Learning Groups

Learning groups are time-limited, thematically-based, small groups to advance a learning agenda on specific topics or approaches. There are three types of learning groups: (1) Peer Learning Groups; (2) Intensive Learning Clusters and (3) Workshops.

Are you interested in participating in or leading a learning group? Please submit your idea to the Assets & Opportunity Team using this form.

Peer Learning Groups

Peer learning groups give Network members the opportunity to identify issues that matter to them and learn from each other through a series of group peer learning sessions facilitated by Network leadership. Topics are determined via input from Network General Members, Lead State and Local Organizations, and the Network Steering committee.

Current Peer Learning Groups:

  • Children's Savings Policy Learning Group: This new Assets & Opportunity Network Learning Group launching October 22, 2014 will bring together children's savings advocates ready to take the next steps toward building their state-level campaign. Network members engaged in the Learning Group will meet for six monthly sessions from October through March to learn from each other and issue area experts on the strategies and program designs to move state-level children's savings efforts forward. As the group progress, we will be sharing information, resources, and/or tools that emerge from the group on this page. Stay tuned!

Past Peer Learning Groups:

  • Coalition-building learning group: This learning group, which was limited to Network Lead State and Local Organizations, met six times between September 2013 and February 2014 to tackle common questions and share peer expertise on key topics related to starting an asset-building coalition; structure and governance; managing and facilitating a coalition; fundraising; recruiting coalition members; and promoting engagement/sustaining momentum. Please read the learning group's Lessons & Insights document for an overview of what was discussed. Below is a list of meetings held as well as that meeting's Powerpoint presentation and notes.
  • Asset limits learning group: This learning group, also limited to Network Lead State and Local Organizations, focused on lifting asset limits in public benefit programs and met 5 times from November 2013 to March 2014. Lessons learned are captured in the Asset Limits Lessons & Insights document. Meeting topics included gathering data; messaging; identifying key influencers; legislative approaches; administrative approaches and addressing implementation issues after eliminating an asset test. An overview of topics covered during each session is available here. Below are the Powerpoint presentations and notes from the meetings.
    • Meeting 1: Gathering, analyzing and using data to make the case (Powerpoint, notes)
    • Meeting 2: Developing compelling messages for communicating with key influencers (Powerpoint, notes)
    • Meeting 3: Legislative strategies to eliminating asset limits and identifying key influencers (Powerpoint, notes)
    • Meeting 4: Administrative Strategies and Working with Agency Staff (Powerpoint, notes)
    • Meeting 5: What to consider after eliminating your asset test; What's next (Powerpoint, notes)
  • Federal Policy Working Group (December 2012-February 2013): The purpose of the federal policy working group was to explore and recommend to the Network Steering Committee (1) how the Network should engage in policy advocacy and (2) specific short-term opportunities the Network should act on. The Working Group convened three times via 60-minute phone calls over the course of three months. As a result of these conversations, the workgroup produced a 2013 Network Federal Policy Agenda. This one-pager describes in detail the agendas for each call. The notes from each of the three calls are also available for your review: Meeting I Notes (December 12, 2012), Meeting II Notes (January 15, 2013), Meeting III Notes (February 19, 2013).
  • Affordable Care Act & the unbanked: In June 2013, several Lead Organizations came together to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its effect on the unbanked. Insurance companies may require consumers to pay existing premium costs through direct deposit from a checking account, essentially barring access to insurance for the unbanked. In response to this potential problem, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would require insurance companies to accept a variety of forms of payment. The learning group's discussion focused on what types of payment insurers should accept and ultimately resulted in a comment letter to CMS signed by 78 Network Organizations.

Intensive Learning Clusters

Intensive Learning Clusters explore innovations and promising practices emerging from the asset-building field through intensive project implementation and assessment. Topics are determined by external opportunities (e.g., funder interest). Participants drill down into specific focus within the topic. These learning groups are facilitated by CFED staff and funded by external partners.

Current Learning Clusters:

  • Head Start Integration Cluster: This Intensive Learning Cluster, supported by the Administration for Children & Families (ACF), is focused on expanding the integration of financial-empowerment strategies into Head Start programs through direct technical assistance (TA) to and peer learning among five Head Start programs, and the convening of a Head Start Intermediaries Peer Learning Group. The five Head Start sites selected to receive one-on-one TA and facilitated peer learning include the Community Action Partnership of Kern, California; Head Start of Greater Dallas; Community Services Agency of Reno, Nevada; Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission; and Muskegon Area Intermediate School District of Michigan. The Intermediaries Peer Learning Group, which seeks to support the broader integration of financial-empowerment strategies into Head Start programs, includes the Minnesota Head Start Association, Kansas Head Start Association and United Way of Greater St. Louis. Resources developed through this cluster will be shared with the field upon approval of ACF.
  • Integrating Financial Capability into Social Service Delivery Systems: This Intensive Learning Cluster - sponsored by Bank of America Charitable Foundation - will bring together programs providing housing, workforce development, and emergency assistance services that wish to strengthen the financial capability of the clients they serve. Technical assistance and peer learning opportunities will be provided over an 18-month period as organizations pilot an asset building intervention and document outcomes and lessons learned. More information to follow in September.
  • Savings Innovation Learning Clusters: These learning clusters - sponsored by MetLife Foundation - brings together six direct service organizations that are developing and testing innovative, “next generation” savings program models that help clients build emergency savings or save for assets through Individual Development Accounts. The selected organizations are Cooperative Federal (Syracuse, NY); John H. Boner Community Center (Indianapolis, IN); Live the Solution (Tucson, AZ); People's Community Action Corporation (St. Louis, MO); The Midas Collaborative (Boston, MA) and United Way for Greater Austin (Austin, TX). The organizations will participate in peer learning opportunities both in-person and virtually over the course of 15 months, as well as receive individual technical assistance, to facilitate piloting and evaluating savings program models.

Past Learning Clusters:

  • Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance (BETA) Project: In September 2013, CFED, ideas42 and the Citi Foundation launched the Behavioral Economics Technical Assistance (BETA) Project. The goal of the BETA Project is to tackle tough social problems by designing and testing behavioral interventions on real world products, processes and/or services. Through the BETA project, CFED and ideas42 are working collaboratively with three organizations to pilot a behavioral intervention within an asset-building program or service. These three pilot organizations were selected through a competitive application process. Since the launch, the BETA team released a brief that examines the 99 proposals received for the pilot program and identifies common challenges programs are facing. Check the behavioral economics blog for regular updates from the project.

Opportunities to participate in these Intensive Learning Clusters are limited exclusively to members of the Assets & Opportunity Network. Click here to join the Network today!

Workshops

Workshops bring together emerging nonprofit and government sector leaders from a given geography to build their capacity to help families become more financially secure. Workshop topics have included "Framing, selling and showing impact of financial security and asset-building programs," "Integrating asset-building strategies into social service delivery systems," and "Coalition building for increased impact." Workshops are co-facilitated by CFED staff and relevant experts.

Past Workshops:

  • Central Valley Asset-Building Workshop Series: In partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and with generous support from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the Network hosted a three-workshop series in Fresno, California in spring 2013. The series brought together stakeholders from across the Central Valley to explore ways to deepen the integration of asset-building strategies into their work and to have a deeper collective impact through coalition building. Click here for Central Valley workshop resources.

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