Founding Director of AEDI

William Elliott III, Ph.D.
309 Twente Hall
Phone (785) 864-2283

Bio: Dr. William Elliott III is an associate professor at the University of Kansas (KU) and founder of the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI) in KU’s School of Social Welfare. He received his Ph.D. and master’s in social work from George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Geneva College in Beaver Fall, PA. Dr. Elliott is a non-resident Senior Research Fellow for New America’s Asset Building Program. He has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education and the 2016 University of Kansas Scholarly Achievement Award. He is a leading researcher in the fields of children's savings and college debt. However, is research interests are broadly focused on public policies related to issues of economic inequality and social development. Numerous news and media outlets such as the National Journal, PBS News Hour, NPR, US News, the Washington Monthly, the Washington Post, and others have featured his work. His research has served as the impetus for Children’s Savings Account (CSA) programs and policies across the U.S. He is currently conducting research on the following CSA programs: Prosperity Kids in New Mexico, K2C in San Francisco, Promise Indiana, and the Harold Alfond College challenge in Maine. He has received research funding from such sources as the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Citi foundation.

Curriculum Vitae

To listen to Dr. Elliott's speech at CFED's 2014 CSA conference on the freeing our minds to create a better future


Assistant Director

Melinda Lewis
312 Twente Hall
Phone (785) 864-1047

Bio: Melinda Lewis, LMSW, received her Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She worked as a nonprofit policy advocate, grassroots organizer, and community researcher for several years and is now an Associate Professor of the Practice in the School of Social Welfare, teaching social policy and community practice courses at the University of Kansas. She is the Assistant Director for the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion, advancing policy based on research into the role of assets in addressing educational inequities. She can be found on Twitter @melindaklewis. Her areas of scholarly interest and practice include poverty and economic inequality, asset-based financial aid, social change, strategies for effective policy advocacy by nonprofit organizations, advocacy evaluation, and advocacy capacity-building for individuals and social service organizations.

Curriculum Vitae

Assistant Director responsibilities:

  • Assist in research (particularly distilling policy implications of findings), writing, editing, and promotion of AEDI’s body of work, to advance the organization’s strategic aim of securing wealth transfers to catalyze the economic mobility of disadvantaged children and families, through the vehicle of Children’s Savings Accounts
  • Communicate AEDI’s research and its policy implications in media outlets, social media, presentations (webinars, monographs, conference presentations, public addresses, and peer-reviewed publications), and direct communication with policymakers
  • Work alongside AEDI’s Director/Founder to pursue strategic opportunities to build relationships and explore research with a potential to make significant contributions to the field of children’s asset-building/wealth creation
  • Supervise students assisting with AEDI communications efforts
  • Oversee the communications efforts of all AEDI associates
  • Assist in the management of AEDI activities to advance the Center’s vision, including grants, projects, research, publications, and communications
  • Represent AEDI in University, community, field, and policy venues

Faculty Directors assist the Director with developing the intellectual and research agenda for their particular project area. Currently Dr. William Elliott is the acting Faculty Director for AEDI's CSA Project and the College Debt Project.


Project Directors

Faculty Director for the Financial Inclusion Project

Terri FriedlinePh.D.
Assistant Professor
307 Twente Hall
Phone (785) 864-2267

Bio: Today's young people are growing up in an increasingly complex and ever-evolving economic world that questions equal access to higher education and the value of a college degree, overemphasizes the roles of credit and debt for achieving economic goals, reveals employment landscapes with often insufficient compensation, and contains tax and policy structures that place them at a disadvantage for acquiring and accumulating wealth. It is within this context that Dr. Friedline conducts research to envision, redefine, and move economic justice with young people—particularly for those growing up in poverty who may be at a competitive disadvantage for navigating this economic world. Her research aims to study Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs) as a gateway into the economic world, an alternative or complement to credit and debt for achieving economic goals, an opportunity for acquiring and accumulating wealth, and a policy for facilitating economic mobility. Dr. Friedline conducts this research as an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Faculty Director of the Financial Inclusion Project within the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion, and Research Fellow at the New America Foundation. She holds an MSW and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.

Curriculum Vitae

Faculty Director for the Wealth Transfer Project

Emily Rauscher, PhD

Assistant Professor
735 Fraser Hall
Phone (785) 864-9403

Bio: Emily Rauscher is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kansas (KU) and Faculty Director of the Wealth Transfer Project at the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.  Her research centers around intergenerational mobility, seeking to understand how advantage and disadvantage are transmitted from parents to children and what policy mechanisms could weaken that process.  Her work has appeared in a variety of academic journals, including Educational Evaluation and Policy AnalysisJournal of Health and Social BehaviorBiodemography and Social BiologySociological Forum, and Sociological Perspectives, and has been covered by a variety of media outlets, including The AtlanticThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, Pew Research Center, and Huffington Post.

New Book Released

Today’s student loan system is in place because of a political compromise, and growing discontent with student debt may signal that this arrangement has run its course. While there are resources and organizations in place to help those struggling with debt, the time has come to consider a new direction for financial aid, William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue in “Student Debt: A Reference Handbook.”

Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
  • 23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times