Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

The mission of AEDI is to create and study innovations related to asset development, education, and financial inclusion that result in opportunities across the life course for low-income children and families, in the U.S. and around the globe, for the purposes of climbing out of poverty and up the economic ladder.

Poverty and performance on standardized tests in Rhode Island and Massachusetts: Implications for policy reformImproving educational outcomes for Rhode Island’s K-12 students is essential for the future of the state. While not an end in themselves, standardized tests can be used to measure school and statewide progress and guide accountability efforts. While extensive research has examined how student, family, school, and community factors influence test performance, one factor sticks out: student poverty (Reardon (2011;) (Carnoy & Garcia, 2017;) (Ford, 2011, (Kornrich & Furstenberg (2013;) (Duncan & Murnane, 2011). Because poverty is so closely related to performance, the failure to account for poverty can lead to misleading assessments of school performance, distorting policy efforts.

However, the relationship between poverty and school performance in Rhode Island, and how this should guide policy, is not well understood. Rhode Island currently uses standardized test data to comply with national reporting, benchmark performance, and identify opportunities for improvement. Expecting a fixed level of academic achievement for a certain amount of educational investment per student neglects the substantial variation in student experience and competency due to unequal family resources. A more nuanced understanding of the relationship between poverty and education would help to isolate schools that are performing well, and poorly, relative to their students’ poverty rate. Understanding the performance of Rhode Island relative to Massachusetts, a wealthy state and national leader in education reform, can help to elucidate the role of poverty in driving achievement gaps.

In this context, we used data on student poverty and 2018-2019 standardized test performance for elementary, middle, and high school students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to examine the relationship between school district-level poverty and performance.

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Wealth Inequality: It's an American Problem

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White Americans Have a Reason to Be Mad about Wealth Inequality

Information about the nature and extent of wealth inequality among Whites can play a role in eliminating misconceptions and reframing the discussion about wealth redistribution as essential to restoring hope in the American dream and imperative to improving the life chances of all. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we find that the top quintile of White wealth holders has 212 times as much wealth as the bottom quintile. Further, multi-dimensional descriptive analyses from 1999 to 2015 indicate that median wealth has increased 46% among White households in the top 20% of both the wealth and income distributions. During the same time period, wealth holdings decreased among White household in the bottom 20% of both economic distributions. These data suggest that wealth inequality is a problem not only for Black households in America, but for White households as well. Thus, wealth inequality is not just a question of discrimination and racial disadvantage but is rooted in the fundamental nature of the American economy.

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We should not lose sight of moments in our collective history when we, as a country, have dared to dream and, as a result, were able to leap forward. The race to the moon was just such a moment, when we were “pushed” by the Soviet Union’s early advantage in the “space race” to unshackle ourselves from our limited imagination and as a result developed new technology to explore space. The U.S. foster care system needs a similar push to move away from an exclusive focus on survival policies for foster care youth and move toward including an asset-empowered agenda that can provide youth in foster care with the opportunity to thrive. This report looks at adapting CSAs to work better for Foster Care Youth.

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Making Education Work for the Poor, The Potential of Children's Savings Accounts

Willliam Elliott and Melinda Lewis

  • Uses authors' personal stories to illustrate inequities in education system

  • Features research conducted with a clear public purpose in mind, in order to increase the relevance and applicability of findings to public policy conversations

  • Considers how research resonates with people's values and how the proposed policy intervention aligns with American ideals

  • Discusses an opportunity pipeline that begins at or near birth and extends beyond graduation into young adulthood

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