The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions released a new report Financial Well-Being and Wealth-Building for Opportunity Youth – Learning from a Survey of the Opportunity Youth Forum.
Over the five-year period from 2021 to 2026, the Forum for Community Solutions is working to integrate the field of financial security, including financial capability, into the Opportunity Youth Forum and the youth and young adult-serving field. We seek to develop a shared vision of financial well-being for opportunity youth, and to identify and document promising practices and opportunities for systems change, innovation, and new narratives that build support for this vision.
This report lays out the initial learning agenda for this project. It presents findings from the first year of research drawing primarily on data from a survey of the OYF network. This survey explored how supports focused on financial stability and financial capability are currently present in OYF communities, challenges to the financial lives of opportunity youth, and opportunities for cross-sector partnerships.
Six observations stand out from the report:
- The moment is right to develop a shared understanding across youth and young adult serving ecosystems of what quality financial capability development supports look like. More resources, partnerships, and technical assistance are necessary to develop the field.
- Equity demands national funders prioritize investment in this work in Native, Indigenous and Tribal and rural communities. Strategies to advance financial well-being and build wealth in these places must be tailored to their contexts.
- There is keen interest in guaranteed income programs open to or focused on young people. However, local youth-serving organizations lack consistent understanding of such strategies. This represents a major opportunity for place-based coordination and collaboration.
- Entrepreneurship is the most common wealth-building strategy across the OYF network, although it is not yet widespread. Advancing entrepreneurial pathways might require new strategies to overcome the limited access to capital and other barriers to success that communities of color face.
- Housing and living wage jobs are perceived as the biggest barriers to financial stability. This suggests possibilities for new movement linkages and place-based collaboration with housing advocates and labor organizers.
- Possibilities exist for new and deeper partnership between opportunity youth collaboratives and local financial institutions, particularly Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
The domains that intersect with this topic are expansive and present an opportunity to make new connections across sectors and fields that impact young people. We at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions are eager to evolve and align the learning agenda laid out here with others who see themselves, their assets, and their aspirations in this work.
In anticipation of a more specific call to action in 2023, we invite you to join us by contacting us at aspenFCS@gmail.com.