Financial Inclusion

In the 21st century the world is highly financialized, and income alone is not a sufficient support for millions of households. All people require access to safe financial products and services as well as sound financial knowledge. In addition, all families should be able to accumulate assets for their security and long-term development. Since its inception, CSD has served as a leading center for research on ways to enhance the financial security and development of families in the United States and around the world.

At CSD, financial inclusion projects fall into four categories: Asset Building in the United States, Global Asset Building, Financial Capability, and Financial Behaviors.

Asset Building in the United States

The center defines assets as accumulated resources invested for social and economic development. These investments can be in human or social capital, such as education, or tangible assets, such as homeownership, small business develo​pment and retirement savings. (See also frequently asked questions and Encyclopedia of Social Work). CSD informs inclusive asset-building policy strategies such as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), Child Development Accounts (CDAs) and progressive 529 college savings plans​ by designing, implementing, and studying large-scale demonstrations including the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD), SEED National Initiative, and SEED for Oklahoma Kids.

SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK)

Asset Building

The SEED OK experiment, which began in 2007, is a large-scale policy test of universal, automatic, and progressive Child Development Accounts. The CDA uses the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan platform.

American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD)

Asset Building

This is the first large-scale demonstration of Individual Development Accounts, with approximately 2,400 accounts opened at 13 sites across the country. 

SEED National Initiative

Asset Building

We test asset-building accounts for children and youth to create an inclusive system of Child Development Accounts in 12 communities across the U.S. SEED included more than 1,200 low-income children and their families.

All Asset Building in the United States Projects

Global Asset Building

The Center for Social Development is committed to creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income households throughout the world to build assets. The goal of “an account for every child on the planet,” first articulated by CSD, appears in a growing number of international policy agendas. Our work informs asset-building policies and programs worldwide through testing their effectiveness, creating networks of scholars and policymakers, building the global knowledge base, and hosting convenings.

Israel: Asset Building Policy and Child Development Accounts

Global Asset Building

We work with the Israeli government to develop an asset-building policy of national Child Development Accounts. 

Taiwan: Demonstrations and Policy Progress

Global Asset Building

Our project assisted the Taipei City government with policy and research design for its Taipei Family Development Account pilot program.


Global Asset Building

This initiative in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal was to understand conditions for delivery of savings products and services to improve the lives of low-income youth.

All Global Asset Building Projects

Financial Capability

The Center for Social Development is actively engaged in building a body of evidence in financial capability, defined as both the knowledge to make optimal financial decisions and access to appropriate and beneficial financial services. We focus on financial capability across the life cycle and the inclusion of all individuals. A key focus is to reintroduce financial well-being into  social work education and practice. The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) selected “build financial capability and assets for all” as one of social work’s 12 Grand Challenges

Financial Capability & Human Services Education

Financial Capability

We address the gap in professional FCAB training of social workers and other human service practitioners who serve low- and moderate-income households.

All Financial Capability Projects

Financial Behaviors

The center’s work in Financial Behaviors currently focuses on two major research studies. Refund to Savings (R2S) builds saving-behavior experiments into Intuit’s TurboTax Free File Online product, which is available to low- and moderate-income households.  A second major study in financial behaviors is the Employee Financial Wellness Programs project, which will evaluate the impact of employer-based financial wellness programs.

Refund to Savings (R2S)

Financial Behaviors

Our experiments measure the effect of interventions informed by behavioral economics that seek to increase saving at tax time.

Employee Financial Wellness Programs

Financial Behaviors

Through research, we assess whether such programs offer a promising strategy for building financial security among workers.