Assets for Independence Demonstration Program

The purpose of the Assets for Independence program is to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of asset-building projects that assist low-income people in becoming economically self-sufficient by teaching them about economic and consumer issues and enabling them to established matched savings accounts
called individual development accounts (IDAs).

The program is demonstrating and evaluating the effects of AFI projects and IDAs in terms of increasing the economic self-sufficiency of low-income families; promoting savings for homeownership, post-secondary education: and small business or micro-enterprise development; and stabilizing families and communities.
Examples of Funded Projects

List of funded projects is available on request to Information Contact and on the website listed above.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Program Accomplishments

In FY 2007, OCS awarded 59 grants. It is estimated that OCS will award approximately 60 grants in FY 08 and FY 09.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Grants for five-year project and budget periods.

Grantees must allocate at least 85% of the grant funds for matching participants' IDA savings and 2% of the grant funds for data collection and evaluation.

Grantees may use the remaining 13% to support other project activities and related matters.

Grantees are required to provide or secure nonfederal cash contributions equal to or greater than the grant amount.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

This program supports innovative projects administered by national, State-wide, regional and community-based organizations.

Eligible applicants are: (1) Private nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations, that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) State or local governments or agencies or Tribal governments submitting applications jointly with tax exempt organizations; (3) A credit union designated as a low-income credit union by the National Credit Union Administration; or an organization designated as a Community Development Financial Institution by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Eligible project participants are individuals that are members of households eligible for assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or of households whose adjusted gross income does not exceed 200 percent of the poverty income guidelines. The net worth of the household at the end of the calendar year preceding the determination of eligibility must not exceed $10,000 excluding the primary dwelling unit and one motor vehicle owned by a member of the household. Grantees may restrict eligibility to people with lower incomes and net worth.


Low Income Credit Unions must submit official documentation that the National Credit Union Administration has designated the organization as such. Community Development Financial Institutions must submit documentation that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has designated the organization as such.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for Review, and 45 CFR 100, Intergovernmental Review of Department of Health and Human Services "Programs and Activities".

Applicants from participating jurisdictions should contact their State Point Of Contact (SPOC) as soon as possible to alert them and receive instructions.

Application Procedures

Competitive applications must be submitted on Standard Forms 424, 424A, and 424B, and include a project narrative as described in the program announcement issued by the Office of Community Services and published in the Federal Register and website. Required forms are attached to the published announcement. No State plan is required.

Award Procedures

The Director, Office of Community Services makes funding decisions based on recommendations of a panel of experts who review funding proposals. The panel review is based on criteria set forth in the program announcement.


Application deadlines are posted on ( and on the Assets for Independence program website (


Assets for Independence Act, Title IV; Community Opportunities, Accountability, Training, and Educational Services Act of 1998, Public Law 105-285, 42 U.S.C. 604, as amended.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Applications will normally be approved/disapproved and grant awards made within 90 days of application receipt.





Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula. Grant amounts are limited to the amount of nonfederal cash available for a proposed project as certified by the applicant.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

These grants have 5-year budget and project periods. Grantees may access grant funds throughout the period to the extent that they provide proof that they have the required nonfederal cash support on hand.

Post Assistance Requirements


Grantees are required to submit semi-annual narrative progress and financial status reports.

Grantees must also provide annual program data reports.


Grantees must comply with OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments and Non-Profit Organizations." Nonfederal grantees that expend $500,000 or more in a year in Federal awards must have a single or program-specific audit conducted for that year in accordance with the provisions of this part. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from the audit requirements for that year, except as noted in section .215(a), but records must be available for review or audit by appropriate officials of the Federal agency, pass-through entity, and General Accounting Office (GAO).



Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants and Contracts) FY 07 $24,407,000; FY 08 $24,025,000; and FY 09 est $24,025,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

The Office of Community Services (OCS) awards grants for this program ranging up to $1,000,000. The average grant is approximately $350,000. OCS expects to fund approximately 62 grants per year. Eligible entities may apply for new grants up to the statutory limit of $1,000,000 in each funding cycle.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

The following regulations: Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 16 - DHHS Grant Appeals Process, Part 74 - Administration of Grants (grants with subgrants to entities), Part 75 - Informal Grant Appeal Procedures, Part 76 - Debarment and Suspension from Eligibility For Financial Assistance, Subpart F - Drug Free Workplace Requirements, Part 80 - Non-discrimination Under Programs Receiving Federal Assistance through Department of Health and Human Services Effectuation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Part 81 - Practice and Procedures for Hearings Under Part 80 of this Title, Part 83 - Regulation for the Administration and Enforcement of Sections 799A and 845 of the Public Health Service Act, Part 84 - Non-discrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, Part 85 - Enforcement of Non- discrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Conducted by Department of Health and Human Services, Part 86 - Non- discrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance, Part 91 - Non-discrimination on the Basis of Age in Health and Human Services Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, Part 92 - Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to States and Local Governments (Federal Register, March 11, 1988), Part 93 - New Restrictions on Lobbying.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

James Gatz, Office of Community Services, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W., Washington, DC 20447. Telephone: (202) 401-4626 or E-mail address: AFIProgram@ACF.HHS.GOV.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

(1) Organization experience and administrative capability; (2) Sufficiency of the project, design and plan: The degree to which the project described in the application appears likely to aid project participants in achieving economic self-sufficiency through activities requiring one or more of the qualified expenses (home purchase, postsecondary education or training, or business capitalization); (3) Adequacy of plan for providing information for evaluation; (4) Commitment of nonfederal funds and additional resources; (5) Results or benefits expected; and (6) Significant and beneficial impacts.

Social Entrepreneurship

Rwanda as Social Entrepreneur Fund Beneficiary

The Republic of Rwanda has been picked as one of the six African countries as beneficiaries for a new fellowship fund program designed at supporting social entrepreneurs in tackling issues on food security.

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