On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, more than 200 Kansas Citians—social service providers, bankers, educators, community activists, philanthropists, regulators, public servants—gathered to map out a plan to bring unbanked and underserved populations into the financial mainstream, toward a vision of a prosperous and upwardly mobile region. The convening was sponsored by the Kansas City Alliance for Economic Inclusion, a coalition of more than 500 individuals representing 315 organizations. The Center for Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI) is grateful to be part of this Alliance and excited for what the future holds, with the launch of the expanded initiative and explicit focus on financial inclusion.
The components of the Alliance’s plan include early intervention to set children on a path to literacy and financial success, with preschool support and new parent outreach (including reading mentors and provision of materials); aggressive goals to decrease the unbanked population in Kansas City by extending offerings of flexible, accessible, appropriate financial services; financial education for adults woven into existing institutions (libraries and social service organizations, in particular) and offered through online portals; and adult education to provide a foundation for economic security, built on solid workforce and literacy skills. AEDI is particularly pleased to partner with the Alliance on youth financial education and education savings accounts, an element of the plan explicitly built on the evidence of the positive effects of children’s savings discovered and advanced by AEDI’s Founding Director, Dr. Willie Elliott. As part of our collaboration with the Alliance, AEDI will help to produce posters outlining the potential of children’s savings to realize better educational outcomes for children and translating AEDI’s findings on savings v. student debt for popular audiences. These activities support some of the Alliance’s core strategies: collaboration and partnership, communication, and promotion of key community resources.
For AEDI, it is a privilege to see our research connect directly with the constituencies who can most directly benefit from the transformative power of children’s asset building and a great honor to see such influential Kansas Citians excited about the prospects of integrating whole populations into the financial mainstream and catalyzing upward mobility for disadvantaged children through the mechanism of asset ownership. We thank the FDIC of Kansas City for its leadership in the Alliance and appreciate the opportunity to partner in these innovations in the coming years. We look forward to seeing how Kansas City will change as a result of the Alliance’s work, and how the Alliance will continue to evolve to meet the challenges just over the horizon.