From the Director – June 2018

By Janet Byrd

Happy June! It seems that the days when work life slowed down a bit in the summer and offered time for reflection and blue sky thinking are behind us. There’s so much coming at us these days that the time to reflect and attend to the big picture needs to be carefully set aside and protected.

I’m lucky this week to be getting a bit of that time, attending the Center for Financial Services Innovation EMERGE Conference. CFSI has been a leader in examining the data on financial health in our communities, and in culling the data for clues about what we could and should be doing differently to build financial health, resilience, and genuine opportunity. We know a bit about what has impact, and that one of the keys is changing behaviors, making the good choice the easy choice, and providing tools to manage the increasing income volatility the data makes so evident. There are policy changes to be made, and there are many products that bridge the worlds of financial services and technology (“fintech”) that can help.

Designing with people in mind is also key. I’ve taken time this past month to look again at the Prosperity Now State Policy Blueprint for a More Inclusive Path to Prosperity, which offers a set of policies designed to address racial wealth disparity. Oregon has many of these policies already in place, but when we look at the outcomes experienced in communities of color and our rural communities, we aren’t seeing the results we would expect to see if having a policy on the books was enough to move the needle on impacts. Policy needs to be designed with implementation top of mind, and with partners helping to design the policy, and in the lead who bring a breadth of experiences to the table and the wisdom to help get policy right.

We’re also looking ahead to the RE:Conference in October. You’ll hear more about these themes and challenges, as RE:Conference will bring you plenty of opportunity to re-imagine, re-invent, re-design, and re-invigorate your work.