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Building Bridges to the Middle Class: The Role of Community-Based Organizations in Asian American Wealth Accumulation


  • R. Varisa Patraporn

    (First 5 LA, Los Angeles, CA, USA,

  • Deirdre Pfeiffer

    (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

  • Paul Ong

    (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)


Despite the increasing provision of social and financial services by community-based organizations (CBOs), few studies focus on the roles that Asian American—serving CBOs play in helping their economically and culturally diverse communities accumulate wealth. The authors explore this overlooked sector by interviewing key informants in 30 mostly Asian American asset-building organizations nationwide. Participating CBOs respond to the financial needs of their diverse communities primarily in three ways: (a) adapting programs for the underserved, (b) facilitating access to the mainstream, and (c) preserving existing assets. Unlike mainstream banks, they use a comprehensive asset-building framework premised on extensive technical assistance and culturally congruent programming. The interviewed organizations face a variety of challenges in implementing programs-namely, maintaining financial solvency and working with limited capacity—issues that they struggle to overcome through forming collaborations and partnerships, earned income strategies, obtaining certification, and cross-training.

Suggested Citation

  • R. Varisa Patraporn & Deirdre Pfeiffer & Paul Ong, 2010. "Building Bridges to the Middle Class: The Role of Community-Based Organizations in Asian American Wealth Accumulation," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 24(3), pages 288-303, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ecdequ:v:24:y:2010:i:3:p:288-303

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    Cited by:

    1. Jin Huang & Yunju Nam & Eun Lee, 2015. "Financial Capability and Economic Hardship Among Low-Income Older Asian Immigrants in a Supported Employment Program," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 239-250, June.


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