Michael Sherraden

CSD Founding Director,
George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor

Michael Sherraden, PhD, is the founding director of the Center for Social Development and the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor. Working with CSD colleagues and many partners, he creates and tests innovations to improve social and economic well-being. He has defined and informed a growing body of applied research and policy to promote inclusion in asset building. This work has influenced asset-based policies and programs in the U.S. and many other countries.

His research results have also informed inclusive and progressive Child Development Accounts in St. Louis, other U.S. cities and states, and internationally. In addition, his research on Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s contributed to the creation of AmeriCorps, and he was in attendance for the signing of the bill at the White House.

Sherraden serves on the Leadership Board of the national initiative Grand Challenges for Social Work, having previously served as a member of the initiative’s Executive Committee. Among other awards, he has been a Fulbright Scholar and listed by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Faculty profile

CSD Projects

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. 

China: Inclusive Asset-Based Policy

Global Asset Building

We assist China with creating its first asset-building program and conduct ongoing research with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Environment and Social Development

We examine social vulnerability to environmental change, and strategies for social action and adaptation.

Hungary and Slovakia: Matched Savings Initiatives

Global Asset Building

Our pilot programs focused on the rural poor with the goal of encouraging low-income families to save for assets for a better life.

Indonesia: Asset-Based Policy Development

Global Asset Building

With the Indonesian Ministry of Social Welfare and State Islamic University, we designed an asset-based pilot to be implemented in poor areas of Indonesia.

Native Assets

Asset Building

Our research examines the effectiveness of asset-building policies in Native communities and seeks to inform policy design to make inclusive asset-building policies. 

Peru and Colombia: Asset Building Initiatives

Global Asset Building

We provide policy and research design support to nongovernmental organizations in Peru and Colombia as they develop three asset-based poverty alleviation initiatives. 

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.

South Korea: Asset-Based Policy Development

Global Asset Building

We provide policy and research design support to the government of South Korea as it develops and implements programs that focus on social investment. 

‘The Mission Continues’ National Initiative

Community and National Service

We conducted a study involving nearly 500 veterans in more than 400 nonprofit organizations in 42 states. 

Wealth Building in Rural America Project

Asset Building

We research asset development in rural America with a focus on underserved populations

Assets for Independence Act Evaluation

Asset Building

We assisted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families in designing the next evaluation of the AFIA program. 

Dialogues on Assets in Native Communities

Asset Building

We investigate the asset holdings of one Native community by asking members to define “assets” for themselves and for their community. 

Global Assets Project

Global Asset Building

Our collaboration with the New America Foundation’s Asset Building Program seeks to inform and promote development of asset-building policies and programs worldwide. 

I Can Save

Financial Capability

We research how financial education and saving affect student’s financial literacy, academic engagement and plans for college. 

Kenya: Asset Building and Investment

Global Asset Building

Our project enables families to save and make investments in the Nairobi Stock Exchange in Kenya. 

Native VITA Sites: Linking Tax Returns and Asset Building Strategies

Asset Building

Our project with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies examines the uptake and potential uses of Earned Income Tax Credit dollars by Native people. 

Poor Finances: Assets and Low-Income Households

Asset Building

Our project with the Urban Institute evaluates studies of asset building among low-income households for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Singapore: Post-Secondary Education Account Policy

Global Asset Building

The policy set up an account for every Singaporean ages 7 to 20. It is one of three asset-building programs that create a cradle-to-grave asset-building system for all.  

State Assets Policy Project

Asset Building

Our research informs development of asset-building policies at the state level and is designed to include traditionally marginalized groups. 

The United Way of Greater St. Louis Individual Development Account Pilot Program

Asset Building

Our project with the United Way of Greater St. Louis implemented an IDA Pilot Program to explore a way to build assets in low-income households and communities. 


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.


Global Asset Building

Our pilot program tests asset-building innovations for impoverished households and communities in Uganda. 

Exploring Saving for Education in American Indian Communities

Native Families and Communities

Our research addresses saving for post-secondary education in American Indian communities in North Carolina. 

Hong Kong: Child Development Fund

Global Asset Building

We provided policy and research design support to the government of Hong Kong as it developed a proposal for a national Child Development Fund. 

Inclusion in Asset Building: Research and Policy Symposium

Asset Building

We held a research and policy symposium on knowledge foundations and policy strategies to enable low-wealth individuals to build assets.

Livable Lives Initiative

Livable Lives

This initiative investigates what social conditions and policy supports can make life with a low or moderate income stable, secure, satisfying and successful.

Pagedale Development Project

Community Engagement

We designed an initiative to develop an integrated “equity” framework for community development to inform constituencies about effective redevelopment of a neighborhood.

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.

Southern Regional Asset Building Coalition (SRABC)

Asset Building

We built an inclusive statewide and regional asset-building coalition in the South with Historically Black Colleges and Universities as partners.

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.

Voter Access & Engagement

We use our expertise to assess and test innovations that remove barriers to voting and enhance voter participation.