In 1996 a group of diverse organizations and individuals came together to demonstrate Individual Development Accounts, a new asset-building strategy. This group included leading institutions in the state's extensive community and economic development network as well as state government officials, affordable housing groups and community development financial institutions.
In 1997, the new NC IDA Collaborative secured funding from the N.C General Assembly through the Department of Labor to administer a two-year demonstration of IDAs. In addition, the Division of Community Assistance allocated funds from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for a homeownership IDA demonstration. Along with operating support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Fannie Mae Foundation, NC IDA Collaborative worked to develop the demonstration program for the state and award grants for the first IDA program sites in North Carolina.
Since that time, NC IDA Collaborative has expanded both its network of partners and of operating IDA programs. Program expansion has primarily been possible with additional funding secured through the federal Assets for Independence Act, the North Carolina Housing Finance agency, and significant in-kind support from program practitioners and other partners.
After six years of demonstration, the role of NC IDA Collaborative evolved from program development and public awareness to policy development, networking, fundraising and technical assistance. In 2002, as a state network supporting one the nation's largest IDA programs with almost 700 active accounts and 25 program sites, NC IDA Collaborative established itself as a formal, non-profit organization.
With support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, NC IDA Collaborative was able to hire an executive director in the fall of 2002 and apply for and receive its 501 (c) 3 designation in early 2003.
In 2005, we began our very successful biennial Conference, “Pathways to Prosperity”, convening experts from across the nation in the Triangle every other year,
In 2007, we began the North Carolina Saves Campaign, providing financial education resources and encouragement on the web, with periodic newsletters to savers.
Between 2006-2009, with support from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, we joined with other nonprofit partners to establish the North Carolina Assets Alliance (NCAA), to educate community members and policymakers on the importance of assets to economic security.
In 2009, in partnership with other NCAA members, we published “A Prosperity Grid for North Carolina: Connecting Households and Communities to Economic Opportunity”.
In 2010 The Collaborative received a federal grant to place AmeriCorp VISTA members in 10 cities in North Carolina to focus on asset-based strategies. Throughout 2010, in partnership with NCAA member agencies and with the support of Bank of America, we conducted a series of 9 community Economic Security Forums to provide public education and establish community dialogues.
The 2011 Pathways to Prosperity Conference will be October 17-18 at the Sheraton Imperial; check back for registration information.
We gratefully acknowledge the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in providing the support to impact communities across the state with education and research, dialogue, and capacity building for community nonprofits engaged in asset-building, financial education and savings work.