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Local Innovation

Asset Building Strategies supports neighborhood, city and regional initiatives that are advancing innovative ways to enable low-wealth families to access financial services, save, invest and preserve financial assets.


  • Visiting Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning—UC Berkeley

    In Spring 2016, Heather McCulloch served as a visiting professor with the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.  She co-taught, “Tackling Inequality through Equitable Development – Perspectives on Place, Race and Class in the San Francisco Bay Area,” with Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation.

  • Bay Area Asset Funders Network

    From 2010-2013, Heather McCulloch worked with San Francisco Bay Area foundations to establish and grow the Bay Area Asset Funders Network (Bay Area AFN), the first regional affiliate of the national Asset Funders Network.  Bay Area AFN is a network of private and corporate foundations, public-sector funders and financial institutions supporting low-wealth individuals and families in the San Francisco Bay Area to access financial education and services, save, invest and preserve financial assets.  After serving as director during the start-up phase, Heather was a senior consultant to the Network, providing content expertise for quarterly member meetings and regional convenings.

  • Asset Support Center—Bay Area Foundations

    From 2007-2010, Heather McCulloch worked with San Francisco Bay Area foundations to establish the Bay Area Asset Support Center (ASC), a regional initiative focused on expanding asset-building opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents of the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.  ASC included a robust technical assistance program, a comprehensive online compendium of asset-building resources across the region and valuable learning opportunities for the field.

  • Building Assets While Building Communities—Walter and Elise Haas Fund

    Heather McCulloch researched and wrote the report, “Building Assets While Building Communities: Expanding Savings and Investment Opportunities for Low-Income Bay Area Residents”  for the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in 2006.  The report highlights a “continuum of asset-building opportunities”  underway in communities across the country that are enabling low-income households to access financial services, save, invest and preserve financial assets. Ms. McCulloch has presented the report’s findings at local, state and national meetings. The continuum has been used as a tool by practitioners, advocates and intermediaries across the country to describe the broad range of strategies that communities are using to help residents build financial assets.

  • Mission Asset Fund—Levi Strauss Foundation

    Working under contract with the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) and in partnership with community leaders of the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, Heather McCulloch managed the planning process for the creation of the Mission Asset Fund (MAF). MAF is a comprehensive, neighborhood-focused, asset-building initiative supporting low-income and immigrant residents of San Francisco’s Mission District to save and invest in their community.

  • Market Creek Plaza—Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

    Market Creek Plaza, in San Diego, California, is the nation’s first commercial real estate development that is partially owned by low- and moderate-income community residents. While a senior associate at PolicyLink, Heather McCulloch featured the initiative in the national report “Sharing the Wealth: Resident Ownership Mechanisms,”  supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Fannie Mae Foundation. She then worked with the staff of the Jacobs Family Foundation and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to share the model with other communities.