves out a key part of the economic security equation for women.

    Wages may be critical to women’s daily survival, but it’s the compounding gap in accrued wealth that hobbles women’s long-term financial well-being.

    Income Gaps and Wealth Gaps

    Consider this data from a 2015 brief prepared by the Asset Funders Network. While never-married women who work full time earn 95% of what never-married men earn, this same group of women only owns 16% of the wealth comparable men do. The picture is even more sobering for women of color, with single Black and Hispanic women having less than a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by single White men.

    Let that sink in for a moment. Consider what it means for women — married, single, with or without children — and consider what it means for those working to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. While the gender wage gap is thankfully diminishing, we are failing to help women convert equitable salaries into economic security.

    This gender wealth gap exists due to complex reasons, but we can distill them down to three main factors:

    1. the income gap,
    2. women’s increased likelihood of being custodial parents, and
    3. women’s lack of access to wealth-building advantages, such as employment-related fringe benefits, government benefits, and favorable tax breaks.

    So women earn less and accrue much less even while their families are more likely than ever before to rely on their reduced economic resources. Two-thirds of mothers are either their family’s sole breadwinner, the primary breadwinner, or a co-breadwinner.

    Without a financial cushion to fall back upon — i.e. wealth — women and their families remain in a precarious financial position.

    Seeing is Believing

    The California Budget & Policy Center recently produced an eye-opening tool that illustratively ranks women’s well-being in California, county by county, across the dimensions of health, personal safety, economic security, political empowerment, and employment & earnings. Each of these categories gets further split out by six indicators, then standardized and combined by the Center to create dimension scores.

    Women’s Well-Being Index

    By showing how each of California’s 58 counties promotes women’s well-being, this index highlights where we need to improve. While it does not yet capture data on the wealth gap, it remains a powerful tool we can use to increase our awareness, focus our energies, and redouble our efforts.

    What We Can Do

    Raising awareness of the women’s wealth gap is a first step.

    The mayors of San Francisco and Oakland, in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of California, are convening a Bay Area’s Women’s Summit in June to focus on women’s economic empowerment. I will be speaking about the gender wealth gap during a session on economic security, and at another summit organized by the Women’s Funding Network in New York City in July. I am working with the Bay Area Asset Funders Network to organize a local Funders Forum to feature the gender wealth gap. This issue will also be featured at CFED’s Assets Learning Conference this fall.

    I hope to see you at those events so we can exchange ideas and build collaborative momentum.

    The Walter & Elise Haas Fund’s economic security portfolio already supports relevant work through grantees including Oakland Promise, AnewAmerica Community Corporation, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, and La Cocina. I am also involved in an early initiative led by Heather McColluch, founder of Asset Building Strategies, to advance policy and practical solutions that address the women’s wealth gap.

    As we increase our focus on this issue, we aim to bring promising new efforts to the forefront and to highlight broader strategies to increase equity for women.

  2. A Call for Tax Reform is a Call for Equity

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    The Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility recently sent around a compelling call to action on the issue of national tax reform. As the Tax Alliance clearly and correctly points out, an important goal of our tax system—beyond funding the government—is to aid Americans in developing their financial security.

    In this goal the system has failed.

    The current sprawling tax code favors the wealthy by an untenable margin. Its parade of deductions, credits, exclusions, and other loopholes provides more benefit to the top one percent of households than it does to those earning dramatically less. It leaves those Americans who most require assistance in building financial assets, such as savings for retirement, educational expenses or business development, with virtually no help.

    The Tax Alliance’s call for tax reform is essentially a call for equity—a call that resonates with the Fund, as equity drives our work. This initiative from the Tax Alliance also requires cross-sector collaboration, a central tenet of how we at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund (W&EHF) pursue our goals.

    While this campaign from the Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility is new, the push for economic equity is not, and it is certainly not new for W&EHF.

    More than a decade ago, we launched the grantmaking area we call Economic Security for the Working Poor to address the widening income and asset gaps that separate the struggling from the affluent. At that time, work in this field was limited, though a few strong voices were helping to both draw attention and build momentum. From early on, working with our innovative grantees and foundation colleagues in the Asset Funders Network, W&EHF staff and trustees realized that developing economic security for the working poor ultimately required policy change at the state and federal levels.

    That means tax reform—not in a progressive vs. conservative political manner, but in a bipartisan fashion, one that logically addresses failing policies of the current system. The Walter & Elise Haas Fund is proud to be an early and consistent supporter of the Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility. Our work on tax reform has taught us much and continues to teach us important lessons about collaboration, consensus, and perseverance. Working together we are building the foundation for significant policy shifts that will improve the economic well-being of millions of Americans.

  3. Philanthropist of the Year Award: Amanda Feinstein

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    CABC-low-res-logoWe are so pleased to announce that Amanda Feinstein, Senior Program Officer for Economic Security at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, has been awarded the Philanthropist of the Year Award by the California Asset Building Coalition for her work with Asset Funders Network.

    Amanda FeinsteinCABC writes

    Chosen from among a pool of grantmakers from across the State, your work reflects the commitment necessary to advance economic opportunity for low-wealth families in California. Specifically, CABC wishes to acknowledge and celebrate your visionary leadership in raising the visibility of, and strengthening the commitment to, the asset building field.

    Congratulations to Amanda and Asset Funders Network for this well deserved acknowledgement.

    Learn more about the Fund’s work on asset building and economic security.

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