Earned Assets Resource Network

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EARN
Type Non Profit
Founded 2001
Headquarters Flag of the United States.svg San Francisco, California
Key people Co-founders are F. Warren Hellman, California State Senator Mark Leno, Bob Friedman, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, San Francisco County Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, Saundra Hernandez, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation and Ben Mangan, EARN’s current President and CEO, is also a co-founder of the organization.
Website EARN

EARN, a California-based non-profit organization, is a service provider, policy advocate and research-based innovator that champions upward economic mobility and wealth creation for low-wage workers and their families. As the leading provider of microsavings accounts to low-wage American workers, EARN provides families with the tools to achieve wealth-building goals such as saving for college, buying a first home, or starting a small business.

The organization’s research arm, the EARN Research Institute, evaluates the impact of EARN’s work and publishes original data, sharing lessons learned and best practices. EARN uses this applied research and direct service experience to change the financial services landscape and champion public policies. According to the organization’s website, “EARN's ultimate vision is that millions of well-informed, low-wage American families will achieve financial success through proven strategies, fair public policy, and their own hard work.”

History[edit]

EARN was founded in 2001 by a group of prominent individuals and organizations, including financier F. Warren Hellman, California State Senator Mark Leno, Bob Friedman, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and San Francisco County Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, and Saundra Hernandez, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. Ben Mangan, EARN’s current President and CEO, is also a co-founder of the organization.

The organization was the 2005 winner of the Fast Company Magazine/Monitor Group Social Capitalist of the Year Award[1] and was named one of the ten finalists for the Amazon.com Non Profit Innovation Award[2] that same year. In 2008, EARN was among the winners of the Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.[3]

EARN’s work has been featured in national media outlets including TIME Magazine,[4] the New York Times,[5] the Wall Street Journal,[6] and NPR.[7] The organization has been singled out for praise by former San Francisco Mayor and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.[8]

Microsavings Products[edit]

EARN gives families the tools to build wealth and achieve life-changing goals such as saving for college, buying a first home, or starting a small business. Since 2001, the organization has helped tens of thousands of low-wage families through innovative financial products including matched savings accounts, checking accounts for the unbanked, and financial coaching.

Matched Savings[edit]

Since 2002, EARN’s flagship microsavings Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) have helped thousands of participants collectively save and invest more than $6.2 million. Averaging less than $20,000 in annual income, EARN families save approximately 4.4% of their income each month, which is held in escrow accounts and used to help participants reach their asset goals. EARN supports its microsavings accounts with free personal finance workshops conducted in English, Spanish, and Cantonese to encourage better savings habits.

Financial Coaching[edit]

EARN’s Wealthcare Program offers comprehensive, one-on-one financial coaching and planning services to help clients analyze their current financial situation, set financial goals, and make concrete strides toward realizing those goals. Wealthcare clients are paired with a financial coach who meets with them monthly (in-person or by phone) over the course of one year.

EARN's Wealthcare Program is open to both Savers and Alumni who meet the eligibility requirements. In order to be eligible, clicents must be working or self-employed, meet certain annual household income requirements, and be able to meet minimum monthly payments for debt obligations.

Research[edit]

In 2010, the organization launched the EARN Research Institute, which evaluates the impact of EARN’s work and publishes original data, sharing lessons learned and best practices. EARN uses this unique grounding in rigorous research and direct service experience to transform the financial services landscape and to champion effective public policies.

Major Papers[edit]

The EARN Research Institute released three major papers in 2010. The first, “The Missing Link: Financial Self-Efficacy's Critical Role in Financial Capability,” discusses EARN’s findings on the roles of financial knowledge and financial self-efficacy in creating economic prosperity for low-income Americans. The second, “Behavioral Models for Driving Prosperity for Low Income People: A Statistical Assessment of Savings and Behavioral Change,” provides strong evidence that participation in EARN’s matched savings program strengthens participants’ healthy relationships with money. The third, “More than Half of American Families Do Not Have a Financial Safety Net,” shares results from EARN’s latest nationwide poll, which revealed that the majority of US households across all income brackets do not feel they could meet their basic financial needs if income was disrupted for three months or more.

EARN is currently devoting additional attention and resources to the growing education debt crisis. In 2011, the EARN Research Institute held a briefing on its latest paper, “Marin County's Growing Education Debt Problem: EARN Research Findings and Recommendations for Action.” The report offers compelling new data on the landscape of education debt as it relates to economic mobility and offers tangible policy recommendations to leaders at the local, state, and federal level.

Policy and Innovation[edit]

Background[edit]

EARN has advocated for fair public policy since its inception. In 2003, the organization launched a policy and research initiative called APIC. Two years later, APIC hosted California’s first statewide asset policy symposium. In 2006, two California bills co-sponsored by APIC were signed into law.

In 2008, EARN, in partnership with the San Francisco Federal Reserve, sponsored a Homeownership Symposium which focused on sound and responsible homeownership strategies for the new economic climate. In December 2009, EARN and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco co-sponsored a working policy meeting on affordable homeownership.

Constituency-Building[edit]

In 2010, EARN began developing a statewide coalition of public, private and nonprofit leaders who are committed to increasing asset-building opportunities for working families. The ongoing coalition serves as a policy voice for asset-building legislative, regulatory and electoral initiatives in the state.

Partnerships[edit]

Independently and with partners, EARN tests product and programmatic innovations that help demonstrate feasible and sound policy solutions to support the financial success of low-wage workers and their families.

Bank On San Francisco[edit]

In 2007, EARN became a founding member and current managing partner of Bank On San Francisco, the first comprehensive program in the United States to serve the "unbanked," those who live without access to mainstream financial institutions and are forced to rely on expensive check-cashing services.

The initiative has been led by EARN, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Through this unique public-private partnership, local community organizations, banks, and credit unions are encouraged to offer low-cost, starter, checking and savings accounts so that individuals can begin saving, build a credit history, and invest in their future. EARN has played a key role in the development and delivery of Bank on San Francisco through coordinating financial management training provided by banks; arranging additional training as needed; and getting the word out to the community, both directly and through EARN’s network of partners.

Bank On USA[edit]

As Bank on San Francisco’s nonprofit managing partner, EARN is serving as an advisor to the Obama Administration as the Administration proceeds with a national rollout of Bank On USA. President Obama has allocated $50 million in the 2011 fiscal year budget to scale this program nationally.

Kindergarten to College[edit]

In 2010, EARN partnered with the City of San Francisco and CFED on an ambitious Kindergarten to College (K2C) children’s savings accounts program, with pilot implementation beginning in spring 2010. EARN will match the savings of every low-income family participating in the pilot program.

Designed to promote savings and economic mobility, children’s savings accounts are universal, long-term, asset-building accounts established for children with public seed money that grows over time with additional deposits and earnings. San Francisco’s K2C initiative promises to open a college savings account for every child entering kindergarten in the City’s public schools, with an opening deposit of $50 from the City of San Francisco. EARN, the program’s non-profit sponsor, has committed to provide a "bump" of $100 to match the savings of the first group of 1,200 low-income students (those who are eligible for free or reduced-priced public school lunch).

HelloWallet[edit]

In 2010, EARN and HelloWallet, a newly launched personal financial services website, joined then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to improve the financial fitness of San Francisco residents.

Through this initiative, San Francisco will become the first city in the nation to deploy HelloWallet's revolutionary online financial guidance and management tool, with training provided by EARN. Other program participants include the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Francisco Public Utility Commission, and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.

Funders[edit]

EARN’s funders include Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the F. B. Heron Foundation, Ford Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Tipping Point Community, and Wells Fargo.

References[edit]