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We make it easy to take steps towards financial empowerment for yourself and others

We promote financial empowerment by guiding people and institutions toward asset building programs and services. The need is evident. Latino families lost about two-thirds of their wealth in the Great Recession.¹ Without intervention, African Americans will need 228 years and Latinos 84 years to accumulate the amount of wealth whites have today.² Asset-building community products (such as matched savings accounts or down payment assistance) can help people with low-to-moderate incomes rebuild this wealth.

However, 90% of the annual federal asset building budget ($348 billion of $385 billion) is spent on tax deductions for the highest income earners, leaving little funding for public programs that help struggling families build wealth.³ Without funding for advertising existing programs, it is challenging for service providers to recruit vulnerable clients to such programs.⁴ It is our objective to transform the contexts within which these clients operate, so that people in need may have access to people in their social networks who are sufficiently financially empowered to help with basics and refer to experts as needed. In so doing, we seek to create a path for wealth building for everyone.

We are inspired by Margaret Sherraden’s (2010) Financial Capability Theory, which posits that financial knowledge only leads to financial capability (the ability to act) when combined with opportunities to act (i.e., financial inclusion). Financially inclusive products are accessible, affordable, financially attractive, easy to use, secure, and reliable. We also base our model on behavioral economics and its recognition that people can only devote so much mental energy to complex financial decisions, even if they value its merits. Quality financial instruction is already freely available from FDIC and CFPB; so rather than creating new content, we strive to promote easy, seamless access to all these resources. Our goal is to clear the path and encourage people to take steps toward their financial well-being and financial stability.
We invite you to join us!
How? Educators can implement our Financial First Responder (FFR) certificate training in their classes or assign students to complete individual financially empowering acts. Our training comes with surveys where students can reflect on their practice. Program directors can ask clients and staff to complete the FFR or financially empowering acts as part of their organization’s protocol. It’s easy and highly inclusive! Everyone can organize events with friends and family to complete an act together, such as checking credit reports during winter holidays. If you have other ideas or suggestions, please reach out to us (!
Our Mission
Our Team
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As ABC members, we guide people and institutions to local asset building programs and services. We pave the way for people's training and reward their good work with certificates that can be used for professional advancement and admiration from friends and family. Membership is free and open to any individual or institution who wants to contribute to expand the financial well-being in their communities.



Dr. Joanna K. Karczewska (fmr Doran) created Asset Building Clinic in 2015 as a collaboration with community non-profit agencies to support students in service-learning projects designed to increase financial empowerment. Service learning is a pedagogy that deepens academic learning through applied practice with clients. Her early research in the Los Angeles community illuminated how the scope and complexity of the issue overwhelms organizations’ abilities to effectively help, or even let people know their programs exist. Dr. Karczewska's work with ABC seeks to create mechanisms that would alleviate some of this pressure, by making training that promotes financial wellbeing accessible to members of the public and her own social work students. To date, students using ABC training have contributed over 5,000 hours and ABC has certified over 400 Financial First Responders.
View a gallery of photos from our community events HERE

How We Started

¹ Pew Research, 2011

² Collins, Asante-Muhammed, Nieves, & Hoxie, 2016

³ Woo, Radamacher, Meier, 2010

⁴ Padua and Doran, 2016

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