A visit from members of the Seoul Welfare Foundation marked the official launch of a research collaboration between the Foundation and the Center for Social Development (CSD). The research project will focus on the impacts of one of the Foundation’s major social programs, a matched savings program called the Hope Plus Savings Account Program, which is modeled on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in the United States. Launched in late 2008, Hope Plus aims to assist working poor families in Seoul with savings in three areas: home purchase, education, and microenterprise. The research project will study the impacts of Hope Plus on low-income households using longitudinal survey research and qualitative research with in-depth interviews. CSD’s Dr. Yunju Nam will lead the research as Principal Investigator in close collaboration with Dr. Michael Sherraden and Ms. Youngmi Kim, who will both serve as Co-PIs. The Seoul Welfare Foundation’s Dr. Mihyun Kim and faculty at several universities in Korea will also take active roles.
The Seoul Welfare Foundation was established by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2004 to enhance efficiency and professionalism in social welfare services in the Seoul metropolitan area. The Foundation’s programs and research projects guide future policy development in Seoul and beyond, including federal policy. Since 2007, the Foundation has included asset-building programs in its long-term strategic plan for social development for low-income households. The delegation from Seoul was interested to learn about local innovations in social welfare policy, and visited multiple programs in the St. Louis and Chicago areas during their five-day visit. In addition, Dr. Seong-gyu Lee, President of the Foundation, presented a talk at the Brown School.