Assets & Opportunity Scorecard Can Link Practitioners to Local Advocacy Efforts

Author: CFFPP . Date: February 3, 2012

The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, newly updated for 2012, contains a wealth of information about the financial security of people in each state across the nation. For practitioners working to increase the economic security of low-income parents and their families, the Scorecard website can also serve as a gateway to becoming involved in the advocacy efforts of statewide coalitions and local organizations.

Clicking on the Scorecard map displays a state score card showing how that state ranks in five issue areas: financial assets and income; businesses and jobs; housing and homeownership; health care; and education. From this display, clicking on “view all state data” links to a page featuring state-specific policy highlights, financial security data, and links to statewide and local organizations. The following are examples of current advocacy efforts in three states that pracitioners working with low-income parents may consider becoming involved with:

The Scorecard for Illinois gives that state a grade of “C” for issues related to businesses and jobs. For example, the percentage of low-wage jobs in Illinois is 20.3%, though this is somewhat better than the national average. The Illinois scorecard also links to a statewide organization that is working on this and related issues: the Illinois Asset Building Group’s “Take Action” webpage includes links topetitions to raise the minimum wage in Illinois from $8.25 per hour to $10.65 an hour by 2014.

The Scorecard for Texas lists a grade of “D” for issues relating to financial assets and income. For example, the percentages of people in Texas who are unbanked or underbanked are 11.7% and 24.1% respectively, among the highest rates in the nation. In regard to state policy for matched-savings programs, such as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), the Scorecard states that Texas did not provide funding in fiscal year 2011. A statewide organization working on these and other asset-building issues is RAISE Texas. Among their action campaigns are: the Matched Savings Accounts campaign, which seeks to “to strengthen and expand matched and incentivized savings programs in Texas;” and the Alternative Small Dollar Loan Products Campaign, which seeks to promote fair lending standards that counter the high interest rates found at payday and auto-title lenders. Practitioners in Texas can sign up to join this and other action campaigns.

Lastly, the Scorecard for Alabama gives it a rank of 49, near the very bottom of all the states. The Alabama Asset Building Coalition is working to increase financial stability for both individuals and families in that state. Practitioners in Alabama who would like to get involved can take a survey that the coalition will use to develop a statewide policy agenda. This agenda may include issues such as how sales tax affects people who have low-incomes, as well as creating a state affordable housing trust fund.

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