Assets for Independence (AFI), which is administered through the Office of Community Services (OCS), enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement and demonstrate an assets-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty. AFI projects help participants save earned income in special-purpose, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).
An IDA is a bank account that allows individuals and families to save money and eventually acquire an economic asset to build long-term financial stability. Every dollar in savings deposited into an IDA by participants is matched (from $1 to $8 combined Federal and nonfederal funds) by the AFI project, promoting savings and enabling participants to acquire a lasting asset. AFI project families use their IDA savings, including the matching funds, to achieve any of three objectives: acquiring a first home; capitalizing a small business; or enrolling in postsecondary education or training.
The projects typically include several additional components. They include financial education to clients, assistance with saving money, counseling on financial issues, and support in obtaining any of three assets. Participants may also save funds for transfer to a dependent.
AFI Program goals are to explore and identify innovative models for delivering IDA s and related services and to measure impacts on participant families and their communities.
To check out some of the important work being done around the country by our grantees, please visit our AFI Grantee Showcase.