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Assets for Independence (AFI), 1999-2008

Project Overview

This evaluation examines Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) under the largest federally funded IDA program: the Assets for Independence (AFI) program administered by ACF. IDAs are personal savings accounts targeted to low-income persons that encourage participants to save for specific types of asset building, typically home purchase, post-secondary education, or small business start-up. Savings is encouraged by matching the deposits of participants, providing them with financial education, and other forms of support.

The evaluation includes a process study and a non-experimental impact study. The process study discusses AFI grantees’ efforts to address common challenges in administering an IDA project: raising nonfederal funds, achieving administrative efficiencies, forging organizational partnerships, recruiting and selecting participants, providing financial education, supporting program participants, and adapting to feedback and shifting conditions.

The impact study examines the effects of AFI participation on the three forms of assets targeted by the program - homeownership, business ownership, and postsecondary education - and on net worth, employment status, income, and receipt of means-tested benefits.

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