Spotlight Exclusives

Ideas for Action Audio Conference Series Roundup

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At Spotlight, we often highlight challenges in the poverty and opportunity field, but we also strive to highlight solutions — from what works on the ground to national policy ideas. That’s why Spotlight recently hosted a national audio conference series featuring Ideas for Action Award-winning organizations, in partnership with the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, the Northwest Area Foundation, and the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. A panel of experts chose winning organizations in each of two categories, Financial Asset Building and Pathways out of Poverty. Individuals from four awarded organizations shared their innovative policy ideas and program operations with an audience of advocates, service providers, policymakers, research centers, and foundations.


Here is a summary of highlights, followed by links to additional resources such as audio clips.


The first audio conference in March covered Financial Asset Building:


Mae Watson Grote, Executive Director of The Financial Clinic, described how her organization “thinks of financial development services along a spectrum, so that the most intensive and engaged services include financial coaching and legal services [are] coupled with existing social service platforms and networks that are already effectively providing services.” She explained, “We believe that there is an opportunity to embed tools, research resources and strategies for promoting financial security that not only scales our mission but improves the outcomes of the existing social service. So faster, better, cheaper, if you will.”


Marybeth Foster, Executive Director of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, described her program as offering “a traditional Individual Development Account [IDA], or a matched savings account held at the participating credit unions.” She noted that “a lot of non-profits that want to do IDAs struggle to find a financial institution partner.” The foundation provides “a solution to those issues by working through credit unions.”


The second audio conference in April focused on Career Pathways out of Poverty, and included leaders from two other organizations that received the 2012 Ideas for Action Award:


Beth Babcock, President and CEO of the Crittenton Women۪s Union, said her organization combines public dollars and philanthropy to fund programs, ensuring that after five years of participation families have a “sustaining job, can basically leave subsidies behind, can have saved three months of an emergency fund in the bank, and that the cost of doing this is less than the anticipated cost of subsidies if they hadn’t been involved in the program.”


Karon Rosa, Program Director of the Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), described her work as a partnership between two state agencies the Arkansas Department of Education and the Department of Workforce Services that uses Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds to develop a new economic formula: “Low-income students plus a college credential equal employability that brings up [the] economy in all these small communities [where] the community colleges are located.”


Spotlight compiled resources including call transcripts, audio clips, and helpful links for both the Financial Asset Building call and the Career Pathways out of Poverty call.


The new 2013 Ideas for Action Award application was also released in April. Find out more about the award here.

Posted by Sarah

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