Democratic ownership

Building community wealth with co-ops, worker co-ops, and employee ownership.

Ours to Share is a blueprint—a map to a little-known but important approach to economic development that is increasingly becoming a viable market solution that can help address some of today’s thorniest social and economic challenges... Let’s be clear: worker ownership is not a simple, one-size-fits-all cure. And, as with any business model, it is certainly not without risks. If worker ownership is to thrive—and the challenges are real—it needs more than capital from investors and philanthropic funders.

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Community development

What works with CDC's, community land trusts, and other cross-sectoral efforts.
The Democracy Collaborative, in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, the City of Cleveland, and the city's major hospitals and universities—is helping to implement a new model of large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative is beginning to build serious momentum in one of the cities most dramatically impacted by the nation's decaying economy. Increasingly, this model is being referred to nationally as The Cleveland Model. Other cities nationwide have begun the process of replicating and adapting this innovative approach to economic development, green job creation, and neighborhood stabilization.
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Community Wealth Interviews

Conversations with leading community wealth builders

Anchor Institutions

Hospitals, universities, and other anchor institutions as drivers of more equitable and sustainable local economies.

Cleveland has won national attention for the role major nonprofits are playing in taking on the poverty and disinvestment plaguing some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Where once vital university and medical facilities built barriers separating themselves from their neighbors, now they are engaging with them, generating job opportunities, avenues to affordable housing, and training in a coordinated way.

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Featured publication:
Leveraging Anchor Institutions for Economic Inclusion
Chris Schildt and Victor Rubin Sustainable Communities Series
Featured publication:
Can Hospitals Heal America's Communities?
Ted Howard and Tyler Norris
Featured publication:
A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth
Marjorie Kelly and Violeta Duncan

Community finance

Driving investment in an equitable economy with CDFI's, program related investment, and impact investing.

Since the group's founding in the mid-1980s, LIIF has provided capital and technical assistance totaling $1.5 billion, which in turn leveraged an additional $6 billion, broadening economic opportunity for 1.7 million people. LIIF's investments helped to create 174,000 units of low income and special needs housing, 243,000 childcare spaces, and 72,000 educational facilities.

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Community Wealth Cities

Profiles of local community wealth ecosystems

Ecological development

State and local innovation

The city of Rochester, with Mayor Lovely Warren at the helm and supported by partners and allies across New York State and beyond, has hatched a plan to tap into at least that much to help level the economic playing field for Rochester’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. “It’s about being able to give employees an opportunity to have ownership and to build wealth within their own communities,” says Warren. The plan consists of supporting the creation or growth of cooperatively owned businesses located primarily in the city’s most distressed neighborhoods...

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Featured publication:
Field Guide: The Future of Health is Local
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Featured publication:
Policies for Community Wealth Building: Leveraging State and Local Resources
The Democracy Collaborative
Featured blog post:
A City with Opportunities for All: Toronto, Canada

Social enterprise

Innovative business development through nonprofit social enterprise.

Related to the challenges of managing business operations is the implementation of the worker-owned cooperative model. The model is one of the key innovations of the Evergreen approach and an important mechanism for not only increasing income, but also building wealth for residents of the target neighborhoods. However, the approach was difficult to operationalize within the context of a new business.

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Asset strategies

Increasing the assets of low-income communities with wealth building, wealth preservation, and supporting policies.

Flexible savings allow families to manage unexpected financial emergencies and ultimately help families build long-term financial security. However, as this new report from the New America Asset Building Program highlights, flexible savings opportunities are limited, prompting many low-income families to take out payday loans or to incur financial penalties for early withdrawals from their tax-preferred accounts. The authors make several recommendations to broaden the offering of financial services and policies that both permit short-term use and help build assets in the long term.

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International inspiration

Best practices and models from outside the United States.