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Building the Economic Security of Working Families: A 10-Year Look Back

We believe all Texans deserve the opportunity to engage in meaningful work and to acquire assets that help their families support themselves and thrive economically.

In 2012, Communities Foundation of Texas launched its focus on improving the economic security and mobility of low-income people and families who live and work in North Texas. For 10 years, CFT has focused on creating awareness and opportunities for families and individuals to increase their income and acquire the assets that will help in supporting their families and advancing economically. Here’s a look at how it all came together, highlighting notable achievements and the ways we have increased the focus on this incredibly important community issue.

2009

2009

Communities Foundation of Texas Trustees select economic security as a focus area with an aim to address the needs of working people and families living at or below the poverty line. The goal will be to help the community understand the issues and challenges facing low-income people and communities, and to convene and align nonprofit service providers around these issues.

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2010

2010

CFT Trustees set tactics to support the economic security initiative’s goals, which include: funding the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)* to create the Assets & Opportunities Profile for Dallas; providing training and support to help nonprofit organizations build capacity to serve their clients; convening stakeholders to review the CFED data and discuss insights and opportunities to serve low-income families; and identifying best practices to bring to the local community.

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2011

2011

CFT partners with the Thomson Family Foundation to commission CFED to produce the Assets & Opportunities Profile for Dallas. The purpose of the report will be to help the community understand wealth, poverty and opportunities to address the needs of low-income people and families across the city of Dallas, Dallas County and 12 counties in North Texas.

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2012
When I reflect on our 10 years of work to bring awareness to the economic security issue, I am grateful that we leaned into what we didn’t know. We were open to learning, listening, and building relationships. That approach led to meaningful impact.”
WENDE BURTON, CHIEF PHILANTHROPY OFFICER

2012

When I reflect on our 10 years of work to bring awareness to the economic security issue, I am grateful that we leaned into what we didn’t know. We were open to learning, listening, and building relationships. That approach led to meaningful impact.”
WENDE BURTON, CHIEF PHILANTHROPY OFFICER
2012

CFED releases the Assets & Opportunities Profile for Dallas. It reveals that 39 percent of Dallas’ households are living in or at risk of asset poverty. The study also finds that 68 percent of Dallas residents have subprime credit scores and more than half of low-income residents do not have health insurance, placing them at financial risk in the event of a medical crisis.

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2021

More than 300 nonprofits, funders, and members of the media respond to a press release about the Assets & Opportunities Profile for Dallas, resulting in multiple stories and editorials, including articles in The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, and the Dallas Observer, and on the local NBC affiliate. The report is also presented to a group of 30 legislators from city, county, state, and federal offices.

2012

Based on the interest around the study, CFT convenes more than 200 nonprofits to give them the opportunity to dive deeper into its data.

2012

CFT launches the Data Driven Decision-Making Institute (D3), an initiative that provides training and capacity-building support to 46 local nonprofit agencies that serve low-income working people and their families. During the immersive nine-month D3 program, CFT trains agencies to use data to enhance their programming and service to create deeper, sustainable impact for their clients.

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2012

CFT and other foundations launch a regional chapter of the Asset Funders Network, called the North Texas Funder’s Forum. Members include private, public, corporate, and community foundations, public-sector funders, and financial institutions who want to help North Texans reach sustainable economic stability. Together, the organizations share programs and strategies, gather knowledge for more effective grantmaking efforts, and work to increase investments in asset building.

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2012

The North Texas Funder’s Forum launches a series of four learning events to be held in 2012 and 2013 and focus on increasing the knowledge of both funders and program executors. More than 40 grant makers and 175 nonprofit practitioners attend the events that target information about economic mobility, what it takes to survive and thrive financially in Texas, financial capability, and financial coaching.

2013

CFT approached KERA, the North Texas public broadcasting system, with an idea to highlight stories of North Texans facing asset poverty. As a result, CFT and KERA, along with the Allstate FoundationThe Fort Worth FoundationTexas Women’s FoundationThomson Family Foundation, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, funded One Crisis Away, a news series that followed four families living on the financial edge that included cross-platform storytelling and events. The series raised public awareness of asset poverty and humanized the issue by demonstrating that people from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds deal with asset poverty. The original series aired for five months and reached 1.5 million people. 

Since then, KERA has expanded the series into a multiyear, multimedia program that has taken a deep dive into topics including the true cost of prison, how West Dallas is gentrifying, how families rebuild financially and emotionally after a devastating storm, how debt is a common problem with a harsh stigma, and more. One Crisis Away stories are seen by over 3M viewers annually and have earned several national journalism awards, including a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in 2019.

2014

2014

CFT launches the Working Families Success (WFS) Network with 10 agencies from across North Texas. The WFS model integrates employment, financial coaching, and supportive services in an intentional, focused approach, and has successfully been implemented in more than 70 locations and 30 cities across the nation. Participating agencies went through an intense learning program to integrate the model within their operations, which included training for staff at all levels. There are now 16 agencies operating as WFS sites, providing essential services to families across North Texas.

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2015
As we look back on our decade-long focus on increasing economic security across North Texas, I am gratified. This work has been integral to two of CFT’s top priorities: advancing community equity and expanding community impact.”
DAVE SCULLIN, PRESIDENT AND CEO

2015

As we look back on our decade-long focus on increasing economic security across North Texas, I am gratified. This work has been integral to two of CFT’s top priorities: advancing community equity and expanding community impact.”
DAVE SCULLIN, PRESIDENT AND CEO
2015

D3 concludes, and the nonprofits who participated in the program call it a game changer. “It made a change in my life and it made me more valuable as a team member,” said Jane Waters, director of operations for Healing Hands, a community-based medical and dental clinic that participated in D3. As a result of participating in D3, several agencies invested in hiring new staff or provided professional development for current staff members with a primary focus on data and evaluation. Agencies also invested in systems for reporting and measuring outcomes of their work, and implemented evaluation tools to provide a better understanding of their clients’ perspectives of their programs.

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2015

CFT gives seven agencies participating in the WFS program that are ready to implement an integrated service model for their clients $75,000 for technical assistance toward implementation. CFT also gives six agencies one-year grants ranging from $11,000 to $25,000 to support them in building capacity to expand the financial services programs they offer.

2016

2016

CFT partners with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and JPMorgan Global Philanthropy to help local, community-based workforce development organizations build their capacity for learning, including training on how to use data to enhance the results of those they serve. More than 20 Dallas-Fort Worth area organizations complete a national workforce benchmarking survey through the Workforce Benchmarking Network, an initiative of the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. The survey is designed to connect best practices from more than 500 community-based workforce providers across the nation with local strategies that will deepen the capacity and increase the impact of local programs. Findings from the survey reveal that participating workforce programs were more likely than their national counterparts to offer non-workforce development programming.

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2017

2017

CFT, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the King Foundation, and the Texas Women’s Foundation support the launch of the WiNGs Coaching Institute, the first program of its kind designed to support a growing field of practice that facilitates greater financial capability and economic success. The Coaching Institute provides training and certification for nonprofits who wish to add financial coaching to their programs.

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2018

2018

2018

Prosperity Now (formerly CFED) produces the 2018 Assets & Opportunity Profile, an updated financial snapshot of the city of Dallas, Dallas County, and North Texas, and an examination of trends in the financial security of residents since 2012, when CFT first began to address the issue. The 2018 report, published by CFT, JP Morgan Chase, and Prosperity Now, showed a community marked by widespread financial insecurity, high levels of asset poverty and subprime credit, and huge disparities in the economic conditions among Dallas households of color.

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2018

The DFW Workforce Collaborative adds one year of targeted technical assistance to interested organizations to target specific data collection and performance challenges, such as employer engagement and participant follow-up and retention. The agencies participate in quarterly peer learning forums.

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2018

CFT and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas launch Dollars for College in partnership with the Lancaster Independent School District. The program is designed to provide low-income families with a safe, easy-to-access, trusted, and low-cost opportunity to build savings for their child’s future post-secondary education. As part of the launch, Dollars for College accounts were opened for every participating kindergarten student in the Lancaster school district. The accounts were seeded with $50, and linked to a student’s individual 529 account, set up by the parents.

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2019

2019

2019

CFTJPMorgan Chase, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas announce the inaugural class of a new program designed to improve local economic opportunity and mobility efforts and create innovative solutions to the challenges faced by workers and businesses called the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy. It is a 12-month fellowship developed through a partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and is designed to strengthen the local network of non-profit, government, academic and business leaders through a series of retreats and workshops that will introduce the participating Fellows to new tools and strategies.

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2019

CFT invites recognized leaders from high-performing agencies to officially form the WFS Advisory Council. In exchange for their two-year commitment, CFT provides honorariums to Catholic Charities DallasCity SquareMetrocrest, and Women’s Center of Tarrant County.

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2019

CFT partners with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to launch the Collin County Nonprofit Leadership Institute with an initial cohort of 12 nonprofit organizations based in Collin County. The goal of the effort is to help nonprofits address pressing needs for Collin County residents. Each of the 12 nonprofits receives capacity-building grants of $5,000 and attend monthly sessions focused on program leadership, staff training, and board engagement.

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2020

2020

CFT partners with JPMorgan Chase to present the Collin County Economic Opportunity Assessment, an analysis aimed at catalyzing conversations about equity, access, and outcomes across the community. The report showed that Collin County is a rapidly growing community with many assets, but also one that faces many obstacles and barriers that threaten the upward mobility of many residents, including disparities by race/ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and wealth.

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2022

2022

CFT celebrates the success of our decade-long investment in economic security initiatives!

We remain committed to continuing and expanding collaborative efforts, and to determining what’s next for this work, in alignment with our priority of advancing community equity.