News from CSD - 2015

​Many Americans struggle with debt and limited savings, and they have little chance of moving up the economic ladder. What can be done to address a problem that has devastating consequences for families, communities and our nation as whole?
​​Every kindergartner enrolled this year in St. Louis City public and charter schools is receiving a college savings account, Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones said Tuesday at the official launch of the College Kids program. 
​​Israel’s parliament has passed a law funding long-term savings accounts for all newborns, based on a proposal developed by Michal Grinstein-Weiss, associate director of the Center for Social Development (CSD), and on research efforts led by Michael Sherraden, director of CSD.
When Molly Metzger was a PhD student, the time came for her to draft research questions for her dissertation. She drew a blank. After three years in classrooms, she felt out of touch with her topic: low-income housing.
​The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced the national launch of the myRA program, a government-backed retirement plan for people who don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work or who haven’t found an easy enough way to save.
​​In 2010, researchers in the vast YouthSave Initiative started investigating whether low-income youth can build savings in the developing countries of Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal. Now those researchers’ findings are summarized in a newly released report.
​More than 100 people gathered in St. Louis in October to hear leading experts discuss the latest research, funding, program and account-structure ideas in the growing field of Child Development Accounts (CDAs).
​Warning that “we are going to see many more Fergusons in this country,” Richard Rothstein, a national expert on education, race and ethnicity, recounted the history of government’s role in racial segregation, in a video created for the Center for Social Development event “Inclusive Housing: A Public Forum for Policy Action in St. Louis.”​
​The Center for Social Development  and the Clark-Fox Policy Institute hosted “Inclusive Housing: A Public Forum for Policy Action in St. Louis” in October to discuss local, state and federal policies and how to build more inclusive metro areas. Read about the forum and find links to videos, including Richard Rothstein's presentation "The Making of Ferguson."
​​A woman in Tennessee sells her plasma twice a week to help her family of four survive. She has little cash, about $2 a day, but she has a lot of company. The number of families living on $2 per person, per day, has soared to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children.
​​YouthSave researchers gathered recently in Washington, D.C., to discuss what they learned over five years about how to provide scalable saving mechanisms to low-income youth—and what their findings could mean for youth development and financial inclusion. The discussion included the findings of YouthSave’s Savings Demand Assessment in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal, and the results of a longitudinal experimental impact study in Ghana. 
Answering the call to participate in the Smart Decarceration Initiative’s first conference, about 150 people from throughout the country gathered Sept. 24-27 at Washington University to work on redefining justice in America.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday confirmed a grant to St. Louis YouthBuild of $1.06 million to support academic and occupational skills training for at-risk youth. Washington University is is a partner with YouthBuilda relationship that was seeded by an event early this year initiated by the Center for Social Development.
Melvin L. Oliver, PhD, a nationally recognized expert on racial and urban inequality, delivered a major speech Wednesday at Washington University in St. Louis, interspersing it with more than a dozen books he recommends. His address, “Wealth Inequality Through the Lens of Race: Sociological Observations,” marked the re-launching of the Sociology Department and the Center for Social Development’s 20th anniversary.​
The Ferguson Commission in its report released this week called for universal Child Development Accounts (CDAs) that are statewide and automatic. What are CDAs? They’re investment accounts for long-term goals like postsecondary education. They are progressive, seeded with an initial deposit of $50 to $500, with extra put in for the poorest children. ​
The U.S. faces the tremendous challenge of reducing its overreliance on prisons and jails. As the social and economic costs of incarceration rise, the need—and opportunity—exists to reverse the trend. The new Smart Decarceration Initiative is taking up the challenge.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, will consider a state budget this fall that includes funding for long-term savings accounts for all newborns, a proposal authored by Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD,  the associate director of the Center for Social Development, and based on research efforts led by Michael Sherraden, PhD, the director of CSD.​ The nation’s cabinet approved the budget on Aug. 6, and the Knesset is expected to vote on it in November.
An experimental Individual Development Account had no effect on whether participants opened a retirement account or on the adequacy of their retirement savings, according to a newly published article in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work
​​At CSD, we believe that financial security should be lifelong, starting at birth and extending from childhood through adulthood. Today CSD is proud to join CFED and more than a dozen other partners in launching the Campaign for Every Kid’s Future.
​Most young people in Sub-Saharan Africa are not saving money, and an article in the journal Global Social Welfare explains what helps or hurts them in their efforts. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with youth, parents, caregivers and school stakeholders in Ghana and Kenya as part of the YouthSave project.
​​In the United States, the largest Child Development Account (CDA) programs have been built on existing 529 college savings plans. Our policy brief “College Savings Plans: A Platform for Inclusive and Progressive Child Development Accounts” describes the features of direct-sold 529s that make these plans especially well-suited to CDAs. ​
CSD Director Michael Sherraden, PhD, was awarded the Richard Lodge Prize for 2015. He received the prize on May 8 at the Adelphi University School of Social Work’s annual Alumni and Friends Day.​
If you’ve ever wondered about the green icons on the top and bottom of CSD’s website pages, here’s a quick explanation. ​
C. Eugene Steuerle, author of "Dead Men Ruling," says it's entirely possible to make the 21st Century the century of the child.
​Tax-time savings programs help low- and moderate-income families save significantly more of their refunds than those who choose not to participate, finds an analysis of such a program called $aveNYC.
​​People in social work are crucial to understanding the poor and their financial decision making, Camille Busette, PhD, said in the keynote speech at the 2015 Convening on Financial Capability & Asset Building. Busette is the lead financial sector specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor​.​
​Since the 1970s, American society has split along class lines, and the gap between rich children and poor children is widening, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam says. The gap is “the most important domestic challenge facing our country,” he says.​
​A special issue of The Journal of Consumer Affairs, “Starting Early for Financial Success,” features articles that explore the links among financial education, financial inclusion, and financial well-being. Contributors point out that even young children can learn financial lessons and that facilitating financial capability is a key imperative for policymakers. Michal Grinstein-Weiss and Margaret S. Sherraden served as guest editors of the issue.​​
Robert D. Putnam, famous for his best-selling book “Bowling Alone," now is taking on inequality among children and why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. On April 15, Putnam will discuss his new book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” at Washington University in St. Louis.​​
A groundbreaking project examining the attitudes and practices of young people in developing economies toward saving money has led to new findings that confirm and challenge assumptions about youth saving at formal financial institutions.
Singapore’s innovative response to its rough and vulnerable beginning has shaped the first 50 years of the island country, Michael Sherraden said Wednesday, speaking to a crowd gathered at the National University of Singapore for his public lecture marking Singapore’s 50th Anniversary as an independent nation.
The associate director of the Center for Social Development (CSD) urged U.S. senators on Thursday to create long-term asset-building policies and to use such “golden moments” as tax time to urge Americans to save.
​While many Americans took a big financial hit during the Great Recession, homeowners were less likely than renters to lose very large proportions of their wealth, finds a new study from the Center for Social Development (CSD). “The proportion of homeowners who lost net worth was larger than the proportion of renters who did so; however, renters were more likely than owners to lose at least 25 percent of their net worth during this time,” said lead author Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD, associate director of CSD.
The Financial Capability & Asset Building (FCAB) initiative was highlighted Tuesday during a celebration showcasing four Washington University in St. Louis initiatives funded by a $5.3 million gift from Wells Fargo Advisors. CSD launched the FCAB initiative in 2012, seeking to ensure that all Americans, particularly low- and moderate-income families, have access to basic financial education and guidance.
​Two new laws in St. Louis will expand housing options for Section 8 renters. Recent research at Washington University in St. Louis influenced the laws' enactment. “Section 8 renters are highly segregated in low-income communities,” says Assistant Professor Molly Metzger, who testified in support of the laws. She is a faculty director for Inclusive Housing research at the Center for Social Development.
The Singapore launch of the Next Age Institute is on Monday, February 23, at the National University of Singapore. The event will feature Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Amy Khor as the guest of honor. Institute directors Chia Ngee Choon, Corinne Ghoh and Michael Sherraden also will speak.
​Young people from Kansas, Missouri and Illinois gathered to hear Dorothy Stoneman, the founder and CEO of YouthBuild USA Inc., speak about transforming themselves and their communities. A leader in advocating for youth engagement in civil society and the eradication of poverty, she urged them to work for change while acting consistently with love to build relationships across barriers of race and economics.
​Renowned author, commentator and sociologist Xavier (“Xav”) de Souza Briggs urged the reinvention of the United States’ version of capitalism in his speech “Toward a Just and Inclusive America” on Thursday at Washington University in St. Louis. Speaking to an audience that overflowed Brown Lounge, Briggs asked, “Why did we become an economy of IT billionaires and a thriving, high-skill ‘creative class’ on one side and millions of dead-end, bad jobs on the other?”