By Don Baylor Jr.
As we wrapped up the RAISE Texas Training and Summit at the Federal Reserve Bank in Houston, several things came to mind:
One is the maturity of the network. Ten years ago at the first meeting, 25 people attended the Texas IDA Network to focus on one issue. This year’s summit, attended by about 150 people, included sessions on tools for public benefits enrollment, financial empowerment and municipalities, financial coaching, and how new technologies are spurring asset building innovation.
Second is the broader range of groups actively engaged, which now includes philanthropy, local elected officials, and groups that serve particular populations such as foster youth or domestic violence survivors.
Third is the contribution of CPPP to the network on data analysis, policy advocacy, and usable local platforms such as Better Texas Family Budgets and the Texas Regional Opportunity Index. Throughout the conference, CPPP presented at six of the 13 sessions over the day-and-a-half statewide event.
In addition to learning about the positive action by the 82nd Legislature (and state implementation) to build and protect assets, RAISE Texas is gearing up to have greater impact in the 83rd Legislature around payday lending, asset limits, and expanding postsecondary access and success. Along with a more visible state policy profile, RAISE Texas members continue to have measurable impact on the financial stability of families in their communities through existing initiatives including tax preparation, credit counseling, workforce development, and payday loan alternatives. Other innovative pilots, including Child Support for College and Ads4Next, continue to push the envelope and demonstrate that, indeed, Texas is at the forefront for local and statewide asset building innovation and practice.