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Asset Building Advocacy

Asset poverty is a community-level issue that requires a coordinated, community-level response.

Advocacy is coordinated public support for specific issues affecting our community.


Our Coalition’s advocacy work includes a collection of efforts and strategies that we pursue, together, to address the underlying root causes of Asset Poverty in Forsyth County. This work involves building public will to influence policy and funding decisions at the local, state, or even national levels.

Our Advocacy Committee began work in 2019 by meeting with leaders of organizations (whose work connects them with Asset Poverty) from across North Carolina to understand their advocacy platforms, how they approach the work, the adaptive challenges they’ve faced, and how they facilitate and communicate with community stakeholders. 

The Advocacy Committee of the ABC is tasked with engaging the community to move our advocacy agenda forward.

Advocacy Committee Meetings

First Friday of the month from 9-10 am

Committee Members
  • Charlie Gardner, Committee Chair
  • Adam Hill
  • Amy Lytle
  • Briley Penner
  • Calvin McRae
  • Charlie Gardner
  • Christa Smith
  • Daniel Kornelis
  • Juante Randleman
  • Kellie Easton
  • Margaret Elliott
  • Paula McCoy
Contact Us

More information coming soon!

The 2021 Advocacy Agenda


Below, we outline strategies and opportunities for advocacy at the grassroots, state, and national levels. It focuses on specific actions that stakeholders of all types can take to begin to shift policies and priorities toward systemic solutions for asset poverty.

Advocacy Tier: Catalyst

Catalyst is our highest advocacy tier. For issues designated at this level, the Asset Building Coalition takes the lead as a local champion.

Mitigating The Benefits Cliff in Forsyth County

The Benefits Cliff describes a situation in which a person who receives public benefits gets a pay raise and, as a result of that pay raise, they experience a net decrease in overall income because of the way that benefits programs are designed. This flaw in the design of our benefit programs has created a complex series of disincentives that keep people who recieve public benefits from getting ahead financially.

If you are new to the Benefits Cliff conversation and want to get up to speed, we recommend starting with the Benefits Cliff Initiative page, which explains this complex issue. Below, you will find information on specific public benefits, as well as key information about relevant policies and key strategies for advocacy.

What can states do?

Since the Benefits Cliff springs from policy decisions, the solution must also be policy driven. Other states are recognizing the cliff’s unintended consequences and are starting to devise solutions to dampen its impact. We’ve outlined some of the solutions below. None are cure-alls, but they do dampen the cliff’s blows by either turning the cliff into a slope or reducing the cliff’s steepness.

North Carolina could use these policies as examples on how it could tackle the benefits cliff...


Loss of child care subsidies creates one of the largest cliffs. To turn this cliff into a slope, Colorado authorized the Colorado Cliff Effect Pilot Program (CEPP) in 2012. Under the program, families that exceed the income threshold can continue receiving subsidies for two years, but they must pay a copay. The copay amount is determined by either income, time, or both; depending on county. For example, the copay grows either as income grows or as the family gets closer to the two year mark.

South Carolina

South Carolina offers one to two years of transitional child care subsidies for qualifying families who lose child care subsidies due to increased income.

Vermont & Colorado

Another state-level policy aimed at dampening the child care benefits cliff is a child care tax credit that mirrors the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It gives households a credit for child care expenses, so the sudden increase in child care costs is partially mitigated by a larger tax refund. Vermont and Colorado currently have such credits.


Illinois expanded SNAP eligibility from 135% of the federal poverty guidelines to 165% using broad-based categorical eligibility. This expansion does not just push the cliff out further, it lowers the cliff. This is because benefits decline with income, so pushing the eligibility threshold out further gives the cliff more room to turn into a slope.

Multiple States

TANF programs, called Work First in North Carolina, have no federal asset requirements. States self-impose the requirements and are free to eliminate or raise them. As of 2016, 10 states had no asset limits for TANF.

New Mexico

State policy solutions often start with a seed. In 2017, the New Mexico state legislature created a task force to study the Benefits Cliff.

What can employers do?

Understand how the cliff might affect your employees.

Employers should be aware of the benefits cliff and where the major thresholds lie. Employers are in a position to help mitigate the benefits cliff for their employees, but they cannot do this unless they know where these thresholds generally lie.

Think outside the box.

Most public benefits only consider income in their thresholds, but employers have latitude in crafting their compensation packages. An employer could offer an employee a contribution to a health or dependent care FSA instead of a slight raise if a given employee would make use of the account and if the employee agreed to such an arrangement. In such a case, the employee’s income for benefits purposes would not rise.

What can nonprofits do?

Design supports for those who experience the Cliff.

Awareness of the benefits cliff and where the thresholds lie is key. Nonprofits and foundations can however, structure programs and funds with an eye towards the benefits cliff. They might even create programs designed to target those who abruptly lose benefits.

Index of Public Benefits

This simple guide lists and explains the different public benefits that are involved in the Benefits Cliff conversation.

The Benefits Cliff in Forsyth County: a Core Initiative of the Asset Building Coalition

Benefits Cliff in Forsyth County Microsite

This is an educational microsite built by Forsyth Futures, designed to inform local stakeholders on the conditions around this complex issue.

Local Social Benefits Calculator

The Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM) at Winston-Salem State University, in partnership with Forsyth Futures, created a digital calcultor to help individuals, families, and employers better understand the impact of potential pay raises.

Advocacy Tier: Participant

For issues designated to the participant tier, the ABC will join with other partners as an active member to develop strategies to influence policy.

Reform of municipal fines and fees

More information is coming soon!

Advocacy Tier: Signatory

For issues designated to the signatory tier, the ABC may take a public position to support or oppose policy in this area, lending our name to an effort:

State Earned Income Tax Credit

More information is coming soon!

Student Loan Debt

More information is coming soon!

Medicaid Expansion

More information is coming soon!