Financial Capability and Asset Building for All

Publication Date



In order to achieve financial security, people must be financially capable and able to accumulate assets. We propose to engage social work in the task of building financial capability and assets for all in an effort to reduce poverty and inequality. This grand challenge focuses on two initiatives that have broad implications for social work practice, education, and research. First, we propose a universal, progressive, and lifelong system of asset building that would begin with a Child Development Account opened automatically for each newborn. With funding flows from multiple public, nonprofit, and private sources, the accounts would grow in value over time, and individuals would use the accumulated assets for education, home purchase, retirement, and other social development goals. Second, we propose a web-based Financial Capability Gateway to enroll people automatically in key financial services and to provide financial information. The Gateway will enable social workers to promote financial capability at all levels of practice.

Document Type

Working Paper


Social Innovation Partnerships


Grand Challenges for Social Work

Original Citation

Sherraden, M. S., Huang, J., Frey, J. J., Birkenmaier, J., Callahan, C., Clancy, M. M., & Sherraden, M. (2015). Financial capability and asset building for all (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 13). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.


Grand Challenges for Social Work


Grand Challenges for Social Work, financial capability, financial capability practice