The Refund to Savings Initiative, the largest savings experiment ever conducted in the United States, begins with this tax season and is expected to reach almost 1.2 million households within the next few months. The project is a novel collaboration of university researchers, led by Michal Grinstein-Weiss, PhD, associate director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and corporate partner Intuit Inc., the maker of TurboTax software, Quicken Books and Mint. This groundbreaking project is ushering in a new way of doing research.
Evidence supporting the link between savings and college success is growing. Three studies out of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis offer a connection between assets and college enrollment and completion. “This research underscores the importance of policies and programs that help Americans of all income levels to save for college,” says Margaret Clancy, policy director and College Savings Initiative director at CSD. In a study forthcoming in the Journal of Children and Poverty, CSD researchers found that among youth who expected to graduate from a four-year college, those with a savings account in their name were approximately six times more likely to attend college than those with no account.
What does it take for a family in the U.S. to have long-term economic security and not just “get by”? This question inspired the creation of the Basic Economic Security Tables Index (BEST), a joint effort of Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) and the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. The BEST is different from other ‘living wage’ indexes in that it aims to capture what is needed for household stability and development rather than focusing on subsistence. Findings suggest that families’ largest economic security challenges are rent and utilities, transportation, and childcare. The report calls the high cost of quality childcare “the greatest threat to many families’ security.” Childcare is so expensive that income needs for a one-parent family with two preschoolers are equivalent to those of a one-parent family with five teenagers.
Proposals ranging from sharing electricity savings with lab users to allowing students to bid on how much electricity they can save are among the ideas that students suggested in the Olin Sustainability Case Competition. The winner gets $5,000 cash and a meeting to present her proposal to the chancellor and other top administrators.
Nearly half of all Americans between the ages of 60 and 90 will encounter at least one year of poverty or near poverty, says a recent study by Mark R. Rank, PhD, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. The findings are published in the current issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services.
A 10-year study on Child Development Accounts (CDAs) has confirmed their viability as a tool for long-term asset building. Beginning as early as birth, CDAs are investment accounts that allow parents and children to accumulate savings for post-secondary education, homeownership or business initiatives.
The MasterCard Foundation announced a partnership with a consortium of four organizations to conduct a landmark, global research initiative that will test how to sustainably deliver savings services to low-income youth in the developing world. The initiative — YouthSave — is based on emerging evidence that suggests linking youth to savings may improve their economic, educational and health-related futures. The four organizations participating in the consortium are Save the Children, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, the New America Foundation, and CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor).
Child Development Accounts are savings accounts that begin as early as birth and allow parents and children to accumulate savings for post-secondary education, homeownership or business initiatives. “There is evidence that when there are savings and assets in the household – particularly savings in a child’s name – that children have greater educational attainment, are more likely to do well in high school, attend college and graduate from college,” says Michael Sherraden, PhD, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at the Brown School. Sherraden recently was named to TIME Magazine’s TIME 100.
The Center for Social Development at the Brown School is advising and helping to test innovations in asset building — strategies that increase financial and tangible assets for families and businesses — in several countries in East and Southeast Asia.