Latest Posts from New America Blogs

Recent posts from all the blogs on can be found below. A full listing of all the blogs to which New America fellows and scholars regularly contribute can be found here.

Fast Track Eases Medicaid Enrollment, but Implementation Matters Too

July 29, 2014
Publication Image Relatively simple policy changes can make a big difference in helping people get access to health insurance – and health coverage helps many families stay afloat in the wake of a medical issue. In the span of just a few months, approximately 750,000 people were newly identified as eligible for Medicaid in California. How? California recently implemented a new, streamlined approach to let people know they qualify for Medicaid. In anticipation of the increasing number of adults applying for health coverage due to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promoted a strategy called Fast Track to accelerate eligibility and enrollment processes. Fast Track has been highly successful in connecting more families with services they qualify for and states have also saved significantly because of its efficiency; however, California has provided a textbook example of how implementation challenges influence a policy’s effectiveness.

Asset Building News Week, July 21-25

July 25, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include financial services and knowledge, poverty, and jobs.

Chasing the College Dream in Hard Economic Times

July 25, 2014
By: Nicholas Brock

A new report published by ACT examines the financial burdens placed on families in funding their children’s college education, particularly after the economic downturn. Despite the availability of federal student loans used to help lessen this burden, families whose adjusted gross annual income is at least $23,000 are expected to contribute to their dependent students’ education, per the federal government’s expected family contribution (EFC) formula. Because of this, family contribution has become a critical part of the college affordability equation, despite the fact that family income is declining.

Among the report’s other findings:
  • For the 2011–2012 school year, parents contributed approximately 37% of the total cost of college attendance: 28% from parent income and savings and 9% from parent loans.
  • Since 2006, average family income declined by approximately 12%.
    • The average family income for African American and Hispanic families is almost half that of White and Asian families.
  • The net price for a four-year postsecondary institution increased from $10,270 in 2006–07 to $12,110 in 2012–13 (an 18% increase).
    • The net price constituted about 15% of family income in 2006–07 as compared with 19% in 2012–13.
  • Despite declining resources and family income for minority students, college enrollment continued to rise during the recession among these groups..
    • Hispanic and African American students experienced the greatest increase in enrollment between 2006 and 2011 (7.2 and 4.5 percentage points, respectively).
While more work is needed to eliminate the gap in college enrollment between disadvantaged minorities and white students, increased information and access to financial aid has been somewhat successful in moderating the impact of the economic downturn. 

Case Study: Practical Principles to Encourage a Civic Youth Pipeline

July 24, 2014

Kids in Sayada, Tunisia working on a plan for their Community Wireless Network - Photo Credit: Ryan Gerety

When determining if a project or process was successful, frequently we look at what the outcomes were, detailed statistics about what happened, as well as thinking about if the experiment or intervention can be sustained or scaled?  More often than not though it’s the impact of the process itself that matters.

Process is a huge part of everyday life in communities. Whether you are organizing a neighborhood block party or attending a public meeting, you are engaging with the governance processes and community structures that comprise our lives. These engagement opportunities can be few and far between, and frequently lacking sufficient pathways to engage with young people. Framing each of these engagements as opportunities to enter into civic process, there is an opportunity to expand the civic pipeline for youth. This can be as simple as experimenting with including youth in the civic processes that impact their communities.

New Report: Child Development Accounts as an Early Childhood Intervention

July 22, 2014
Publication Image Properly designed Child Development Accounts (CDAs) can have lasting, positive effects on children's educational development and can improve their long-term economic outcomes. That's the argument of a new paper we're releasing today, "Investing in Children: Child Development Accounts as an Early Childhood Intervention," which was authored by two scholars at the University of Kansas' School of Social Welfare, Terri Friedline, an Asset Building Program Research Fellow, and Nik Schuetz. While much discussion of CDAs (also known as CSAs or Children's Savings Accounts; the terms are interchangeable) treats the accounts in isolation, Friedline and Schuetz argue that, to be most effective, CDAs should be situated within the broader context of other early childhood interventions like pre-K and Head Start.