Remaking America’s Promise for the Next Generation

Anne Price | Medium

Last week, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren unveiled a sweeping plan to tackle a $1.5 trillion student debt crisis to address our higher education system that is holding back generations of Americans. Her proposal calls for wiping out student debt of up to $50,000 for 42 million working and middle class Americans. Moreover, 90 percent of those who are burdened with student debt but dropped out of college would also benefit. The proposal makes all public colleges’ tuition and fees free, adds $100 billion in Pell grants over ten years, and creates a $50 billion fund for HBCUs (historically black colleges) and other minority-serving institutions. Senator Warren plans to pay for it with an annual 2 percent tax on families with $50 million or more in wealth.

Warren’s plan is sparking a debate about the scale of federal support needed to address the student loan crisis and surfacing narratives about fairness and deservedness. It also provides us the opportunity to examine how corporate power and anti-Black racism is depriving an entire generation of young people from getting ahead, whether that’s buying a home, saving for retirement, starting a family, or launching a business. Student debt ultimately serves as a multigenerational debt anchor that causes unrelenting stress, financial strain, and a spiraling cycle of debt.

Who carries debt and who defaults on their loans is racialized and gendered. About 11.5 percent of student loans are in default. According to the New York Federal Reserve, borrowers between the ages of 40 to 49 have the worst delinquency rates. It is estimated that in the next five years, 40 percent of borrowers are likely to default.

Last month we released a report about millennial women — defined as those born between 1980 and 1997— showing that two-thirds of student debt ($900 billion) is owed by women. And roughly $700 billion of outstanding loan balances are held by Americans under 40.

Click here to read the full piece on Medium.

Past the Drought: New Report Examines Inequities in California’s Central Valley

By Aisa Villarosa, Associate Director of Policy and Research

Take your pick of produce from any grocery aisle in the nation, and it’s likely to come from California’s Central Valley.

The Central Valley contains less than one percent of total farmland in the United States; and yet, the region grows nearly half of the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts, carrying a total annual value of over $33 billion.[1] This abundance is achieved through the year-round efforts of the Valley’s agricultural workers — thousands of women, men, and children who toil through scorching days and cold nights, with little pay or job protection.

Insight’s new report, Past the Drought: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Security in California’s Central Valley, spotlights how, despite decades of invaluable contributions to the nation’s economic growth, the Valley is the poorest region in California — with nearly 4 out of every 10 households unable to afford basic needs. Using Insight’s Self-Sufficiency Standard,[2] the report highlights key findings and offers recommendations for change so that all Central Valley residents can have a chance to thrive.

Click here to read the full piece.

Data For Black Lives | Black People vs Robots: Panel Discussion

Earlier this month, Anne Price shared her thoughts during a panel discussion titled “Black People vs. Robots: Reparations and Workers Rights in the Age of Automation” at the second annual Data for Black Lives conference.

The conference convened hundreds of data scientists, computer programmers, racial justice activists, and elected officials to discuss the role that data can and should play in Black communities. Click here or on the video below to watch a recording of Anne’s panel discussion.

#HiddenRules of Wealth and Income

Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya joined Darrick Hamilton, Andrea Flynn, Marshall Steinbaum, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, and Sandy Darity on Twitter for a live discussion on the hidden rules of wealth and income on February 14th hosted by The Roosevelt Institute. You can read their Twitter chat below.

Here are additional resources that were shared during the conversation:

Learn more and add to the conversation by using the hashtag #HiddenRules.

The End of DACA

The Insight Center is appalled by the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A cruel and heartless decision, it puts over 800,000 Americans who came here as children in jeopardy of deportation, an act that tears families apart and forces people to abandon a life they have worked hard to create.

This un-American decision goes against everything Insight stands for, and is in direct violation of our vision of a society where all people can fully participate in the economy and have the freedom to bring their full selves to our diverse nation regardless of zip code, race, gender, or immigration status. DACA gave so many of our young people hope, peace of mind, and a sense of safety – basic human rights. It showed us that our government saw young, undocumented immigrants as human beings, and recognized the countless contributions they make to our society. With this reversal, our nation’s humanity is at stake. We urge Congress to step up and take action in passing the DREAM Act to stand against tyranny and hate.

We stand with Dreamers and will fight to ensure they are protected, safe, and have access to the basic human rights they deserve.

Photo courtesy; Susan Melkisethian of Flickr Creative Commons

Loy Mulyagonja

Senior Consultant

Loy Mulyagonja, CPA, is a Supervising Consultant at FMA and serves as a senior finance consultant to the Insight Center. Loy provides outsourcing services in an array of service areas, from daily accounting and bookkeeping to fiscal staff supervision and training, back-office accounting support, government and private grants management, and monitoring and compliance. She also has experience assisting clients in designing, implementing and maintaining proper and efficient accounting and financial reporting systems, including sound internal controls and policies and procedures.

Before joining FMA, Loy was the Chief Financial Officer at Center for Employment Opportunities where she managed and coordinated all financial and accounting activities including budgeting, monitoring and maintenance of internal controls, ensuring regulatory compliance, and continuously improving processes and systems.

Loy holds a Masters of Public Administration and BA in Business Administration in Accounting from Baruch College.

The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard for California | Past Initiative

The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (Self-Sufficiency Standard) measures how much income is needed for a family of a certain composition living in a particular county to adequately meet its minimal basic needs. It is based on the costs families face on a daily basis – housing, food, child care, out-of-pocket medical expenses, transportation, and other necessary spending – and provides a complete picture of what it takes for families to make ends meet, contrary to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

How much is enough to make ends meet in your county?

  • To see the Self-Sufficiency Standard for your county and which families are struggling to make ends meet, use the Self-Sufficiency Standard Look-Up Tool.
  • To view the methodology for the Self-Sufficiency Standard for California, click here.
  • To download the full data tables for the 2014 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California (e.g. minimum income levels by county and family type), click here. (Excel, 1.8MB)
  • To download the full data tables for the 2012 Self-Sufficiency Standard for California demographic analysis (e.g. number and percent of households with incomes below the Self-Sufficiency Standard), click here. (Excel, 770KB).

Seeding Leaders: TrapMedicine

We serve as an incubator for leaders of color to grow and develop their pioneering ideas and projects. We currently support TrapMedicine, an innovative health initiative that rebuilds trust in the healthcare system among Black men and boys by leaning on barbershops as cultural safe havens. Representative of a human-centered, multidimensional approach to fostering economic security, this project addresses societal inequities that impact health and economic well-being in Black communities.


Hidden Truths Episode 1: Jahmil Lacey

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.

Click here to listen to the episode.

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.

Past Initiatives

Building Child Care

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.


The Economic Power of Early Care and Education

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.


InBiz, the Inclusive Business Initiative

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.


Income and Asset Building

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.


Legal Services

We provided organizational development, legal structuring, and internal operations assistance regarding charitable tax exempt organizations and their affiliates, including:

  • CA Legal Services Program Support
  • Mission Asset Fund
  • People’s Grocery
  • Centro Del Pueblo

Click here to learn more.


Metrics and Measurements

The Insight Center built better tools to measure the economic reality facing families in California. We found that families living in California pay different amounts for basic household goods depending on where they live.

Our organizing and advocacy work focused on what it actually costs to make ends meet in communities across California, as defined by the Self Sufficiency Standard for California, a measure of the income needed to cover basic needs available for 156 different family types in each of California’s 58 counties. Unlike the official, yet outdated, federal poverty measures, the Self-Sufficiency Standard uses publicly available data sources to quantify the actual costs of meeting the basic needs for working families by county – without public or private assistance.

Similarly, the Elder Economic Security Index is the only county-specific measure of the minimum income necessary to cover all of an older adult’s basic expenses—housing, food, healthcare and transportation. The California Elder Index is available for all 58 counties across the state and the City of Los Angeles. This work ultimately resulted in the Metrics Matter innovation network for national, state and local leaders promoting economic security.

Click here to learn more.


PayDay Lending

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.


Workforce Development

The Insight Center’s Workforce Development program aimed to bring about the creation of good jobs for all workers, strong industries that support vital communities, and an inclusive economy that provides equitable employment and that makes it possible for people to become economically secure.

We accomplished this through:

  • The National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP), a network of over 3,500 that supports the improvement and expansion of industry sector-focused workforce development, because they provide proven solutions to the crucial problems our society faces and innovations based on them.
  • Regional efforts such as HealthWorks, through which businesses, community leaders, and public officials are overcoming barriers to employment faced by young men of color, and through which they harness and align local reinvestment, new employment opportunities, and such as Buy, Invest and Hire, and Give Locally (BIG)that mobilizes under-tapped community capital with an eye to bolstering local small business expansion, job quality, and employment equity.
  • Assisting on how to design, operate, and sustain workforce programs that effectively meet the needs of particular businesses in an industry sector, job seekers, and workers.
  • Helping reshape industry practices, financing, public policies, and public institutions through which workers and industries interact.

Click here to learn more.