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Laura Lein, PhD

Professor and Dean Emerita

School of Social Work, University

of Michigan

Jennifer Romich, PhD


Director, West Coast Poverty Center

School of Social Work, University

of Washington

Trina Shanks, PhD

Harold R. Johnson Collegiate Professor

Director, Community Engagement

and Center for Equitable Family &

Community Well-Being

School of Social Work, University

of Michigan


Inclusive Asset-Building

• Focus: Addressing inequities in

access to wealth and asset-building


• Strategies: Child Development

Accounts, Revised Tax Policies

Equality in Work & Income

• Focus: Making work benefit all


• Strategies: Guaranteed Basic Income,

Paid Family Leave, Minimum

Wage, Youth Employment, Child

Allowances, etc.


In 2016, members of the Grand Challenge made these policy recommendations as part

of their new social contract:

1. Strengthen labor standards and reform employment policies

2. Expand active employment creation

3. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

4. Expand childcare access to enable stable employment

5. Create new, lifelong policies for inclusive and progressive wealth building

6. Develop a universal child allowance

Over the past five years, network members, their colleagues, and other social workers

have taken numerous substantive actions toward these goals, including:

• Publishing numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries

• Presenting multiple webinars, including two on COVID -19: "Learning from History about

Disaster and Economic Inequality" and "Stay Home? Housing Inequities, COVID -19, and Social

Welfare Policy Responses"

• Co-authoring two policy briefs: "Start Lifelong Asset Building with Universal and Progressive

Child Development Accounts" and "Convert the Child Tax Credit into a Universal Child Allowance"

and advocating for these policy recommendations on Capitol Hill and participating in the

March 2019 Social Work Day on the Hill

• Highlighting the work of social work and social welfare researchers who study innovative

proposals, including universal basic income, secure schedules for low-wage workers, child

development accounts, sector strategies in workforce development, and unconditional cash

grants for new parents

• Developing a curriculum for teaching social work students about extreme economic inequality

and creating a website


Over the next two to five years, the network plans to focus on policies and practices in

their two critical areas, each to be supported by a working group, to design, implement

and evaluate proposed solutions:

• Equality in Work and Income will explore how to make work benefit all employees by stabilizing

earnings, increasing wages, improving working conditions, and equalizing paid time off for

health and caregiving. It will also review how social and tax policy are interrelated with and affect

paid employment. The group will look at the programs that are successfully "moving the

needle" on guaranteed basic income, paid family leave, minimum wage, youth employment,

and child allowances.

• Inclusive Asset-Building will look at gross inequities in access to wealth and asset-building

resources, particularly as they relate to young people and those in marginalized communities.

The group will identify, describe, analyze, and suggest improvements to programs that are

successful in changing the distribution of economic assets and balance sheets in the U.S., as

well as reducing predatory practices.

To accomplish this work, the network will:

• Host a working conference to identify and assign action items and update the overall agenda

for the Grand Challenge

• Develop Special Interest Group activities directly related to core policy initiatives

• Improve communications by updating the website and expand their social media presence

• Deepen coordination with other scholars and practitioners of social work as well as other

poverty-related organizations

• Publish a guide to analyzing policies with respect to reducing economic inequality

An Impact Report at Year 5 of the 10-Year Initiative | 33


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