American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD)

Asset Building

Asset Building

The Downpayments on the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD) is the first large-scale demonstration of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), with approximately 2,400 accounts opened at 13 sites across the country. We led the research design and dissemination for this demonstration, designing a multipronged approach that included both quantitative and qualitative research methods. An experimental design was executed at the ADD site with the largest number of program participants. This research, which is ongoing, has yielded a considerable number of papers, reports, journal articles and books, informing policymakers and others on topics related to creating effective opportunities for low- to moderate-income populations to save and invest in such assets as homes, businesses, higher education and retirement.  

Findings indicate that, contrary to common perception, the poor can and do save. In addition, association between savings outcomes and structural characteristics of IDA programs suggests that inclusive asset building is most effectively achieved through program and policy design. As CSD Director Michael Sherraden has noted, a successful approach to asset building “would focus not on changing people, but rather on changing policies.” ADD findings continue to inform asset-building policy and program development.

Funding Partners: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, F.B. Heron Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, the MetLife Foundation, the Moriah Fund, and Rockefeller Foundation


Principal Investigator

Michael Sherraden

CSD Founding Director,
George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor

Project Director

Lissa Johnson

CSD Director of Administration,
Director of Policy Initiatives with Grand Challenges for Social Work