Cities Helping Families Build Assets Project

Through the Cities Helping Families Build Assets Project, the YEF Institute strengthened municipal leaders’ capacity to help families achieve financial stability by building and protecting savings and financial assets.

The project was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Project cities had the opportunity to learn from other cities that already had asset-building strategies in place, develop local asset-building action plans, and receive customized technical assistance to implement their own local action plans.

The nine cities for the first phase of the project included:

  • Burlington, Vt.;
  • Durham, N.C.;
  • Grayson, Okla.;
  • Itta Bena, Miss.;
  • Louisville, Ky.;
  • Milwaukee, Wis.;
  • Orlando, Fla.;
  • Savannah, Ga.; and
  • Seattle, Wash.

Phase I
During the first phase of this project, selected cities participated in site visits to cities that have implemented innovative asset-building strategies. The visits showcased ways in which municipal leaders can support and/or initiate asset-building initiatives in their own communities.

Each city participated in a total of four site visits, including each of the project's two faculty cities (San Antonio, Texas, and San Francisco, Calif.) to showcase those cities' overall asset-building strategies, and then participated in two of four "topical visits." The topical site visits began in October of 2005 and were hosted in Phoenix, Ariz.; Baltimore, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Miami, Fla.

Each visit focused on one of the following asset-building strategies: financial literacy (Phoenix); homeownership counseling and incentives (Baltimore); asset accumulation through savings campaigns and Individual Development account/IDA programs (Indianapolis); and asset protection through sponsoring and/or brokering measures to help families avoid predatory lending and other "wealth-stripping" practices (Miami).

Phase II
In the second phase of the project, YEF Institute staff worked directly with a cohort of cities from Phase I to assist city teams as they designed and implemented local action plans. The six selected cities for Phase II included: Burlington, Vt.; Itta Bena, Miss.; Louisville, Ky.; Orlando, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; and Seattle, Wash.

The project also included several faculty cities that already had advanced asset-building initiatives in place. Representatives from these faculty cities continued to provide guidance to the project cities. Faculty cities included: San Antonio, Texas; Phoenix, Ariz.; Baltimore, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Miami, Fla.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Boston, Mass.