2012 News

Gift from Wells Fargo supports Financial Capability and Asset Building program and other important initiatives

A gift of $750,000 from Wells Fargo Advisors will fund the Financial Capability and Asset Building program in the Brown School’s Center for Social Development (CSD). The three-year project, led by Michael Sherraden, PhD, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development and the founding director of CSD, will study curricula for training in financial capability.

“We are very fortunate to have this support from Wells Fargo Advisors to undertake research and expand capacity for teaching asset building and financial capability to professionals in social work and other applied fields,” says Sherraden. “This expands the reach of CSD’s longstanding interest in asset building for low-income families and communities.”

Edward Lawlor, PhD, dean of the Brown School and the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor, expressed his gratitude for Wells Fargo Advisors’ support. “This generous gift enables our Center for Social Development to advance the agenda for teaching financial capability and asset building to lower income and other vulnerable households,” Lawlor says. “This has huge implications for policy, practice, and the profession of social work.”

The gift to CSD is part of a total new gift of $5,350,000 from Wells Fargo Advisors to Washington University in St. Louis to support initiatives that are designed to enhance and strengthen teaching and research, to apply new knowledge to affect positive societal change, and to create pathways for the exchange of ideas between business and academia. Three programs at the university’s Olin Business School will also be funded by the gift.

“The Brown School is very pleased to be in partnership with the Olin School in this Wells Fargo Advisors project,” Sherraden says. “Washington University is interdisciplinary—working across Schools and Departments is a hallmark of our campus.”

An Ongoing Commitment to the University

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton notes that this recent gift from Wells Fargo Advisors is in addition to its ongoing significant commitments to WUSTL beginning in 2009, shortly after the firm began operations in St. Louis. Wrighton credits Daniel J. Ludeman, president and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo Advisors, for reaching out to Washington University.

“Right from the start, Danny Ludeman recognized that a collaboration between Wells Fargo Advisors and Washington University would yield outstanding results and contribute not only to both the business and academic communities, but the entire St. Louis region as well,” Wrighton says. “Thanks to his foresight and great generosity, we have established a strong relationship that is now being fortified by this new contribution.”

Ludeman was elected to Washington University’s Board of Trustees in 2010, and serves on the board’s Asset Management Committee as well as the University Finance Committee.

“Wells Fargo Advisors is pleased to support to one of the leading universities in America,” Ludeman said. “Our region is fortunate to be home to Washington University, and Wells Fargo Advisors’ contribution represents a uniquely comprehensive approach to regional development. It supports a variety of initiatives and groups that are critical to our region’s future growth, including research by the business community, training for future business owners, leadership for non-profits and stronger financial capabilities for families.”

Financial Capability and Asset Building Initiative at CSD

CSD’s financial capability and asset building initiative responds to a large gap in training for financial capability in the United States. Although the practical skills to manage household economic life were once disseminated in a wide range of settings by home economists and social workers, no profession today is adequately addressing financial capability among ordinary Americans.

Led by CSD, the project will be interdisciplinary, cutting across academic disciplines, research centers, and professions. Researchers will propose and test new curricula, share findings among social work and family economics professionals, and emphasize communication to inform national discussion.

“CSD has a strong track record in testing economic and social innovations that lead to positive change,” says CSD director Michael Sherraden. “We’re excited about the potential of this work, and grateful to Wells Fargo Advisors for making it possible.”