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Requesting Changes to Your AFI Project Design

Published: May 31, 2012
Assets for Independence (AFI)

Requesting Changes to Your AFI Project Design

AFI encourages grantees to make changes during their project periods to ensure the success of their IDA initiatives. Grantees may make changes to many key components of their projects, including the IDA savings match rate, maximum amount of savings they will match, asset purchase types to allow, target communities, and so forth.

Grantees contemplating changes to their projects should start by contacting the AFI Resource Center to discuss the situation and review options.

The process for receiving approval is generally the same for most design changes:

1.Call or email the AFI Resource Center to discuss the change with your Resource Coordinator.
2.Send a letter on your organization’s letterhead, signed by your authorizing official (named in Box 11 of the NoA), to OCS. The letter should briefly describe the change and how it will improve project outcomes. Use the template letter as a starting point.
3.OCS will review the request, consult with OGM, and try to respond within 1 month of receiving the request.

Below are several common types of project design changes grantees may consider, along with notes on potential impacts of the changes.

Project Features Grantees May Adjust With Prior Approval
Project Features Grantees May NOT Adjust


 Project Features Grantees May Adjust, With Prior Approval

Change in IDA Match Rate
Change Maximum Amount of Matched Savings
Change Minimum Monthly Savings
Change Policy on Lump Sum
Change in Target Population
Add or Delete Asset Options
Change Geographic Target Area

Grantees may change many key components of their AFI projects after consulting with their Resource Coordinator and receiving approval from OCS and OGM:

Project Change: Change in IDA Match Rate
Description: Change the amount of funds the grantee will match per dollar of participant savings.

Potential Impact:

•Larger match rate may help with recruitment
•Better allocation of funds to match applicant interest or local costs
•Use the AFI award amount in a shorter (or longer) period of time
•Could affect policy on how long participants can save
•Will affect total number of asset purchases projected
•Grantees often have different match rates for different assets or populations. For example, some grantees have higher match rates for home purchases than for education in high-cost housing areas. (Grantees should be careful in explaining such policies to potential participants.)


Project Change: Change Maximum Amount of Matched Savings
Description: Increasing or decreasing the maximum amount of participant savings the AFI project will match for each participant.

Potential Impact:

•Change the number of projected IDAs and asset purchases
•Grantee might be able to use the AFI award in a shorter (or longer) period of time
•Increasing the maximum amount of matched savings can shorten the amount of time a participant needs to achieve his/her goal
•Decreasing the rate may lengthen that time period


Project Change: Change Minimum Monthly Savings
Description: Change the minimum amount IDA participants must deposit in their accounts each month. Grantees that make this change should make sure participants will have enough time at a lower monthly rate to meet their savings goals and purchase their assets.

Potential Impact:

•Lowering the minimum will make it easier for participants who are struggling to deposit enough each month
•Adjust to changes in local economic conditions
•A change in the minimum can affect the length of the savings period, the total amount participants will save, and/or the match rate

Project Change: Change Policy on Lump-Sum Deposits
Description: The amount of their total savings goal that participants may deposit in nonsavings lump sums, such as tax refunds or bonuses. Grantees may adjust their policies (many cap lump-sum deposit amounts for certain assets, for example), but should be mindful of the underlying goal to help participants develop savings habits.

Potential Impact:

•Participants might be able to leverage pay bonuses or tax refunds (including EITC)
•With more funds in the IDAs to match, a grantee might be able to use the AFI award more quickly


Project Change: Change in Target Population
Description: Broadening or narrowing the pool of potential applicants to whom a grantee markets its project. Grantees may refocus this pool as long as they maintain AFI eligibility guidelines and the same geographic focuses.

Potential Impact:

•Widening the target population can help an AFI project grow or expend its funds on time if the current target includes fewer people willing and able to participate than expected
•A grantee might narrow the target population if a non-Federal funder requires it, if it has changed the focus of its project, or decides to focus its resources on a particularly successful segment of the population


Project Change: Add or Delete Asset Options 
Description: Most grantees offer all three asset options (first-time home, small business, and postsecondary education), but a few do not. Grantees may choose to broaden or narrow the focuses of their offerings to match the needs of their communities.

Potential Impact:

•Satisfy the requests of non-Federal funders
•Adjust to changes in local economic conditions
•Enable participants to achieve feasible goals
•Tailor project to applicants’ interests


Project Change: Change Geographic Target Area
Description: Grantees can change the geographic area that they serve. Common changes include adding counties or a nearby urban area to the area served. Grantees sometimes expand their area of service from a local area to include an entire state.

Potential Impact

•Expansion of a grantee’s service area expands the pool of potential applicants and spreads the economic benefits of AFI program activities. A larger service area may also help grantees form relationships with new partner organizations.


Project Features Grantees May NOT Adjust

•Amount of Non-Federal Cash Contribution
•Allocation of Federal and Non-Federal Cash

Project Feature: Amount of Non-Federal Cash Contribution
Advice: There must be sufficient cash in the Project Reserve Fund to cover the match commitment when a grantee enters a Savings Plan Agreement with a participant. If you’re having difficulty securing non-Federal commitments or need to find new sources of non-Federal funds, check the resources on this Web site.
Project Change: Allocation of Federal and Non-Federal Cash
Advice: Eighty-five percent of Federal and non-Federal cash in the Project Reserve Fund must be used to match participants’ qualified withdrawals and asset purchases. Funds outside the account are not subject to this rule. Use separate accounts to maintain project resources beyond the minimum non-Federal contribution and the Federal funds drawn down.