Richmond, Virginia

The 32nd in our continuing series of Community Wealth Cities is Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has a complex history; once the capital of the Confederacy, it was also the first city to host a bank chartered by African- Americans. Its unique legacy as a site of both racial tension and progress creates interesting challenges and opportunities for community wealth building. Last fall, Richmond gained national attention for Mayor Dwight Jones’ anti-poverty plan, which calls for broad expansion of community wealth building and social enterprise activity.

What If Community Developers Held a Congress and Everyone Showed Up?

March 27th, 2015 -- kparker
A practitioner-driven agenda provides a unique lens for addressing challenges facing community economic development
A practitioner-driven agenda provides a unique lens for addressing challenges facing community economic development. The People and Places conference represented a joint effort by four organizations: NACEDA (the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations), NALCAB (the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders), National CAPACD (the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development), and the National Urban League.

Rooting Opportunity

June 1st, 2015 to June 2nd, 2015
Washington, DC

Rooting Opportunity will help practitioners explore economic devlopment partnerships that promote regional prosperity, business success, and the livelihoods of low-income people, places and firms. Attendees will hear from economic development specialists across sectors, who will share tools and tips for doing wealth-building economic development, including strategies for network and value chain development, building anchor institution partnerships, and engaging residents. Read more about Rooting Opportunity...

Bianca Wythe

March 23rd, 2015 -- byi
Junior Fellow

Bianca Wythe joined the Democracy Collaborative as a junior fellow in January of 2015. She is currently completing her Master’s degree in History and Public Policy at George Washington University. Her thesis focuses on the implementation of the Food Stamp Plan during the Great Depression and the centralization of American agriculture. As an experienced community organizer, she has contributed to a number of grassroots campaign efforts, including helping launch a food coop within the Dorchester section of her hometown of Boston. Read more about Bianca Wythe...

March 2015

This month’s developments include:

  • We release our first annual impact report. 
  • In Nonprofit Quarterly, Democracy Collaborative Co-founder Gar Alperovitz discusses the growing wealth and income divide in the United States. Gar also co-authored an article with Senior Research Associate Thomas Hanna in YES! Magazine, in which they discuss net neutrality and community-owned broadband.
  • We announce that we will be working with the City of Rochester, New York to develop a plan to launch worker-owned cooperatives in partnership with local anchor institutions.
  • Politico Magazine highlighted the Evergreen Cooperatives and their role in the Greater University Circle Initiative in an article and video. 
  • Our report A New Anchor Mission for a New Century was cited by Laura Flanders in YES! Magazine; Peter Berliner, managing director of Mission Investors Exchange; and Gerry Roll, Executive Director for the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.
*NEW* Gar Alperovitz, "Inequality’s Dead End—And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction," Nonprofit Quarterly, March 10, 2015.

It is easy to be distracted by what passes for economic news these days, focused as it is on short-term fluctuations and assurances of recovery and revitalization. The simple truth, however, is that year by year, decade by decade, life in the United States is steadily growing ever more unequal.

March 2015

*NEW* Skylar Olsen et al., "A House Divided: How Race Colors the Path to Homeownership," Seattle, WA: Zillow, Inc., January 15, 2015, 1-37.

More than 50 years after Dr. King fought for equality, “it is apparent that the American dream of homeownership is not equally shared,” notes real estate firm Zillow’s chief economist Stan Humphries in a study coauthored by Zillow and the National Urban League. To build wealth in communities of color and reduce wealth inequality, the authors call for the removal of institutional barriers toward homeownership, such as policies that advocate arbitrarily high down-payment requirements, as well as an expansion of predatory lending protections.

*NEW* Jennifer Brooks, Kasey Wiedrich, Lebaron Sims, Jr. and Solana Rice, Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery is Bypassing Millions of Americans, Findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, Washington, D.C: CFED, January 2015, 1-16.

One in five households regularly rely on fringe financial services to meet their needs. Nationally, 55.6 percent of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates. In its 2015 Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) describes these and other difficulties faced by many Americans and breaks down disparities by race and state. The report also outlines how a combination of state policies such as protections against predatory lending and the establishment of housing trust funds can help families achieve economic security.

*NEW* HCDNNJ, Stronger Together: The $12 Billion Impact of Community Development Corporations in New Jersey, The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, December 2014, 1-8.

This new report from the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey quantifies the impact that community development corporations have had in New Jersey. Over the past 25 years, CDCs have added 82,000 jobs, contributed $12 billion to the state economy, and added $320 million to state tax rolls. The Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, a 100 percent state tax credit that encourages private investment in low- to moderate-income communities, enabled New Jersey CDCs to leverage each dollar more than seven times over.

How a credit union is increasing access to affordable, responsible financial services

March 4th, 2015 -- kparker
An interview with Steve Zuckerman of Self-Help Federal Credit Union

Founded in 1980, Self-Help works to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially minority, women-headed, rural and low-wealth families and communities.  In 2006 Self Help expanded into California, and in 2008 launched Self-Help Federal Credit Union to increase access to affordable, responsible financial services in low-income communities. Read more about How a credit union is increasing access to affordable, responsible financial services...

Community Health Network

Based in Indianapolis, Community Health Network (Community) is a nonprofit healthcare system with 200 sites across central Indiana.  Since beginning to conduct Community Health Needs Assessments in the 1990s, Community has recognized the importance of addressing social and economic factors that impact health. One initiative is Project Search/Indiana, a high school transition program for students with disabilities that provides participants with worksite-based training.  Initiated in 2006 with an investment of $92,000, Community also supported an Individual Development Account program designed to help area residents build assets through matched savings.  To promote nutrition, Community sponsors farmers’ markets in neighborhoods and within its hospitals, helped develop the Community Heights garden where it maintains a medicinal herb garden, and provided technical assistance to the Indy Food Co-op, which opened the city’s first community-owned grocery store, Pogues Run Grocer, in a food desert at the end of 2010.


Featured publication

  • A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth

    October 30th, 2014 -- john
    Marjorie Kelly and Violeta Duncan

    It was in 2005 that the highly regarded Monitor Institute report declared that the field of community foundations was “On the Brink of New Promise,” and in the decade since, there have been countless working groups and initiatives to introduce innovative approaches to the field. At the same time, largely beneath the radar, a small but growing group has begun pursuing the innovative path we explore here. Mostly in small steps—but sometimes in larger ways—they are adopting elements of what could emerge as a new anchor mission to deploy all resources to build community wealth.

Featured media

What is Community Wealth?

How do you build community wealth? Here's some of the basic principles of a successful approach:

Community Wealth Cities

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee was incorporated in 1846. German immigrants, who came to Wisconsin in search of inexpensive farmland, fueled the city’s early growth. Over the following decades, Milwaukee attracted large groups of other immigrants, including Poles, Lithuanians, Italian, Irish, French, Russian, Bohemian, and Swedish. By 1910, Milwaukee ranked first in the nation, alongside New York City, for having the largest percentage of foreign-born residents. Read more about Milwaukee, Wisconsin...

Community Wealth Interviews

Ed Whitfield

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Ed’s political activism started with attending Little Rock Central High School and beginning to do anti-war work as a teenager. Ed has lived in Greensboro, North Carolina since 1970. In 2007, with Marnie Thompson, he helped co-found the Fund for Democratic Communities (F4DC), a private foundation that aims to promote economic democracy and cooperative economics in the U.S. South. F4DC has pledged to spend down its endowment by 2020. Among its leading efforts are launching the Southern Grassroots Economies Project and supporting the development of the Renaissance Community Co-op in a food desert neighborhood in Greensboro. Ed also participates on numerous boards, including the New Economy Coalition and the Highlander Research and Education Center.


Featured from the toolbox

  • Community Capital

    In this new guide to community investment, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) identifies finance options and other investment tools to reinvigorate regional economies, create high-quality jobs, and restore the environment. BALLE offers this guide as a resource to help re-shape financial capital flows to support local self-sufficiency and ingenuity.

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