Building bridges to the middle class: The role of community-based organizations in Asian American wealth accumulation

R. Varisa Patraporn, Deirdre Pfeiffer, Paul Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-303
Number of pages16
JournalEconomic Development Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian Americans
  • Asset building
  • Community-based organizations
  • Financial education
  • Immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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