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AFI DCL New Branches within AFI

Published: October 5, 2015
Assets for Independence (AFI)
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Dear Colleague Notices

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447

RE: AFI Branch Changes                                                                 Date: October 5, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

I am excited to share with you some news from the Office of Community Services (OCS), Division of Community Demonstration Programs (DEMO).  In order to more effectively manage the Assets for Independence (AFI) program, we have created two branches: the Program Operations Branch and the Policy and Partnerships Branch.

The Program Operations Branch will focus on AFI grant operations and therefore, will be the primary branch to interact with AFI grantees.  Program Operations will oversee activities for all stages of the grant lifecycle, including funding opportunity announcements, application reviews, award processing, grant monitoring and closeout. Vernae Martin, who joined OCS on June 1, 2015, will serve as the Branch Chief for Program Operations, and oversee a team of AFI program specialists who work with and support AFI grantees.

The Policy and Partnerships Branch will be responsible for developing AFI program policy guidance (such as Information Memoranda), analyzing program data, supporting research and evaluation efforts, developing and maintaining both federal and non-federal partnerships, and other related efforts.  Gretchen Lehman will serve as the Branch Chief for Policy and Partnerships, and she will oversee a team of analysts who work on policy efforts.

The decision to create these branches was driven by a need to better manage three simultaneous priority areas for the AFI program.  One of these priorities is leveraging the knowledge developed by the AFI program and the scale of larger anti-poverty programs through partnerships focused on integrating strategies that support asset building and financial capability for low-income families and individuals.  Another priority is providing enhanced policy guidance to AFI grantees.  The third priority area focuses on program monitoring and performance through the provision of technical assistance and capacity building to further support grantee efforts in meeting program goals.

Through the creation of these AFI program branches and the focused priority areas, OCS anticipates better service to AFI grantees in a highly organized and effective manner.  If you have any questions about this realignment of AFI program management, please contact Vernae Martin by phone at (202) 401-5692 or by email at Verna.Martin@acf.hhs.gov

Thank you for the important work that you do in your community.



Lynda Perez
Acting Director                                                                                     
Division of Community Demonstration Programs
Office of Community Services

Last Reviewed: June 14, 2019