Advancing Equity, Building Wealth

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) is a research institute that advances economic opportunity and equity for individuals and families, particularly households of color and those kept out of the economic mainstream.

Our work furthers the understanding that assets and wealth are critical to household well-being and all families should have access to the resources and opportunities needed to participate fully in social and economic life. Working at the intersections of academia, policy, and practice, IASP partners with diverse communities to transform structures, policies, and narratives. Grounded in a social justice tradition, our research informs strategic action for racial and economic justice to achieve an inclusive, equitable society.

         Meet Our New Director

Dr. Maria Madison, Associate Dean of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, will succeed Tom Shapiro as Director of IASP, starting September 1st.  Please join us in welcoming Dr. Madison!

                Dr. Maria Madison

Maria Madison,  Lecturer, and current Associate Dean of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity at The Heller School, will succeed  Tom Shapiro as Director of IASP, starting September 1st. 

Please join us in welcoming Maria Madison!


Recent Publications

Cover of Accelerating Equity and Justice Report

Accelerating Equity and Justice

In our current landscape of uncertainty, “Accelerating Equity and Justice” provides a plan to disrupt poverty and put our nation on the path to equity, freedom, and justice for all. Through combining Basic Income and Kids’ Assets Accounts, we can eliminate income and asset poverty and come closer to true racial equity.

“Stalling Dreams: How Student Debt is Disrupting Life Chances and Widening the Racial Wealth Gap”

IASP releases powerful findings on the destructive long-term impacts of holding student loans, especially for first generation students and students of color. Findings reveal how student loans widen the racial wealth gap and threaten long-term economic security for those who cannot count on family wealth to support their educational ambitions.

Root to Fruit: Empowerment Economics and Community Growth at Chicago’s HANA Center

IASP and its research partners are proud to announce the release of Root to Fruit: Empowerment Economics and Community Growth at Chicago’s HANA Center. This is the second case study in a multi-year, research partnership exploring Empowerment Economics - a multi-generational, culturally responsive approach to financial capability developed by and for low-income AAPI and other communities of color.   


More Publications

Our Focus Areas

Statue of the goddess justice, blindfolded and holding scales

Racial Wealth and Economic Equity

Inequality is not merely about access to resources and assets, but rather, that similar accomplishments convert to financial gain differentially by race. Racial wealth gaps among younger adults grow dramatically over the life course. Our findings emphasize the importance of policy changes rather than behavioral changes in the broader effort to build an inclusive economy. 

A leather briefcase sitting on the ground

Work and Opportunity Pathways

For most Americans, work continues to be a primary source of income and identity. Yet work and wealth pathways that functioned for many in the past have shifted, and there is increasing awareness about patterns of exclusion that shape these paths. Our research focuses on the factors that break down the work and wealth pathways in our economy. 

keys on a ring with a keychain the shape of a house

Housing and Community Stability

Stable communities are critical for family well-being and economic security. Central to stable communities are housing stability and high-quality community-based resources. Our work focuses on a issues including housing and homelessness, housing-based asset building initiatives, and entrenched inequality in access to community resources. 

Our Work
A dam made of gray stones separates calm water from a grey sky

“While income is much like a river, which ebbs and flows with the environment, wealth is a reservoir, available to be drawn upon in times of need." – Thomas Shapiro, IASP Director