Decades of research points to the material, psychological and social value of wealth. Yet, building financial security is a persistent challenge for lower-income Americans who continue to become less wealthy, not more. In fact, more than 40 percent of people in the United States cannot cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense, according to the Federal Reserve.
MetLife Foundation and Commonwealth announced a new project, Making Wealth Common: Extending Financial Opportunity for All, which aims to reverse this trend beginning with over 300,000 financially vulnerable Americans. The four-year initiative, implemented by Commonwealth with a $3.4 million grant from MetLife Foundation, will uncover and highlight new consumer insights, and pilot practices to enable wealth creation for millions of low-income individuals and families over time.
“Workers deserve a shot at the American dream, but it can be hard for people to turn aspirations into reality – or even to keep dreaming – with nothing in the bank,” said Timothy Flacke, Executive Director of Commonwealth. “Financial products and tools that exist today have traditionally focused on middle- to upper-income customers and are marketed and distributed in ways that don’t necessarily work for financially vulnerable people. We’re going to think outside the usual box of income, wealth and spending studies to find new avenues to help people turn their lives toward the future.”
Commonwealth will partner with employers, retailers and other organizations to identify ways to help financially vulnerable people start to accumulate wealth. Commonwealth will examine personal outcomes such as hope and self-efficacy, as well as business benefits like loyalty, productivity and retention. Using customer insights, Commonwealth will help shape tools for companies and organizations that can most effectively reach lower-income workers.
“Solutions that meet customer and employee needs while also producing value for the businesses and organizations that offer them will be the most successful,” Flacke said.
“We want to help bring about new ways to enable millions of financially vulnerable individuals and families to create slack in household budgets and plan for the future,” said Sarah Willis, Director at MetLife Foundation. “We support Commonwealth for its approach to working across sectors to drive scale and adoption of new and proven wealth-building strategies.”
The work will further Commonwealth’s role as a trusted broker with employers, retailers and others.