Democratic ownership

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

Public interest in cooperatives has surged since the global financial crisis, as people cry out for an alternative to business-as-usual. In spite of their many benefits for individuals, businesses, and society, however, cooperatives are not well understood in the United States. The field of worker co-op development is just beginning to create the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to increase its scale and impact.

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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.

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.

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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

 Founded by the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA on a Buy Local Buy Wisconsin grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture (DATCP), Fifth Season Cooperative is a multi-stakeholder organization that focuses on producing, processing, and selling healthy local foods.

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State and local innovation

Effective community wealth building requires rethinking present policies, redirecting resources, breaking old boundaries, and forging new alliances. Over the past few decades, despite limited government support, new and alternative forms of community-supportive economic enterprises have increasingly emerged in cities and towns across the country as an important counter-trend to the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, income, and opportunity.

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Social enterprise

Innovative business development through nonprofit social enterprise.

This social enterprise venture, founded in 1996, is a business run by a nonprofit, which provides catering, and prepares and distributes meals to the homeless shelters of Washington, D.C. and other clients. The organization trains and employs ex-offenders, the chronically unemployed, victims of abuse, and others among the hard-to-employ. Its culinary training program has maintained a 90 percent placement rate over the years. The enterprise also buys from local growers, takes donations of surplus food, and is working to fill needs in food deserts – thus representing a whole food loop.

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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.