Building a two-generation savings approach


Overview

The Savings Initiative Project is a two-generation savings project that engages parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and their children in building savings behaviors and increasing financial capability. With our design professionals, program development staff, and partners, we seek to answer the question, “How might we improve the financial resilience of parents in the Community Jobs program?”

This project, generously funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, builds on an earlier pilot conducted in Washington State that linked Workfirst Community Job participants to bank accounts. The Prosperity Agenda and its partners are co-creating an approach that will utilize a human-centered innovation design process to develop, test, and pilot model strategies that address participants’ lack of financial wellness and savings behavior.

Households without savings are vulnerable to economic shocks, such as an income drop from a job loss or an expense spike from an unexpected car repair or medical bill.
— Ratcliffe, McKernan, Wheaton, and Kalish, July 2016

PROGRAM DEsign

The Savings Initiative Project integrates a savings intervention with parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and their children. The project is focused on developing, testing and evaluating a family centered savings approach to help families realize and build on their saving strategies and increase their financial capability.

The Savings Initiative project went through a rigorous development process that captured parent’s needs in increasing savings behaviors and habits. We gathered insights from Community Jobs sites that integrate both urban and rural perspectives in preparation to design a savings intervention that is appropriate for Washington TANF recipients across the state. We sought to answer the question, How might we improve financial resilience, through savings behaviors, of parents in Community Jobs programs, with a two-generation approach? Some Community Job sites already have established services that are aimed at increasing their parents’ financial well-being through asset-building and financial empowerment activities. Our goal was to learn what is working well, what constraints exist, and where there are opportunities to build on what is already happening.  

We sought to understand what savings means for individuals with limited income and what bright spots we can build upon. Through our research we learned that Savings Success is not simply “money in the bank” but in fact, there are many different factors that can increase savings behavior and habits. We learned about the different dynamics we could leverage, include increasing planning, goal setting, goal attaining, desire to save, believing someone can save, identifying as a saver, intentional spending, resisting spending temptations, family and social support, and having a savings account; while reducing social and cultural pressure to spend and decision fatigue.
 

DESIGN RESULTS: MONEY POWERUP PACKS

I like it because people won’t feel told what to do – so much of their lives, they’re being told what to do. But with this, it’s an experience and they get to develop their own feelings and decisions about it.
— Government Partner

Through our development process, we created Money Powerup Packs, which are event kits that provide everything needed to launch, easy, engaging events within a pre-existing community development program. They are designed to be facilitated by staff from varying levels of experience with financial capability services. The packs provide an easy way to host impactful events that build financial resilience for families within a given community. The packs create an environment to encourage organizations to share more than just information through community building, celebrating progress, and creating memorable experiences. Money Powerup Packs are currently being tested in seven TANF sits across Washington State and four Early Learning sites.

Really like that you’re talking about this in terms of resilience rather than financial literacy… Resilience is interesting. Doesn’t infer that you aren’t literate or don’t do it well.
— Government Partner

Partners

•    W.K. Kellogg Foundation
•    Washington State Department of Commerce
•    Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
•    Washington Association of Head Start/Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program
•    YWCA (Seattle, WA)
•    Lower Columbia Community Action Program (Longview, WA)
•    People for People (Yakima, WA)
•    Northwest Community Action Center (Toppenish, WA)
•    Coastal CAP (Aberdeen, WA)
•    PIC (Vancouver, WA)
•    Career Path Services (South King County, WA)
•    Spokane ECEAP
•    Centralia ECEAP
•    Skagit ECEAP


RESEARCH

Families on public assistance usually leave the system without no or very little savings to sustain them in future financial emergencies or give them the ability to invest in assets, such as post-secondary education or a home. This makes it nearly impossible for a household to become financially stable.

The Community Jobs Bank Account Pilot (CJBAP) Project, conducted in 2014 by the WA State Department of Commerce, Lower Columbia Community Action Agency, YWCA (Seattle), and The Prosperity Agenda sought out to integrate financial empowerment services into Community Jobs, a transitional jobs training program for TANF recipients. Along with the job opportunity, parents were also offered a bundle of financial services including access to low-cost bank accounts, electronic funds transfer, Money Smart financial education, and financial coaching that addressed the clients’ struggles with personal financial management. The participants demonstrated positive financial outcomes, such as utilizing direct deposit for their paychecks, overcoming fears of interacting with the banking system, and reducing banking fees due to improved understanding of money management. Download the full report here.


PROJECT TIMELINE

September – November 2016 – Partner Onboarding

December 2016 – February 2017 – Research & Synthesis

March 2017 – Ideation

May 2017 – Presentation to partners about Money Powerup Packs

June – November 2017 – Initial testing in 4 TANF sites & 3 ECEAP sites

January 2018 – January 2019 – statewide pilot at 7 TANF sites

May 2018 – January 2019 – launching at 4 ECEAP sites 

February 2019 – July 2019 – Data analysis and distribution of insights


CONTACT US

For more information about this project, contact us at design@theprosperityagenda.org.


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