Assets for Independence Program Experiment, 2011-2020

Project Overview

In the fall of 2011, ACF launched a random assignment evaluation of the impact of participation in the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program on savings, savings patterns and asset purchase by low-income individuals and families at selected AFI grantee sites. The AFI Experiment builds on the previous quasi-experimental evaluation of the AFI program, as well as various studies of other non-AFI funded Individual Development Account projects.

Using a random assignment design, the AFI Experiment will further understanding of the AFI program by addressing unanswered questions regarding the program's overall impact on early participant outcomes, as well as the impact of AFI program design features on these short-term outcomes. The study features random assignment of participants to a treatment or control group in two AFI grantee sites – RISE Financial Pathways in Los Angeles, CA and Prosperity Works in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition to the impact analysis, the evaluation also features an implementation study in each site. Enrollment began in early 2013 and concluded in summer 2014, and the study has completed interviews for the 12-month follow-up survey. Findings from the 12-month follow-up survey are expected in 2016.

In 2015, ACF provided support to conduct intermediate and longer-term follow-up data collection on participants in the initial study. This follow-on effort will survey participants at 36 and 60 months after random assignment in order to provide important information on the intermediate and longer-term impacts of AFI participation. The Urban Institute and its partners, MEF Associates and RTI are conducting the initial evaluation and the follow-up evaluation.

The point of contacts are Erica Zielewski and Tiffany McCormack.

  • Building Savings for Success: Early Impacts from the Assets for Independence Program Randomized Evaluation

    Published: December 8, 2016

    This report presents first-year findings from an evaluation of the Assets for Independence (AFI) program at two sites — Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, NM and RISE Financial Pathways in Los Angeles, CA.

    Findings show that the AFI program increased low-income participants’ savings after one year. There is also evidence of a range of several beneficial secondary impacts, including reductions in material hardship and improvements in perceived financial well-being...

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