Assets for Independence (AFI) Program

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Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

Matched savings accounts under Assets for Independence (AFI) Program


Agency: Assets for Independence Administration for Children and Families
Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L’Enfant Plaza Promenade, SW, Washington, DC 20447
Phone: 866-778-6037  Email:

Grants appropriation – competitive discretionary grants, awards ranged from $12,500 to $1 million in FY 2013

FY 13 $19,026,000
FY 14 $18,593,000

The application due dates are as follows:
FY 2014: May 7, 2014 and July 16, 2014
FY 2015: October 27, 2014 and April 20, 2015
FY 2016: October 19, 2015 and April 18, 2016

What is Assets for Independence AFI Program and how does it work?

Assets for Independence (AFI) Program provides a community-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty. Utilizing existing individual and community assets, AFI strengthens communities from within through the use of matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Through financial education, AFI demonstrates the use and impact of IDAs to help low-income individuals move toward greater self-sufficiency.

AFI grantees enroll participants – members of low-income households – which can save earned income in special-purpose, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

Every dollar that a participant deposits into an AFI Individual Development Account is matched (from $1 to $8 in combined federal and non-federal funds) by the AFI project.

AFI participants use their Individual Development Accounts and matching funds for one of three allowable assets:

1) Purchase a first home;
2) Capitalize or expand a business, or;
3) Fund post-secondary education or training.

AFI grantees (the non-profits and agencies that are awarded AFI grants) also provide training and support services to AFI participants (the beneficiaries), such as financial education; credit counseling and repair; and guidance in accessing refundable tax.

As a condition of their federal AFI grant, grantees must provide non-federal funds to support their AFI project in an amount at least equal to the Federal AFI grant amount.

Of all project funds, 85% must be used to match participant savings and purchase an asset. The remainder is used to support data collection, to provide financial education and related services, and to administer the project. AFI projects are 5-year grants.

Eligible Applicants for AFI Grants

The Assets for Independence (AFI) program is authorized to award grants to the following entities: non-profit entities with 501(c)(3) status; state, local, or tribal government agencies applying jointly with a non-profit with 501(c)(3) status; financial institutions that are federally certified as either a Low-Income Credit Union or a Community Development Financial Institution and that demonstrate a collaborative relationship with a local community-based organization whose activities are designed to address poverty in the community and the needs of community members for economic independence and stability; and entities deemed eligible under Section 405(g) of the AFI Act.

States, counties, cities, townships, special districts, public and state-controlled institutions of higher education, Native American tribal governments, public or Indian housing authorities, and Native American tribal organizations. Per the AFI Act, governmental entities that are not deemed eligible under Section 405(g) are eligible to apply for an AFI grant only if they submit an application jointly with a non-profit organization that has 501(c)(3) status.

Applications submitted by joint applicants must include a signed agreement between the entities. If a governmental entity applies jointly with an entity with 501(c)(3) status, either entity may be the official applicant. An authorized representative of the entity that will be responsible for grant administration and AFI project implementation if an award is made must sign the grant application. Regardless of which entity is the official applicant, documentation of 501(c)(3) status of the non-governmental joint applicant is required to establish eligibility.

Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) status, for profit organizations other than small businesses, small businesses, and other entities. These entities are only eligible for an AFI grant if they are federally certified as a Low-Income Credit Union or a Community Development Financial Institution.

Download the AFI Grant Application Package

Beneficiary Eligibility – AFI and Individual Development Accounts

Eligible Beneficiaries for AFI and Individual Development Accounts IDAs are:

1). Members of households eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program when they apply for enrollment in an AFI project; or
2).Persons who meet both of the following criteria:

  • Their household adjusted gross income is equal to or less than twice the federal poverty line or within federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) limits; and
  • Their household net worth (excluding primary residence and one vehicle) does not exceed $10,000 at the end of the last calendar year before the enrollment determination.

More individuals and families with low incomes are saving money and learning about money management through the Assets for Independence (AFI) program. Low income families who are enrolled in the Assets for Independence program have access to special bank accounts called Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs, where their savings are matched by a combination of Federal funds and nonfederal contributions. Participants use their savings and the match funds to save for a long-term economic asset such as a first home, pursue postsecondary education or training, or start or expand a small business.

How to Apply for Assets for Independence Program (AFI) and get Individual Development Account (IDA)

Individuals and families can enroll in Individual Development Account projects and build their economic assets by locating one of the listed local agencies running AFI projects and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Check Frequently Asked Questions at the Food and Nutrition Services website.