Moving Our Asset Agenda Forward!

By Jill Winsor

You’d think we’d be exhausted after an event like RE:Conference. It’s a jam-packed two days full of different speakers, information and data plus a sea of people to navigate and connect with. Amazingly, after the dust settles, we find ourselves feeling rejuvenated, reinvigorated and ready to integrate what we learned and take action on the opportunities that arose. We wanted to share Oregon Asset Building Coalition’s next steps inspired by RE:Conference.

Oregon Asset Building Coalition members and friends basked in the brilliance of Tanya Beer, Associate Director of the Center for Evaluation Innovation. We learned to use her  advocacy evaluation tools to identify skill and capacity gaps as we work to build our capacity to influence asset building policy. We also learned to use tools to help us continually improve our work and the trust we’ve built as a coalition over time.

Next steps for the OR ABC: We’ll be honing our proposals for universal Children’s Savings in Oregon and looking at consumer protection issues that may come to the Legislature in 2018.

The Northwest Access Fund, Community Vision and the Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition taught us so much about what it means for organizations to authentically and justly engage disability communities in programming and advocacy efforts. We learned that a disability is a barrier that leads to the loss or limitation of opportunities and we learned concrete ways to tear down the disability/barriers that our organizations and society have constructed.

 Next steps for the Oregon Asset Building Coalition: We plan to evaluate the accessibility of our organizations and remove barriers that prevent people from participating in advocacy efforts.

  • We will be using a screen reader to see how our Children’s Savings Account website holds up at being accessible to a range of people’s different skills and abilities!
  • Engage advocates with disabilities and use the story-telling methods they’ve designed and the guidelines they’ve developed for supporters and allies to help our coalition better address and remove barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Dr. Thomas Shapiro from the Institute for Assets and Social Policy and Solana Rice from Prosperity Now shared their research on Toxic Inequality and the Racial Wealth Divide and we learned that Black and Latinx families have far less wealth than white families. We also learned that Prosperity Now has identified a set of policies that can be used to take action to address the racial wealth divide.

Next Steps for the Oregon Asset Building Coalition: Use A State Policy Blueprint for a More Inclusive Path to Prosperity to identify policy solutions we can use in Oregon and use the Racial Equity Policy Design and Advocacy Primer to structure our policy efforts (because how we do this work matters).

 In the final session of the day, we explored next steps for our asset building work:

  • Sarah Adams of CASH Oregon got us excited to work together to increase uptake of the Oregon EITC!
  • Carlos Garcia of Hacienda CDC and Ezekiel Gorrocino with the Center for Responsible Lending shared data on Oregon consumer debt issues.
  • Rebekah Barger from CASA of Oregon encouraged folks to consider building deeper connections with our rural asset building partners.
  • Quin Collins from College Dreams gave everyone an update on our Children’s Savings Account efforts. Stay tuned for details on a pilot!
  • Mary Li of the Multnomah Idea Lab connected with folks who are excited to use the racial wealth equity tools from Prosperity Now mentioned above.

This is just a taste of everything we learned and our future plans. Gives us a shout if you attended RE:Conference and want to share what you learned! Make sure to follow our facebook page to stay up-to-date on our progress on all of these next steps!