In today's economy, financial security and mobility depend not just on one's job and income, which can come and go in a flash, but increasingly on one's ability to accumulate personal and financial assets.  Asset building policies can include a broad range of initiatives that allow people to move from poverty to prosperity, such as access to mainstream financial services, savings opportunities, investment opportunities, and asset preservation measures.    

Asset building policies should be pursued not only at the federal level, but also at the state level since the states serve as our nation's “laboratories of democracy” where the most innovative policies are often enacted.  To find resources and tools for implementing various asset policy initiatives in your state, review the package of state policy issues described in these pages.

General Resources:

"Asset Opportunity Ladder: An example of policies that impact asset building over a lifetime"

Description: The Asset Opportunity Ladder charts the many policies that can impact the ability to build assets over a lifetime. At each life stage innovative state and federal policies can aid in creating an asset foundation, strengthening human capacities, and building financial wealth.
Author Name: Institute on Assets and Social Policy
Organization Type: National Intermediary


Description: This interactiveTool Kit aims to support eight Northwest states in their efforts to improve well-being by offering information, policy goals, concrete tools and strategies. This project is sponsored by Strategies to Eliminate Poverty, a grantmaking initiative of The Seattle Foundation made possible by a grant from the Northwest Area Foundation. Though the information focuses on the Northwest-area states—Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington—the resources and models apply broadly to other state and national efforts.
Author Name: STEP: Strategies to Eliminate Poverty and The Seattle Foundation

Continuum of Asset-Building Opportunities

Description: This document outlines a range of asset building opportunities that can move people from poverty to economic security.
Author Name: From Building Assets While Building Communities, by Heather McCulloch for the Walter and Elise Haas Fund 2006
Organization Type: Other

Asset Poverty and Debt Among Families with Children

Description: This research brief investigates the status of asset ownership and debt among families with children aged birth to 18, using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 2001 and 2007 data. It also examines disparities in asset holdings and debt by race and gender of family heads as well as age of children in the family. As asset holdings and debt can impact the well-being of children, in this report we examine the economic security of families with children based on family asset holdings and debt. First, we explore the concept of asset poverty and estimate the proportion of families who are asset poor, followed by the examination of debt and financial assets of families with children. The report concludes with policy implications and recommendations to promote the financial security of families with children.
Author Name: Yumiko Aratani and Michelle Chau
Organization Type: Nonprofit

The Assets Report 2009

Description: The New America Foundation released The Assets Report 2009, which surveys the asset-building policies and proposals in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget.  The report describes funding requests for existing asset-building programs, new policy proposals from the Obama Administration, and the laws that were recently enacted that include asset-building provisions.  The report shows that a large portion of the Federal budget is devoted to supporting asset-building activities, including an amount of $421.94 billion in resources to promote asset building, of which $63.55 billion will go toward direct spending, and $362.39 billion toward tax subsidies.  The proposed policies and programs will promote homeownership, savings and investment, retirement security, post-secondary education, and entrepreneurship. 
Author Name: New America Foundation
Organization Type: National Intermediary