Archive for 2013

Watch This: The Racial Wealth Gap in America

The racial wealth gap has been a hot topic lately on our blog.  The United States remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet escaping poverty and achieving prosperity remains out of reach for millions of Americans.  Too many people of color, striving to make a better life for themselves and their families, face significant barriers to building wealth and less access to opportunities that are widely available for Whites.

This 3-minute video from the Urban Institute sheds more light on the issue with a simple, compelling illustration.  This animation is based on research by Eugene Steuerle, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, and Sisi Zhang of the Urban Institute.

Click here to read OK Policy’s paper, ‘Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building Equity in Oklahoma.

Watch This Too:

Upcoming Event: Oklahoma Assets High Cost Lending Summit, June 12th

Oklahomans turn to high-cost lenders at a much higher rate than the national average.  Low- and moderate-income households are particularly likely to turn to loan products with high interest rates that chip away at their disposable income.

Join Us for the High Cost Lending Summit 
We invite you to attend a 1-day High Cost Lending Summit, on June 12, 2012 to be held at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City.  The summit will facilitate information sharing on the extent and impact of the problem and promote lower-cost alternatives for families struggling to avoid high-cost lenders.  Registration for the Summit is $50 and includes all conference sessions, educational materials to take home or share with collegaues, meals for the day, and an annual membership in Oklahoma Assets (valued at $25).  If you’re interested, click on an option below:

continue reading Upcoming Event: Oklahoma Assets High Cost Lending Summit, June 12th

Upcoming Event: Benchmarking Asset Development in Fighting Poverty, January 12th

by | December 30th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security, Poverty, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

Assets mean economic security.  Yet impoverished families frequently lack the means to build assets.  Some are even sanctioned by public assistance programs from accumulating the wealth they need to escape poverty.  Oklahoma earned a “C” grade from the Corporation for Enterprise Development in a national report ranking states on opportunities for wealth creation and protection, particularly for low-income residents.  That same report says 23 percent of Oklahoma households are asset poor, lacking sufficient net worth to subsist at the poverty level for three months if their income was disrupted.

continue reading Upcoming Event: Benchmarking Asset Development in Fighting Poverty, January 12th

Job Posting: Oklahoma Assets seeks project manager

by | November 21st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (1)

Oklahoma Assets is seeking a Project Manager to support the development of its organizational structure and implementation of its program and partnership activities.  Oklahoma Assets is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate policies and programs that can help create a more inclusive economy – one in which financial success, economic stability, and opportunity is available for all.

continue reading Job Posting: Oklahoma Assets seeks project manager

Financial security for Oklahomans: The critical role of affordable credit

by | November 2nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (4)

Access to credit has become a necessity for modern American living, touching virtually every aspect of our lives. Many consumers need credit to buy a house or a car, get an education, pay for medical expenses, or start a business.  ‘Credit’ is a generic term for an array of financial products and services that involve the borrowing of money and ‘affordable’ means terms of credit proportionate to a borrower’s ability to repay.  This post explores the critical role of credit in helping Oklahomans maintain financial security and build assets for a prosperous future, based on a newly released paper from Oklahoma Assets.  Oklahoma Assets advocates for policies and programs that can help create a more inclusive economy – one in which financial security and economic opportunity is available, not just to some, but to all Oklahomans.  Their new release, ‘Affordable Credit in Oklahoma: Asset-building and Financial Security‘ is available on their website along with their first brief on the importance of savings.

Affordable credit plays a pivotal role in a household’s capacity to maintain financial security and build assets. Lower income earners in particular need the flexibility that credit affords to handle emergencies, make ends meet, and avoid high cost credit products that could set them back even further.  When households without access to affordable credit face emergency situations that threaten their ability to work—like illness or car repairs—they either take the credit they are offered, often at prohibitive rates of interest, or face unemployment and insolvency.

continue reading Financial security for Oklahomans: The critical role of affordable credit

Oklahoma Assets: Coalition to advance economic security takes another step forward

by | June 30th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (1)

OK Policy is an active member of Oklahoma Assets, a statewide coalition that aims to identify and strengthen programs and policies that help Oklahoma residents achieve economic security.  Oklahoma Assets has been making big strides in recent months, officially incorporating as a 501(c)(3) organization.  Steering committee members met in Oklahoma City in May to approve bylaws and vote in a board of directors.  The coalition has also been busy hosting three webinars on asset-building strategies: the importance of savings, financial education in public schools, and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

In 2009, we blogged about a series of regional meetings hosted throughout the state by Oklahoma Assets (formerly OkABC) on asset-building strategies for increasing the financial security of Oklahomans.  Click here for a recap of the Oklahoma Assets day-long meeting in April 2009 on “Economic Security for Oklahomans: Asset Building Approaches for Assisting Families with Low Incomes,” where results of the regional meetings were shared and discussed.

continue reading Oklahoma Assets: Coalition to advance economic security takes another step forward

Upcoming Event: Webinar on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): Programs and Policies that Work!, June 23rd

by | June 14th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (1)

Oklahoma Assets will host the third in a series of webinars on asset-building next Thursday, June 23rd from 1:00 to 2:00 pm CDT.  The 60-minute webinar, “Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): Programs and Policies that Work!” will show how IDAs offer individuals with low income and limited resources the opportunity to save money for education, a small business, or a home.  IDA participants enjoy matched savings, peer support, financial education and training specific to their savings goal.  Click here to register, free of charge.

continue reading Upcoming Event: Webinar on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): Programs and Policies that Work!, June 23rd

The Weekly Wonk – April 22, 2011

by | April 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy reported on SB 517, a bill that would sunset 20 tax credits, including one relied on by 1 million low- and medium-income Oklahomans.  If Oklahoma eliminates this credit, it would put us in the company of just Mississippi and Alabama as the only states that provide no relief for grocery taxes.  The Tulsa world reported on OK Policy’s ideas for improving the tax code and adequately funding public structures.

We released the April edition of Numbers You Need this week, our monthly bulletin of key economic and budget trends, which shows a slow and steady economic recovery for Oklahoma.  For a closer look at two key indicators of economic improvement, read Tuesday’s blog post, Quick Take on the Economy: Income picks up steam, unemployment edges downward.

Despite the economic recovery and improving revenue collections, the state still faces a huge shortfall for next year.  Yesterday’s blog post explains the “5 percent option” and suggests why we think a portion of this money should be used to make up the shortfall.

On April 29, Oklahoma Assets hosts a Webinar on financial education in public schools.  Yesterday, OK Policy represented Oklahoma Assets at Jump$tart Your Money Day at the State Capitol.

Numbers of the Week

  • 6.5 percent – Oklahoma’s unemployment rate, February 2011
  • 103 – Drug-free infants born to drug-court participants in Oklahoma, FY07-FY09
  • $7,411,299,000 – Annual payroll and receipts of Oklahoma firms with less than 20 employees, 2007
  • 9 – Number of states where 30 percent or more of the population is obese, 2009; Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
  • $118 million – Potential revenue generated by eliminating the itemized deduction for state tax payments on Oklahoma returns.

Click here for source citations and archived numbers of the day.

In the Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blog posts.  You can sign up here to receive In the Know in your inbox each weekday morning and the Weekly Wonk each Friday afternoon.

Upcoming Event: Webinar on financial education in public schools, April 29

by | April 20th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (2)

Oklahoma Assets will host the second in a series of webinars on asset-building next Friday, April 29th from 10:00 to 11:00am CDT.  The 60 minute webinar, ‘Financial Education in Our Public Schools: Oklahoma’s Passport to Personal Financial Literacy,’ will explore financial education as an asset-building strategy, Oklahoma’s legislation requiring financial education to be taught in our public schools, its requirements and how it is being implemented in the state.  You can register for the webinar by clicking here.

continue reading Upcoming Event: Webinar on financial education in public schools, April 29

Wealth and Worth: What’s race got to do with it?

by | April 5th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (2)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference hosted by the Ford Foundation and Howard University’s Center on Race and Wealth.  The three-day meeting was the first annual gathering of a diverse group of representatives supported by grants from the Ford Foundation’s Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime initiative.  The initiative promotes programs that help low-income families achieve and maintain economic stability throughout their lives.  The conference focused on a particular and troubling aspect of economic achievement in the United States:  the racial wealth gap.

Few ideas are more evocative of the American dream than wealth and economic security, yet opportunities to accumulate wealth and secure income have never been equally distributed.  In virtually every measure of wealth, non-white households are falling behind.  For example, homeownership, the primary vehicle for building wealth for most Americans, is more attainable for white households than their minority counterparts.  According to the U.S. Census, in 2008 only 47.5% of African-Americans and 48.9% of Hispanics owned their own homes, compared with 74.9% of whites.   White households continue to accumulate more savings, more assets (vehicles, houses, businesses), and more wealth, consistently maintaining larger net worths than minority households.  While some of this gap is attributable to higher incomes and educational attainment, it takes a longer view of history to understand and explain its persistence.  Historically, some of the largest expansions of American wealth were achieved through sacrifices disproportionately shouldered by the poor, the disenfranchised, and communities of color.

continue reading Wealth and Worth: What’s race got to do with it?