Savings and Asset Building | Past Initiative

Our Approach

The Insight Center has developed a portfolio of initiatives designed to foster the development of more equitable asset building policies, increase the economic security of low-income people, and help make women-and minority-owned businesses more competitive. The Insight Center helps strengthen and expand the asset building field through the following activities:

  • Increasing the reach and impact of experts of color in the national asset policy dialogue
  • Improving and expanding saving strategies to reach a broader portion of the population
  • Promoting and crafting program designs and policy models to grow minority businesses
  • Facilitating the investment of private capital to benefit low-income communities
  • Providing and increasing legal and operational support to community organizations

Key Project and Initiatives

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

  • Working to increase the impact of people of color in asset policy, practice and research; developing a public policy agenda and communications effort that will raise this issue to national prominence, and create the impetus for policy change

Inclusive Business Initiative 

  • Supporting minority – and women – owned business development through research, policy analysis, and partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit sectors

Community Asset Building

  • Researching and advising nonprofit economic-development corporations on social-enterprise creation and replication strategies, worker-owned cooperatives, and second-tier service cooperatives, especially among immigrant communities or in rural areas

Click here for more projects

Customized Services

  • Design small-business development policy and programs, including affirmative marketing and procurement, and financing for minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Research community and family savings and asset building strategies, including feasibility, scalability, case studies, and best practices
  • Consult on the start-up or replication of worker-owner cooperatives, especially in new immigrant communities
  • Research sector-based investment and support strategies for minority- and women-owned business and small-business development
  • Consult on alternative financial products, such as payday lending
  • Provide strategic planning for foundations

National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP) | Past Initiative


What is the National Network of Sector Partners?

The National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP) is the national association for sector partnerships and their supporters. NNSP advocates for sector partnerships and works with them to:

  • Increase economic security, focusing on low-income individuals, their families, and their communities;
  • Meet the workforce-related needs of industry sectors that are important to regional labor markets;
  • Strengthen employment equity; and
  • Improve regional economic vitality.

Created as an initiative of the Insight Center in 1999, NNSP has hundreds of members nationwide and a broader network of over 3,500 sector partnership leaders, policy makers, researchers, business and labor leaders, funders, and other supporters. NNSP works with our national advisory committee, members, and broader network and draws upon their experience to set and achieve our priorities.

Why This Matters

Sector partnerships are regional, industry-focused approaches to workforce and economic development that are proven to help job-seekers and workers obtain good jobs and employers improve their bottom line. They address problems in regional labor markets that leave industries lacking employees with the right skills and workers lacking the skills they need for better jobs. In doing so, they also work at a systems level to build the workforce pipeline, overcome disparities in employment that limit both economic security and productivity, and contribute to regional economic vitality.

What We Do

NNSP supports sector partnerships by:

  • Advancing public policy and funding to support sector partnerships
  • Guiding development of strategic plans and action plans
  • Delivering training, technical assistance, and tools, in person, virtually, and via
  • Pursuing strategies to reduce employment disparities that affect people of color, women, and others
  • Informing the field about the latest research, success stories, and industry-specific information
  • Conducting research using rigorous methodologies
  • Providing NNSP’s web-site, webinars, newsletters, videos, LinkedIn group, and social media – go-to resources for sector partnerships, policy makers, and others.

NNSP’s clients include community colleges and community college systems, labor-management partnerships, national federations of community-based organizations, regional workforce funder collaboratives, states agencies and state associations and workforce boards and regional employment and training offices. To explore whether we can help meet your needs regarding sector partnerships or strategies that support them, or to find out more, email

Our Successes

With over 15 years’ experience promoting and supporting sector approaches, NNSP has helped:

  • Bring about policy and funding support for sector partnerships in WIOA and states across the U.S.
  • Build the capacity to design, operate, sustain, and scale up sector partnerships of hundreds of workforce boards, community colleges, community-based organizations, labor-management partnerships, industry associations, and economic development organizations across the country
  • Develop and disseminate resources to support sector partnerships on topics such as career pathways, apprenticeships, strong business involvement, and employment equity

Membership in NNSP

NNSP membership provides what you need on sector partnerships and strategies to support them: advocacy on policy and funding, interaction with highly effective sector partnerships, key information resources, and other assistance.

Visit to learn more.

PayDay Lending | Past Initiative

Payday loans are regulated, in most cases, at the state level, which means that the only way that counties or cities can affect payday lending through land-use ordinances. The Insight Center has created a toolkit that provides a guide to advocating for a local ordinance to limit new or relocating payday establishments.

Our Legal Services work intersects the other Insight Center focus areas through the legal aspects of promoting public and private sector financing and reinvestment in communities as well as promoting small dollar loan programs and other alternatives to payday lending. To read the report The Net Economic Impact of Payday Lending in the U.S. click here.

Click to view and download publications about PayDay Lending.

Metrics Matter: An Innovation Network for Economic Security | Past Initiative

How do we mobilize campaigns and develop systems to support, rather than hinder, families in their own efforts towards economic stability?

Metrics Matter is an innovation network for national, state and local leaders promoting economic security who:

  • Build public will for more inclusive public policies and practices;
  • Use an age, gender or race lens in their research, advocacy or services;
  • Connect with local organizations and communities;
  • Devise or use improved economic security indicators to track family economic security.


What We Do

Through greater collaboration, peer learning, and shared frameworks, Metrics Matter increases the knowledge and impact of national and state organizations and coalitions focused on economic security.  Specifically, we aim to:

  • Identify best practices and opportunities for innovation when measuring and promoting economic security;
  • Elevate the economic security field around common principles and shared learning;
  • Ensure there are race, age, gender and geographic lenses when analyzing who is economically secure or insecure.


The Insight Center supports the network and organizes national convenings, webinars and listservs to deepen communications and peer learning among state, local, and national leaders.


Income and Asset Building | Past Initiative

Wealth – what you own minus what you owe – is critical to basic economic security and also creates economic opportunities. It is a nest egg to draw on during hard times. It acts as the fence between temporary setback and economic catastrophe that families have been building for generations.

Over the course of the initiative, we embarked on five strategies to realize our vision and meet our longer term goal of creating the environment for the enactment of new wealth-related policies that are targeted and universal:

  1. Produce groundbreaking research that helps us better understand dimensions of the racial wealth gap to help inform policy and practice;
  2. Build and support an Experts of Color Network to inform policymaking to ensure asset policies reflect the leadership of people of color and are sensitive and respectful of diverse ethnic cultures;
  3. Implement a comprehensive and strategic media approach to educate the public about the racial wealth gap and reframe discourse on race and wealth;
  4. In conjunction with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, create the environment for policy development and advocacy to ensure policies reflect the needs of communities of color; and
  5. Increase the capacity of state coalitions to address the racial wealth gap by working with them to account for racial disparities in their asset building policy efforts

Click here to learn more.

InBiz, the Inclusive Business Initiative | Past Initiatives

The Inclusive Business InitiativeSM is a project of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development that provides information to states and local governments, as well as diverse small businesses and their advocates, in order to further the inclusive business programs of public agencies. This initiative is a key component of the Insight Center’s work to advance strategies that build family and community assets and help overcome the racial wealth gap.

Click to view and download publications about InBiz.

The Economic Power of Early Care and Education | Past Initiative

The Insight Center developed the early care and education (ECE) economic impact model to inform policy-makers, business leaders, and economic development leaders about the economic importance of ECE. The model demonstrates that ECE does more than provide nurturing, educational environments for children – it also plays a vital role in the economy.

The components of the model can be customized, but typically include an in-depth, geographically specific economic analysis that quantifies ECE’s contribution to the economy, and a corresponding action plan to strengthen the ECE system. The Insight Center has conducted research, and published more than 40 economic impact reports for counties and states all over the country. These reports document the link between ECE, economic development, and business productivity, and reframe ECE as an economic driver. The Insight Center also trains local, state, and national leaders to conduct the research necessary to produce economic information about ECE, and works with local partners to develop and deliver effective messages that motivate targeted audiences to act.

Click to view and download publications about ECE.

Building Child Care | Past Initiative

The Insight Center’s Early Care and Education (ECE) program plays a leadership role in creating systems that provide every child with access to high-quality, affordable, early care and education. Such a system lays the groundwork for our country’s economic future by:

  • Preparing future generations for school and workplace success
  • Supporting working families so they can become economically secure
  • Helping employees become more productive and businesses more competitive.

Click to view and download publications about Early Care and Education.

Episode 1: Jahmil Lacey


Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Jahmil Lacey discuss TRAPMedicine, a community-driven public health initiative designed to create accessible pathways to health literacy, services, and care.

Jahmil Lacey, a public health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, is working to address health disparities among African American men in underserved locations around the Bay Area. A team of physicians, researchers, public health advocates, and community organizations have all come together to launch a new health initiative that cares for people, not profits.

Lacey’s effort is called TRAPMedicine, which leverages the cultural capital of barbershops as an upstream strategy for addressing disparities in chronic disease and mental health among African American men and boys. Culture and trust are the two pillars of this initiative and what we need to focus on to achieve equity,” says Lacey. From his previous experiences managing school-based health centers and running high school youth programs, he has learned that in order to see sustainable improvements the community must have trust in your understanding of their culture and, most importantly, in you.

Understanding that men and their barber have a deep bond, Lacey plans to launch this initiative in barber shops across the Bay Area. If a Black man trusts you with his hair line, they will trust you with their health,” chuckles Lacey. “I’ve always found [the barber shop] to be a unique, safe space for men to talk about everything, from the Warriors to safe sex.  

TRAPMedicine was designed to close the gap between the patient and the health care provider, with the barber acting as a convenor. We’re going to focus on screening for conditions that we know are prevalent among black men – diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and mental health. Lacey hopes to provide not only upfront care and screenings but, most importantly, follow-up care and information to those who need it most. Lacey believes that this is where you can lose trust – by not offering follow-up appointments or not providing more information later on to those in need.”

On December 31, 2016, TRAPMedicine will officially launch the pilot program at Legends Barber Shop in East Oakland. On this day, members of the community can receive free health screenings from 10am to 4pm. The barber shop will also offer free haircuts for people who participate in the screenings. Food will be provided.

The group plans to provide various support groups to Bay Area barber shops to further engage community members in nonjudgmental conversations. People are more likely to be influenced by their peers than by a doctor,” explains Lacey. By operating outside the walls of a hospital, TRAPMedicine will encourage men of color to build a community around health.

In these ways, Lacey’s initiative seeks to not only address health disparities, but the underlying economic inequities that give rise to them. It’s stressful to be poor. This disease creates disease,” says Lacey. “Broadly speaking, I hope we can create and develop safe spaces for men to support each other, to share information about employment, mental health, manhood, and to ultimately increase health literacy in these communities.”

TRAPMedicine is looking for volunteers who have experience in the medical field or public health research, and who have experience working with people of color. If you would like to learn more or get involved, email Jahmil Lacey at or To stay-up-to-date about this initiative, you can follow TRAPMedicine on Facebook and Instagram.

To listen to the full conversation, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.

UPDATE: On December 31, 2016, Jahmil Lacey of TRAPMedicine – in partnership with the Alameda County Public Health Department, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Roots Community Health Center – organized a Community Listening Session and Health Screening event to officially launch the pilot program at Legends Barber Shop in East Oakland.

The event was attended by over 60 people. During the listening session, healthcare providers from Roots provided on-site blood pressure and blood sugar screenings while barbers provided free haircuts to the attendees. The event was capped off by a guided community forum on the health impacts of poverty, Oakland’s housing crisis, and law enforcement interactions.

Attendees overwhelmingly supported the idea of continuing the effort, and TRAPMedicine is in the process of organizing follow-up activities in partnership with Legends Barbershop.

Jahmil Lacey is a public health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco; the manager of a housing facility for young adults with chronic mental health issues; and an Insight Center for Community Economic Development Board member.