Closing the Wealth Gap, in Austin and Beyond

On Friday, the University of Texas wrapped up the 2015-2016 Opportunity Forum Series, Uniting our Divided City, with a discussion of Austin’s racial wealth divides. Several of our staff attended and were reinforced in our commitment to advancing racial equity as a way to make sure every Texan is healthy, well-educated and financially secure. According to event organizers, the ability to build wealth in our society is highly racialized, leading to a racial wealth gap that is now at historic levels.
One measure of a family’s wealth is the liquid asset poverty rate, which is the percentage of families that don’t have enough savings to support themselves for 3 months without income (approximately $6,000 for a family of four). CPPP’s recently-released 2016 State of Texas Children report found that 37.6 percent of White families compared to 62.5 percent of black families and 70.6 percent of Hispanic families are liquid asset poor.[i]
The troubling persistence of these and other racial and ethnic disparities for Texas families and children is one reason that this year’s report pays special attention to child data by race and ethnicity and how state and local policies can narrow (or widen) the gaps in health, education and financial security.
We must ‘close the gaps’ so that even if some children face bigger obstacles on the path to reaching their full potential, we intentionally work to break down those obstacles and create equitable opportunities for every child, regardless of ZIP code, family income, gender, race or ethnicity.

children in poverty by race and ethnicity in Texas, kids count, kidscount
Source: 2016 State of Texas Children Report

One of CPPP’s strategies to reduce the racial wealth gap is its work to help students build financial skills and jump-start their college savings through Opportunity Texas, CPPP’s joint initiative with Raise Texas. We are working to expand college savings accounts in Texas in partnership with public schools by connecting Children’s Savings Accounts programs to Texas’ financial education curriculum.
To learn more about CPPP’s other recommendations for fighting child poverty and creating access to opportunity-rich environments for children, check out the 2016 State of Texas Children report or join us at one of our upcoming events!
Contributed by Imelda McClendon, CPPP Research and Planning Intern.

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