AFI Resource Center Expands to Help Credit Unions, CDFIs and Others
(October 11, 2007 - New York, NY) The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions today announced a major partnership with ICF International to promote Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) under a new contract with Assets for Independence (AFI), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Community Services. The AFI contract will enable the Federation to work as part of the AFI Resource Center to provide information, training and on-site assistance to organizations that wish to design and implement IDA programs for low-income individuals and families. In particular, the Federation and its partners will work with credit unions, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and Department of Justice “Weed and Seed” sites to develop IDA programs for the low-income communities they serve.
IDAs are restricted, matched savings accounts that help low-income people save money that can be put towards an appreciating asset, such as a first home, higher education, or a small business. For most IDA programs, a big challenge is to raise enough funds to match the savings of their low-income account-holders. Fortunately, a growing number of public and private sector institutions are increasing their funding for IDAs as an effective way to build assets in low-income communities and create healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. Qualifying IDA programs also can double their local fundraising by applying to AFI for federal matching grants. AFI grantees also receive program management tools and technical assistance offered through the AFI Resource Center. (information on applying for AFI grants is available online: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/assetbuilding/applying.html)
The Office of Community Services identified credit unions, CDFIs and Weed and Seed sites as special target groups because of their commitment to serving low-income communities and people of modest means. Credit unions and CDFIs offer a strong financial platform for building targeted and efficient IDA programs. Weed and Seed, which began in the early 1990s as a Justice Department strategy to “weed out” crime while “seeding” sites with asset-building services, offers extensive local networks and powerful partnership opportunities in more than 300 low-income communities across the United States. Through its work with the AFI Resource Center, the Federation will encourage credit unions, CDFIs, Weed and Seed sites, and other organizations to build effective IDA partnerships, wherever possible.
More information about the development of new IDA programs and Assets for Independence grants is available by contacting the Federation or the AFI Resource Center at the numbers listed below:
© 2007 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.