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Chapel Hill, N.C. – Former UNC Center for Community Capital research assistant Jonathan Spader returns to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Friday to present a seminar on a demonstration program designed to encourage low-income people to save.

Spader will speak on “Encouraging Use of the Saver’s Credit through VITA Sites: Evidence from a Pilot Demonstration in Two Cities” Friday, Sept. 30, 1 p.m. in the Abernethy Hall conference room. The seminar, part of the Carolina Institute of Public Policy’s Friday Seminar Series, is free and open to the public.

Spader received his Ph.D. from UNC Department of Public Policy in 2009 and now works as an associate in the social and economic policy division of Abt Associates Inc., a global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development.

The Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, or Saver’s Credit, was created to encourage greater retirement savings among lower-income households, Spader says. However, there has been limited use of the credit since its introduction, raising questions about eligible filers’ awareness of the credit, access to qualified retirement accounts and demand for retirement savings.

Abt Associates partnered with the National Community Tax Coalition and two large IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) sites to develop a pilot program to encourage use of the Saver’s Credit among VITA clients. The pilot included developing informational materials on the Saver’s Credit for VITA staff and clients, establishing a financial product to be offered on site at the participating VITA sites, and reaching out to employers with multiple employees eligible for the Saver’s Credit.

Spader will discuss the results of the demonstration, including an examination of the VITA programs’ experience implementing the pilot and an outcome study of the awareness raised about the program among VITA clients and their preferences for its retirement savings products. The findings suggest that the program’s low level of awareness may contribute to its low use, he says, but they also highlight the importance of shorter-term savings goals and withdrawal penalties in client preferences for savings vehicles.

Spader brings to this work considerable expertise in consumer credit markets, housing policy, financial education and asset-building initiatives. His work at Abt Associates includes the evaluation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a randomized control trial of pre-purchase homeownership counseling and an evaluation of post-Katrina recovery programs.

For more information, contact Spader at (301) 347-5789 or

Topics(s): Financial Capability, Financial Inclusion, Financial Services Industry, Savings & Asset-Building
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