Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel: Building Evidence to Strengthen the Social Safety Net
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Brickell Prefunction (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Sinead Keegan, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity
Panel Chairs:  Sinead Keegan, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity
Discussants:  Lisa Servon, The New School

Integrated Services and Financial Outcomes for Low-Income Households
Sarah Rankin, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Impact of Finances 50+ Training Classes on Individuals' Financial Behaviors
Donna V.S. Ortega, AARP Foundation, Mildred A. DePallo, AARP and J. Michael Collins, University of Wisconsin

In 2013, the social safety net lifted 39 million Americans out of poverty, according to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yet 49 million Americans still live in poverty. And at some point in their lives, 70% of Americans directly benefit from the social safety net. The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is supporting a number of projects that are building evidence for initiatives that, if effective, can strengthen the social safety net. Research from these initiatives can shape ongoing policy discussions, and help to identify best practices in promoting economic opportunity and pathways to scale the effective models. The SIF mobilizes public and private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of strong results. With SIF funding and matching private dollars, grantees scale up these solutions, while increasing the level of evidence behind them. This panel will include original research on three interventions, using experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies. Panelists include researchers and practitioners; the chair represents city government. On this panel, the first paper will share the impact findings of a random assignment evaluation of SaveUSA, a tax-time savings program supported by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC’s Social Innovation Fund initiative. SaveUSA leverages the opportunity of the tax refund moment and builds on free tax preparation service offered through VITA. The second paper will present findings from LISC’s SIF-supported quasi-experimental evaluation of Financial Opportunity Centers’ which combine traditional workforce services with one-on-one financial coaching and access to income supports. The third paper, presented by AARP, will discuss the evaluation of initiatives to increase the employability and financial capability of individuals over age 50. Together, these three papers provide the foundation for a discussion of how evidence-based financial empowerment programs can improve economic opportunity for low-income Americans.
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